NEW ORLEANS (February 6, 2012) — Returning to offer WWII aficionados the chance to experience WWII history where it happened, The National WWII Museum announces dates for its 2012 tours Victory in Europe and In the Footsteps of the Monuments Men, the inspiration for an upcoming George Clooney film.
The two-part Victory in Europe tour, scheduled for June 1 – 15, 2012, follows the journey of the American troops from the beaches of Normandy to the Ardennes Forest. Travelers will visit the D-Day headquarters in England where General Eisenhower ordered the start of the Allied assault, then travel to Normandy where they will retrace the greatest amphibious invasion in history. There, they will pay homage to the American troops who lost their lives by visiting the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach.
Other noteworthy sites early in the tour include Pegasus Bridge, where the first shots of the invasion were fired; Sainte Mère-Église, where paratroopers of the US 82nd Airborne Division attacked in the pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944; and Brécourt Manor, where Lt. Dick Winters and paratroopers of “Easy” Company knocked out four German 105mm howitzers on D-Day.
Leaders of part one of the tour will include WWII veteran Dan Farley, special guest Viscount Montgomery of Alamein and renowned historian Alex Kershaw, author of The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, The Few and Escape from the Deep.
“The National WWII Museum is known for creating exhibits, programs and attractions that tell the story of WWII in a way that is personal, moving and inspiring,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, the Museum’s president and CEO. “But nothing is more personal or inspiring than experiencing WWII history right where it happened. Our tours offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences combined with renowned authors and historians and the WWII veterans who saw the war through their own eyes.”
The second leg of the Victory in Europe tour kicks off with an exclusive look at the Battle of the Bulge, the largest WWII land battle involving American forces, and one that repelled a last-ditch effort by Hitler to turn the tide of the war.
Other sites on the tour include the infamous Seigfried Line and Bastogne. Travelers will also be able step into actual foxholes and trenches along the famed Elsenborn Ridge. In addition to Kershaw and Jeremy Collins, a Museum programs manager, the second part of the Victory in Europe tour will be led by WWII veteran Carl Beck and special guest Roland Gaul. Both legs of the tour feature luxury accommodations and meals.
From September 14 – 23, the Museum’s tours program will join with Robert Edsel, author of the The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, for a tour that will trace the path of a different type of wartime hero: the Monuments Men, scholar soldiers who raced across Europe to save art treasures from destruction by the Nazis in the chaotic final days of the war. Their exploits will be highlighted in a Hollywood film featuring actor George Clooney that is currently in development.
The tour will be led by Edsel and one of the surviving Monuments Men, Harry Ettlinger. In the Footsteps of the Monuments Men retraces the route the Monuments Men took across a war-torn continent. Travelers will visit some of the artistic treasures saved from ruin. Stops include the Louvre, the Residenz Palace in Wurzburg and the Church of Notre Dame in La Gleize. Additional visits include sites where Nazis hid the stolen treasures including: Hitler’s Eagles Nest retreat at Berchtesgaden and the salt mines of Altaussee — a repository uncovered by the Monuments Men that contained thousands of works of art destined for Hitler’s Fuhrermuseum.
Officially called the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section under the auspices of the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied Armies, the Monuments Men included approximately 345 men and women from 13 nations. Many were museum directors, curators, art historians, artists, architects and educators. Most were volunteers. In the closing months of the war they tracked down artworks hidden in more than 1,000 locations. They remained in Europe until 1951 to oversee the return of more than five million artistic and cultural items.
The tour In the Footsteps of the Monuments Men includes travel from Paris to the tour's final destination in Munich, luxury accommodations and meals.
For more information or to book one of the tours, visit www.ww2museumtours.org or call 877-813-3329 x511.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world — why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIIMuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.