Battle of the Bulge Gallery, Road to Berlin

Road to Berlin

European Theater Galleries

The Duchossois Family Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries brings to life the drama, sacrifices, personal stories, and strategies of America’s campaign to defeat the Axis powers and preserve freedom. From faltering first battles in North Africa to the bloody struggle at Germany's doorstep, the immersive galleries in Road to Berlin recreate actual battle settings and villages—with crumbling walls, bomb-torn rooftops, icy pathways, and a chillingly realistic soundscape—as the evocative backdrop for period newsreels, video histories, interactive kiosks, macro-artifacts, and digital displays dive deeper into the story. The result is a richly layered, multimedia experience that invites exploration and connection. Visitors are able to walk in the shadow of Normandy's brutally dense hedgerows and imagine the challenges that followed D-Day; attend a mission briefing with the Bomber Boys and gain perspective inside America's all-important air strategy; and see personal artifacts—cigarette boxes, photographs—scattered over real Normandy sand, providing a touching perspective on the human cost of the war.

Expansive in its scope, exhaustive in its detail, and captivating in its innovative design, Road to Berlin is a whole new way to understand America's story of the war in Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean.

gallery guidelines

ROAD TO BERLIN: EUROPEAN THEATER GALLERIES

European/Mediterranean Briefing Room

Set in an abandoned farmhouse in North Africa, the Briefing Room recreates the immense pressures faced by Allied strategists and covers the events and status of the war as of November 1942, including the strategic choices that the Allied war effort faced in early 1942 and the landings in North Africa later that year. Learn the rationale behind the decision to go to “Germany first,” and be introduced to the issues faced in deciding to invade North Africa and Europe before turning to the Pacific.


Made possible through a gift from Mr. and Mrs. H. Mortimer “Tim” Favrot Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Pastor Velasco

Briefing Room gallery, Road to Berlin
ROAD TO BERLIN: EUROPEAN THEATER GALLERIES

Desert War - North Africa

Explore the story of how American and British troops assaulted the Axis in Africa to secure a Mediterranean stronghold before attempting an attack on Hitler’s “Fortress Europe.” This immersive 1,500-square-foot space conveys the landscape of Tunisia as American forces first attempt to stem the Nazi tide. Surrounded by desert and rocky landscape, visitors see projections of tanks rolling over the sand and get up close to dozens of weapons of Europe displayed in an enormous artifact case. Macro artifacts include a 105mm Howitzer and a 1943 Jeep. 


Made possible through a gift from Judith and Louis Freeman

Desert War gallery, Road to Berlin
Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries

Invasion of Sicily

A wood-beamed Sicilian villa is filled with sights, sounds, and artifacts of the Allies' conquest of Palermo and advance toward Italy. Although this first Allied liberation of an Axis capital city was a piercing blow to the “soft underbelly” of Axis Europe, bitter rivalries among Allied leaders and a horrific friendly fire accident showed that citizen soldiers were still not a polished fighting force.


Additional support provided by Marion and Lawrence C. Gibbs; Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Kevin J. Lilly

Invasion of Sicily, Road to Berlin
ROAD TO BERLIN: EUROPEAN THEATER GALLERIES

Italian Campaign

The Italian Campaign gallery tells the story of the Allies’ mainland assault on Italy, which turned into a hard, deadly slog consuming many months. American forces and their allies achieved the surrender of Italian leaders—who, amid political turmoil and confusion, switched sides and declared war on Germany.

Hear soldiers’ experiences in their own words through oral histories which recount battles and everyday life in the war. This gallery communicates both the broad strategic complexity of warfare and the individual bravery and leadership of the servicemembers who took part in it.


Made possible through a gift from Mr. and Mrs. David M. Knott


Additional support by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.; In Memory of George and Susan Strake, Strake Foundation, Houston, Texas

Italian Campaign Gallery, Road to Berlin
ROAD TO BERLIN: EUROPEAN THEATER GALLERIES

Air War

Surrounded by a recreated Nissen hut, much like those mass-produced in England and used for storage and operational needs, hear the story of air power in the war—from the famous Tuskegee Airmen, to the formidable German Luftwaffe, to America’s relentless air strikes in Europe. Artifacts, videos, and oral histories illustrate how mastery of the skies over Europe was essential to all that came after—including the critical invasion of Normandy.


Made possible through a gift In Memory of Staff Sgt. James J. Fisher, Jr., DFC and Frances D. Fisher, NYC


Additional support by Richard J. Shea and Jacobs Family in Honor of Captain David S. Jacobs, 464 Bomb Group

Air War gallery, Road to Berlin
ROAD TO BERLIN: EUROPEAN THEATER GALLERIES

D-Day Theater

Featuring an informative D-Day film, this exhibit captures the courage and sacrifice of the many thousands of men who invaded the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, allowing the Allies to secure the beachheads and start their drive across France. Catch a glimpse of the aftermath of D-Day through a small exhibit dedicated to the soldiers who were killed on the beaches.


Made possible through a gift from the Patrick Family Foundation


Additional support provided by Maurice “Pete” and Irma Meyer In Honor of Our Greatest Generation, Maurice “Pete” and Irma Meyer In Honor of Our D-Day Heroes

ROAD TO BERLIN: EUROPEAN THEATER GALLERIES

Northwestern Europe: Invasion and Liberation

The breaching of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall and establishment of a secure beachhead in Normandy was followed by a campaign of dramatic highs and lows, wins and losses. This gallery illustrates the obstacles experienced by the Allies—from the disheartening struggle amid the dense hedgerows to the German counterattack at Mortain to the major setback in Operation Market Garden. Follow the Allies as they liberate Paris and finally push Germans back to their border.


Made possible through a gift from Jennifer and Phil Satre in Memory of Sam Satre


Additional support by Collins C. Diboll Private Foundation; and in Honor of The Men of The 30th Infantry Division

Northwestern Europe gallery, Road to Berlin
ROAD TO BERLIN: EUROPEAN THEATER GALLERIES

Breaching the German Frontier Bunker

The Allied advance grounded to a halt as it encountered the Siegfried Line, a network of bunkers, minefields, and barbed wire built into hilly terrain. This gallery mimics the interior of a blown-out German bunker, allowing you to see the formidable infrastructure employed by the Germans in defense of their homeland. It also focuses on the stories of the Allied advance into Germany, including the capture of Aachen, the first German city to surrender, while also foreshadowing the many battles that still lay ahead for the American forces.


Made possible through a gift from the Ashner Family Evergreen Foundation In Memory of Morton Hassman and Jules Rainess

Breaching the German Frontier Bunker Gallery, Road to Berlin
ROAD TO BERLIN: EUROPEAN THEATER GALLERIES

Battle of the Bulge

This immersive gallery sets the scene for the six-week Battle of the Bulge—the US Army’s largest battle of World War II. Hitler launched a surprise winter counter-attack through the Ardennes forest to drive the Allies back. Grappling with bitterly cold weather, more than 30 divisions and 600,000 men fought desperately to halt the Germans. Oral history stations, artifacts, and content panels guide visitors from the surprise German attack to the siege, to the ultimate hard-won Allied victory.


Made possible through a gift by The Starr Foundation


Additional support by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth L. Blanchard, Sr., in Honor of Don Blanchard; Mr. and Mrs. Terence E. Hall; Suzanne and Michael Mestayer; and Michael and Patricia O’ Neill

Battle of the Bulge gallery, Road to Berlin
ROAD TO BERLIN: EUROPEAN THEATER GALLERIES

Into the German Homeland

American troops advancing into Germany witnessed and experienced unimaginable violence and destruction. Our final gallery reveals the last major obstacle of taking German bridges on the Rhine, the discovery of Ohrdruf concentration camp (the first Nazi death camp liberated by American forces), the capture of Cologne, the lengths Hitler would go to, almost destroying his own people in the process, and, finally, the ultimate surrender of Germany, thus ending the war in Europe.


Made possible through a gift from The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation in Honor of D. Paul Spencer


Additional support by Lt. Col and Mrs. Robert E. Kelso

Into the German Homeland gallery, Road to Tokyo
The National WWII Museum

Museum Campus

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Campaigns of Courage