Bastogne War Museum commended by TripAdvisor
The Bastogne War Museum, which opened in March 2014, welcomed its 300,000th visitor in February 2016. The museum recently received a certificate of excellence from the famous American travel site TripAdvisor, a rare distinction awarded to just 1% of the world's tourist sites. When choosing Certificate of Excellence winners, TripAdvisor looks at the quality, quantity and date of the comments and opinions published by visitors over the last 12 months, as well as longevity and the search ranking of the establishments on the website.
The new museum traces the course of the Battle of the Bulge, fought between the armies of Nazi Germany and the Anglo-American troops commanded by General Patton. Hitler launched the last German counter-offensive in December 1944, aiming to reconquer Belgium and force Churchill and Roosevelt to negotiate a ceasefire on the Western Front. The Battle pitted 250,000 German soldiers and 1,100 chariots against 400,000 Allied soldiers and 1,000 armoured vehicles. The main fighting took place around the town of Bastogne, which was under siege for several months, and proved to be extremely deadly, with 12,650 German, 10,730 American and 1,400 British deaths. Civilians also paid a heavy price in the conflict, with more than 2,500 casualties.
The Battle of the Bulge accelerated the fall of Nazi Germany by forcing Hitler to withdraw his troops from the Russian front. The Museum invites visitors to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the time, to highlight the importance of this event for the rest of the war as well as its long-term consequences. Visitors follow the route of a corporal in the 101st airborne division, a lieutenant from the 26th Volksgrenardier Division, a young school teacher from Bastogne and one of her pupils. These routes start before the war, when the financial crisis facilitated the emergence of Fascism and Nazism and continues in occupied Belgium and on the different battlefields of the Second World War. The visit is interspersed with films, photos, documents and period items such as vehicles, accessories, cannons, weapons and uniforms. The highlight of the visit takes place in two screening rooms where visitors can relive the Battle of the Bulge against a range of backdrops, including snow-covered forests or a recreated cafe, amidst the bombs.
The Bastogne War Museum is located close to the Mardasson Memorial, which was built to honour the American soldiers who lost their lives for the Liberation of Belgium. The establishment has just finalised a multi-faceted tourist offer that will appeal to the many enthusiasts who flock here to relive an episode from our history. This TripAdvisor distinction rewarding our reconstruction efforts can reasonably be expected to accelerate this trend.