Travel Gives a Different Perspective of Our Soldier's History

eto germany travel wwii travel Jul 27, 2018
 

In June 2018 my husband and I took a trip to Germany so I could visit some World War II sites I was researching. We spent a day with Doug Mitchell, who drove us around all along parts of the West Wall, showed us the dragon's teeth, German bunkers, and filled our heads with history. It was a kind of gloomy day which was rather apt for the war theme for the day.

Three years ago I walked in the footsteps of my cousin James Privoznik, KIA 11 January 1945 near Bras, Belgium. I took his final burial flag with me to Europe and flew it over the Luxembourg Cemetery where he sleeps. That trip and walking in his footsteps changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.

Since that time I have walked in the footsteps of other family members and soldiers I am researching for clients who were unable to go to Europe. Walking in these places, seeing the past merge with the present, and the landscape over which they fought and often died, cannot be captured in words and pictures alone. It must...

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Are You Exploring the Entire Military Combat Experience?

I've spent more than 20 years in the fields of genealogy/family history and military history with a focus the last decade on World War I and World War II. I taught myself a lot where genealogy was concerned and attended classes and conferences. I participated in the community's professional genealogy education. Throughout everything I studied or read, the focus was on names, dates, places, sometimes historical context, but never on exploring the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual side of family.

When I began researching in-depth both world wars, which led me to teach and write books on how to research any branch, there was no one to teach me what to do. No one in the country had written educational materials. Yes there were two very outdated books on barely researching Army service, but beyond that nothing existed. The few people who were starting to lecture on this were not going beyond the basics of "all the records burned and here are some online resources." They skimmed...

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Remembering Bernard Tom, 101st Airborne at Margraten

 

Johan and I spent Memorial Day weekend 2018, traveling from the Netherlands to Belgium, to Luxembourg, then back home through Germany. On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we attended the Netherlands American Cemetery (Margarten). Johan adopted two graves there. One is for 101st Airborne Paratrooper, Bernard (Bernie) Tom. Watch Johan tell his story and subscribe to our newsletter list to stay up to date on the book about Bernie which will be released in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, in which he jumped a couple of weeks prior to his death in the Netherlands.

Would you like help researching and telling the stories of your family's service members? Contact us to discuss a research or writing project. Be sure to also check our our online courses to learn how to navigate the records (and the 1973 Fire) and locate information.

© 2018 World War II Research and Writing Center

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Resources for WWII Travel in Europe

There are many stories of war for both World War I and World War II in Europe. We can help you Find the Answers and help you prepare to walk in the footsteps of your service member.

Explore our Quick Guides for Research & Travel

Explore our new General Quick Guides to jump start your research or plan your trip to Europe. They are available in Kindle and Paperback. Branch Specific Quick Guides.

Trip Planning

Fodor’s Travel

Liberation Route WWII Europe

Rick Steves’ Europe I have used Rick’s books to help plan my European adventures and have found them very helpful.

ViaMichelin Maps and Travel Planning

Books

  • Cavanaugh, William C.C. A Tour of the Bulge Battlefield. England: Pen and Sword, 2001.
  • Holt, Tonie and Valmai. Major and Mrs. Holt’s Battlefield Guide to Operation Market Garden. England: Pen and Sword, 2012.
  • Steves, Rick. Europe Through the Back Door 2015. Berkeley: Avalon Travel, 2014.
  • Thompson, Chuck. The 25 Essential World War II Sites: European...
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Finding Your Soldier's Story Program in the Netherlands

Date: 13 January 2018

Time: 13:00

Location: Delware Company BV, Wilgehout 13 3371 KE Hardinxveld-Giessendam Netherlands

This program will be conducted in English.

Program Description:

Have you adopted a grave at an ABMC cemetery? Are you unsure how to locate more information about your soldier?

Are you researching a bomb crew and unsure where to find the crew’s records?

Did you locate dog tags or another item from a soldier and want to know more about his service?

Then this program is for you!

Many questions surround the service history of Americans who served in Europe during World War II. The answers will be given during this program.

Where do I start with my research?
What are the steps I need to take if I have some information?
What records are available and how can they be accessed?
How can I connect with a soldier’s family?

While this program is free, you must register for this program so we know how many to prepare for. Prior to the program you will be sent an email...

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Prague in World War II Tour

Johan and I got married and went on honeymoon in Prague. Initially I thought we’d do some ancestor hunting for me. As far as I’ve researched (back into early 1800s), my family came from Bohemia – later Czechoslovakia. Then we decided no work, no war, and no genealogy. We would only be dreamy honeymooners exploring the city. However we always go with the flow and see what shows up. On our second day in Prague we stumbled upon a brochure for the tour company World War II in Prague. The brochure was exciting and well done. All you had to do was show up at the tour meeting place at the time you wished to go and pay there. How does it get any better than that?

On a rainy Sunday morning at 10:00 at the Powder Tower (just down the street from our hotel,) we met Hannah, our tour guide. There was a small group of less than 10 people which was perfect for asking questions. Our tour started at the Powder Tower and Hannah showed us a map of Czechoslovakia and the surrounding...

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Visiting the Land of my Ancestors – Part 2 (Prague)

This is day 2 of Visiting the Land of my Ancestors. Part 1 can be read here.

Our first full day on honeymoon in Prague. Yesterday we traveled and had an amazing time walking through part of the city. Today we were tired so chose to sleep as late as possible, without missing breakfast at the hotel, and do as little as possible and more thoroughly enjoy what we chose to see and do.

After breakfast the first target of the day was to find me some kolacky. My grandma used to bake them. While I could drive 30 minutes to a Czech bakery in Chicago to get some, I never do. They take a while to make so I don’t bake them either. Kolacky isn’t something you find in most restaurants in Prague. We asked at the hotel front desk where I could get some and the market down the street was suggested. Kolacky, we were told, was more of a rural tradition on special days. Not something you find on most menus. Apple Streudel – not that is on practically every menu. Sadly on Saturday there...

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Visiting the Land of my Ancestors – Part 1

Life is an adventure. Something to be experienced and enjoyed. I often ask, ‘How does it get any better than this?‘ When I ask that question, magic happens.

For many years I didn’t feel like there was much of that unless you count raising three boys an adventure, which I often do. Having twins has made most days an experience beyond anything I’d known. Then in 2015 I embarked on a new adventure – traveling to Europe. Since that trip and the choices I made because of the experiences I had, life continues to be ever changing and some days I don’t even recognize myself.

Who am I today? That is a question I often ask.

We all make choices in life to pay attention to some things while ignoring others. To stay isolated versus being with new people. We stick so much to our family stories and who we ‘believe’ we are and our family members are, that we often shut out the possibilities of what could be. We often close ourselves off to the...

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10 Things Americans Should Know About European WWII Re-Enactors

Two weeks ago I attended an Operation Market Garden re-enactment event in Son, Netherlands. You can read about it in my article Honoring Service: Living History in the Netherlands. In this article I stressed the importance of living history and how it provides context for our World War II soldier research. Today I’d like to continue that thought with things Americans should know about European WWII re-enactors and living history events.

Main Goals of Re-Enacting: Honor, Remember, Educate

1. Re-enacting groups exist all over Europe and the UK. Many groups come from the UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and sometimes Germany and Russia. They are not limited to the Netherlands where I have been spending time and writing about their events. Most re-enactors speak English. This is question many are asked when Americans first arrive at events.

I spent time last November with the 104th Division Friends of the Timberwolves group. They dedicated an entire day to showing me...

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