Book Review: Salt to the Sea

book review travel wwii Oct 29, 2019

A few days ago I spent an entire day, minus a few hours exploring Haarlem, The Netherlands with my camera, reading Ruta Sepetys' book Salt to the Sea. While historical fiction, it is based on a real-life, little-known story of a ship sinking that took more lives than the Titanic.

Before you stop reading, because I realize some of my readers feel military historical fiction is worthless, consider this written by the author at the end of her book.

What determines how we remember history and which elements are preserved and penetrate the collective consciousness? If historical novels stir your interest, pursue the facts, history, memoirs, and personal testimonies available. These are the shoulders that historical fiction sits upon. When the survivors are gone we must not let the truth disappear with them. Please, give them a voice.

ruta sepetys, author's note "salt to the sea"

I applaud Ruta for including this in her book. I firmly believe within every book - fiction or...

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WWI Travel in France

france genealogy travel wwi wwii Oct 24, 2019
 

We visited so many WWI sites in France last week in the Meuse-Argonne and Verdun areas. So much devastation and so many stories. I recorded some of my thoughts. I’m still processing everything I saw – especially the destroyed villages.

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Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service? We are a firm with not only hands-on document experience but also travel experience. We are taking new clients and can help you find the answers and tell a deeper story about your family member. Email us at [email protected] to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.

© 2019 World War II Research and Writing Center

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Freedom Museum, Groesbeek, The Netherlands

museum travel writing wwii Oct 22, 2019

I visited the Freedom Museum, formerly the National Liberation Museum '44-'45, in Groesbeek, The Netherlands in October 2019. This was my third visit to this location. My first was in 2015, where I visited on two separate trips and gave a talk about WWII research in their former auditorium. My second trip was in 2016.

The former museum felt more focused on the Airborne experience of the Dutch Liberation. The exhibits were good but not superb. It was well done but did not have the impact and power that the current museum has.

Part of the room lit in red.

When I walked into the new museum I was immediately taken by the power and impact it holds. The museum is rather dark now, dark blue walls in most places and the entire museum is now covered by what looks like a dark blue or black parachute. For the most part it works. The lighting is different in some areas of the museum, particularly the area that talks about the world war at the start when the U.S. was involved. It is a...

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I Bring Dead Guys Home Book Launch

memoir travel wwii Apr 16, 2019

Available on Amazon with full color photos. (Affiliate link).

I never envisioned in my wildest imagination, a life like the one I have. Who creates a life like this on two continents? Who transforms their reality, business, and life, multiple times in only a few years? Who sticks around when the unimaginable happens right after you meet someone?

Jennifer Holik chose a new path in June 2012 when she moved out with her boys and filed for divorce. She did not expect that six months later, when she acknowledged her spiritual gifts, her entire life would transform. Several dead guys, primarily World War I and World War II service members, had already shown up in Jennifer’s world. Many others entered her life at the exact moment they were required. Listening to their whispers, Jennifer followed the energy and created a life and business no one she knew had dared to create.

Travel through time and space, across the ocean, and through Europe, where love knows no boundaries. On...

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American Graves Registration in WWII

Learn about the Graves Registration Service during World War I and World War II. This section provides resources to understand their job, the records they created, and what happened to our military personnel when they were Killed In Action, were Missing In Action, or died during service. Read about current MIA recovery efforts here.

Need help understanding the history of the Graves Registration Service and the records they created, including the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF)? We have a book, Finding the Answers in the Individual Deceased Personnel File that can help!

We also have a 10- week online course Finding the Answers in the IDPF.

World War I

A Living Memorial. The American Cemetery at Meuse-Argonne (ABMC Publication)

The Beginnings of the Quartermaster Graves Registration Service

Thesis: Establishing the American Way of Death

World War I Education – World War I Burial Files

WWI Graves Registration Card Registers

Videos:

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Memoir Cover Reveal - I Bring Dead Guys Home

memoir travel wwii Mar 19, 2019

Available 9 April 2019 on Amazon.

I never envisioned in my wildest imagination, a life like the one I have. Who creates a life like this on two continents? Who transforms their reality, business, and life, multiple times in only a few years? Who sticks around when the unimaginable happens right after you meet someone?

Jennifer Holik chose a new path in June 2012 when she moved out with her boys and filed for divorce. She did not expect that six months later, when she acknowledged her spiritual gifts, her entire life would transform.

Several dead guys, primarily World War I and World War II service members, had already shown up in Jennifer’s world. Many others entered her life at the exact moment they were required. Listening to their whispers, Jennifer followed the energy and created a life and business no one she knew had dared to create.

Travel through time and space, across the ocean, and through Europe, where love knows no boundaries. On this journey, Jennifer explores the...

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Can We Stop the Stigma of History?

 

The weekend of 14-16 September 2018 I was in Son, Netherlands for the Operation Market Garden (OMG) commemorations and living history for the 101st Airborne. Coming up this weekend in Arnhem, they will be commemorating the British aspect of OMG. As I was in the Airborne re-enactment camp, I spoke to many Dutch people about the stigma of war that still exists in society and families today. I spoke to many about the past, the choices that were made, and how we heal in the present and move forward.

My point of view is, the past is not all black and white or right or wrong or good or bad. It just isn’t one or the other. We live in a completely different time, our way of life is completely different than those who lived through WWII (or any other time period for that matter.) It is not ours to judge the past but to observe, research, understand, see the choices that were made in circumstances we cannot imagine. We were not there so who are we to judge?

What would it take for the...

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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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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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