People choose to travel for many different reasons. Some like a week long getaway in the sun, some prefer quick, in-and-out long weekends for a swift city discovery, and some travel to experience history and culture. If you’re in the latter category and have a penchant for past events and the way they’ve shaped the present, then this article might interest you. We’re taking a trip back in time, highlighting the best cities to visit if you’re a World War II buff and want to know where some of the most crucial battles and events of that period took place.
To understand World War II is to comprehend Nazi Germany, and to figure out that is to understand the Weimar Republic. This was the German state that existed after the first World War up until 1933, before Hitler became chancellor and a new regime was established. Weimar was where this republic was founded, but more than that, it’s actually a fabulous city to visit and not as gloomy as it may sound. Finding modern accommodation is now entirely possible and the city is still beautiful, awash with life, culture, art and a number of great places to eat and drink.
The focal point of Nazi Germany, Berlin is a historical and cultural hive. The sites on offer to visit are numerous: see the Reichstag which, in 1933, was set ablaze and as a result, essentially allowed Hitler absolute power; the Holocaust Memorial is an unsettling and important reminder of the persecution of Jews which occurred during the WWII period; and the Topography of Terror is a museum dedicated to atrocities performed by the Nazis. Berlin is also a great place to experience more recent history, such as the Berlin Wall, and features dozens of different museums and points of interest.
What was once called Stalingrad, Volgograd was the site of one of the bloodiest and most intense – if not the most intense – battles of World War II – the Battle of Stalingrad. The city has since changed its name as part of the process of destalinization, but many monuments still exist to commemorate the battle and the part it played in ending the Second World War.
Ortona is an Italian coastal town which was made famous by the Battle of Ortona, also known as “Little Stalingrad” because of the ferocity of fighting between German and Canadian troops. Although the battle only lasted eight days – in comparison to the five months of the Battle of Stalingrad – it employed many brutal and close-quarter tactics similar to the Russian conflict. Nowadays, the town is a popular seaside destination with multiple historical churches, cathedrals and museums, with the Museum of the Ortona Battle being one of the most popular.