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Evidence of the World Wars in contemporary Europe

Europe has remained scarred with the events of these two tragic and momentous occasions and as a result there are countless points of interests and evidence of the World Wars that remain in contemporary Europe. 

Many of the landmarks, museums and locations that act as reminders of these wars stand as well-visited sites for guests of escorted river cruise holidays travelling through Europe and they look to encourage visitors and river cruise guests to visit and learn about these great wars.

This guide will look to introduce you to just a handful of these impressive sites and detail why you should visit them on your next trip.

The Dutch Resistance Museum

This fantastic institution in the Netherlands consists of two museums, The Dutch Resistance Museum and the Dutch Resistance Museum Junior, offering visitors of any age the opportunity to learn more about World War II and its impact on this country. With both permanent and temporary exhibits that aim to show what it was really like for those connected to the Second World War, it is no wonder that this institution has been ranked fourth on TripAdvisor for top attractions in the Netherlands and continues to attract visitors from all over the world who come to visit.

Here is further information from the museum on why visitors should come to their institution and keep the memory of the war alive.

“The model streets and walls full of photos that make up the décor of the Dutch Resistance Museum Amsterdam help evoke the climate of the war years. The authentic objects, photos and documents, film and sound fragments, tell the history of people who lived through that period. The exhibition covers all forms of resistance: strikes, forging of documents, helping people to go into hiding, underground newspapers, escape routes, armed resistance, espionage. You’ll see, hear and read fascinating stories about the exceptional as well as the everyday.”

– The Dutch Resistance Museum

The National Liberation Museum 1944-1945

The National Liberation Museum, or 'Nationaal Bevrijdingsmuseum 1944-1945' is a great example of evidence of the impact of World War II on contemporary Europe and, more specifically, the Netherlands. Based near Nijmegen, Arnhem and the German border, it is situated in a location of sheer beauty with the natural landscape working as a stark contrast to the time this museum commemorates. Bringing the historical events of the liberation by the American, Canadian, British and Polish Troops to life, it looks to help visitors gain a greater understanding of the importance of the War and the value of freedom.

Here are just a handful of events that the museum described in answer to why European river cruise guests should visit their institution and keep the memories of the war alive.

“Extensive programmes have been launched in the region to commemorate and celebrate 70 years Operation Market Garden in September 2014.

Information about the commemorations and celebrations of 70 years Rhineland Offensive in February 2015 will be published by the end of this year.”

– The National Liberation Museum 1944-1945

Museum of Military History

Nowhere could be more appropriate to learn and remember the events of the First World War than Austria, and the Museum of Military History in Vienna certainly offers the fateful Austria-Hungary war the respect it should receive.

Their permanent exhibition on World War I consists of two rooms that provide information on the main sites of the war, the wounded soldiers, prisoners and those who died, as well as its impact on the present. In their Sarajevo exhibition visitors can see the vehicle in which heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated, alongside his blood-soaked uniform jacket.

Anne Frank House

Anne Frank is regarded around the world as the most famous icon of the Second World War. The story of her evasion of the implications of Nazi Germany has touched all generations around the world and the work of the Anne Frank House museum continues to do so. Turning Frank’s famed hiding place into one of the three most popular museums in Amsterdam, here the museum told us their reason why visitors should come to Anne Frank House.

“Anne Frank’s life story helps to make the fate of millions of victims of the Holocaust personal and comprehensible. It is a story that begins with prejudice and preconceptions: issues that still lead to anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, exclusion and persecution in all parts of the world today.”

– Anne Frank House

Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum

This extraordinary museum has one of the most interesting locations as it sits as a part of a six-mile stretch of interconnected caves underneath Buda Castle Hill in Budapest. Dedicated to the former secret emergency hospital and nuclear bunker, the Hospital in the Rock Museum, or ‘Sziklakórház Múzeum’, stands as one of the most real examples of the World Wars in contemporary Europe in which visitors can gain a true understanding of what it must have been like for soldiers and hospital staff during the Second World War.

“The rough times of the WWII, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the Cold War era are now revived with shocking authenticity. The centrally located exhibition displays more than 200 wax figures and original equipment in the former medical facility.

The Museum awaits its visitors with tour guides and 60-minute long tours. During the tour you can experience a real time warp in the heart of the Buda Castle.”

– The Hospital in the Rock

Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Rounds

The Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds similarly stands as a very real example of the Second World War, with the grounds being the remains of the buildings in which the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds stood. Here the Centre describes why visitors to Nuremberg should visit this centre among others and why institutions such as their own are so important in the understanding of the formation of contemporary Europe following the war.

“The relics of the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg are the most important and almost the only building remnants in Germany which illustrate how the Nazi regime staged and celebrated itself every year and are now outstanding historic places for learning. The Zeppelin Grandstand and the Zeppelin Field for example bring home the hierarchical relationship between “Führer” and the people, the concept of establishing a “people’s community” by excluding those “alien to the community”, as well as the stage-set nature of Albert Speer’s architecture. This reveals the questionable show-side of the Party Rallies, intended to mask the violence behind the scenes. The exhibition in the Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds provides information about the causes, contexts and consequences of the National Socialist reign of terror.”

– Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds

Emerald Cruises visits a number of World War commemorative sites and museums as part of their cultural itineraries, with much free time left at guests’ disposal in which they can further explore the sites mentioned in this article. See the extensive portfolio of modern river cruises in Europe for more information on these cruises and sites.

Image Credit: The Dutch Resistance Museum The Netherlands in World War II

This content was written by Angela Sloan. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.