Top 10 things to see when visiting Battle of the Bulge area in Belgium and Luxembourg.
August 25, 2016 joedemadio 10 Comments
The Battle of the Bulge, also referred to as the Ardennes Offensive, is known for its heavy battles in very harsh conditions between December 16th 1944 and January 21st 1945. Some people even claim it lasted till February ‘45. For more than a month Allied troops fought against an incredible amount of German troops on a front line of at least 100km long. It’s not crazy to think that today the traces of Hitler’s last gamble are still visible in the area the battles were fought. In this article I’d like to address the top 10 places and sites you must see and should put on your bucket list!
I’d like to kick this list off with the site where the Germans crossed the border from Germany in to Belgium. Between the village of Hellenthal and Losheimergraben you’ll find the famous Dragon Teeth Tank Obstacles of the Siegfried line. These traces of war are perfect for holiday pictures or any other type photography. If you enter the woods here, you’ll find a memorial of the US 99th Infantry Division and the German 277th Volksgrenadier division who had their positions here on the first day of the Battle of the Bulge. Upon entering the woods you’ll be able to spot a various amount of foxholes. These have been dug by the troops that fought here. Well worth a picture!
The second on our list is a spot where the Malmedy Massacre took place. If you want to know more about the Battle of the Bulge, you’ll definitely have to read about the Malmedy Massacre. It refers to a massacre where 84 American Prisoners of War were murdered by their German captors at the Baugnez crossroads near Malmedy on December 17th 1944. On the actual site where it happened there’s a monument with the names of those who were massacred that day. Near the crossroad is also a Museum which I highly recommend to visit when you’re also visitng the crossroads.
If you’re a fan of armoured vehicles, then you must visit the third site on our list. It’s famous among every Battle of the Bulge fan, but if you’re one of the lesser interested I highly suggest to look at the King Tiger 213 Tank in La Gleize. This beast belonged to Obersturmführer Dollinger who served in Kampfgruppe Peiper. The tank was left behind when Peiper and his men had to escape back to friendly lines. In 1945 the United States started clearing all wrecks from the battlefields. The King Tiger 213 was located in the backyard of Ms. Jenny Geenen-Dewez. She traded the tank for a bottle of Cognac. Right now the tank stands here, in front of the museum in La Gleize.
Rather than just a site we have a village on our fourth spot. This is a village called La Roche-en-Ardenne in Belgium. In my opinion it’s a perfect place for tourists as well as people who are interested in the Battle of the Bulge. During the Ardennes Offensive it was heavily damaged by bombings from both US and German sides. Right now there’s an M4A1 Sherman tank and a British Achilles SP 17 pdr tank available for sightseeing. They are both on display as monuments and makes a perfect place to take pictures at. Did you also know you’re able to enter the Sherman from the bottom if you crawl under it? The village also has a very intersting museum about the Battle of the Bulge which you can visit. More info on the museum can be found here.
Next is another town called Bastogne. This city is known among every war buff. There’s Sherman Tank on theMcAullife Square as well as a bust of General McAullife himself, but did you know there is a total of four museums, lots of information panels to tour you around the battlefields and many other traces of the Battle of the Bulge that are still visible today? If you’re with a family, Bastogne is very suitable for shopping and a lunch break. There’s a variety of Restaurants in town which make it enjoyable for everyone.
If you’re a fan of the HBO series Band of Brothers, you must visit Foy and its surrounding woods. This area is covered in Episode 6 and 7 of the miniseries. There’s a monument dedicated to Easy Company here, and the woods behind the monument contain foxholes and dugouts which were used by Easy Company in the early stage of the Battle of the Bulge. South-West of Foy you’ll find the tree line from which Easy Co. Started their attack on the village of Foy itself. You definitely can’t miss out on these spots!
The sixth site on our list is little more unknown than the others. Nevertheless, it played a huge role during the Battle of the Bulge. Schuman’s Eck is a place that was part of the battle for almost it’s entire duration. Today the location is known for it’s café that actually also was part of the battles. In the woods near the café you’ll be able to follow a walking route along the German and US positions. The area is beautiful and contains monuments which will help you understand the battles that took place here. If you’re up for a nice walk, put on those shoes and park your car here! The Schuman’s Eck Memorial Trail is a must see if you want to get closer to the battlefields.
The next site is very special and indirectly brings you close to the frontline soldiers that fought in the Battle of the Bulge. The Hoesdorf plateau is a historical circuit put together by the National Museum of Military History in Diekirch, Luxembourg. The circuit will take you along the frontlines of the 28th Infantry Division which were located on the Border of Germany and Luxembourg. The 28th division were one of the first victims of the German Offensive and they did their very best in defending the area on December 16th. One of the surprising traces of war here are tree carvings from US soldiers. In my opinion this circuit is the great underdog among all the existing walking trails and deserves way more attention from other people. I highly suggest to download it here so you can start your journey to discover WW2 History. The circuit is interesting for the whole family!
Your trip to the Ardennes isn’t complete without visiting the bunkers of the German Westwall. These structures are part of the Siegfried line which is mentioned on the first site of our list. These bunkers were also part of this defensive line that was built in the 1930s opposite east of the French Maginot Line. The whole siegfried line stretched more than 630km and featured over 18000 bunkers, tunnels and tank traps. My favourite part of this line is near the Gentingen, Germany. There are several bunkers located here that were used by the Germans at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge as well as during their defence in February 1945. This bunker contains a very interesting information pannel. It’s easily accessible and nature even allows you to spot some war time trenches which were used by the German soldiers.
Last but not least, are the cemeteries in Belgium and Luxembourg. I think everyone should at least visit one cemetery to stand still and think of all the brave men that gave their lives for their country. Both Belgium and Luxembourg have a U.S. and German Cemetery. If you’re near any of them, I suggest visiting the closest to you. Henri Chapelle is the US Cemetery in Belgium and Recogne is the German one. In Luxembourg we have the US Cemetery Hamm and the German Cemetery of Sandweiler. The Luxembourg ones are very close to each other, so if you want you can visit them both on the same day! Did you know Hamm contains the grave of General Patton and some of the real Band of Brothers soldiers?
I hope this is a great checklist for you! Leave in the comments down below which one you’ve already visited. For more inspiration, check out my Youtube channel here.