In 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising took place. It was an act of Jewish resistance in German-occupied Poland when the habitants of the ghetto refused to surrender an SS commander. The uprising ended in the burning of the ghetto with about 13,000 Jewish causalities. The uprising was also fueled by the fact that over 400,000 people were crammed into this small space in Warsaw, causing starvation and death. Being the largest Jewish revolt during the war, it is a significant site to visit in order to better understand the imprisonment and seclusion of Jews who were then deported to Nazi camps from this important gathering point.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum - Poland
Located in the country of Poland, this former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp site can be visited today for those who want to learn more about the Holocaust. It is free to visit the museum and learn about the place where over 1 million people were killed during World War II. Visitors can walk throughout the grounds, view photographs, prisoner rooms, and items that were seized from those sent to the camp all those years ago. Visiting Aushwitz is a truly spine chilling experience, so you should make sure that you are up to the emotional journey before going.
Normandy - France
June 6th, 1944, also known as D-Day was the day when Allied troops from Canada, Great Britain, and the United States landed in France to free Europe from German Occupation. If you’re looking to go on a historical road trip, hit Normandy France. Check out the American Cemetery in Colleville-Sur-Mer, as well as the famous landing beaches, most notably Omaha and Utah beach! Pointe du Hoc and Longues-sur-Mer are great places to explore German concrete structures that were strategically placed right along the water. Lastly, make your way to the cliffs of Etrétat to imagine how the troops scaled the cliff in order to get to land!
Pearl Harbor - USA
In order to commemorate the entrance of the United States in World War II, you can visit Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. At the site, visitors will stand above the wreckage of the USS Arizona ship and can even tour the Battleship Missouri where the Japanese surrendered, thus ending the war. Various tours are offered to make the most out of your experience at Pearl Harbor. When visiting Hawaii, a short day trip to the site that made December 7th an important date in history is a great way to learn about the US’ involvement in the war.
Oradour-sur-Glane - France
On June 10th, 1944, the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane was completely destroyed by the Nazis. President Charles de Gaulle ordered that the village be maintained post-destruction, as a memorial and museum to all of its inhabitants that were massacred. The village can be accessed by car, and is free to visit the main section, however for a few euros more, you can learn about the history of the events that took place there. Every year on the 10th of June, there is a commemoration ceremony in order to honor those who were lost during this terrible tragedy.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial - Japan
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. After the bombing of the city on August 6th, 1945, the emblematic Genbaku Dome (A-bomb Dome) was left standing. The dome has been used as symbol of how destructive humankind can be, but also as a symbol of world peace for more than half of a century since the bombing took place. Visitors can walk through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and tour its museum, which are bordered by two rivers and lush greenery.
Wolf’s Lair - Poland
What was once Hitler’s headquarters is currently hidden in a densely wooded area, camouflaged into the greenery of what is now the city of Ketrzyn in Poland. Hidden from aerial view and surrounded by lakes to avoid ground attacks, this is where Hitler spent most of his time throughout the war. The entire grounds once had 80 buildings for all different officers to control attacks on the Russian front during the war. A noteworthy ruin to explore is the Situation Conferences Barrack where Colonel bon Staufenberg attempted to assassinate Hitler during Operation Valkyrie. Today, none of the bunkers remain in tact, which is astonishing considering that they were constructed of 5-meter thick reinforced concrete walls.