Europe is awash with rich history throughout all of its countries – from France all the way through to the east and beyond, Europe has some of the most varied and unique history in all the world. Along with this history though comes some inevitably dark history, especially in terms of events such as World Wars One and Two. World War Two in particular housed a dark undercurrent with the genocide of millions of Jews throughout the continent, an event that still can be revisited and learned from in the many structures that were left by the Axis powers in Europe that still stand to this day. If you’re a World War Two buff, read ahead for some truly unique places to visit in Europe to get a new perspective of the war that happened between 1939 to 1945.
Oradour-sur-Glane was a quiet French town which was home to around six hundred people nestled in the countryside near Limoges. On June 10th, 1944 a Nazi Waffen SS brigade entered the area arresting everyone in sight, including people who were merely riding their bicycles through the town and assembling them in the town square. What happened next was horrific to say the least when the men were separated from the women and children and everyone was locked away in different buildings which were then razed. Of the some six-hundred residents only a handful survived the massacre. The remains of the town are still there to this day and was ordered by President Charles de Gaulle to be protected as a memorial and museum.
Oskar Schindler’s Factory, Krakow, Poland
Anyone who knows of Oskar Schindler’s rescue of numerous Jews would be interested in visiting his enamel factory in Krakow, which now houses the Krakow museum of Contemporary Art as well as the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow. Only the administrative portion of the building still stands, but it’s worth a visit. The museum houses much information about Oskar Schindler as well as his work to rescue as many Jews as possible, many of which were saved by working in his factories and through his political bribery. This is an excellent addition to any visit to Krakow, regardless of whether you’re interested in greater World War Two history or not.
Concentration Camps – Throughout
Along with the dark history of Europe comes some of the remaining locations of concentration camps that were used by the Axis powers in their “final solution”, the genocide of the Jews in Europe. Remaining camps range in popularity – if you could call it that- and some have been destroyed over time. The most popular remaining ones for visitors include Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland, but there are many strewn throughout Germany, Czech Republic and Poland amongst other countries that all have their own museums and memorials dedicated to the people who lived, worked and died in the camps.
So there you have a couple of really historic, and sometimes disturbing, sites to seek out in Europe for those who are interested in the history and aftermath of the Second World War. With so many sites of not just horrific and gruesome events but also interesting munitions stores and the like as well as the beaches of Normandy all open to visitors, it’s no wonder so many people go to these impressive sites year after year.