Featuring noted historian Dr. Alexandra Richie, The National WWII Museum's exclusive 12-day trip explores Germany and Poland through the lens of the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Led by Dr. Richie—one of the world's foremost experts on World War II in Europe—the tour will visit Berlin's Olympic Stadium and Reichstag; sites of the Third Reich's exploits and atrocities across Europe at Auschwitz, Wannsee, and Warsaw; as well as stunning cathedrals and Teutonic castles. With full-time guides and historians to add depth and context to every stop and special guests with firsthand recollections of the war years, travelers will have access to a uniquely immersive historical view of Germany and Poland as they travel in comfort to some of Europe's most extraordinary sites.Main photo by Martin Klimenta
- September 18, 2017 Day 1
- September 19, 2017 Day 2
- September 20, 2017 Day 3
- September 21, 2017 Day 4
- September 22, 2017 Day 5
- September 23, 2017 Day 6
- September 24, 2017 Day 7
- September 25, 2017 Day 8
- September 26, 2017 Day 9
- September 27, 2017 Day 10
- September 28, 2017 Day 11
- September 29, 2017 Day 12
- DOWNLOAD ITINERARY
Day 1: ARRIVAL IN BERLIN
Guests arrive in Berlin and transfer to the Regent Berlin Hotel. Historian Alexandra Richie will be on hand to greet the tour, and guests enjoy free time this afternoon before this evening’s welcome dinner and tour preview with Dr. Richie.
Regent Berlin (D)Berlin Cathedral
Day 2: BERLIN
After breakfast, a tour of Berlin begins at the reimagined and refurbished Reichstag building, historic home of the Bundestag (the national parliament) from 1894 to 1933. The massive 19th century building was used during the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, and now in a united, democratic Germany. Guests visit the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse, where the only preserved section of the notorious wall can be seen, and walk the “no man’s land” along the remaining segment. The Topography of Terror Museum has housed a permanent exhibition since 1987, when the cellar of a Gestapo headquarters was discovered and excavated. An open-air memorial was erected in memory of those who were imprisoned, tortured, and killed by the Nazis, and the site developed into a prize-winning documentation center. The tour continues on to the Olympic Stadium on the outskirts of Berlin after lunch. Built to host the 11th Olympic Summer games in 1936, the stadium was a prime example of Nazi architecture and design, and could hold 110,000 spectators. This evening is free for dinner and independent exploration of Berlin.
Regent Berlin (B, L)Reichtstag Building Interior
Day 3: BERLIN
The day starts at the House of the Wannsee Conference, a lakeside mansion used by the Nazi Party in 1942 as they formulated the “Final Solution” of the planned extermination of European Jewry. Guests stop for lunch at Restaurant Fischerhütte Schlachtensee, overlooking a scenic lake on the way to Potsdam, the capital of the Brandenburg state, which is only 15 miles from Berlin. Next is a visit to Cecilienhof Palace, the location of the Potsdam Conference of 1945, where Stalin, Churchill, and Truman met to discuss how to establish a postwar order. The group returns to Berlin for a guided tour of the Allied Museum located in the American sector of postwar Berlin. The remainder of the evening is free for exploration and an independent dinner.
Regent Berlin (B, L)Wannsee House
Day 4: ARRIVAL IN DRESDEN TO WROCLAW
After an early farewell to Berlin, the group heads to Dresden, one of the most important centers of modern art and dance in early 20th-century Germany. The Allies firebombed Dresden in February 1945, almost completely destroying its architecture, paintings, theaters, and museums. During the attack, POW Kurt Vonnegut survived by securing himself in an underground meat locker. The experience became the inspiration for his acclaimed work Slaughterhouse-Five. The creative heart of Dresden’s residents remained intact, and painstaking restorations of the buildings continue to this day. The tour pays a visit to the Bundeswehr Military History Museum, located inside a former arsenal. After an included lunch, guests continue on to Frauenkirche, the Cathedral Church of Our Lady. Destroyed during the firebombing, the ruins of the church sat for almost 50 years as a monument to World War II. Reconstruction began in 1994 and finished 11 years later—in time for Reformation Day. The day ends in the western Polish town of Wroclaw.
Hotel Monopol Wroclaw (B, L, D)Bundeswehr Military History Museum in Dresden, Germany
Day 5: WROCLAW TO KRAKÓW
The day begins with a tour of Wroclaw, which was part of Germany until 1945 and was known by its German name, Breslau. Out of range of Allied bombers for most of the war, Breslau remained intact until the closing months. In August 1944, Hitler declared the city a fortress to be defended at all costs. The siege by the Red Army began on February 13, 1945. Soviet artillery and German defenses reduced the city to rubble. The Germans fought to hold the city for 82 days, but surrendered to the Red Army on May 6, 1945, making Breslau the last major German city to surrender. The city is now majority Polish and was a 2016 European Capital of Culture. In the afternoon, the group continues to Kraków after lunch.
Radisson Blu Kraków (B, L, D)Breslau ruins, 1945
Day 6: KRAKÓW
The day starts with a visit to Oskar Schindler’s factory near “Ghetto Heroes Square”—the site from which Schindler was able to save over 1,000 Jews from the Plaszow forced labor camp, and ultimately from death, as portrayed in the film Schindler’s List. Opened in 2010, the museum housed in the factory’s administrative building includes Schindler’s preserved office, photographs, displays about prewar Kraków, and the story of the five years of Nazi occupation. A 30-mile drive west of Kraków is the Polish town of Oswiecim, known to history by its German name, Auschwitz. The German occupiers took over this former army barracks in 1940 and populated it with Polish political prisoners. As the war continued, the Nazis expanded the camp, imprisoning Jews from all over Europe or sending them on to their deaths. The Martyrdom Museum at Auschwitz is a ghastly reminder of the inhumanity which humans are capable. An independent evening allows reflection on the day.
Radisson Blu Kraków (B, L)Entrance of Auschwitz concentration camp near Krakow, Poland
Day 7: KRAKÓW
Explore Kraków, which was included on UNESCO’s first World Heritage list in 1978. Since the Tatar raids in the 13th century, the Old Town has remained mostly intact, making it the only large Polish city to escape the destruction of World War II. The tour day begins at St. Mary’s Basilica before breaking for an independent lunch in the Old Town Square. Rynek Glowny in Polish, the square is known for its quaint cafés and excellent shopping. The afternoon includes a visit to the Wawel Castle, the seat of Polish kings, and the Gothic Wawel Cathedral, where Polish kings were crowned and buried for centuries. During the war Hans Frank, Governor General of the occupied Polish territories, installed himself in the Wawel Castle. Calling himself the “King of Poland,” he surrounded himself with stolen art, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine, and wielded his terrifying power over the population. Guests continue on a walking tour to Jagiellonian University, founded in 1364 by Casimir III the Great. Over the centuries, the university has educated some of Europe’s most respected figures, including Nicolaus Copernicus, Pope John Paul II, and Nobel Prize–winning poet Wisława Szymborska. The group takes a stroll through the university’s lovely botanical garden, which is more than 200 years old. Next is a return to Old Town to visit Cloth Hall, which historically functioned as the main marketplace of the town. Guests board a short flight for Gdańsk this evening.
Sofitel Grand Sopot (B, L)Cloth Hall, Krakow, Poland
Day 8: GDAŃSK
Poland’s maritime city on the Baltic Sea, Danzig, now called Gdańsk, was first mentioned in historical documents in 997. In its thousands of years of existence, this venerable port city has changed hands six times—the prize in a long-running game of tug-of-war between Germany and Poland. This morning, a tour of the city begins at the Museum of the Second World War. Guests enjoy a private lunch and lecture before embarking on an exclusive guided tour of the museum. A short trip to Westerplatte, the place where the Germans fired the first shots of what became World War II, ends the day’s touring. It was here on September 1, 1939, where a German battleship paying a “courtesy call” on Danzig began firing shells at the Polish garrison here. The evening is free to explore Gdańsk and enjoy dinner independently.
Sofitel Grand Sopot (B, L)Gdańsk, Poland
Day 9: WOLF'S LAIR & MIKOLAJKI
The tour drives onward today to Hitler’s secret, fortified, Eastern Front command post, known as Wolf’s Lair. The failed July 20, 1944, assassination attempt on Hitler, portrayed in the 2008 movie Valkyrie (starring Tom Cruise), took place within the vast complex. After lunch, guests visit the German command-and-control center at Mauerwald—now called Mamerki—which is a massive complex of bunkers and underground tunnels built for the OKH (Oberkommando des Heeres). Here, over 40 top generals and field marshals oversaw the war on the Eastern Front. There were 200 structures, including 30 bunkers, which are still intact. The evening is spent in the resort town of Mikolajki.
Hotel Mikolajki Conference Center (B, L, D)Hitler and Field Marshal Fedor Von Bock at “Wolf’s Lair"
Day 10: WARSAW
The group departs Mikolajki, bound for Poland’s capital city of Warsaw. On arrival, guests enjoy time for exploration and an independent lunch in Old Town Square. The group sets out on a walking tour this afternoon, beginning at the 1944 Warsaw Uprising Monument. Unveiled in 1989, the monument commemorates the valiant and tragic attempt of the Polish Resistance to take back the city of Warsaw from Nazi troops before the Soviet Army entered the city. Guests visit the Mausoleum of Struggle and Martyrdom, located in a former Gestapo headquarters, and end the day at the Pawiak Prison Museum. Built in 1835, Pawiak was Warsaw’s main male prison. When the Germans invaded in 1939, it became a Gestapo prison and eventually part of the complex of Warsaw concentration camps. Gather this evening for a reception at the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Opened in 2004 on the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Uprising, this museum is centered on a collection of almost 1,000 photographs taken by photographer and Olympian athlete Eugeniusz Lokajski, who documented the uprising before he was killed in an artillery attack. At the museum, a lecture on the Warsaw Uprising and the Polish Resistance offers additional expert commentary to expand on the day's themes.
Hotel Bristol (B, R)Night panorama of Old Town in Warsaw, Poland
Day 11: WARSAW
Guests spend the day exploring Warsaw, starting at the Genscher Cemetery, Warsaw’s largest Jewish cemetery with over 250,000 people buried on site. Many prominent leaders of Warsaw’s Jewish community are interred here, including Marek Edelman, a leader of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. The tour continues on to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews for a guided tour of the exhibits. The afternoon is free for lunch and individual pursuits. The group drives a short distance outside of Warsaw this evening to Radzymin, the site of the last great tank battle of World War II, in August 1944. Visitors explore the battlefield with a historian who will explain the events of the battle and their consequences for both the Germans and the Soviets. The tour concludes at the private residence of Dr. Alexandra Richie, a home that was once used as the headquarters for German General Herbert Otto Gille, commander of the 5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking during the battle. Here, Dr. Richie hosts the group to a farewell reception and dinner.
Hotel Bristol (B, R, D)Polin Museum of History in Warsaw, Poland
Day 12: DEPART WARSAW AND RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES
The tour bids farewell to Poland this morning and transfers to Warsaw Chopin Airport for individual flights back to the United States.
(B)Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin at Potsdam Conference
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