Classics: Report. "It fell 10,000 shells per day": hike between the craters of the war 1939-1945

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in a part of the Luxembourg Ardennes where the stigma of the Second World War are always visible, interactive walks allow you to discover faces of this terrible era.

A stone's throw from the entrance to the forest, at Schumannseck ( Luxembourg ), stones aligned for a few meters betray the foundations of an old house. Despite the trees that overlook them. A cantonnier lived here before the Second World War , with his wife and their ten children ", explains Frank Rockenbrod, founder and president of the National Museum of Military History in Luxembourg.

"The father died in 1936. The mother decided to stay when The Battle of the Ardennes began in December 1944. The building was requisitioned by nine German officers, because it was one of the rare roofs around. Before being finally destroyed and burnt down during the fighting.

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Shards of buses regularly found

these ruins, like other stigma of the Second World War, are commented in interactive walks in a part of the Luxembourg Ardennes. Surrounded by so much greenery, it is difficult to imagine that in this part of the forest took place the bloodiest battle on the country's soil. Ruins and craters are all clues: C ’is here, under a meter of snow at the time, that the American army defeated the Germans after more than three weeks of fierce combat.

At the height of the fighting, between the New Year and January 6, 1945, he fell here around 10,000 shells per day, on a front line of only 6 km. The ground is always a witness. The marked trail is fully secure, but there are regular buses of buses or shells that have not exploded. Afterwards, if you go 30 meters to the left or right of the trail, I cannot give guarantees ..., explains Frank, the serious air. Next to him and a group of tourists, an "Achtung Minen" sign (watch out for mines, in German) recalls that mines were also buried.

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A little further, the remains of Foxholes, the holes in which soldiers, most often by two, were hidden under the snow. At the end of an alley, a vast crater about ten meters in diameter, caused by a 250 kg bomb of TNT dropped by the Americans.

Photos of moving archives

throughout the hiking trail, life -size photo panels representing civilians and military in situations of daily life or combat. All are archive photos taken in the surroundings: this very visual exhibition is accompanied by additional information thanks to QR code to flash. It was the wish of students and high school students that we were surveyed to understand their memorial expectations.

More than 150 testimonies of American and German veterans are offered on the way, in audio, video or written form. Most have been collected by Frank since the 1970s. It is not from this corner of Luxembourg, but itself has a family history intimately linked to that of war.

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My father, then 22, was a member of the Luxembourg resistance. He was locked in a concentration camp in Poland near Warsaw, from 1942 to 1945, after his arrest on the border when he tried to join England so as not to be enlisted in the Wehrmacht. In the forest, some silhouettes also tell the life of civilians like his father. But most represent men on the front.

Between two bushes, a young soldier communicated by radio signal. Behind the branches of a tree, a young German soldier, without a weapon, with a too long coat. Fear can be read in his eyes. This photo was taken on December 18, 1944, at the end of the war, when the Nazis sent to the pipe breaker of children 14, 16, poorly armed and equipped.

The photo that touches our guide the most is at the end of the ride. In the midst of the pines, we can guess the joy of an American soldier, to whom a nurse hands a cigar. This photo sums up all the heresy of war. This soldier came from New York, one of the largest cities in the world, and he is stuck here in the Ardennes, in small trenches under a meter of snow, without knowing if he will see his country one day and those he loves . The soldier survived.

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