This new tour focuses on air operations in Germany during the Second World War. Our tour will begin in Prague and end in Amsterdam. We will examine the famous Dambusters' Raid with a stop at Möhne Dam. In Dresden, we will hear stories of the fire-bombings and in Berlin, we will look at how the bombing raids impacted the citizens of the then Nazi capital. We will cross the border into Poland to tour Stalag (Luft) III which which was featured in the film ‘The Great Escape.’ On the Baltic Sea, we will tour Peenemünde where Wernher von Braun’s team developed the V-2, the world's first long-range guided ballistic missile. We will tour Himmler's SS Wewelsburg Castle and Colditz Castle, the famous POW camp for “incorrigible” Allied officers. On our itinerary, we visit two Luftwaffe museums in Gatow and Hanover, and in the Netherlands we will visit Arnhem's "A Bridge too Far." Popular Historian Guide Bill McQuade and guest historian Ed Bearss will accompany us on this exciting program.
Day 1: Sunday, September 15
Individual departures from the U.S. for Prague, Czech Republic. (Note: we will reserve a block of rooms for those who wish to arrive one or two days early in Prague. We will also arrange an optional tour of Prague.) Note: Staff (Ed Bearss & Marty Gane) plan to fly to Prague two days early. We will post their flights shortly.
Day 2: Monday, September 16
Individual arrivals in Prague. Join staff and fellow travelers at this evening’s welcome dinner.
Overnight Prague Marriott
Day 3: Tuesday, September 17
Depart Prague for Germany. En route, stop at the memorial that commemorates the Lidice Massacre. The villagers of Lidice were murdered and the town razed in 1942 in reprisal for the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich. Continue to Dresden, where we will tour the superb collection of the Bundeswehr Military History Museum. This museum's approach is to present the causes and consequences of war in the context of the nation’s political, cultural, and social history. Afterwards, we will begin to examine the air raid on Dresden, February 13-15, 1945 when RAF and USAAF bombers dropped over 3900 tons of bombs and incendiary devices. The resulting fire storm destroyed 1600 acres of the city. Check into our hotel for a 2-night stay. Overnight Dresden Hilton
Day 4: Wednesday, September 18
This morning, we tour the famous Meissen Porcelain factory and continue to Colditz Castle to visit the POW camp for “incorrigible” Allied officers who had repeatedly escaped from other camps. Upon our return to Dresden, we will complete our tour of WWII sites and Bill's discussion of the Allies’ strategy, the German air defenses, and the destruction and the rebuilding of this beautiful city.
Overnight Dresden Hilton
Day 5: Thursday, September 19
Today we depart Dresden for Berlin. En route, we will cross into Poland to tour Stalag Luft III, the POW camp which held captured Allied Air Force personnel. We will see the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts and a large scale model of the original camp. We will walk the grounds of the actual camp site, including Hut 104 where the Great Escape of 76 RAF prisoners, began in March 1944. Only 3 men made it home and 50, who were recaptured, were murdered on Hitler’s command.
Overnight Berlin Hilton
Day 6: Friday, September 20
We will spend our time in Berlin investigating the Allied air war on the city. Our first visit is to the aviation museum at the former RAF Gattow base. It is situated on an important WWII Luftwaffe base and has exhibits on both WWII and the Cold War. The collection is spread over several hangers and the control tower as well as the huge collection of aircraft and ancillary equipment on the airfield. On the way back to Berlin, we will pay our respects at the Berlin War Cemetery. Most of the 3,595 of those buried here are RAF airmen who were lost in air raids over Berlin and towns in east Germany. Overnight Berlin Hilton
Day 7: Saturday, September 21
We travel to Zossen to visit some of the most impressive WW2 remains still extant and open to the public. A garrison for the Imperial German Army was established here in 1910. During WWI it was home to several POW camps including the “Crescent Camp” for Muslim soldiers. Throughout WWII it was the headquarters for both the High Command of the Wehrmacht Armed Forces (OKW) and the German Army High Command (OKH). The complex was heavily bombed by both the RAF and USAAF; the surface damage is very evident today. We will have a guided tour through the Zeppelin, Maybach 1 and 2 bunkers, many of which were disguised as houses, and some of the remaining underground bunkers. This afternoon, we will tour Templehof, Hitler's massive temple to aviation. Overnight Berlin Hilton
Day 8: Sunday, September 22
We leave Berlin and visit Ravensbruck, a notorious Nazi concentration camp for women featured in the 2016 novel The Lilac Girls. We proceed to Peenemünde on the Baltic coast, the birthplace of the V-1 flying bomb known by the Allies as the buzz bomb or doodlebug, and the V-2 rocket, the first guided ballistic missile. Our tour of the site where Wernher von Braun’s team worked will include the museum and the actual testing and launch areas. Overnight Greifswald Mercure Hotel
Day 9: Monday, September 23
On the nearby island of Rügen, we will see Prora, the colossal beach resort (nearly 3 miles in length) designed by the Nazi party to accommodate 20,000 people. Part of the Nazi ‘Strength Through Joy’ program, but known cynically as "Hitler's Holiday Camp," they offered affordable beach vacations to average workers. Taken over by the Soviets at the conclusion of WWII, it was handed over to the East German military as a major barracks and training area during the Cold War. We will visit the Information Centre, before taking a guided tour of the site. We will have lunch in the seaside town of Binz. Overnight Greifswald Mercure Hotel
Day 10: Tuesday, September 24
We will check out this morning and proceed to the Aviation Museum Hannover-Laatzen south of Hanover. This private museum boasts a collection of 38 aircraft, 800 aircraft models, and 30 aircraft engines. Their massive collection includes a mock-up of the Red Baron’s Tridecker Focker; a Jumo 004A, one of the first jet engines in history; a Messerschmidt Bf109; and a Supermarine Spitfire. Cold War era aircraft include a Mig-5, a Starfighter, and an Antonov An-2. Overnight Cantera by Weigand, Wunstorf
Day 11: Wednesday, September 25
Today we drive south to historic Wewelsburg Castle, site of Himmler's SS school and cult site. Following the Nazi Regime's "final victory," Himmler had planned to make his Grail Castle, the "Center of the New World." We will tour the castle and its museum and then continue to
the Möhne Reservoir where we will examine Operation Chastise, the famous Dam Busters air raid of May 16-17, 1943.
RAF 617 Squadron was formed just 7 weeks prior to the raid devised to attack the great dams of Germany's Ruhr industrial valley. Led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, a veteran flyer with over 135 missions to his credit, the squadron did extensive night and low-altitude (60 ft!) flight training, even as the "bouncing bomb" was still being designed by British engineer Barnes Wallis. We will visit one of their targets, the Möhne dam, that supplied water to the steel producing plants near Dortmund.
Overnight NH Oberhausen Hotel
Day 12: Thursday, September 26
Today we travel to the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery near the town of Kleve. We will pay our respects to 32 RAF Dambusters who are laid to rest here. We will cross into the Netherlands and make several stops pertinent to Operation Market Garden, including drop sites for the 82nd Airborne in Groesbeek, Grave and the Nijmegen Bridge, and we'll discuss the Brits at Arnhem's "A Bridge Too Far". We end the day in Oosterbeek with a tour of the Hartenstein House Airborne Museum. Overnight Amsterdam Hilton
Day 13: Friday, September 27
Individual departures from Amsterdam for the USA. (Note: we will reserve a block of rooms for those who wish to extend their stay in Amsterdam. We will arrange an optional post-tour of Amsterdam.)
Note: American staff, Ed Bearss & Marty Gane plan to fly from Amsterdam to Washington on September 28 or 29. We will post flights shortly.
BATTLEFIELD GUIDE: We are delighted to announce that battlefield guide Bill McQuade, will accompany us again through Germany as our expert guide. Bill led our 2018 Third Reich Germany tour to rave reviews. Bill says that his life long passion for military history was first sparked on his 10th birthday by a present from his grandmother – a book by the RAF hero Guy Gibson entitled, “Enemy Coast Ahead.” Bill was stationed in Germany during the Cold War when he served with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, an armoured regiment. This posting provided Bill the opportunity to visit WWI and II battle sites, many of them still in their war time condition. Upon discharge from the Army, he began leading battlefield tours and soon found himself in high demand by documentary film makers. Acknowledged by many as one of the finest and most experienced battlefield guides currently operating tours, Bill leads tours of Third Reich Germany 6 to 8 times a year. Bill is a founding member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides.
GUEST HISTORIAN: We have also invited our dear friend Edwin C. Bearss to join us on this trip as our special guest. Author, lecturer and one of our nation's preeminent historians, Ed's encyclopedic knowledge and unflagging energy are legendary. A native of Sarpy, Montana, Ed is a decorated WWII Marine Corps veteran from the Pacific Theater. Ed has enjoyed a 41-year career as an historian for the National Park Service. In 1981, he was named Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, a position he held until 1994. Ed has led many WWII tours from Normandy to the Rhine River; the Battle of Crete, and the Italian Campaign and he is looking forward to joining us in Germany.
TOUR INCLUDES (13 days/11 nights):
* Guest Historian Guide: Edwin C. Bearss is scheduled for this tour
* Historian Guide: Bill McQuade is scheduled for this tour
* Services of a professional tour director: Marty Gane is scheduled for this tour
* 11 nights hotel accommodations
* Private, air-conditioned, motor coach for all sightseeing
* 2 wine/beer receptions, daily breakfast, TBA lunches, and TBA dinners
* All admissions, tours and excursions as described in the itinerary
* All taxes, baggage handling (one bag per person), & gratuities
* Pre-trip notes, reading list and map book
What is Not Included:
Airfare; transfers between airport and hotel; trip insurance; personal items such as wines, liquors, a la carte orders, room service, laundry charges; and meals and other items not specifically mentioned as included.
Prices will not include airfare, however, we are happy to assist you with flight arrangements. We will post staff flight details shortly in case you would like to book seats on the same flights as Historian Ed Bearss and Tour Manager Marty Gane.
COST: 13 DAYS/11 NIGHTS
Double Occupancy: $5595 per person
Single Occupancy: $5995
(NOTE: All costs will be based on a minimum of 25 participants.)