On my second day in Normandy last year for the 69th anniversary of D-Day, I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Mémorial de Caen.
I’ve always been interested in the events leading up to the Second World War and this museum was the best at explaining why the political and social atmosphere in Europe was ripe for the horrors that were to follow.
If you’re looking into visiting a museum during your visit to Normandy that will educate you and your family on the greater political and social context of the war in Europe, I would definitely recommend Mémorial de Caen.
I learned that determined to wipe out the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles and to conquer “living space” for the Aryan race in Germany, Hitler undertook a series of armed takeovers in breach of international law. He rearmed his country, re-militarised the Rhineland, annexed Austria with the Anschluss and invaded part of Czechoslovakia in the years prior to the Second World War and the D-Day landings. After the Munich Conference, he also formed ties with fascist Italy and militaristic Japan. Consequently he instigated an makeshift alliance of dictatorships. Still traumatised by the devastating losses during the First World War, France and Great Britain did nothing to counteract the growing dangers and aggressiveness these dictatorships. It was only on the 23rd August 1939, when a non-aggression pact was signed between Germany and the USSR that it make inevitable that war would break out. The pact stunned and confused Europe’s democracies because these two countries had seemed to be unwavering ideological adversaries. This, in addition to Germany’s invasion of Poland, led to Great Britain and France’s declaration of war on 3 September, 1939.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Mémorial de Caen last year, and hope to return again this year for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.