domingo, 28 de março de 2010


I went on an excursion with CIDEF to Normandy last Saturday, where in the morning we visited the WWII Memorial in Caen which is a sort of historical musuem. Afterwards we visited the American cemetery which is right behind Omaha beach (and was given to the US as American territory as a thanks from the French), the German cemetery in a nearby village, and Pointe du Hoc, a strategic location between Omaha beach and Utah beach, where after the war they left everything as it was so you can still see the bomb craters, the bunkers for the giant German guns, etc. It was a very moving experience, to see all this, and I learned a lot too; it was interesting to see the war from a French point of view, and at the musuem I learned a lot about the French Vichy regime which I had never really studied in detail.

The American Cemetery. It reminded me a lot of DC, had the same feel. And the bathrooms even had water fountains, which are unheard of in France! Hehee.

The German cemetery. It's about 1/3 of the size of the American cemetery, but has double the amount of graves--20,000, versus 10,000. They had very different feels to them, but both were somber yet peaceful, the way cemeteries should be.

Pointe du Hoc. It's a cliff between the two beaches, which you can see in the pictures. The remnants of the so called "Atlantic Wall" of the Germans are in ruins due to heavy bombing by the Americans. This was a stronghold thought to be unassailable from the beach, but a group of 225 Texas Rangers scaled the cliff during D-Day and overtook it. They got stuck there though, surrounded by German forces, and by the time help came a few days later, only 90 were left. However they played an integral role by disabling the heavy artillery there, because otherwise both Omaha and Utah beaches would have suffered much heavier casualties.
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