Musee National D’Histoire Militaire, Diekrik, Luxembourg
Musee National D’Histoire Militaire (The National Museum of Military History) opened in 1984 as the Diekirk Historical Museum, primarily to showcase the Battle of the Bulge. It shows the life of civilians caught in the crossfire in Luxembourg in WWII, and perspectives from both German and American soldiers. For a country brutally trampled and occupied by Germany in WWII, the exhibitions are remarkably objective. The museum’s mission states that it is a place where mutual bonds of friendship are fostered between former adversaries.
A well-maintained olive drab M4A1 Sherman tank greets you in the parking lot. The military vehicle collection is extensive, with a few rarities and oddities such as a Snow Trailer and a Water Buffalo Water Tank, taking up every square inch of the cavernous 1,500-square-meter building. It’s a paradise for lovers of wheeled and tracked military vehicles, all of which are lined up in the main exhibition hall just inside the entrance by the ticket counter.
Amongst the German vehicles displayed are a German Jagdpanzer 38 Hetzer, a NSU-HK Opel 101 Kettenkrad half track, a VW Type 82 Kubelwagen and an RSO-03 “Raupenschlepper Ost” Humboldt Deutz Diesel.
United States vehicles include a 1.5 ton 6×6 Dodge truck used for transporting cargo and personnel; a 4-ton 6×6 Diamond T truck wrecker; a half-ton 4×4 Dodge T214 weapons carrier; a half-ton 4×4 Willys; a high speed 18-ton M4 tractor and a GMC CCKW cargo truck with communications shelter.
A series of rooms feature weapons, uniforms, photographs, documents, maps, military equipment and ordnance, communication and engineering equipment, medical supplies and soldier’s personal belongings. Whole shelves groan under the weight U.S. Army ration displays.
Pieces of crumpled aircraft fuselage, propellers and a parachute harness hang from the walls. Over 25 American and German helmets are displayed in addition to rare German cigarette packets, rations packs and medical supply packs. A 6-foot-high stack of U.S. Army ammunition boxes lines one wall.
Well-designed large-scale dioramas are another quality feature of this museum. The mock-up of a night crossing of the Sauer River at Diekirk on 8 January 1945, is its centerpiece. The history of Luxembourg’s armed forces since its inception as a state to the present comprises a second section of the museum. A glass covered display case holds several books in English about the Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Army helmets and other souvenirs.
Musee National D’Histoire Militaire (10 Bamertal, L-9209 Diekirk, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg; phone +352 80 89 08, www.nat-military-museum.lu). Allow 2-3 hours. Open daily, 2-6 p.m. (2 Nov-31 Mar) and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (1 Apr-1 Nov). Admission €5, adults; €3, Children 10-18. WWII veterans with veteran ID card and disabled, free.