to - darkometer rating: 3 -
The sites where in June 1944 the Allies undertook this most massive landing operation of WWII
, namely on the Normandy shores of Nazi-Germany
, which marked the beginning of the end for Hitler
's war, now also from the west (things had already been going badly on the Eastern Front ever since Stalingrad – see Volgograd
As all along the so-called Atlantic Wall, the Germans had built massive fortifications in Normandy. However, Hitler expected the foreseeable Allied invasion elsewhere, so the choice of Normandy as the entry point for the Western Allies into the Third Reich
's extended territory (code-named Operation Overlord) benefited from an element of surprise and also less defence was expected here. Defence was fierce, though, and the landings were a bloody business. For that reason, the monuments and war cemeteries in the area rank extremely high as shrines for veterans and war buffs alike to visit.
In fact the handbook to consult for those sites, Chuck Thompson's "The 25 Essential World War II Sites – European Theater"
has three whole chapters for Normandy alone (plus another one for the Pas de Calais eastern end of the French Atlantic Wall
Amongst the things to see spread out over the area are huge memorials, various war museums, war cemeteries, old fortifications and coastal gun batteries, left-over tanks and landing vessels, and so on and so forth – and of course there are the battlefields themselves, esp. the beaches with those ominous names such as Omaha beach
, Utah beach
, Sword beach
, etc. where the initial landings took place that cost so many their lives.
It's beyond the scope of this website to list all individual attractions here. So I really do recommend Chuck Thompson's book instead. There are of course also scores of specialist other websites that provide guidance.
Related sites that may possibly be of interest to the dark tourist are the gigantic submarine pens in the more south-westerly part of the Atlantic Wall esp. in south Brittany and along the Bay of Biscay coast, e.g. at Lorient, St-Nazaire or La Rochelle.