After picking up my cool Mercedes in Caen (the only time I will probably drive a Mercedes), I made my way to one of the major stops on my journey – the Mémorial de Caen Musée or Caen Memorial. This museum is one that I was very interested in seeing, and the early ferry allowed me more time than I would have otherwise had. The main exhibit of the museum is a timeline of the causes and events of World War II, presented in a downward spiral (I read it was symbolic of humankind’s descent due to the rise of totalitarian rulers). There were special highlights on Vichy France, life under German occupation, and the growth of the resistance in France and other parts of occupied Europe. There was a large section on the Holocaust, some mention of American contributions in the war, and the audio guide gave an excellent support to the artifacts and images. By the end of the exhibit, it was obvious that the exhibit was not just telling about World War II – it was teaching (even preaching) about the need for peace. The sculpture outside of the museum makes that point very clearly as well.
The museum also has a special section on D-Day, which gave me a few more pearls about the invasion. A comprehensive Cold War exhibit presented a great timeline of the conflict between the US and USRR, and the exhibit on Berlin after the war told a clear and comprehensive story of the division of the German capital and the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
Not surprisingly, I am learning about World War II, the D-Day invasion, and other military conflicts from a much more global perspective. I am able to put the American role in war into greater context, both on the battlefield and on the home front. This should add to my instruction on the conflict come next April.