Welcome to the 2012 program website for The United States and World War II Europe:  Memory and Memorials!  Below are some links and photos taken recently during our Study Abroad program.

2012  Study Abroad Program Photo

Group Photo at Recently Dedicated "Major Dick Winters Statue" in Normandy!Student Group Photo at the Recently Dedicated Major Richard Winters Statue “Hang Tough 6-6-44”

Near St. Marie Du-Mont and Utah Beach in Normandy

For links and info about the statue and its dedication click on this link.

Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hill, Michigan

Tour Date 21 May 2012

Holocaust Memorial Center

[Note:  To see a larger image in a separate window, click on each photo.]

Farmington Hills, Michigan

Michigan State University Alumni Memorial Chapel

Stephen Aikin, Chapel Sexton, talks to the students about the chapel that was dedicated in 1951 originally as a memorial to MSU WWII students who died during the war.

24 May 2012

Amsterdam in the Netherlands

Students on an orientation tour on an Amsterdam Canal Boat on arrival day 10 June.

Students begin their study with a tour of the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam.  Last year more than a million visitors toured the house.  The students had read Anne’s published diary before their study abroad began on Monday 11 June 2012.

The Hague and Rotterdam

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Students assembled in front of the World Court Building, The International Court of Justice, in The Hague, Netherlands. One of the principles resulting from WWII was that genocide and  other crimes against humanity have consequences under international law.  Students in the program have read about the Holocaust and the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials following the war.  Later they will study these topics at Nuremberg enroute to Munich.

Students listen to program expert, Major Rob de Feber, discuss the memorial in the dunes near The Hague.  This was a site of a war crime when the Germans murdered more than 250 of the imprisoned Dutch Resistance fighters just prior to the arrival of Allied Forces in the liberation of the Netherlands.  This memorial is called the Waalsdorpervlakte and includes the huge bell nearby that tolls on the day of remembrance on 4 May each year.

To watch a video about the memorial click on this link.


The day the Germans bombed central Rotterdam was 14 May 1940, four days after their spring attack on the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Below are photos of the city center destruction on that day:

                                                                                   This photo shows the students analyzing the famous war memorial statue in the Rotterdam city center nicknamed by some as “The City Without a Heart” memorializing the bombing’s destruction.

For some contemporary film footage of the 1940 Rotterdam bombing,  click on this link!

For more film on the Invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, follow this link.

Students took an hour long cruise tour of the strategically important harbor in Rotterdam that remained under Nazi control for almost the entire war after May 1940.  Below is the ship they took for their afternoon tour.

Arnhem and the “Bridge Too Far”

Bridge over the Rhine River at Arnhem, Netherlands

Students  above are at the objective of “Operation Market Garden” , the bridge over the Rhine River at Arnhem in the Netherlands.  The airborne operations began on 17 September 1944 and involved paratroopers from Great Britain, the United States and Poland.  The objective was to capture the bridge that would provide an opportunity for a spearhead thrust of attack directly into Germany and Berlin with the goal of shortening and ending the war quickly.  Ultimately, the attack failed and the Allied advance into Germany and across the Rhine was delayed until Spring 1944.  In the intervening months, the Nazis launched their great offensive through the Ardennes Region in Belgium and Luxembourg, often called “The Battle of the Bulge.”  Two excellent books that the students have read on these battles are: Cornelius Ryan’s  A Bridge Too Far and John Toland’s Battle:  The Story of the Bulge.  For further info on the film adaptation of Ryan’s book on  Operation Market Garden follow this link to the IMDB.

A multi-media presentation on Veterans Day about Operation Market Garden is on YouTube and was posted in 2006.

For contemporary German film footage and interpretation of the operation go to this link.

The students enjoyed the “Airborne Experience”  and the material  culture and interpretive exhibits in the Airborne Museum pictured in the background of this photo below.  The museum is in the small Dutch town of Oosterbeek just a few kilometers from the Arnhem Bridge.  The British Commander of the operation, General Roy Urquhart had his headquarters in the Hartenstein Hotel pictured here.

17 June 2012

Message from Major Rob de Feber:

My wife and I were priviliged to accompany the students in the Netherlands. We took a lot of pictures mostly of the students and less of the monuments. I posted these pictures on the picasa webalbum site. the links are:
day 1 : https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day1?authuser=0&feat=directlink
day 2: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day2?authuser=0&feat=directlink
day 3: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day3?authuser=0&feat=directlink
day 4: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day4?authuser=0&feat=directlink
day 5: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day5?authuser=0&feat=directlink
day 7: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day7?authuser=0&feat=directlink

hopefully the links will work so you can watch the pictures. Feel free to use those and if you have questions mail me:


Kinderdijk in the Netherlands

Student group at Kinderdijk in the Netherlands

Left:  Major Rob and Hermien de Feber, our “Local Dutch Experts,” enjoying their last day with the students in a perfect setting!

Right:  Students taking a short boat tour of the canals view the large collection of old Dutch water windmills at Kinderdijk–now on the UNESCO world heritage list.

In Bruges, Belgium

Students spent one night here in Bruges,  Belgium after they left Amsterdam and headed to Normandy, France.  The weather was postcard gorgeous!

Group Dinner at Hotel in Normandy, France near Omaha Beach


Students enjoyed their meal at our hotel  after a long motorcoach ride through France.  The restaurant overlooked a portion of the Normandy Invasion Beaches near Omaha Beach.


Pegasus Bridge and British Airborne Museum

Students near the original bridge captured by British glider troops just a few minutes after midnight on D-Day.

Students examine war exhibits in the Pegasus Memorial Museum

Below a student analyzes a memorial including a  bronze bust of British Major John Howard who commanded the operation capturing the Orne River Canal Bridge and what came to be called “Pegasus Bridge”.  Author Stephen Ambrose interviewed Major Howard while researching his book of the same title and it was Major Howard who suggested that Professor Ambrose interview some “chaps” he knew from the U.S. 101st Airborne Division–some of the members of “Easy Company” 506th PIR. Dr. Ambrose crafted those interviews into his book, Band of Brothers,  later adapted by HBO into a popular 10 part TV mini-series.

Juno and Gold Beaches in Normandy

Professor Charnley discusses a memorial on Juno Beach where the Canadians and Free French Forces stormed ashore on D-Day 1944.

Students on the cliffs overlooking Gold Beach where the British and Free French forces attacked. In the background are remnants of concrete barges called “bombardons” that formed part of the the important artificial harbor at Gold Beach called a “Mulberry”.

To learn more about the Mulberry Harbor at Gold Beach click on this link.

Ste. Mere Eglise in Normandy

Program Assistant Kelly Myers discusses the Church at Ste. Mere Eglise in Normandy taken by air assault and paratroopers of the US 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day. Note the dummy and the parachute hanging the edge of the steeple–replicating the real life experiences of Paratrooper John Steele. Steele returned to Ste. Mere Eglise many times after the war. In the film, The Longest Day, Steele was played by actor Red Buttons!

Students analyzed the new stained glass windows in the church and they are probably one of the few existing in the world showing Christian symbols alongside paratroopers falling to earth in combat!

Utah Beach  in Normandy

Two student sisters on the sands of Utah Beach where the US landing forces fought their way inland on D-Day. The tide was out as it was on the early morning of D-Day when the Allied forces attacked. The dunes were not as high as the hills and dunes at Omaha Beach but the German forces still offered heavy resistance against the landing forces coming ashore.

Group photo at Utah Beach showing in the center above the 00Kilometer marker of the French “Route of Liberty” tracing the route of the Allied liberation of Europe in WWII across France, Luxembourg and Belgium to the German border. There are markers every kilometer along the route. The torch on the monument is patterned after the one on the Statue of Liberty–a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States in 1886!

Omaha Beach in Normandy

Mont St. Michel

Student Group Photo at Mont St. Michel in Normandy, France following their gourmet 5 course dinner!


Photo of the ionic Eiffel Tower in Paris lighted at dusk!

Students enrolled in IAH 202, Europe and the World, study the famous painting by Jacques-Louis David of the Spartan King Leonidas at Thermopylae. King Leonidas fought to the death along with the famous 300 Spartan warriors and their Greek allies to slow the Persian army and its attempt to conquer Greece in 480 BCE.

Students view the huge painting by David of the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte as Emperor of France. The IAH 202 students had read a biography of Napoleon in which the author argued that Napoleon had attempted world conquest by military means and used increasingly powerful police state tactics that presaged the developments of Nazi Germany under Hitler during the Third Reich and WWII.

Students in the Jewish Quarter of Paris near Notre Dame Cathedral look at the outside of the Shoah Memorial. The “Wall of the Just” is a relatively recent memorial to those French men and women who worked to save Jews from the Holocaust during WWII. More names are added each year to the monument as their formerly secret efforts come to light.








































On the wall of a children’s school opposite the Shoah Memorial in Paris was a plaque in French that translates as:
“Arrested by the Police of the Vichy Government in collaboration with the Nazi occupiers, more than 11,000 children were forcefully deported from France between 1942 to 1944 and assassinated in Auschwitz simply because they were Jews. More than 500 children lived in the 4th District of Paris. Many of them were students of this school. We should never forget. Dedicated 15 December 2001.” And then the students looked to their immediate left on the wall and they saw the bullet holes . . . !

The rising trajectory of the bullet holes on the side of the school indicates the Germans used machine guns to kill the innocents in this place.











After examining other WWII related sites within the Jewish Quarter in Paris, the students had an excellent lunch at a Jewish deli in the Quarter during their last day in the city.

More information about the Shoah Memorial in Paris can be found by following this weblink.

Epernay, France in the Champagne District

Students stand near an important regional WWII memorial at Epernay, France in the Champagne District enroute to Luxembourg on Monday, 25 June 2012. Today was market day in the city and the students enjoyed some local shopping there during their lunch break. The city is famous as the home to great champagne making houses like Moet et Chandon and Mercier.


Group photo of students in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg! They are enjoying their three day stay in Luxembourg City as their base for their study of the Battle of the Ardennes, commonly known as “The Battle of the Bulge”.


Our first stop in the day trip of study in Belgium was in the strategic city of Bastogne. In this photo the students stand next to a memorial bust of the acting commander of the 101st Airbone Division, General McAuliffe. In reponse to the German demand that the surrounded city be surrendered to the invading forces, McAuliffe replied with the famous response, “Nuts!” Each year in mid-December the city of Bastogne hosts a “Nuts” Festival and honors those  American veterans who return to their city.















Besides the statue and another “Route of Liberty” marker, a Sherman tank can be seen behind the students in the main square of Bastogne.


Just outside the city of Bastogne the student surround the last kilometer marker tracing the route of the Allied Forces from Utah Beach in Normandy to Bastogne in Belgium, a distance of 1147 kilometers or about 688 miles!

Nearby the marker is the largest WWII memorial the students analyze during their study abroad–the memorial at Mardasson, Belgium. In the shape of the 5 pointed American star on the American flag, the Belgian people funded the memorial and dedicated it on July 4th, 1946 in honor of those US troops who fought and died to liberate Belgium. In contrast to many memorials students have studied that have been created in the last twenty years, This memorial was built soon after the war. Very few memorials in Normandy were dedicated as early as this Belgian memorial. From the top of this memorial, students could see clearly the Bois Jacques, the woods outside Bastogne where members of Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division, the “Band of Brothers,” fought on the defensive perimeter around the city.


Close to the “Woods of Peace” as they are now called, the students found this relatively new memorial dedicated to the men of Easy Company who died in the Battle for Bastogne.  A plaque on the side of the memorial includes HBO that produced the “Band of Brothers” 2001 TV mini-series and funding provided by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Hanks of Hollywood California, and others.

Here is our group at the memorial near Foy and the Bois Jacques in Belgium.  The woods in the background right in the photo are where the soldiers of Easy Company dug in during a horrific German artillery barrage before













Students searching for E Company foxholes in the woods overlooking Foy.
They had studied the “Band of Brothers” film and it was in these woods where paratroopers Joe Toye and “Wild Bill” Guarnere were severely wounded and both lost a leg as a result of the German artillery fire.













The students found the Easy Company foxholes scattered everywhere in the woods!

Except for the modern powerlines and the lack of snow now, this is the view toward the village of Foy from the woods and across the battlefield that some of the soldiers had during the Battle of the Bulge.

La Gleize, Belgium

Student group photo in one of the few remaining “Super” Tiger II German tanks.
This tank was abandoned near this town as the Germans retreated after their Ardennes Offensive failed.


Malmedy, Belgium

Students examine a memorial in Malmedy, Belgium where in December 1944 the Allies bombed the city by mistake thinking the Germans had already occupied the city. More than 200 Belgian civilians as well as some U.S. troops died in the bombings. Just before this, Nazi S.S. troops had killed almost one hundred US soldiers who had surrendered near the Baugnez Crossroads just outside Malmedy. News of what came to be called the “Malmedy Massacre” spread quickly among the Allied troops fighting in the early stages of the Battle of the Bulge.

Ligneuville, Belgium

Professor Charnley described the war crime at the site of this local war memorial in the small hamlet of Ligneuville, Belgium committed by some of the same S.S. troops who had participated in the Malmedy Massacre nearby. In this case, they killed 8 U.S. soldiers who were eating breakfast at a hotel that had once been a mill. The Americans had surrendered and had offered no resistance. Local Belgians protected some of their US comrades and it was they who paid for this monument. Their descendents now maintain this interesting memorial. This precise road and small hamlet had been an invasion route for multiple armies for centuries, including Napoleon’s French Army, the Germans in both World War I and World War II and US troops used it as they advanced toward Germany.


Students at the grave site of General George S. Patton who is buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery along with many of his Third Army troopers who fought and died in the Battle of the Bulge

This student considers the grave of a Jewish soldier, one of 118 buried in this cemetery in Luxembourg.

The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial is just over 50 acres in size and 5076 US soldiers are buried here.



Very near the US military cemetery in Luxembourg, the students study by comparison a German military cemetery at Sandweiler.

Here one of our students of German maternal descent found their surname of
“Koppenhofer” among those soldiers buried at Sandweiler.

Students were delighted to speak with Mr. Nico Schroeder, an employee of the American Battle Monuments Commission, and a local Luxembourger who told the students some of the history of both the US military cemetery and the German one at Sandweiler. He takes photos of ceremonies at both cemeteries as well as dignitaries and former veterans who visit the cemeteries. He had seen our students in previous years on their study abroad programs. You can find some of his photos online at: http://nicoluxembourg.wordpress.com

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Here the students are enjoying the sights in the beautiful medieval town called Rothenburg in Germany. We stayed here one night enroute from Luxembourg to Munich, the final city for our study abroad program this year.

Here are Professor and Mrs. Jeff Charnley enjoying the evening at the Ploenlein Corner in Rothenburg. They have been coming here off and on for the last 40 years and knew the students would like the city as well–a nice break from all the WWII related travel and locations!



  1. Noreen Voelker

    Hey MSU 2012, Looking forward to the updates and photos. Sounds like it will be a fantastic program.

  2. Margaret & Rob Placek

    MSU 2012, Looks like a fantastic start. Looking forward to following along with your tour through the photos and updates. Have a wonderful time!

  3. Mike & autumn McGuire

    What an amazing opportunity. We are looking forward to following you as you travel. Go green!,

  4. Our daughter commented that she was so pleased to have chosen this particular opportunity for study abroad…we now see why! Thank you for keeping us posted on your travels.

    • Joe and Kathy Bogar

      What an incredible adventure and opportunity for youth to understand the significance of historical decisions! This message is especially for Camille… Mr. Bogar is especially envious of your journey- he wants a chat with you upon your return!

  5. Chris Geldhof

    Thanks for letting us follow along, I wish I was there!

  6. nice to see my two granddaughters,are safe,dunya and aleena,now i no where there going and been .thanks

  7. My wife and I were priviliged to accompany the students in the Netherlands. We took a lot of pictures mostly of the students and less of the monuments. I posted these pictures on the picasa webalbum site. the links are:
    day 1 : https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day1?authuser=0&feat=directlink
    day 2: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day2?authuser=0&feat=directlink
    day 3: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day3?authuser=0&feat=directlink
    day 4: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day4?authuser=0&feat=directlink
    day 5: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day5?authuser=0&feat=directlink
    day 7: https://picasaweb.google.com/107737520747654201867/MSU2012WW2Day7?authuser=0&feat=directlink

    hopefully the links will work so you can watch the pictures. Feel free to use those and if you have questions mail me: robdefeber@gmail.com

  8. Ike & Gina Pahm

    Thank you so much for regularly posting updates and pictures on the site. In a way, it makes us feel we are part of this journey!

  9. Thank you so much for the pictures from Netherlands. They are wonderful.
    Chris Geldhof

  10. thank you so much for the photos. Its nice seeing my two girls and the other students enjoying all the amazing sites. It gives me peace of mind. thank you again for the updates

  11. Will Monticello

    This really takes me back. Thank you, Professor Charnley, for keeping us updated and getting more students interested through the website; but thank you even more for the work you have put into these trips and curriculum – putting them top on the list of all study abroad programs.

    I didn’t think our European experience in ’08 could be outdone. That was until I saw what the 2012 group has been up to.

  12. Roger Koppenhofer

    I am Camille Lefevre’s Grandfather. Im 78 year old, and make hospital calls for my church. I recently made a call on a friend , about 10 years older than I, and while there ask him about his war experience. He was reluctant to talk, indicating that he had not talked about it to anyone. I don’t know why, but he opened up to me … He fought in the Battle on the Bulge, and described a terrible experience. With tears in his eyes, he told me of being hit and felt for sure he was going to die. Bare in mind these memories he was sharing were about 65 years old. He showed me a hole in his back about the size of my fist, I was blown away. He described a terrible experience, how this small man, a medic, carried him out of this fox hole. When I saw you guys were visiting the sight, the memory of that hospital visit some how became more clear, and thought the kids might learn from my visit. Thanks for your reports.

  13. Rob and Hermien de Feber

    We hope you all enjoyed your tour and we wish you a good and safe trip back home !! Rob and Hermien de Feber

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