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June 22nd, 1941. Operation Barbarossa begins. Hitler's 1939 Nonaggression Pact with the Soviet Union came to abrupt but predictable end on Sunday, June 22, 1941. At dawn on that day, German forces launched Operation Barbarossa along an 1,800-mile front that ran from Leningrad to the Black Sea. The three German army groups included 150 divisions containing three million men, 3,000 tanks, 7,000 artillery pieces and 2,500 aircraft. The German forces were further strengthened by more than 30 divisions of Finnish and Romanian troops. It was in effect the largest and most powerful invasion force in history. Like previous campaigns, Barbarossa was planned as a blitzkrieg led by armored units.The invasion took the Soviet leadership completely by surprise and caught the Red Army in an unprepared and partially demobilized state. Stalin had been informed that the Germans would invade but he did not believe the sources. Over the first few days, the German Luftwaffe destroyed more than 1,200 Soviet aircraft, many of them on the ground. By mid-July the Germans had advanced more than 400 miles and were only 200 miles from Moscow. Heavy Autumn rains would turn the Russian roads to deep mud and the sub-zero temperatures that followed in November would further stall and finally end the German advance. ... See MoreSee Less

4 hours ago  ·  

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~ A new addition to this year's American Elegance performance: 1926 Chrysler Model 72 Roadster. Show starts around 1 PM Saturday and Sunday. More information see: www.americanheritagemuseum.org/event/tanks-wings-wheels-2/ ... See MoreSee Less

5 days ago  ·  

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Word on the streets says Al Capone will be showing up at AHM in his 1940 V-16 Cadillac on June 19th and 20th - to case the place for his new casino and speak-easy. ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago  ·  

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Visitors to the American Heritage Museum this past weekend had the opportunity to view a display of impressive artifacts from the Allied campaign to liberate Italy (1943-1945). The Allied advance through Italy produced some of the most bitter, costly fighting of the war, much of it in treacherous mountain terrain. Rome was liberated 77 years ago this month but at the time the event was completely overshadowed by the D-Day landings in Normandy.The weekend exhibition was organized and expertly described to several hundred Museum visitors by Abigail Metheny of Concord, MA and Jesse Campana of Brick, NJ. Both are avid students of the history of the Italian Campaign as well as skilled collectors of WWII memorabilia. Abigail and Jesse appeared in US Army uniforms from the period: Abigail as a US Army Nurse and Jesse as an Army private. The AHM extends its appreciation to Abigail and Jesse for their wonderful commitment of their time and expertise. We look forward to welcoming them back to the Museum sometime soon. ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago  ·  

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The American Heritage Museum is running a very unique sweepstakes fundraiser "Behind Enemy Lines - WWII Tank Experience." We hope that you could share this with your friends. Here is the link with all the details: americanheritagemuseum.tapkat.org/behindenemylinesProceeds go to our education outreach programs and operations. ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago  ·  

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Liberation


M8 Greyhound
– USA | ARMORED CAR

Liberation of Europe

The final battles of the European Theater of World War II as well as the German surrender to the Allies took place in late April and early May 1945. WWII in Europe lasted six long years, from 1939 to 1945, with American participation from December 1941 to May 1945. Europe was freed from Nazi rule. World War II was the last great global war and has long functioned as the conflict by which all other wars are judged. It is a conflict often represented as an  archetypal struggle between good and evil, but it was also a war of clashing national and imperial interests, material production, reduced inhibitions to destruction on all sides, and terrible means ranging from deliberate starvation of civilian populations via sea blockades, to aerial destruction of hundreds of cities, to deliberate genocides, that by the end, saw 75 million people killed. For all that, the Liberation of western Europe was also a triumph of morality and justice over the most evil, ruthless, and criminal regimes of the 20th century. The Liberation is also an enduring lesson in collaboration and cooperation in wartime by a winning military and political coalition, which overcame internal quarrels and differences in a shared effort.

As the war neared its end in Europe Allies came across numerous Nazi concentration camps filled with sick and starving prisoners. In every camp we found appalling scenes and the bodies of thousands who either died of starvation or were murdered. Majdanek near Lublin, Poland was the first camp liberated in July 1944, by the Red Army (most of the Nazi death camps were built in the east, and so were liberated in 1944-1945 by the advancing Red Army of the Soviet Union). Germans tried to cover up their atrocities by demolishing the camp, but parts of the gas chambers were left standing. When the Soviets overran Auschwitz in January 1945, only a few hundred prisoners remained, the rest having been forced onto one of many ‘death marches’ so that they could not bear witness to what had been done. Nearly 1 million Jewish men, women and children were murdered here along with others that were deemed “sub-human” or “useless mouths” or “enemies of the state” by the Nazis.

American forces would liberate concentration camps including Buchenwald, Dora-Mittelbau, Flossenburg, Dachau and Mauthausen. The Mauthausen work camp was used for extermination through labor. Many prisoners died hauling massive blocks of stone up the “stairs of death.” On May 3rd, 1945. Allies neared Mauthausen and its nearby sub-camp Gusen. Most Nazi SS camp guards had fled. On May 5th, a reconnaissance unit from the US Army arrived and liberated over 40,000 prisoners. The scene of death and starvation sickened even the most hardened soldiers. General Dwight Eisenhower was so affected by what he witnessed at the Ohrdurf concentration camp on April 12th, 1945, he refused to meet with German General Alfred Jodl and his aid until after they signed the unconditional surrender document at his headquarters in Reims, France on May 7th, 1945.

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MUSEUM OPEN

Museum is fully open with no restrictions - Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00am to 5:00pm - also open Memorial Day, May 31st from 10:00am to 5:00pm.