Liberation Route Europe’s Hiking Trail
A sustainable, transnational memorial for future generations
Stretching from London to Berlin, the Liberation Route Europe’s hiking trail will cross five countries with connecting branch trails, including future components in Canada and the United States. The trail will pass numerous historical locations that were important during the last phase of World War II, tracing the footsteps of the troops and telling their stories.
Developed by the Liberation Route Europe Foundation, the trail will promote awareness, reflection, and most importantly will inspire a new generation to keep alive the history and sacrifice of the WWII veterans who liberated Europe. It will leave an important legacy for younger generations to use the lessons of the past and to help remember how vulnerable our freedom continues to be. Our aim is to officiallyopen this trail in May 2020, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The creation of such a trail, which has long been a goal of the Liberation Route Europe Foundation, is becoming a reality thanks to the cooperation of our international partners, notably the Dutch hiking organization, Wandelnet, and the support of other British, French, Belgian and German hiking associations. For this trail, our foundation has collaborated with the renowned architect Daniel Libeskind and Studio Libeskind, who has designed a symbolic family of markers: the ‘VECTORS’.
The Physical Trail
Facts about the hiking trail:
- 3000 km total length
- 5 countries linked along the main route
- 250 remembrance sites
- 3 branch routes with more in development
- 6 main regions and storylines
Based on historical data, the Liberation Route Europe Hiking Trail uses and connects existing long-distance hiking trails and links them together into one route.
The route will be recognizable through special trail markers called ‘Vectors’, developed in collaboration with hiking associations and architect/artist Daniel Libeskind (see below).
Regions & Proposed Principal Storylines
There are six main regions and storylines along the hiking trail following the western allies advance during the final two years of the war (1944-45):
- Southern England: from London to Portsmouth, where in 1944 the allies prepared for the large-scale invasion of continental Europe that became known as D-Day.
- Northern France: from Normandy to Paris, where the D-Day landings and the subsequent Battle of Normandy were some of the most intense battles of the war.
- Belgium: including the major cities of Mons, Brussels, and Antwerp – an important location during the crucial Battle of the Scheldt. A branch route will connect to the Ardennes, home of the infamous Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944-1945.
- The Netherlands: passing through North-Brabant and Gelderland, locations of one of the largest airborne operations of the war – Operation Market Garden. A branch route will connect to the Dutch provinces of Zeeland and Limburg.
- Western Germany: winding through the Hürtgen Forest & the Rhineland, where the allies made the decisive push into Germany heading towards Berlin.
- Berlin: the final battle of the war in Europe where the Soviet Red Army captured the city in May 1945.
We are proud of our partnership with renowned architect Daniel Libeskind for this project, who designed a special family of markers called the Vectors. Our aim is that within the next five years a Vector can be found at least every 5 kilometers of the trail. In total, there are four types of Vectors that will indicate key regions, provide directions along the trail, and detail information about places of interest.
Type #1: Remembrance Site Vector
This remembrance site Vector will introduce a region and an important story line with background information along the trail. This also marks important remembrance sites along the trail.
Type #2: Crossroad Vector
The crossroad Vector will be placed at crossroads around remembrance sites to point in the direction of information spots and places of interest as well as providing background information on regions and sites.
Type #3: Wall Vector
The wall Vector will mark important buildings denoting details of historical interest. This could be displayed at certain partners along the trail such as museums.
Type #4: Floor Vector
The floor Vector serves as a plaque marking the direction of the trail.
The Online Trail
In addition to the development of the physical infrastructure including the Vectors, we are striving to create robust online tools, such as a website and mobile application (4+ languages) with four different levels of content:
- General storyline: Main introduction to a region with the necessary historical background to understand the sites along the trail.
- Itineraries: Suggested routes based on historical themes, regions, and interests including key POI’s and historical locations.
- Anchor locations: POI’s or historical locations found directly on the route of the hiking trail
- Additional POI’s and Spots: Locations not on the actual route but able to be visited via a small detour.
- Biographies: Unit or personal biographies providing additional interesting information about men/women/units that were active in a specific area of the trail.
We are also planning a series of physical travel guides and books to promote the hiking trail.
Budget and Timeline
Though we are working closely with organizations, countries, regions, and cities to “adopt” and sponsor part of the trail, a storyline, and dedicate it to a specific country, region, veteran or organization, we are seeking your support to make this route a reality.
Our aim is to raise the €30.000 during the course of this initial crowdfunding campaign – which breaks down to €10/kilometer of the total length of the hiking trail.
Though our target budget for this two-year program is over €3 million, this first €30.000 will ensure that we can launch this unique project in time for the 75th anniversary celebrations of the end of WWII in May 2020.
The funds raised from this campaign will go towards the project development of the route, including:
- historical content development
- mobile application
- travel guides
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who is the Liberation Route Europe Foundation?
We work with government organizations, universities, museums, veteran societies, tour operators and other tourism organizations to bring together national perspectives on the liberation of Europe during WWII. As well as, we promote learning and sharing experiences/understanding in order to create a unified awareness of the importance of freedom. The foundation commemorates the events of the Second World War and encourages the citizens of Europe to celebrate and cherish it for the future.
Where does the trail go?
The main 3.000 km trail will pass through a total five countries. It starts in London in the UK, then passes through France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and finally ends in Berlin, Germany. We are also developing branch trails, linking areas such as Luxembourg, the Ardennes in western Belgium, and the Dutch provinces of Limburg and Zeeland to the main trail. In the future, we are hoping to expand the trail to even more countries, such as Poland, the Czech Republic, the US, and Canada.
How will we use the funding raised from this campaign?
Though the total cost of this project is over €3.000.000, we are hoping on your support to raise €30.000 to help us launch this unique hiking trail. We will use these funds to help us launch this project, including historical content development, the dedicated website, mobile application, and travel guides.
Who are our main partners for this project?
We have worked in close cooperation with our international partners, including the Dutch hiking organization, Wandelnet, with the support of other British, French, Belgian and German hiking associations to develop physical route of the trail. We have also collaborated with the renowned architect Daniel Libeskind and Studio Libeskind, who has designed a symbolic family of trail markers: the ‘Vectors’.
Select a perk
Walk with us
Walk with us and symbolically adopt 1 km of trail traveled by the Allied forces along the liberation route, and help pave the way for new generations of travelers to follow in their footsteps. You will receive a special certificate of adoption for a kilometer of the trail.
Create a legacy with us
Accompany us along the trail and join this unique project to commemorate the veterans and liberation of Europe in WWII! Your name will be included on the digital donor wall to recognize your generous contribution.
Commemorate with us
Commemorate with us the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 2019-2020. You will receive a special Liberation Route Europe pin as well as your name will be included on the digital donor wall to recognize your generous contribution.
Learn with us
Join us as a special VIP at our annual Liberation Route Europe Conference 2020. You will also receive a commemorative tote bag with Daniel Libeskind’s vectors design. Your name will be included on the digital donor wall to recognize your generous contribution.
Visit a museum with us
Set out along the trail to discover the Liberation Route Europe. You will receive two tickets to museum of your choice within the Liberation Route Europe’s network. If you are interested in visiting a museum not listed, get in touch! Your name will be included on the digital donor wall to recognize your generous contribution.
Travel with us
Travel the Liberation Route Europe with an exclusive copy of our new book – Rough Guides: Travel the Liberation Route Europe, coming out in June 2019. You will also receive a reusable water bottle with Daniel Libeskind’s Vectors design, Your name will be included on the digital donor wall in recognition of your generous contribution.
Pay tribute with us
Pay tribute by sponsoring a biography and adding the story of a relative, friend, comrade to ensure that these stories live on and are not forgotten. After approval by a historian, stories will be displayed on the Liberation Route Europe website and mobile app, and included on relevant locations along the trail.
Inaugurate the trail with us
Join us as a VIP at an exclusive inauguration event of the international hiking trail and vectors of memory. You will also receive a model vector and a signed print of the Vectors sketch by Daniel Libeskind. In recognition of your generous contribution, your name will be added to our digital wall of donors.
Commemorate D-Day with us
Join us on an exclusive 2020 VIP D-Day trip in Normandy, You and guest of your choice will stay overnight in a luxury hotel (includes half-pension) and receive a private tour of the main sites and museums as well as tickets to a commemorative event. In recognition of your generous contribution, your name will be added to our digital wall of donors.