Bastogne War Museum

Bastogne War Museum

In the Ardennes in the winter of 1944-1945, the German army launched a desperate counter-offensive against the Allied advance towards Germany that had started on the Normandy coast on D-Day. The Allies were taken by surprise, but managed to contain the German gains to a bulge in their lines and then to push it back and to continue their advance. Bastogne was one of the main battlefields in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge.


The Battle of the Ardennes (as the battle is more correctly known) lasted for six weeks in the Arctic cold and snow of a particularly harsh Ardennes winter. The Bastogne War Museum opened in 2014 and highlights the heroic Allied resistance and immerses visitors in the daily lives of the troops during the Second World War.

Bastogne War Museum covered by snow

The exhibits use sound, vision, smell and touch to recreate

Living history

The Mardasson war memorial and the Bastogne War Museum are the two main remembrance sites in South-East Wallonia for the Battle of the Ardennes, which took place in and around the Ardennes Forest. They honour the thousands of Allied soldiers, mostly Americans, who successfully repulsed the last German counter-offensive of the War. At the Bastogne War Museum, state-of-the-art displays, an exceptional collection of exhibits and modern technology combine to recreate for visitors the difficult, sometimes tragic day-to-day routine of the Allied soldiers during the six years of the Second World War. The exhibits use sound, vision, smell and touch to recreate how they must have felt, but without adding Hollywood glamour, so that we can better understand and respect their efforts and sacrifice.

History repeating…

In both 1914 and 1940, the Germans had used surprise attacks through the Ardennes to invade France, and in December 1944 they must have hoped for the same success. But in January 1945 they were pushed back and then forced into retreat across their homeland. In the East, the Russian victory at Stalingrad heralded the Soviet advance into Germany in a pincer movement that was to end the Third Reich.


Interactions in the museum
History at the museum

In the same way that Verdun and Ypres were turning points in the First World War, so Bastogne was a crucial pivot in the Second World War.

Many visitors arrive as curious holidaymakers and leave more informed and full of respect for the men who fought here, and ready to pass this on to future generations.

Passing history on to future generations


On 22 December 1944, Bastogne was held by 18,000 troops of the US 101st Airborne Division, under the command of Brigadier-General Anthony McAuliffe (1898-1975). The town was surrounded by a much larger German armoured division commanded by General von Lüttwitz, who sent emissaries to McAuliffe calling on him to surrender or face annihilation along with the civilian population. McAuliffe replied with his famous one-word answer “Nuts!” and held the town against the German ground and air attack until reinforcements arrived on 26 December, when the Germans were forced to retreat.

More information

Colline du Mardasson 5, 6600 Bastogne, Belgium
Tel.: +32 (0) 61 21 02 20
Bastogne War Museum