1. Auschwitz, Poland

It would be easy to dismiss the idea of a ‘war tour’ as a bit grim at best; darkly twisted at worst. But rather than lingering on distressing details, visiting a site where something world-changing went down can be more enriching than you might think. 

Firstly, travel is all about broadening your experience of the world – it’s an opportunity to learn about other people, their lives, and what goes on outside the confines of your own. That extends to time as well as place; the past as well as the present.

Secondly, confronting the horrors of human history is important. After all, when was turning a blind eye ever a good thing?

A trip to Auschwitz doesn’t exactly make for a cheery day out, but it is a stirringly memorable one. And though the site does represent some of the very worst tragedies and crimes of World War II, there are stories of heroism, solidarity and resistance too.

‘Auschwitz’ refers to a complex of camps 50km outside of Krakow; Auschwitz II-Birkenau is the extermination camp where almost a million Jews, 75,000 Poles and 19,000 Roma (or gypsies) were killed.

The grounds and structures were turned into a museum-memorial by the Polish parliament in 1947 (two years after Soviet soldiers stormed the site), and it entered on to the Unesco World Heritage List in 1979.

Many blocks have been converted from barracks into exhibitions, where you’ll see the collected possessions of former inmates – mountains of suitcases and shoes. In one room, there are piles of hair that was shaved from victims’ heads.

You’ll also see camp uniforms, a typical day’s ration of food, and displays about living and sanitary conditions for inmates. Artwork
that depicts memories of the camp, created by survivors, is also displayed at Auschwitz. Confronting this unsavoury slice of history can be overwhelming – but it’s also a tribute to those who actually lived it. 

auschwitztour.com

2. Belfast, Northern Ireland

%TNT Magazine% belfast2

Belfast was hit hard in World War II, targeted for its shipyards and factories that built planes, ships, shells, tanks and more war paraphernalia.

In 1941, the Belfast Blitz had the Luftwaffe wreck the city, causing so much damage that many bodies had to be piled up at St George’s Market and The Falls Baths when the morgues got full. Private tours are available, or you can check out the story at Belfast’s interesting War Museum.

belfastcitysightseeing.com

3. Maryland, US

%TNT Magazine% maryland2

The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with 23,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing by the end of September 17, 1862.

Now a peaceful park in the Appalachian foothills, there are still plenty of reminders of the American Civil War, where hundreds of cannons remain. You can see re-enactments of cannon-firing in September.

nps.gov

4. Sarajevo, Bosnia

%TNT Magazine% sarajevo2

The Sarajevo siege tour is a fascinating trip back in time to the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare.

After Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, the Serbs – who wanted to create a Serbian State including parts of Bosnia – encircled the city with a force of 18,000.

Check out the remains of bunkers, plus the underground tunnel built by Bosnians to connect Sarajevo to Bosnian-held territory until the siege ended in 1996.

sarajevofunkytours.com

5. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

%TNT Magazine% Cu Chi tunnels

The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is a comprehensive collection of atrocities inflicted on Vietnam by the US.

Though it has obviously been curated with bias, there’s no denying the jaw-dropping crimes perpetrated by an astoundingly arrogant superpower.

Also, head to Cu Chi Tunnels where a resourceful group of Viet Cong guerrillas lived and operated from a claustrophobic network of underground tunnels.

vietnamtourismboard.org