Original typed letter from "The German Commander" to "the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne" requesting the "honorable surrender" of the American troops.
Rise of Nazism
The question of how Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power is answered by a trove of period artifacts on display in the museum, some of which can be explored online.
Battle of Britain
When Churchill refused Hitler's demand that Britain not interfere in his plans to conquer Europe, he sent the Luftwaffe over the English Channel to attack in July 1940. The ensuing fight, named the Battle of Britain, took place entirely in the air.
The museum displays six different Enigmas, the German code machines used during the war. Although deemed totally secure by the Nazis, the German codes were being deciphered by the British early in the war, giving the Allies a major tactical victory in the area of military intelligence.
While some citizens of conquered nations accepted Nazi rule, others did not, and they placed themselves at great personal risk to subvert and resist the occupiers. The Allies helped Resistance groups in many ways.
America Enters the War
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor of December 7, 1941, the US entered the war, fighting on two fronts: in North Africa and into Europe in the east, and in the Pacific to the west.
The D-Day invasion was one of the most complex and risky gambits in the history of warfare. It involved more than 150,000 British, American, and Canadian troops attacking the French coast of Normandy from the land, sea, and air, starting after midnight on June 6, 1944.
Under the cover of the war, six million Jewish men, women and children, were systematically murdered in a deliberate act of the German state.
Artifacts relating to the Pacific Front are less abundant, but the museum has managed to collect a decent number of important pieces.
We are sorry to announce that we have had to close The International Museum of World War II in its present location. We are very proud of the work we have been able to accomplish in the last 5 years, particularly in the area of education.
As many of you know, we were hopeful that we would be able to expand the Museum in place. As that was proving unworkable, an individual stepped forward to acquire most of the artifacts on loan to the Museum. This would have kept the majority of the collection together so in its comprehensiveness it would continue to tell the personal side of the War.
Under a loan agreement with this individual, we anticipated keeping the present Museum in Natick intact and open to visitors and students until a new museum in Washington, D.C. was ready. Unexpectedly, the loan agreement was cancelled causing the Museum to close as of September 1st, 2019.
This is a disappointing turn of events for all of us at the Museum. We took great satisfaction in the number of students and visitors we served, and we appreciated the support of many individuals who believed in the necessity of keeping the history of World War II alive and relevant.
We prioritized education and were proud of our accomplishment:
We developed unique, hands on curricula for teachers to use with their students when they visited the Museum;
Our school visits drew students from throughout the New England area;
We reached a national student audience through live, interactive, virtual field trips;
Our Urban Schools program, subsidized by donors to bring underserved students to Museum by paying for their buses and admissions, impacted the lives of many students who had never been on an academic field trip before;
During the summer, we ran teacher workshops for training in how to teach using original materials. We hosted school history departments for the same purpose;
4,000 students visited the Museum last school year, with 40% of these visits subsidized by the Museum; 1,000 students were on the waiting list.
Students who visited the Museum were able to engage with this consequential history by handling original artifacts. They were inspired head, heart and hand.
Fortunately, our collaboration with PBS Learning Media to design and create four digital lessons based on the Museum’s artifact and document collection will continue. The interactive media collection, called Life During WWII: Using Artifacts to Understand History, can be located and accessed free of charge on their website. Two lessons, one on wartime propaganda and the other on young people and the war, are completed and available now for use. Two others, on women and the war and a teacher resource on using primary sources in the classroom, will be added by mid-October. We were pleased to learn recently that the lesson on wartime propaganda won the APEX 2019 Grand Prize for Electronic Media.
We are finalizing plans for the Museum owned artifacts and donated artifacts to be given to another nonprofit World War II museum in which we have great confidence. We will be making an announcement about this in the coming weeks.
We would like to thank all of those who visited the Museum and shared their own World War II experiences with us. We would especially like to thank the World War II veterans who volunteered in the Museum to share their stories and insights with visitors and students. By their presence, they were keeping the history of World War II alive and relevant.
Going forward we hope it will always be remembered that original artifacts have the power to tell stories in unique ways. We always appreciated that they were repositories of a special sort of memory and we hope that they will continue to be able to inspire students and visitors.