While planning for 2022 I came across this inspiring quote from Walt Disney: “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” Markus and I have been fortunate to have repeat clients, who have returned multiple times. These include: Valerie Young, Colin McAllister, John Snow, Bruce Blanchart, Heiner Saur, Andrew Pouncey and others. But, for those of you who do not know us, but who are considering using our tour services, this blog series is meant to highlight things that we do well. Let’s start with our philosophy of getting clients into the field.
Our love of getting into the field began already in the 1990s with the Deutsches Erinnerungskommittee Argonnerwald—i.e. the German Remembrance Committee of the Argonne Forest. This group systematically researches and explores the underground tunnels of WW1 in the Argonne Forest, an area that is rich in battlefield remains. Markus was already a member and executive officer when I joined in 1994 for my first work weekend. For me, the benefits of meeting and working with research-intensive Europeans who could visit the battlefield more frequently than I could were immense. Markus and I would meet several times during work weekends over the years.
In 2017 Markus Klauer’s research and work (with others) led to the creation of a trail, Chemins Franco-Allemands, complete with signage on the infamous Mort Homme, “Dead Man’s Hill,” hill during the Verdun Offensive. Clients can read more in this blog post from my Meuse-Argonne.com website: La Vie en France #16: Building Bridges–Looking at the Past and Looking Toward the Future | Meuse-Argonne.
The many then and now blog posts that I place on the Meuse-Argonne.com website involve getting out into the field to locate the spots. Thanks to a research friend, Marc Romanych, in 2017 I was introduced to the Griffin Group Photos, a group of more than 2,300 b/w Signal Corps Photos that documented the AEF involvement in WW1. These really help one to “see” the battlefield as it existed in late 1918 / early 1919.
In 2018 Markus and I collaborated on a six-day tour of the Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel Salient. Understanding the amount of “shit on the ground” that remains in these two sectors, we designed each day with a “monuments tour” by car in the morning and a series of two or three battlefield hikes of moderate length and duration each afternoon. In fact, the hikes that we prepared for 2018 forms the basis of much of our current Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel tour.
As we’ve expanded to guide over other WW1 and WW2 battlefields, we’ve maintained this desire to add walks over key portions of the battlefields. Of course, we have to balance this with two factors: 1) the amount of remains still visible and 2) the amount of area we need to cover. WW2 battles were more mechanized and, therefore, were fought over a much larger area. Nevertheless, one of our key questions when doing a recon is “where can we get into the field?” because we believe that this provides a richer and unique tour experience.
Part two will cover the small-group tour concept in about a week or so.
#kneedeepintohistory #meuseargonne #ww1tours #ww2tours #battlefieldtours #KDIH