Your visit to La Coupole starts along a long tunnel off which lead many underground galleries and where the trains carrying the V2 rockets would have arrived. A lift then takes you to the heart of the History Centre, 42 meters higher up. Under the huge concrete dome, built to protect what was to be the launch preparation chamber, there are two cinemas each projecting a 20-minute film introducing the theme of the tour.

Tour 1: “Northern France in the grip of the Germans”

Relive in a series of pictures the key moments of the German occupation of northern France: invasion, exodus, everyday life, resistance, and liberation. Projected onto a replica of the “execution wall” in the Citadel in Lille, it is hard to forget the poignant letter written by Félicien Joly, a young teacher aged 21, only three hours before he was executed by the German firing squad. The exhibition ends with a memorial to the people of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region who were deported or killed by the firing.

Don’t miss:the Citroën vehicle used by the FFI (Forces Françaises Intérieur), a replica of the “execution wall” in the citadel in Lille, a propeller of a Messerschimitt aircraft, an MG 34 machine gun, Félicien Joly’s letter, and more.

Tour 2: “Hitler’s Secret Weapons”

The goal: destroy London. Step into the hidden laboratories of Peenemünde and discover Hitler’s secret weapons programme. Or how a pacifist dream, to fly to outer space, became a nightmare under the Nazis. At the end of the tour, follow the main steps of the space race, from the V2 rocket to the First Man on the Moon. This tour ends in the area dedicated to André Sellier, a historian and former deportee to the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp (his identification number was 39570).

Don’t miss: an actual V2 missile and 3D film of its engine, a reproduction of Little Boy, the atomic bomb launched on Hiroshima, 1:20 scale models of rockets, photos taken by Walter Frentz in 1944 at the Dora camp, the drawings of Léon Delarbre, and more.

La Coupole, located 5 km from Saint-Omer (in the Nord–Pas-de-Calais), is one of the most impressive vestiges of WW2 in Europe. Through the sheer bulk of its structure, its underground installations, and the suffering of the forced labour used to build it, the place is symbolic of Nazi oppression.

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