|Thanks to Two Special Friends at the Diekirch Museum|
|Fred Karen||Roland Gaul|
|We've been visiting the National Museum of Military History in Diekirch Luxembourg for eight years now and yet something new jumps out at us every time. After hundreds of visits - in addition to ceremonies, group tours, and hours of conversation - we want to recognize two special friends who have guided our own exploration of WWII history.
Echternach resident Fred Karen is one of the original founders of the museum. He experienced the war as a young teenager under both German and American occupation, and began collecting artifacts as a kid. Fred retired from IBM in 1985 and devoted his early retirement to guiding US veterans, organizing WWII events, writing, and helping establish the National Military Museum. His book Kriegsereignisse im Frontsektor der Untersauer, or War Events on the Lower Sauer, documents invaluable WWII photos and events in the Echternach area. In spite of severe Parkinsons Disease, Fred still turns up for every WWII event he can.
Roland Gaul was born in Diekirch and grew up listening to stories of the war and roaming the battlefields around his home. Thus it was no surprise when he became a founding member and then Curator of the National Museum of Military History. Roland also serves as President of AMBA, the Association of Museums of the Battle of the Ardennes, and is a familiar face at WWII events throughout Europe. He has written two books about the war around Diekirch, The Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg: The Southern Flank December 1944-January 1945, with one book covering the German operations and the other the US operations.
I'll never forget the look of panic on Roland's face when a busload of elderly Armored vets unloaded and began climbing the Sherman tank outside the museum... "No new battle injuries, please, gentlemen", he pleaded as they ditched walkers and spouses and made a beeline for the Sherman. The men were oblivious to Roland's entreaties as they patted the familiar metal and told a few stories about busting into Bastogne.. No one relaxed until all the photos were snapped and the vets headed into safer territory inside. I've never seen Roland lose his cool but this was a close one!
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