Despite all the books, movies and even dolls dedicated to the topic, it can be hard to understand what World War II was really like. And with fewer members of the Greatest Generation around to tell us their stories, we have to turn to other sources to learn the facts.
That’s where the Museum of Science & Industry’s U-505 Submarine comes in, a memorial to those sailors who gave their lives in both World Wars. And with its 70th anniversary this month—the German U-boat was captured on June 4, 1944—there’s no better time to discover such a unique peek into history.
The U-505 is the only German submarine in the United States. After a restoration project in 1997, it now sits in its own section of the museum and is open to the public for an on-board tour (part of the Explorer ticket package) that uses dramatic lighting and sound effects to delve into life aboard the sub.
But for those with little ones (or the claustrophobic among us) who don’t want to go in the sub, there’s still a lot to learn. Kids will enjoy the dive trainer, periscope-navigation exercises, and the buoyancy challenge, not to mention a re-created sub environment that shows just how hard it was to live in such a tiny space.
Other interesting artifacts include a dive suit, a letter from a German prisoner of war, and a genuine M4 Enigma Machine that helped the Allies in their code-breaking efforts.
World War II buffs and older kids may want to check out the film D-Day: Normandy 1944, narrated by Tom Brokaw. The film opens in the Omnimax Theater to coincide with the anniversary of D-Day on June 6.
Both activities are great ways to honor the past, especially for those who can no longer speak for themselves.
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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