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The Military Museum Park in La Wantzenau, France

For nearly 10 years we have had our habits at Esistoire, a gunshop well known to French and European shooters and collectors. Always excellently served in this establishment well furnished with surplus materials from all periods, we were quickly invited to discover the other facet of the site: the incredible private collection of vehicle and militaria that would become the Military Museum Park in La Wantzenau or “MM Park”.

A private collection

On our first visit to the gunshop, the museum building had just come out of the ground. The collection was then stored in the premises of l’Association de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine Historique Militaire (Association for the Safeguarding of Military Historical Heritage – ASPHM). In charge of a collection of several dozen WWII vehicles, but also of a restoration workshop, this association has several employees and volunteers whose goal is the maintenance and restoration of military equipment. The vehicles were then carefully stored in hangars… which were obviously becoming far too narrow! Behind this collection, this association and this gunshop, there is a man: Eric Kauffmann. President of ESI, one of the French leaders in computing office distribution that is also established in 5 other European countries, Mr. Kauffmann has been collecting vehicles, uniforms and other militaria since a young age. As an individual’s collection is often correlated with one’s level of professional success (whose philosophical and political aspects are clearly not the subject here: let us leave these considerations to others!), the collection of the President of ESI France is today one of the most important private collections in Europe.

The Military Museum Park

Thus, Mr. Kauffmann decided to exhibit his collection through the creation of a museum. If this initiative is not unprecedented, the proportion of the museum, is well out of the ordinary. More than 7000 m² of covered exhibition space, 130 vehicles and artillery pieces, more than 250 uniforms, dozens of weapons and even… a boat! Figures that can make your head spin… but which fuel the wet dreams of many enthusiasts. To make the museum more attractive, its creator decided to add:

  • Attractions that everyone will enjoy: a tree climbing course, a flight simulator, a shooting range (with air guns … you have to know how to stay reasonable in a “public ” company in France) and the inevitable ball pool.
  • A cinema room. This is something more and more common in today’s museums and allows you to rest your legs while continually stimulating your brain cells!
  • A snack bar… because no doubt, it will take you at least a full day to barely scratch the surface of the colossal content of this place. With yet 5 visits of the exhibition (before and after opening the museum to the public) we are still discovering new things with each passage.
  • A conference room: if it is not used for the “standard” visit of the museum, it allows to give another vocation to the place, that of a cultural center. Conferences on the themes of History are regularly held there.

All this allows to give a multiple vocation to the MM Park: not only that of a museum but also a place of seminar and celebration of all kinds. A way to bring history back into everyday life!

Obviously, the traditional souvenir shop will offer you books and various objects. For our part, we opted for the book “The Sussex Plan, secret war in occupied France 1943-1945” by Dominique Soulier on Operation Sussex to perfect our knowledge on the subject.

A global approach and specificities

If the subject is centered around WWII, it is not limited to a single belligerent or a single conflict zone. It has a global approach to this war that is described as global. This approach, which some will describe as “generalist”, does not prevent the museum from developing its own specificities, such as a collection of Bulgarian uniforms unique in France, and probably in the world. The room dedicated to this collection was even inaugurated on July 4th, 2017, by the King of Bulgaria, His Majesty Simeon II. This Bulgarian specificity is linked to the establishment of the ESI Company in Bulgaria as well as to the passion that Mr. Kauffmann has developed for this country. It even led to the opening of a museum specific to this theme in Bulgaria 12 km away from Varna: the MM Bulgaria.

In another specificity, MM Park hosts the impressive Sussex collection, collected by Dominique Soulier, son of Georges Soulier, one of the agents of the Sussex Operation. This collection contains the relics of this secret Franco-American-British operation in occupied France. With 120 agents, it made it possible to collect the information necessary for, among other thing, the smooth running of the Normandy landings. It brings together many exceptional pieces steeped in history, all exhibited in ideal conditions.

A museum in constant evolution

This is the characteristic of a collection: it is not normally fixed. Here, this is perfectly the case. We have made 5 visits to the exhibition and the museum since 2014, the last one in the summer of 2022: in each different zone, there was something new to discover every time. The displays are more and more supplied… and we even encountered a C-47 Dakota being restored. This one, acquired in 2021, is intended to be set upon the roof of a new building currently under study… yes, a new building, so that means more new surprises.

While waiting for some to have the chance to go to La Wantzenau to visit the MM Park, we let the reader discover the numerous pictures we have taken since our first visit. Better than words, they will allow you to take the measure of this extraordinary project.

Arnaud Lamothe

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Eric Kauffmann and the whole team of MM Park, ASPHM and Esistoire: an always excellent welcome, and that for nearly 10 years now!

The site of the Military Park Museum:


The website of the Bulgaria Military Museum:


The site of the Esistoire gunshop:


The website of the Association for the Safeguarding of Military Historical Heritage:


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    Arnaud Lamothe

    Expert for the French Department of Justice, former technical manager of the Ministry of the Interior, co-founder of the site LAI Publications, Arnaud is a specialist in small arms of war. Author of many articles, he wishes through this site to share his passion and knowledge for these subjects.

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