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A colleague and I will be in Zurich in early October on business. We may have only one "tourist day" for the whole trip. We're both into WWII history and would like to hop on a cheap train (assuming they still exist) and take a day trip outside Switzerland.

Looks like Innsbruck and maybe Munich are pretty close at around 4 hours each way.

What would you recommend we see (if at all possible) that is a good day-trip from Zurich and not terribly expensive to get there and away?

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    there's a former concentration cap near Munich which can be visited and is easily reachable from Munich by local trains - Dachau. – greyshade Aug 28 '14 at 18:25
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    If you really want to see WWII sights, I would go to Dachau or you could visit some fortress in the Swiss Alps if you're ok with staying in Switzerland. (I have seen that you want to go outside of Switzerland, but if you only have maybe half a day, that would be an option) – RoflcoptrException Aug 28 '14 at 18:25
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    Dachau would be very interesting to see (in a WWII history perspective, that is). However, looks to be 5.5 hours from Zurich. But seems doable for a long day-trip. – cbmeeks Aug 28 '14 at 18:31
  • If you can hold off until November, you can see memorial ceremonies to observe "The People's Day of Sadness". Lots of towns and villages within reach of Zurich will be observing this day. – Gayot Fow Aug 28 '14 at 19:36
  • another suggestion for information on WWII sights: euro-t-guide.com's page on WWII sights. – greyshade Aug 28 '14 at 20:28
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Shamelessly repeating what has already been said in the comments, I would also suggest Dachau. Another option could be Nürnberg and the Nazi party rally ground. Both places are a bit far but probably doable in a day (barely).

If you want something strictly military, you could try to visit some part of the “ligne Maginot” in France like the Ouvrage Hackenberg. It's not too far from Zurich but you will definitely need a car for that.

Note that many important events or devastating battles did not leave any landmarks or traces you could see today. The main monuments in Dresden or Darmstadt have been rebuilt in the old style, some other cities like Hannover have been completely reshaped after the destruction but there is nothing in particular that evokes WWII.

Switzerland itself did not actively participate in WWII but it did mobilize and still has impressive fortifications that were operational at the time (most of them built earlier).

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The fortifications on top of Pilatus would, on a fine day, combine military history with stunning scenery, and entirely doable from Zurich as a day-trip (train to Luzern, bus no 1 to Kriens and cable-car. The cog railway would take you much longer).

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