Research on the German Armed Forces 1918-1945
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Belgium's tiny southwestern neighbor, was
invaded by the Germans on May 10th, 1940, and overrun in a mostly bloodless
conquest. One militia-man and six Gendarmes were wounded but no one was
reportedly killed. After the Campaign in the West ended, on June 28th, 1940,
Luxemburg was formally linked to Gau Koblenz-Trier. Gau Koblenz-Trier was a poltical
district of the German Reich, of which there were 42 total during WWII located
throughtout Germany and parts of the occupied and annexed regions of Europe.
The Gauleiter of Koblenz-Trier was Gustav Simon, he later became head of the Civil Administration in the
former Grand Duchy. In February of 1941 Gau Koblenz-Trier was
renamed Gau-Moselland. Of Luxembourg's population of 290,000 about 17,000
were known as Reichs-Deutsch.
There had been several attempts to form an imitation Nazi Party in Luxembourg at the time of Hitler's ascension to power in 1933, but none of these parties survived to the end of that year. The Auslands-Organisation of the NSDAP had cells among Reichs-Deutsch citizens resident in Luxembourg, as did the Hitlerjugend, but these were not open to pro-German Luxemburgers or to the Volksdeutsche or the region.
In 1936 the Luxemburger National Partei (LNP) was formed. In 1934 an eighteen year-old Luxemburger lad, Albert Kreins, had tried to enlist in the Luxembourg branch of the Hitlerjugend but was refused admission on the grounds that the Hitler Youth was restricted to the sons of Reichs-Deutsch. He was, nonetheless, invited to attend the following year to a seminar held in Germany for the leaders of Foreign Youth organizations, and in 1936, was the guest of the HJ leadership at that year's Nuremberg Rally.
Kreins was so impressed by all that he saw that, on his return to Luxembourg in September 1936, he founded an imitation Hitlerjugend movement known as the Luxemburger Volksjugend, or LVJ, whose emblem was a white lebens-rune on a black shield. Originally there had been only a handful of members, and its thirty founding fathers were each honored with an award of the Golden Hitler Youth Badge in June 1941 - presented by Artur Axmann, leader of the Hitlerjugned.
In July 1940, after the German occupation of Luxembourg, a Volksdeutsche Bewegung (Racial German movement) or VDB was formed under the leadership of 62 year old Professor Damian Kratzenberg - a Luxembourg citizen and son of a German father and Luxembourg mother. It was officially declared to be the only authorized political movement in the country. It's avowed aim was to bring Luxembourg back to the German Reich. The party badge of the VDB proclaimed this message with its motto Heim ins Reich (Home to the Reich) - a historically inaccurate misnomer, considering the fact that Luxembourg, while between 1815 and 1867 a member of the German Confederation, had never been an integral or constituent part of the German Reich, which itself did not come into being until the unification of Germany in 1871.
Membership of the VDB reached a peak at 84,000, but even the Germans had to admit that barely 5% of these were genuine volunteers. Occupational blackmail forced many citizens to join since the alternative was, in most cases, loss of employment.
A rigid policy of Germanization was forced upon most Luxembourgers, and all the political and para-military organizations of the German state were introduced and rapidly made obligitory. From January of 1941, all manual workers had to belong to the Deutsches Arbeits Front (DAF) or face dismissal. Compulsory service in the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) for young persons of both sexes in the classes of 1920-1926 was introduced at the same time. The LVJ was also affiliated with the Hitlerjugend, and at the same time as conscription was introduced in August of 1942, was actually absorbed into it. A German report at the end of 1942 quotes the following figures for membership of Nazi organizations in Luxembourg:
Somewhat illogically, the VDB continued to exist even after the total incorporation of Luxembourg into the German Reich. There was also an attempt to form a Landesgruppe Belgien der VDB among the 8,000 or so Luxembourg citizens who lived and worked in Belgium, but it had little impact. Even less successful was a move to create a parallel organization among Luxembourg residents in France.
Post-WWII hundreds of Luxembourgers were arraigned on charges of collaboration, and twelve death sentences were pronounced of which eight were actually carried out. Professor Kratzenberg, leader of the VDB, was among those executed.
See also, Luxemburg Volunteers in the German Wehrmacht
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