Luxemburg Collaborationist Forces in WWII
There had been several attempts to form an imitation Nazi Party inLuxembourg at the time of Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933, but noneof these parties survived to the end of that year. The Auslands-Organisationof 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 toenlist in the Luxembourg branch of the Hitlerjugend but was refusedadmission on the grounds that the Hitler Youth was restricted to the sonsof Reichs-Deutsch. He was, nonetheless, invited to attend the followingyear to a seminar held in Germany for the leaders of Foreign Youthorganizations, and in 1936, was the guest of the HJ leadership at thatyear’s Nuremberg Rally.
Kreins was so impressed by all that he saw that, on his return toLuxembourg in September 1936, he founded an imitation Hitlerjugend movementknown as the Luxemburger Volksjugend, or LVJ, whose emblem was a whitelebens-rune on a black shield. Originally there had been only a handfulof members, and its thirty founding fathers were each honored with an award ofthe Golden Hitler Youth Badge in June 1941 – presented by Artur Axmann,the leader of the Hitlerjugend.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Belgium’s tiny southwestern neighbor, wasinvaded by the Germans on May 10th, 1940, and overrun in a mostly bloodlessconquest. One militia-man and six Gendarmes were wounded but no one wasreportedly 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 politicaldistrict of the German Reich, of which there was 42 total during WWII locatedthroughout 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 theformer Grand Duchy. In February of 1941 Gau Koblenz-Trier wasrenamed Gau-Moselland. Of Luxembourg’s population of 290,000 about 17,000were known as Reichs-Deutsch.
In July 1940, after the German occupation of Luxembourg, a VolksdeutscheBewegung (Racial German movement) or VDB was formed under theleadership of 62-year-old Professor Damian Kratzenberg – a Luxembourgcitizen and son of a German father and Luxembourg mother. It was officiallydeclared to be the only authorized political movement in the country. Itsavowed aim was to bring Luxembourg back to the German Reich.The party badge of the VDB proclaimed this message with its motto Heimins Reich (Home to the Reich) – a historically inaccuratemisnomer, considering the fact that Luxembourg, while between 1815 and1867 a member of the German Confederation, had never been an integral ora constituent part of the German Reich, which itself did not come into beinguntil the unification of Germany in 1871.
Membership of the VDB reached a peak at 84,000, but even the Germans hadto admit that barely 5% of these were genuine volunteers. Occupationalblackmail forced many citizens to join since the alternative was, in mostcases, loss of employment.
A rigid policy of Germanization was forced upon most Luxembourgers and allthe political and para-military organizations of theGerman state was introduced and rapidly made obligatory. From January of1941, all manual workers had to belong to the Deutsches ArbeitsFront (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 alsoaffiliated 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 1942quotes the following figures for membership of Nazi organizations inLuxembourg:
Somewhat illogically, the VDB continued to exist even after the totalincorporation of Luxembourg into the German Reich. There was also anattempt to form a Landesgruppe Belgien der VDB among the 8,000 or soLuxembourg citizens who lived and worked in Belgium, but it had little impact.Even less successful was a move to create a parallel organization amongLuxembourg residents in France.
Post-WWII hundreds of Luxembourgers were arraigned on charges ofcollaboration, and twelve death sentences were pronounced of which eightwere actually carried out. Professor Kratzenberg, leader of theVDB was among those executed.