As the rest of Europe prepares symbolic demonstrations to mark the centenary of the end of World War I, here’s what is happening in Luxembourg.
WWI ended 100 years ago with the signing of the armistice in a carriage of General Foch’s private train in Compiègne on 11 November 1918. One condition of the treaty was Germany’s withdrawal from Luxembourg and other occupied territories under the supervision of the US Army.
It also came at a time of great upheaval in the grand duchy. Not only was the country battling the Spanish influenza pandemic but, the day before there had been demonstrations for Luxembourg’s first female monarch, Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide, to abdicate.
Luxembourgers lost faith in Marie-Adelaide because of her lack of resistance to the German occupiers--she entertained the German Kaiser Wilhelm II in the palace and allowed the Kronprinz to establish a military headquarters in Luxembourg City. She abdicated on 14 January 1919, leaving her sister, Charlotte, to head the Grand Ducal family.
This dark period of Luxembourg’s history is perhaps less well-known than the occupation of World War II. Many films and documentaries have been made about the latter occupation period. But there is also a wealth of material online for history buffs to read up and there will be events in Luxembourg to commemorate this centenary.
Germany violated Luxembourg’s neutrality when forces invaded on 1 August 1914. Germany’s interest in Luxembourg was tied up in controlling its rail links and mines. By seizing control of these assets, Germany was able to direct supplies to its military all over Europe.
Because of this strategy, Luxembourg suffered severe bombing and also became a graveyard for air force pilots shot down over the country. In addition to material damage and injury, Luxembourg was thrown into a severe food crisis, as a result of meagre harvests and trade isolation.
The disgraced former grand duchess, meanwhile, retired to a monastery in Modena, Italy, before bad health forced her to leave. She died of flu in Germany on 24 January 1924, aged 29. On 22 October 1947, her body was interred in the Grand Ducal Crypt of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in the city of Luxembourg.
Did you know that?
According to Luxembourg history archive site www.ww1.lu, from 1915 to the end of the war in 1918, the “Hämmelsmarsch”, a traditional Luxembourg song and the Schueberfouer were banned because of their patriotic nature.
Events in Luxembourg
On 11 November, Opderschmelz, in Dudelange, will host a history slam with presentations on themes related to WWI from 4pm. The event is called “Forum Z: Lost Memories of WWI” and ends with a lantern parade. Participation is free of charge but advance registration is compulsory.
On 16 November, armistice will be marked by the Anglican Church Luxembourg with “The lads in their hundreds”, a series of songs and readings performed by David John Pike and Isabelle Trub with special guest readers. It takes place at the British Embassy residence, 16 boulevard Roosevelt, Luxembourg-Centre, starting at 7:45pm. Tickets cost €30 with all proceeds going to charity. Advance bookings by [email protected]