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Earlier this year, a trial began in the case of the “Bommeleeër Affär”, a series of “some twenty bombings of infrastructure assets (mostly power masts), booby traps and blackmail”, in the words of writer Fausto Gardini. Targets included the Findel airport (photo) and the old Palais de Justice in the city centre. In the first of three excerpts from his new e-book, Luxembourg Under Fire, Gardini offers a primer on the events which shook quiet Luxembourg in the mid-1980s.

Excerpt from “Luxembourg Under Fire”

For almost two years, from May 30, 1984 to March 25, 1986, a series of bomb explosions shocks the traditionally peaceful, some may even say dull and boring, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

The mysterious attacks remain unsolved to this day (May 2013), despite the subsequent involvement of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation and the German Bundeskriminalamt in their investigation and numerous efforts in profiling potential perpetrators. During some of the probes the Luxembourg police units were reinforced by the Mobilen Einsatzkommando (“mobile intervention unit”) from neighboring Mainz, Germany.

The events are referred to in Lëtzebuergesch as the “Bommeleeër Affär” [“planter of bombs affair”].

Over the past decades, at various times, in Luxembourg newspapers, weeklies and RTL TV station have picked up the story and have wondered or speculated about the perpetrators, motives and status of the investigation, but generally the world had moved on and the affair has been out of the public’s eyes.

To celebrate the year 2000 millennium Luxembourg’s Éditions Saint-Paul and Éditions Guy Binsfeld published Panorama 1900-2000 and Lëtzebuerger Almanach vum Joerhonnert 1900-1999 respectively. Neither editor of the two centennial compilations deemed the 1984-1986 events worthy of figuring in their domestic “remarkable facts” of the twentieth century.

In 2001, the Revue, a weekly magazine ran a series entitled: Die großen Affären (“the big affairs”) and selects the Bommeleeër Affär as the first event covered in the series. Introducing the series, editor Claude Wolf wrote at the time [translated from German]:

“The speculation surrounding the identity of the shadowy personality continues. Many believe to know something, but nobody seems to have the necessary evidence to substantiate the allegations.

“Up to April 13, 1985, the date of the first bombing, Luxembourg had not dealt with international crime. It was completely mystified by the bombing campaign, obviously an attempt to undermine the rule of law to its core. Politicians had then to accept [the blame] of being accused of not having set up a defense system in a timely fashion.”

The article covering the affair ends with the statement [translated from German]:

“Everyone pretends to know something, no one can prove anything. The question remains open: Who was the bomber, what were his motives and how has our constitutional state protected itself against it?”

Almost thirty years after the facts, on February 25, 2013, in the city of Luxembourg, a trial opens in which two former members of Luxembourg’s own security forces are accused of having perpetrated the criminal acts.

Part two on Tuesday.

Fausto Gardini is a Luxembourger living in the United States. His current e-book, Luxembourg Under Fire: Luxembourg’s Bommeleeër Affär is available on for €5.52. Gardini’s previous books include The American Aunt (2011), Luxembourg On My Mind, Volumes I (2011) and II (2012) and Storms Over Luxembourg (2012). He also writes the Luxembourg-US history blog Luxembourgensia.