#Story - Luxembourg

Military occupation of Luxembourg, May – October 1940

On 10 May 1940, German troops invaded the neutral and unarmed Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. After several weeks of military occupation, Hitler decided to put Luxembourg under civil administration. Gauleiter Gustav Simon was ordered to act in Luxembourg as 'Chief of civil administration’. Hitler ordered him to prepare the annexation of Luxembourg to the ’Greater Germany’, which led to the formation of the first Resistance movements.

On 10 May 1940 German troops invaded unarmed Luxembourg, violating its neutrality for the second time in less than 25 years. The military occupation proved unpolitical, and so the Luxembourg administration believed they could come to an arrangement with the military.

The Government and the Grand Ducal family left Luxembourg and moved behind the Maginot Line. This was except for one Government Minister who was overtaken by German troops and had to return. They hoped that the French troops would push back the German attackers.

Some 49,000 civilians from Luxembourg were evacuated to France, and 46, 000 to the North of Luxembourg. The Secretary General of the Government, Albert Wehrer, stayed in Luxembourg and formed an 'administrative commission’. This commission took over the government’s tasks and was in constant contact with the German forces.

A small group of Luxembourg Nazis founded the ‘Volksdeutsche Bewegung’, they aimed to bring together all those who desired Luxembourg’s annexation to Germany under the slogan “eim ins Reich” (Back to the Reich).

At the end of July, the military occupation was replaced by a civil administration under the command of Gauleiter Gustav Simon, from the neighbouring Gau (party district) Coblence-Trier. It was the first time that a civil administration of an occupied country was entrusted to a leading member of the Nazi party. His first decree was on the use of the German language: only German was to be spoken and shown in public. This shocked the population and provoked the first signs of opposition. Gauleiter Simon understood rapidly that he could not rely on Luxembourg’s civil servants to show a loyal behaviour towards Nazi Germany. However, not all civil servants refused the Nazi policy, and some showed a real enthusiasm to provide information on, for example, the Jews.

Simon continued until October, introducing German legislation in Luxembourg, especially the anti-Jewish Nurenberg laws, and creating new jurisdiction to have all those who showed an ‘anti-German’ behaviour put on trial and sent to prison. The Gestapo established their Einsatzkommando in the Villa Pauly. Seeing that the population refused to become members of the Volksdeutsche Bewegung, he forced civil servants to join or else they would be sacked.  Meanwhile he destroyed all the institutions that were elements of the independent State as political parties: Parliament, Council of State, but also inscriptions in French or monuments and memorials that underlined the Francophile attitude of the population. The destruction of the Gëlle Fra Monument (Gold Lady) is a good illustration of these policies.