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History of Luxembourg
 
 
 

World War II

During World War II the Luxembourgish government and monarchy was swept away into exile by the German invasion of 10 May 1940, although German troops actually occupied Luxembourg City during the night of 9 May. Throughout the war, Grand Duchess Charlotte broadcast via on BBC to Luxembourg to give hope to the people. The state was placed under military occupation until August 1942, when it was formally annexed by the Third Reich as part of the Gau Moselland. Luxembourgers were declared to be German citizens and 13,000 were called up for military service. 2,848 Luxembourgers eventually died fighting in the German army.

Luxembourgish opposition to this annexation took the form of passive resistance at first, as in the Spéngelskrich (lit. "War of the Pins"), and by the refusal to speak German. As French was forbidden, many Luxembourgers resorted to resuscitating old Luxembourgish words, which led to a renaissance of the language. Other measures included deportation, forced labour, forced conscription and, more drastically, internment, deportation to concentration camps and execution. The latter measure was applied after a so called general strike from 1 September to 3 September 1942, which paralysed the administration, agriculture, industry and education as response to the declaration of forced conscription by the German administration on 30 August 1942. It was violently suppressed: 21 strikers were executed and hundreds more deported to concentration camps. The then civilian administrator of Luxembourg, Gauleiter Gustav Simon had declared conscription necessary to support the German war effort. It was to remain one of only two mass strikes against the German war machinery in Western Europe.

US forces again liberated most of the country in September 1944, although they were briefly forced to withdraw during the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) which had German troops take back most of northern Luxembourg for a few weeks. The Germans were finally expelled in January 1945. Altogether, of a pre-war population of 293,000, 5,259 Luxembourgers lost their lives during the hostilities.

Post World War II to Present

After World War II Luxembourg abandoned its politics of neutrality, when it became a founding member of NATO (1949) and the United Nations. It is a signatory of the Treaty of Rome, and constituted a monetary union with Belgium (Benelux Customs Union in 1948), and an economic union with Belgium and The Netherlands, the so-called BeNeLux.


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