The Germans invaded Luxembourg on 10 May 1940, and immediately set up a military administration. The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and her government fled to France and Portugal and, eventually, to Great Britain. In August 1940 a German civil government was established under the leadership of the adjoining German Gau of Koblenz-Trier (from January 1941 Gau Moselland). In August 1942, Germany introduced compulsory military service for young Luxembourgers and bestowed German citizenship on collaborators (measures which caused a general strike in the country). The country was liberated by the Allies on 9 September 1944.
On the eve of the Second World War, Luxembourg had a total population of some 300,000 inhabitants. Around 3,900 of them were Jews. Most were refugees who had arrived since Hitler's rise to power in 1933. From September 1940 to October 1941, some 3,000 Jews left Luxembourg, seeking refuge in France or Belgium. Some 700 were able to leave the German-controlled countries of Europe. By October 1941, most of the remaining Jews were old, poor or sick. In September 1940, the administration put the Nuremberg Laws into effect and began to confiscate Jewish property. In July 1941, the Jews of Luxembourg were ordered to wear a yellow armband on their left arm and in October 1941 the Jewish badge. Many were placed in a ghetto-like camp, which soon became the assembly point for deportations to the east. That month, the deportations began: on 16 October, 322 Jews were sent to the ghetto of Litzmannstadt (Łódź). Overall, 662 Jews were deported in seven transports, the last of which left in June 1943. Only 45 are known to have survived. Many had been sent directly to extermination camps (Auschwitz) or passed through Theresienstadt. Of the 3,900 Jews who lived in Luxembourg before the war, 1,200 perished.
The main archives are the National Archives which are located in Luxembourg City. A law on the archives is under discussion. In general, access is granted to documents older than 30 years. The files originating from the Prosecutor General’s Office are only accessible with a special permission from the Prosecutor General. Luxembourg also has private archives.
EHRI Research (Summary)
EHRI was able to establish that Holocaust-related collections are held by the National Archives. They include material generated by Luxembourg’s administration (both at home and in exile), the German occupation authorities, financial agencies, Jewish bodies and post-war investigations. The Centre de Documentation et de Recherche sur la Résistance has acquired a collection (mostly on Jewish assets), which mainly consists of copies of documents from the National Archives and other sources, but also includes some original files. The archives of the City of Luxembourg possess some files related to the synagogue and its destruction. The local archives of Grevenmacher, Mondorf, Esch/Alzette, Differdange, Dudelange and Ettelbruck may keep some files pertaining to the Jewish communities that lived in these towns before the German occupation of Luxembourg. The local archives of Wintger keep a card file of Jews imprisoned in the small ghetto of Fünfbrunnen (Cinqfontaines) before their deportation. EHRI was able to identify two helpful archival guides which are listed in the extensive report.
EHRI Research (Extensive)
A. EHRI approach to Luxembourg: Pre-existing Research and archival guides, expert support
Until recently Holocaust research did not really exist in Luxembourg, which is partly due to the fact that the country did not have its own university until 2003. Until then, academic research depended mainly on private endeavours taken abroad. Since then, two relevant conferences have taken place in Luxembourg, the results of which are to be published soon. Moreover, the Université de Luxembourg’s history department has launched a project to interview contemporary witnesses of the Second World War, which may lead to a number of Holocaust survivor testimonies. Furthermore, there is an exhibition catalogue on the „Exilland Luxemburg 1933-1947“, which deals with, among other things, racial refugees from Germany brought to Luxembourg during the 1930s, and resulted in the publication of Hugo Heumann’s memoirs “Erlebtes und Erlittenes. Von Mönchengladbach über Luxemburg nach Theresienstadt. Tagebuch eines deutsch-jüdischen Emigranten” (2007). A catalogue on another exhibition shown in the Musée national de la résistance under the title “Between Shade and Darkness. Le sort des Juifs du Luxembourg de 1940 à 1945” will be reprinted. There is also a recent, albeit non-academic, publication on the Jews of Luxembourg, published by Laurent Moyse: “Du rejet à l’intégration. Histoire des Juifs du Luxembourg des origines à nos jours” (2011).
EHRI established contact with Paul Dostert, Director of the Centre de Documentation et Recherche sur la Résistance (CDRR) and Corinne Schroeder, responsible for the section contemporary history at the National Archives of Luxembourg, EHRI on-site surveys identified key archival institutions and two helpful archival guides :
- [2003/1995] Spang, Paul, Etat général des fonds conservés aux Archives nationales du Grand Duché de Luxembourg et aux archives de la Section historique de l’Institut grand-ducal (Luxembourg, Publications de la Section historique de l'Institut grand-ducal, vol. 112-113: tome 1 1995, tome 2 2003).
-  Grand-Duché de Luxembourg: Archives de l'Etat. Inventaire détaillé des affiches de la deuxième guerre mondiale (Luxembourg: Ministère des affaires culturelles, 1978).
B. Characteristics of the Luxembourg archival system and specific challenges
The main archives are the National Archives located in Luxembourg City. A law on the archives is under discussion. In general, access is granted to documents older than 30 years. The files originating from the Prosecutor General’s Office are only accessible with a special permission from the Prosecutor General. Luxembourg also has private archives. Holocaust-related collections held by the National Archives include material generated by Luxembourg’s administration (both at home and in exile), the German occupation authorities, financial agencies, Jewish bodies and post-War investigations. The Centre de Documentation et de Recherche sur la Résistance (CDRR) has acquired an interesting collection (mostly on Jewish assets), consisting mainly of copies of documents from the National Archives and other sources, but also including some original files. The archives of the city of Luxembourg possess some files related to the synagogue and its destruction. The local archives of Grevenmacher, Mondorf, Esch/Alzette, Differdange, Dudelange, Ettelbruck, towns where Jewish communities existed before the German occupation of Luxembourg, may keep some files pertaining to these communities. The local archives of Wintger keep a card file of those Jews imprisoned in the small ghetto of Fünfbrunnen (Cinqfontaines) before their deportation.
C. EHRI identification and description results on Luxembourg
C.I. In Luxembourg
In Luxembourg, EHRI identified four archival institutions:
- City Archives of Luxembourg (Archives de la Ville de Luxembourg),
- Documentation and Research Centre on the Resistance (Centre de Documentation et de Recherche sur la Résistance, CDRR),
- National Archives of Luxemburg (Archives nationales de Luxembourg/Luxemburger Nationalarchiv),
- National Museum of Resistance (Musée National de la Résistance).
C.II. In other countries
EHRI has yet to determine which archival institutions and collections outside of Luxembourg are relevant to Holocaust research on Luxembourg.