Luxembourgish collaboration with Nazi Germany
During the German occupation of Luxembourg in World War II, some Luxembourgers collaborated with the country's Nazi occupiers. The term Gielemännchen ("yellow men") was adopted by many Luxembourgers, first to describe German Nazis in general, and later for Luxembourgish collaborators. The term came from the yellow uniforms of the Nazi Party. Their number, however, was limited.
With the forced conscription of Luxembourgers into the Wehrmacht from September 1942, the divide between the occupiers and the occupied population increased widened dramatically.:139 However, according to German reports about 1,500 to 2,000 Luxembourgers had volunteered by August 1942 for the German armed forces, including 300 for the Schutzstaffel (SS), and this does not seem to have been pure propaganda.:139
Germany was the most important trading partner of Luxembourg in the interwar period, but the manner in which these trade links developed and changed during the war has not yet been researched. The historian Émile Krier spoke of a process of "rationalisation and concentration" during the war, but this leaves the question as to who the beneficiaries and losers of this process were.:138 Certainly, the Caisse d'Épargne, for example, profited enormously from the elimination of small banks.:138
The Germans were naturally eager to exploit Luxembourgish heavy industry, and the question as to the steel firm ARBED's willingness to make concessions to the German authorities was already heavily discussed during the post-war trial of Aloyse Meyer, the managing director.:138 The different stances of ARBED and HADIR show that there was certainly some room for maneuver. Unlike the former, the management of HADIR refused to cooperate with the German occupiers. Yet many issues have yet to be examined by historians.:138 It is unclear whether the decline in productivity per worker was due to passive resistance, a lack of raw materials, or a shortage of qualified workers in wartime.:138 Similarly, about 1,000 Ostarbeiter were employed in the Luxembourgish iron and steel industry, and their working conditions have yet to be examined.:138 Paul Dostert claims that, in general, industry was able to continue production relatively undisturbed and still made considerable profits under German oversight, but these were disguised by the war-related production stoppages in 1940 and 1944-1945.
Retribution and post-war period
In early September 1944, about 10,000 people left Luxembourg with the German civil administration: it is generally assumed that this consisted of 3,500 collaborators and their families.:133 The main resistance groups had formed the umbrella group Unio'n in March, and they tried to establish a level of order after the German withdrawal but before the return of the Luxembourgish government-in-exile: in this, they had the support of the American army. Without a legal footing, they arrested numerous collaborators. While this may in fact have prevented the deadly vigilante justice that occurred in other countries, the population's anger did also manifest itself in violent attacks on the arrested collaborators.:134
In 1945, 5,101 Luxembourgers, including 2,857 men and 2,244 women were in prison for political activities, constituting 1,79 % of the population. 12 collaborators were sentenced to death and were shot in Reckenthal in Luxembourg City. 249 were sentenced to forced labour, 1366 were sentenced to prison and 645 were sent to workhouses. Approximately 0,8 % of the population were legally punished, then.
This included one former minister, the 1925-1926 prime minister Pierre Prüm, who was sentenced in 1946 to four years' imprisonment. At least one mayor was also deposed for political activities by grand-ducal decree on 4 April 1945.
Apart from their political activities, collaborators also had to account for their actions against Jews, the denunciation of hidden forced conscripts and spying on the Luxembourgish population.
The Luxembourgish penal system was not prepared to take in such a large number of prisoners. In addition to the prison in Grund, there were about 20 other facilities, some of which had been built by the Germans during the war. Many of these were overcrowded, and had poor standards of hygiene.
There were some failed attempts in the 1950s and 1970s to politically organise the former collaborators. The same people are not known to have had any involvement in the resurgence of populist right-wing groups in the 1980s and 1990s.:136
- Volksdeutsche Bewegung (VdB)
- Collaboration with the Axis Powers during World War II
- Luxembourgish Resistance
- Luxembourg in World War II
- Majerus, Benoît. "Kollaboration in Luxemburg: die falsche Frage?" In: ...et wor alles net esou einfach - Questions sur le Luxembourg et la Deuxième Guerre mondiale; exhibition book, published by Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, Vol. X; Luxembourg, 2002; p. 126-140. http://orbilu.uni.lu/handle/10993/635
- Archives nationales (eds.). Collaboration: nazification? Le cas du Luxembourg à la lumière des situations française, belge et néerlandaise. Actes du colloque international, Centre culturel de rencontre Abbaye de Neumünster, May 2006. 479 p. Luxembourg: Imprimerie Hengen, 2008.
- Cerf, Paul. "De l’épuration au Luxembourg après la Seconde Guerre mondiale." Luxembourg: Imprimerie Saint-Paul, 1980.
- Dostert, Paul. Luxemburg zwischen Selbstbehauptung und nationaler Selbstaufgabe. Die deutsche Besatzungspolitik und die Volksdeutsche Bewegung 1940 - 1945. Luxembourg: Imprimerie Saint-Paul, 1985. 309 pages
- Majerus, Benoît. "Les Ortsgruppenleiter au Luxembourg. Essai d'une analyse socio-économique." Hémecht, Vol. 52, No. 1, 2000. p. 101-122, http://hdl.handle.net/10993/567.
- Wey, Claude. Les fondements idéologiques et sociologiques de la collaboration luxembourgeoise pendant la Deuxième guerre mondiale. Paper written as part of the teaching practicum. Unpublished. Luxmebourg 1981.