Battle of Vianden
|This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (October 2010)|
The Battle of Vianden (occasionally called the Battle for Vianden Castle) took place November 19, 1944 in the small town of Vianden in northern Luxembourg, and was one of the most important battles of the Luxembourg Resistance against Nazi Germany during World War II.
While the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg had been liberated by United States Forces in September 1944, the German troops pulled back to Germany and took up new defensive positions along the border rivers Moselle, Sauer and Our. As soon as the country was liberated, Luxembourgish resistance members formed a militia across the country who were equipped with arms and ammunitions by the United States Army. Most of the Luxembourgish militia took up positions at the German border and occupied the important observation posts along the Rivers Our and Sauer. One of the most important posts was Vianden Castle from which the Luxembourgers could look deep into German territory and report German troop movements to the Allied Forces.
On November 15, Luxembourgish militia members spotted a German patrol between Wiesen and Bettel and decided to strike. Five of the 11 German soldiers were killed by the Luxembourgers who themselves suffered no casualties. After this incident the German command decided to recapture once and for all the castle of Vianden, an important observation post from which the Luxembourgish resistance reported German troop movements to the Allied forces. The leader of the resistance, Victor Abens, evacuated the civilians of Vianden but nevertheless decided that his 30 militia men should remain in the town and in the castle to defend it. In the following days, the U.S. Army supported the Luxembourgers in Vianden with weapons and ammunition and left the town afterwards.
On Sunday morning, November 19, the Germans attacked the town with 250 soldiers of the Waffen-SS. After bombing the town and the castle with grenade launchers the German soldiers began to attack the castle itself which was defended and fortified by 4 members of the Luxembourgish militia. (Philippe Gleis, Misch Schneiders, Will Weyrich and Friedrich Heintzen). After heavy fighting around the castle, 6 German soldiers managed to open the gate of the castle and enter it, only to be involved in house-to-house fighting inside the castle. After conceding several casualties, the Germans withdrew from the castle and concentrated their force on the town, but the strong resistance from the militia made them abandon their plans and withdraw to the other side of the river to Germany.
18 German soldiers were killed during the main battle. The 30 men of the Luxembourgish militia suffered only one dead (Leon Roger), with three being heavily wounded (Philippe Gleis, Jean Roger Corring and Michael Schneiders) and three more lightly wounded. A single civilian was killed when a grenade exploded in her home.
When the Germans launched the Battle of the Bulge one month later, the 30 men of the Luxembourgish militia, being hopelessly outnumbered, abandoned Vianden and withdrew to the unoccupied south of the country. Most of them continued their engagement by helping the U.S. Forces during the Battle of the Bulge.
- Raths (2008) pp. 401-403
- Schrijvers 2005, p. 148
- Raths, Aloyse (2008). Unheilvolle Jahre für Luxemburg - Années néfastes pour le Grand-Duché.
- Schrijvers, Peter (2005). The Unknown Dead: Civilians in the Battle of the Bulge (illustrated ed.). University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813123523.