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. In August 1942, Germany introduced compulsory military service for young Luxembourgers and bestowed German citizenship on collaborators (measures causing 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, around 3,900 Jews lived in Luxembourg (out of a total population of about 300,000), three quarters of whom were refugees who had arrived since the Nazi rise to power in 1933. From September 1940 to October 1941, some 3,000 Jews left Luxembourg and found refuge in France or Belgium. Some 700 were able to leave the German controlled countries of Europe. By October 1941, most of those who remained were old, poor or sick. In September 1940, the administration put the Nuremberg Laws into effect and began the confiscation of Jewish property. In July 1941, the Jews of Luxembourg were ordered to wear a yellow ribbon 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 – and 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 in Luxembourg before the war, 1,200 perished.
II. Archival situation
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 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.
For further reference:
Grand-Duché de Luxembourg: Archives de l'Etat. Inventaire détaillé des affiches de la deuxième guerre mondiale (Luxembourg: Ministère des affaires culturelles, 1978).
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).
For information on the content and structure of the EHRI national reports, please consult the introduction.