The Holocaust in Luxembourg
Before the War:
Jews had been living in Luxembourg in small numbers since about the 13th century. They were very small in number – 3,500 people in 1940, including 1,500 refugees from Germany – but the proportion was actually fairly similar to other Western European nations of the time (as Luxembourg’s total population was only 300,000.)
On May 10, 1940, despite many promises to respect the Duchy’s neutrality, Germany invaded Luxembourg in a campaign that took only a few hours. The tale of the Jews of Luxembourg is not a particularly sad one in the saga of tragic Holocaust stories. In fact, many Jews were able to emigrate and very few remained by the time deportations started. It is observed that the Western European Jewish population was treated differently from one country to another – Holland, Belgium, and France fell into one category, and the Jews of Luxemburg and Germany fell into another. Indeed, Luxembourg’s Jewish population were treated more like German Jewry as opposed to the occipied Western nations’ populations. Many were allowed to emigrate far later in the war – many were even accompanied by German military personnel as they left on organized caravans to the Spanish border and moved onwards to Portugal. A census taken in October of 1941, after the organized caravans had been halted, only about 750 Jews remained within the borders of Luxembourg – and 80% of them were aged 50 or older. Unfortunately there were a few big deportations of Jews to Theresienstadt, and a huge percentage of these people would perish at their destination. The largest deportation came when 334 Jews were sent to Lodz in October 1941, only eleven survived. By the time the Germans finished in Luxembourg there would be only about 50 Jews left in the small nation-state, they were either in mixed marriages; the product of a mixed marriage; or in hiding.
Deportations from Luxembourg were rare, but deadly.
After the War
The Jewish population of Luxembourg had all either been deported or had emigrated by the time the Nazis were defeated. Either that, or they had been hidden by a sympathetic fellow citizen. About 900 Jews attempted to return to Luxembourg afterwards, and, in comparison to the rest of European Jewry, they had a relatively easy time. In most cases the property was returned to its rightful owner or a surviving relative, and many services were rendered to the small group of returnees in order to facilitate their re-entrance into society. Today, the community remains much the same: small, integrated, and assimilated.