What happened in Luxembourg during World War II

Second World War in Europe

The Holocaust took place almost at the same time as the Second World War. Still struggling with the German defeat in the First World War, Hitler's government planned a sprawling new empire in Eastern Europe, which would be called "habitat“Should serve. For the implementation of German supremacy in Europe, according to the rulers' calculations, a war was inevitable.

1939

After Germany had secured the neutrality of the Soviet Union with the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in August 1939, it triggered World War II with the attack on Poland on September 1, 1939. Great Britain and France then declared war on Germany on September 3. Within a month Poland was defeated by German and Soviet forces and divided between Germany and the Soviet Union.

1940

The temporary break in combat that followed Poland's defeat ended on April 9, 1940 when German soldiers invaded Norway and Denmark. With the invasion of the war-neutral Benelux countries (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) and France on May 10, 1940, Germany launched its attack on Western Europe. On June 22, 1940, France signed an armistice with Germany. This envisaged the occupation of the northern half of France by the German Wehrmacht and enabled the establishment of a collaborative regime in the south of the country, based in Vichy.

With the benevolence of the Germans, the Soviet Union occupied the Baltic States in June 1940, which were officially annexed in August 1940. Italy, a member of the Axis Powers (countries allied with Germany), joined the war on June 10, 1940. From July 10th to October 31st, 1940, the German Air Force waged the so-called "Battle of Britain", which it ultimately lost.

1941

After the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece took over the Balkans on April 6, 1941, the Germans and their allies attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, simply ignoring the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. In June and July 1941, the Germans also occupied the Baltic states. The Soviet leader Josef Stalin subsequently became an important ally against Hitler Germany and its Axis allies. In the summer and autumn of 1941, the German troops advanced deep into the Soviet Union. However, the energetic resistance of the Red Army prevented the Germans from taking the important cities of Leningrad and Moscow. On December 6, 1941, Soviet troops launched a major offensive that succeeded in permanently driving the German soldiers from the area around Moscow. One day later, on December 7, 1941, Japan (one of the Axis Powers) bombed Hawaiian Pearl Harbor. The United States immediately declared war on Japan. As the military conflict escalated, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States on December 11th.

1942-1943

In May 1942 the British Royal Air Force carried out the so-called 1000 bomber attack on Cologne, whereby the war was felt in Germany for the first time. In the following three years the Allied air forces systematically bombed industrial plants and cities across the empire. By 1945, a large part of the German metropolitan areas was in ruins. In late 1942 and early 1943, the Allies achieved a number of significant military successes in North Africa. After the French armed forces failed to prevent the Allied occupation of Morocco and Algeria, the Germans occupied the collaborating Vichy France on November 11, 1942. The military units of the Axis Powers in Africa, a total of around 150,000 soldiers, surrendered in May 1943.

On the Eastern Front, the Germans and their Axis allies tried again in the summer of 1942 to advance into the Soviet Union. The aim was to take Stalingrad on the Volga as well as the city of Baku and the Caucasian oil fields. In the late summer of 1942 the German offensive stalled on both fronts. In November, the Soviet troops counterattacked in Stalingrad, whereupon the 6th Army of the Wehrmacht had to surrender to the Soviets on February 2, 1943. In July 1943, the Germans launched another offensive near Kursk. The tank battle for Kursk was the largest tank battle in history. However, the Soviet troops fended off the attack and took over the military supremacy, which they were not to give up again in the further course of the war.

The Allies landed in Sicily in July 1943 and reached mainland Italy in September. After the Grand Fascist Council expressed its distrust of the Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini (an ally of Hitler), the Italian military took power. As a result of negotiations with British and US troops, a ceasefire was finally declared on September 8th. The German troops stationed in Italy took control of the northern half of the peninsula and continued their resistance. In September Mussolini, who had been arrested by Italian military authorities, was freed by German SS commandos. Under German supervision, he established a neo-fascist puppet regime in northern Italy. The German troops held northern Italy until the surrender on May 2, 1945.

1944

On June 6, 1944 (D-Day) over 150,000 Allied soldiers landed in France as part of a massive military operation, which was finally liberated at the end of August. The first US troops arrived in Germany on September 11, 1944, a month after Soviet troops crossed the eastern border. In mid-December, the Germans launched an unsuccessful counterattack in Belgium and northern France, which went down in history as the Battle of the Bulge. The Allied air forces attacked Nazi industrial facilities, including those in the Auschwitz camp. However, the gas chambers were never a target.

1945

In the course of their offensive of January 12, 1945, the Soviets liberated western Poland and forced Hungary (an ally of the Axis powers) to surrender. In mid-February 1945 the Allies bombed the city of Dresden and killed around 35,000 civilians. American troops crossed the Rhine on March 7, 1945. During their last offensive on April 16, 1945, the Soviet armed forces succeeded in surrounding the German capital Berlin.

When Soviet troops made their way to the Reich Chancellery, Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. On May 7, 1945 Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Western Allies in Reims and to the Soviets on May 9 in Berlin. In August, the war in the Pacific ended shortly after the US dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 120,000 civilians were killed in the process. Japan officially surrendered on September 2nd.

World War II killed an estimated 55 million people worldwide. It was the largest and most destructive conflict in history.

Last edited: May 17, 2019