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Diekirch

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  • 20 Nov 2018

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  • 21 Nov 2018

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The September 1944 liberations remembered! 70th anniversary September is usually a time in the year, where elder co-citizens reflect on the first liberation of Luxembourg by American forces in 1944.  70 years ago, on September 9, 1944 the first American troops crossed into Luxembourg from France and Belgium and subsequently liberated the entire country within 5 days.  With the defeated German troops in full organized retreat, little resistance and fighting took place and by September 14, 1944 the Germans had completely evacuated from the Luxembourg and established a new line of defense behind the Westwall on their own territory.  But the worst was only to come three months later .....! On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the first liberation, a number of local commemorations all over Luxembourg took place to recall those memorable days and to foster public awareness especially within the younger generations about the regained liberty and freedom over a 4-year nightmare thanks to American troops. On September 9, 2014 the city and community of Pétange in the south of the country paid tribute to the first American soldier killed on Luxembourg territory Lt. Hyman Josefson of 85th Cavalry Recon. Squadron/5th Armored Division - when a German antitank shell hit his M-8 Greyhound scout car.  Year after year thereafter, grateful Luxembourgers remembered and continue to remember to what was the prelude to Luxembourg s liberation. An elaborate night-time ceremony with parade, official speeches and wreathlayings with large audiences attending, usually marks this special ceremony. September 10, 2014 . This is the key date, when the capital Luxembourg City was liberated by units of the 5th US Armored Division  - bringing also back Prince Félix and Crown-Prince Jean.  Thousands of joyful Luxembourgers then cheered at their American GI liberators.  Those feelings are still strong today, especially for American veterans.  The Government of Luxembourg and the City Administration of Luxembourg had jointly hosted a commemorative ceremony at the Gëlle Fra monument (comparable to the tomb of the unknown soldier), as Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Mayor Lydie Polfer placed a wreath together in presence of numerous VIPs, patriotic organizations, re-enactors. The Diekirch museum, represented by Chairman Frank Rockenbrod also offered a wreath and participated in the followup commemorative concert by the Luxembourg Army band. September 11, 2014.
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Wreath-laying on Sept 10, 2014 at the Gelle Fra Memorial by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel
and Mayor of Luxembourg Lydie Polfer
 
Nine eleven (1944) 70 years later.  World history was made on September 11, 1944, when in the late afternoon the first American foot patrol crossed the Our river at Stolzembourg and set foot on mainland Germany to probe the Westwall bunkers.  Sgt Warner W. Holzinger thus became the first American/allied soldier on Third Reich s territory, as the wire services flashed the news around the entire free world.  Exactly seventy years later a local organization committee supported by the Diekirch museum and CEBA had organized a special commemoration/reenactment to recall that historic event.  There were many VIPs as US Ambassador Robert Mandell, UK Ambassador Alice Walpole, German Ambassador Christine Glaeser, French Ambassador Guy Yelda (the patrol in 1944 was accompanied by a French liaison officer) and Luxembourg Secretary of Defense Francine Closener.  After several official addresses a joint wreath-laying took place, followed by a re-enactment of the museum s volunteers staging the first patrol crossing into Germany to reach Keppeshausen.  An additional panel with maps and explanations in three languages was also unveiled. As the VIPs got a Jeep ride on the same trail, many people walked the same way into Germany to be united in mind with those first GIs.  This overall event coordinated by Marcel Scheidweiler was especially well received by the public! 
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Ceremony and re-enactment at Stolzembourg Nine Eleven, 2014 
 
BeNeLux commemoration at Thorn, The Netherlands.  Whereas many American and British soldiers were rightly remembered as liberators, other towns and villages recalled that they were liberated by allied soldiers of other, smaller nations.  Such was the case of the town of Thorn, The Netherlands, located right on the Belgian-Dutch border, which was liberated in mid-late September by Luxembourg allied soldiers of the famous Belgian Brigade Piron . Altogether some 140 Luxembourg soldiers, who in earlier war years had escaped the grip of Nazi forced conscription, served as infantry, reconnaissance or artillerymen inside the Belgian brigade that had also liberated a number of French towns after its landing in Normandy.  On Sept 11, 2014, the community and people of Thorn thanked the Brigade Piron , especially the Luxembourg soldiers who had driven away the Germans from their town. The overall program consisted of a static display of Belgian army equipment used in peacekeeping missions by the present 5e de ligne/bataillon Libération who took over the traditions of the Brigade Piron, inauguration of a special exhibit at the local museum, presentation of a special book, wreath-layings and series of official speeches, musical presentations, parade by Belgian- and Dutch troops and WWII vehicles and commemorative concert.  Luxembourg was officially represented by representatives of its Embassy in the Netherlands and Mr. Fernand Jadoul, Consul of Luxembourg. Daniel Jordao, the NMMH s specialist of the Brigade Piron and Roland Gaul,
Director/curator laid a wreath in honor of the Luxembourg soldiers of the Brigade Piron on behalf of the museum.   
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