Remembering Luxembourg lives lost
(CS) Grand Duke Henri and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on Friday led a Luxembourg delegation to mark the 70th anniversary of a prison massacre in Slonsk, Poland, in which SS troops killed 819 inmates, among them 91 Luxembourg nationals.
The Luxembourgers kept at the prison were forced recruits who had resisted fighting for the Nazis.
With the Red Army approaching, Hitler's SS executed the majority of the over 1,000 prison inmates in the night from January 30 to 31, 1945. Only two days later, Soviet soldiers liberated Sonnenburg, as Slonsk was then called.
They found four survivors and recorded video footage, which was later used in the Nuremberg trials as proof of NS-Regime war crimes.
At the commemorative ceremony on Friday, the Grand Duke said the massacre represents a “black day” in Luxembourg history. At no other place was the tragedy of forced recruits more tangible than in Slonsk, he added.
The Sonnenburg massacre marks the biggest WWII tragedy of its kind for Luxembourg citizens.
Henri also thanked Polish authorities for keeping this memory alive. The Friday ceremony also marked the opening of a small museum at the site.
The Grand Duke also spoke to those who lost their lives in the war. “Dear Luxembourgers, you who gave your life for your country, we will never forget you,” he said.
For more information on the massacre, please watch the video below.
During WWII almost 12,000 Luxembourgers received their summons to join the Nazi Wehrmacht. Over 3,500 refused to become forced recruits. As many as 2,500 of them managed to hide in the country, with others escaping to Belgium and France.
Those caught were either executed or sent to prisons and concentration camps, where the majority perished. Of those who fought, many were killed in action, but those who survived were also not safe.
Just under 1,000 Luxembourg men were taken prisoners of war by the Soviets and help in Tambow, in south east Russia. Around 170 died in the camp and another 50 died on their transport back to their liberated homeland.
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