Testimonies from women who were conscripted in the Reichsarbeitsdienst and kriegshilfsdienst
On the occasion of the day of remembrance on Sunday, October 18th 2020, Luxembourg commemorated the women and men who were conscripted into the Nazi organizations and forces. 3614 women were among the nearly 12,000 affected. 58 women died. Articles and reports about the fate of the women were broadcasted and published during the last days – and give the project “WARLUX” a unique source to conduct further research about the biographies of these women.
A short report of Luxembourg RTL channel portraits Marie Bonichaux, born in 1924, and her story during WWII. She was 19 when she received the order for the Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich Labor Service) in November 1943. While the boys have to toil in construction or repair teams, the girls are often used as “work maids” in agriculture or as domestic help. All of this paired with militarily tight, National Socialist educational work.
Madame Bonichaux had to work in a factory for insulators for submarines and airplanes, but she was lucky, how she said, instead of doing the dangerous soldering work – she ended up in the laboratory, where she had to check the tiny insulators on a screen for possible manufacturing defects. Madame Bonichaux had to stay in the German Reich until May 1945, even after Luxembourg was libterared in September 1944, the Nazis did not let her go home. In spring of 1945 she reached finally her home town in Rodange.
Her story and of the course the story of over 3000 others has to be documented. The different aspects of these women and their experiences off the front but far from home occupy an important place in the narration of the history of WWII in Luxembourg. Their biographies will be an essentiel part in the WARLUX research on questions like: how did they cope with the occupation and conscription? How was the life under occupation? How did they keep in touch with their homeland? How did they or their families when they received the letter for the conscription? How was their endurance dueing the labour service and their relationship towards the Nazis? etc. etc.
Georges Even’s book “Frauen erleben den Krieg” (Women experience war) from 2007 compiled testimonies from witnesses – this time exclusively reports from women who had to experience the war years in Luxembourg and abroad. In his book, he has devoted himself to the stories about these women and thus makes an important contribution. Warlux will continue here and collect further biographies.
Georges Even – 2007, Saint Paul Luxembourg
**Correction (17/11/2020) Madame Marie Bonichaux was born in 1924 – not 1922. In the first version of this article, the year of birth was given as 1922. The error has been corrected.