How does the commemoration of the “Ons Jongen” in Luxembourg look like? What is remembered and celebrated? What kind of ceremonies and memorials exist today?
During the summer semester of 2021 of the study program (Bachelor en Cultures Européennes) at the University of Luxembourg, Focus History – together with 18 students we discussed and shared aspects of commemoration and memorials of the conscripted women and men in Luxembourg during WWII.
The students were asked to localize a memorial, a memorial plaque in their neighbourhood about WWII, about the ones who have been declared “Mort pour la Patrie”, for the victims of the war, or special memorials for the conscripted men and women etc. etc.
The result shows a very diverse range of memorials in questions of art, preservation and naming the dead. Some memorials are taken care of very well (in Junglinster, Consdorf etc.) and in some communes, the memorials are forgotten and overgrown (Differdange).
Another aspect shows the variety of naming the dead: in some communes, the memorials are dedicated to Forced Recruited (Enrôlés de Force), or the “Martyrs” where the all dead are considered (résistance fighters, soldiers, civilians etc. ). Like the mention of “Mort pour la Patrie”, the Luxembourgers who died in German uniform are included. On some memorials, a simple “A Nos Mort” (Our dead) was chosen.
The difficulty of naming the women and men who served in German uniforms is a delicate and complex topic. The very term used (Mort pour la Patrie, Martyr), whether the names of the dead are listed or not, reflects the culture of remembrance in this country – and clearly shows a very diverse and inconsistent picture. Each municipality decided who would be mentioned on the memorial plaque (only the resistance fighters) and how they would be remembered. In some communities, the memorials are imposing, well preserved and decorated with flowers and other decorations. In others, they are neglected.
The contributed pictures of the memorials: