More than seventy years after Luxembourg was officially declared “Judenrein,” free of Jews, the nation’s government has issued an admission and apology for its complicit role in the Holocaust.
In a declaration on behalf of Parliament, Luxembourg’s authorities offered their “apology to the Jewish community for the suffering inflicted on it and for the injustices committed.” The statement also “recognizes the responsibility of some public officials in the incomparable acts which were committed.”
The 60-member Chamber of Deputies unanimously ratified the historic document which was signed by several leading government officials.
The move was the direct result of a study commissioned by former Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, to examine Luxembourg’s role in Nazi atrocities. The 190-page study, compiled by historian Vincent Artuso, said that during the period of occupation, many of the nation’s authorities “collaborated once they were invited to by the occupier and often fulfilled their task with diligence, zeal even — certain heads of the administration did not hesitate to take the initiative.”
Following the German invasion, much of the government together with then head of state, Grand Duchess Charlotte and her family fled, spending most of the war in Canada and Great Britain. During that time, Luxembourg was placed under the authority of an “administrative commission.”
The report shows that even before the commission was placed under the direction of Nazi-sympathizer and puppet, Gustave Simon, that it took many steps against local Jews without prompting from occupiers.
A key example is an order forbidding Jews who had left the country to return to their homes.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Luxembourg had over 3,500 Jews prior to the occupation, which began in 1940. After a series of deportations between 1000 and 2,500 hundred were murdered.
In 1941, the country was declared to be Judenrein. Only 36 Luxembourg Jews are known to have survived Nazi camps.
It is important for countries to recognize their wrongdoing,” Dr. Michael Berenbaum, a leading holocaust expert, told Hamodia. “It’s a national experience and it takes countries different amounts of time to come to terms with their past. It is always better that they do it now then not at all. Acknowledgement has a very deep and profound meaning to people.”