Volksdeutsche Bewegung

Volksdeutsche Bewegung (German; literally "Ethnic German Movement") was a Nazi movement in Luxembourg that flourished under the German-occupied Luxembourg during World War II.

Formed by Damian Kratzenberg, a university professor with a German background, the movement only emerged after the invasion and was declared the only legal political movement in Luxembourg by the Nazis. Using the slogan Heim ins Reich (Home to the Reich), their declared aim was the full incorporation of Luxembourg into Nazi Germany. The policy was supported by Nazis who used the Bewegung as means towards this end.[1] The aim was accomplished in August 1942, although the VDB continued to operate and peaked at 84,000 members. Many of these joined when it became clear that membership was necessary to retain employment. A number of leading members also held dual membership of the National Socialist German Workers Party after incorporation. The movement disappeared after the war, and Kratzenberg was executed in 1946.

Luxemburger du bist Deutch
Propaganda of the Volksdeutsche Bewegung.
German National Movement

Volksdeutsche Bewegung
LeaderDamian Kratzenberg
IdeologyNational Socialism
Mitgliedsausweis Volksdeutsche Bewegung 1940-09
Membership card for the Volksdeutsche Bewegung, issued in 1940


The predecessors of the Volksdeutsche Bewegung, the "Luxemburger Gesellschaft für Deutsche Literatur und Kunst“ (GEDELIT; Luxembourgish Society for German Literature and Art), was led from 1935 by Damian Kratzenberg. Kratzenberg, a Luxembourgish National Socialist, advocated for the integration of the Grand Duchy into the German Empire, and advanced the "Deutschtum" (German-ness) of the Luxembourgers as a historical and linguistic justification for this. The "GEDELIT" engaged in propaganda in schools and assembled Nazi-sympathising groups of students in GEDELIT premises.

After the German Wehrmacht occupied the neutral Grand Duchy on 10 May 1940, 7 days later the "Volksdeutsche Bewegung" was founded in the city of Luxembourg. In his function as the president of the Volksdeutsche Bewegung, Kratzenberg now reported to the head of the civilian administration, the Gauleiter Gustav Simon.

Referendum of 10 October 1941

In 1941 the civil administrator ordered a referendum, disguised as a census, in which the Luxembourgers were supposed to admit their German ethnicity and thus give their blessing to a "voluntary" joining of the Third Reich.

In the "Referendum", the people were to be asked three questions on their "nationality", "mother tongue", and "ethnicity", the questions being formulated in a leading manner such that the only logical answer was supposed to be "German." This attempt was a failure. The Luxembourgish Resistance learned of the plan and spread the word that the Luxembourgers should answer dräimol Lëtzebuergesch ("three times Luxembourgish"). A test run of the civil administration failed for this reason, and the referendum was cancelled.

Through the failure of the referendum, the occupiers recognised that they could not overcome the resistance of the population. The German policy towards the Luxembourgers changed, and became much more brutal. The Volksdeutsche Bewegung lost significance, and played little role until the end of the war.

The head of the Volksdeutsche Bewegung, Damian Kratzenberg, managed to flee towards Weißenburg a few days before the liberation on 1 September. A letter to his daughter after the end of the war, however, gave his location away. He was brought to Luxembourg and put on trial. On 1 August Kratzenberg was sentenced to death and on 11 October 1946 was shot at the shooting range of the barracks of the Holy Ghost Plateau in Luxembourg City.


  1. ^ "An Hour of Glory: The Strike at the Luxembourg Post Office, 1 September 1942". Archived from the original on 7 July 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2007.
Damian Kratzenberg

Damian Kratzenberg (November 5, 1878, Clervaux – October 11, 1946, Luxembourg City) was a highschool teacher who became head of the Volksdeutsche Bewegung (Volksdeutsche Movement), a pro-Nazi political group, in Luxembourg during World War II. He was executed after the war for collaboration with the Nazis.

He was the son of the administrator of the castle of Clervaux, a German immigrant. After receiving his baccalaureate at the Diekirch gymnasium, from 1898 to 1902 he studied literature in Luxembourg, Lille, Paris and Berlin. Following this, he taught Greek and German in Diekirch, Echternach, and from 1927 at the Athénée de Luxembourg.From 1927 to 1936, he was a member of the liberal party. From the mid-1930s, he became a supporter of Nazi Germany. From 1935 to 1940, he was the president of GEDELIT, the Luxemburger Gesellschaft für deutsche Literatur und Kunst (Society for German Literature and Art). In 1936, he received the Goethe-Medaille für Kunst und Wissenschaft.He became head of the regional branch of the Volksdeutsche Bewegung in 1940, and was appointed head of the Athénée de Luxembourg in 1941.

Eidgenössische Sammlung

Eidgenössische Sammlung (German; literally "Confederate Collection") was a Swiss political party, founded in 1940 by Robert Tobler as a successor to the recently dissolved National Front.The party demanded an adjustment in Swiss policy to favour the Axis powers. This was particularly important as, after June 1940 the country was surrounded by fascist and Nazi states. It was open in its loyalty towards Nazi Germany.The Eidgenössiche Sammlung was closely supervised by the state because of its origins and so could not develop freely. In 1943 the police finally cracked down on the group and it was outlawed along with all of its sub-organisations as part of a wider government initiative against the National Front and its offshoots.

Free Party of Luxembourg

The Free Party of Luxembourg (Luxembourgish: Fräi Partei Lëtzebuerg), abbreviated as FPL, was a political party in Luxembourg.

German National Movement in Liechtenstein

The German National Movement in Liechtenstein (German: Volksdeutsche Bewegung in Liechtenstein, VDBL) was a National Socialist party in Liechtenstein that existed between 1938 and 1945.

Independent National Party (Luxembourg)

The Independent National Party (Luxembourgish: Onofhängeg Nationalpartei, French: Parti national indépendant, German: Unabhängige Nationalpartei), abbreviated as PNI, was a populist political party in Luxembourg in the interwar period.

The party was founded in 1918 by disgruntled members of the Party of the Right. The most prominent of the founders was Pierre Prüm, who was appointed the party's leader. The constitutional amendments of 1919 introduced universal suffrage and proportional representation, strengthening the new populists' chance of winning both votes and seats. In the first election after the reforms, the party won three seats (out of 48) in the Chamber of Deputies, finishing a distant fourth; the dominant Party of the Right won 27 seats, allowing it to form the only stand-alone government in Luxembourgian history.In the election of 1922, the PNI increased its share to four seats, but fell back to three in the 1925 election. More importantly, the Party of the Right fell below the 50% threshold, allowing the other parties to form a broad-based coalition against the conservatives. The coalition relied upon almost all minor parties giving their support to pass measures of confidence, but included members of only three party lists: the Independent National Party, the Radical Socialist Party, and the Independent Left. The head of the coalition was the leader of the PNI, Prüm, even though the party was only the joint-fourth largest party in the Chamber of Deputies.

In 1926, the government attempted to reward the support offered by the Socialist Party by improving minimum working conditions. However, this was opposed by the Radical Socialists, a party that was born from the Liberal League and maintained its predecessor's support for business and the middle classes. In opposition, the Radical Socialists withdrew their support from the coalition, leaving the government short of a majority. To avoid a humiliating motion of no confidence, Prüm offered his resignation on 22 June, and left politics to become a judge. At the next election, without Prüm, the PNI's share of the vote was slashed, and the party won only one seat. In the 1931 election, the party lost that solitary seat, and was dissolved.

Many of the Independent National Party's members, including Prüm, would later become associated with the Volksdeutsche Bewegung: a collaborationist Nazi party that governed during the German occupation.

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Independent People's Party (Luxembourg)

The Independent People's Party (German: Unabhängige Volkspartei) was a political party in Luxembourg.

Independent Socialist Party (Luxembourg)

The Independent Socialist Party (Luxembourgish: Parti socialiste indépendant), also known as Jean Gremling's Independent Socialist List, was a political party in Luxembourg in the 1970s and 1980s.

Left Liberals

The Left Liberals (French: Union Nationale Indépendant) were a political party in Luxembourg.

Liberal Party (Luxembourg)

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List of political parties in Liechtenstein

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Luxembourg in World War II

The involvement of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in World War II began with its invasion by German forces on 10 May 1940 and lasted beyond its liberation by Allied forces in late 1944 and early 1945.

Luxembourg was placed under occupation and was annexed into Germany in 1942. During the occupation, the German authorities orchestrated a programme of "Germanisation" of the country, suppressing non-German languages and customs and conscripting Luxembourgers into the Wehrmacht, which led to extensive resistance, culminating in a general strike in August 1942 against conscription. The Germanisation was facilitated by a collaborationist political group, the Volksdeutsche Bewegung, founded shortly after the occupation. Shortly before the surrender, the government had fled the country along with Grand Duchess Charlotte, eventually arriving in London, where a Government-in-exile was formed. Luxembourgish soldiers also fought in Allied units until liberation.

Luxembourgish collaboration with Nazi Germany

During the German occupation of Luxembourg in World War II, some Luxembourgers collaborated with the country's Nazi occupiers. The term Gielemännchen ("yellow men") was adopted by many Luxembourgers, first to describe German Nazis in general, and later for Luxembourgish collaborators. The term came from the yellow uniforms of the Nazi Party. Their number, however, was limited.

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National Independent Union

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Norbert Sinner (5 April 1907 – 9 November 1945) was a Luxembourgian cyclist. He competed in the individual and team road race events at the 1928 Summer Olympics. During the German occupation of Luxembourg during World War II, Sinner worked as an oil wholesaler, and supported the Nazis during the invasion. He was one of the first members of the pro-Nazi Volksdeutsche Bewegung in Luxembourg, and in October 1940 he became Ortsgruppenleiter of Haute. After the war ended, he was executed for his collaboration with the Nazis.

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