“If Luxembourg would stand another thousand years, we would always be grateful to the Americans and your most brave and valiant nation.”Luxembourgish priest to Corporal Richard Brookins, “St. Nicholas,” during one of his many returns to Luxembourg
(Bulge Bugle, 1999)
From Grateful Friends is a digital platform that explores World War II public memory in Luxembourg. This project focuses on the intertwining stories of American soldiers and Luxembourgers from this era, and how these stories have continued to be remembered in various forms, including memorials, markers, museums, and a national cemetery.
These sites of memory are captured on our experimental digital map, which is the main focus of this project. This map will continue to develop as we add stories and explore new ways of sharing these memories. In addition to the map, there are other ways for viewers to engage with this history and memory: a historical timeline, blog posts, and resources for further reading and exploration.
From Grateful Friends hopes to provide an accessible digital platform on which these memories can be preserved and shared with Americans who may be interested in or unaware of this history.
Why “From Grateful Friends”
We were inspired to title this project “From Grateful Friends” after reading these words on the transcriptions of several memorials created by both Luxembourgers and Americans: Luxembourgers thankful for the American soldiers who liberated their towns and Americans appreciative of the generosity and kindness of Luxembourgers who welcomed them into their towns and homes. We believe this phrase recognizes the personal connections made during a time of uncertainty and serves as a fitting tribute to shared sentiments of lasting appreciation.
A Brief History
As a small sovereign nation in Western Europe, Luxembourg has endured numerous invasions throughout its history, most notably by German forces during World Wars I and II. After four years of occupation during World War II (1940-1944), American troops first liberated the country from German occupation in September 1944. The country was liberated again in early 1945, after the destructive “Battle of the Bulge” (“Battle of the Ardennes”), the desperate and aggressive German offensive that swept through Luxembourg into Belgium. Luxembourg continues to remember the soldiers who liberated them in various forms of public memory that have been created in the many years since.
A Note of Recognition
While this project focuses on American soldiers who fought in and liberated Luxembourg, Americans (and Allied forces) were not the only ones who fought for Luxembourg. We want to recognize that many Luxembourgers resisted Nazi oppression in their own ways, by maintaining their culture, refusing to enlist in the German army, and by joining resistance groups. Luxembourg’s people fought to remain true to their national motto: “Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn” (“We want to remain what we are”).