Unveiling of Luxembourg’s first monument honouring victims of the Holocaust

On 17 June, 2018, a monumental 4-meter high sculpture commemorating the victims of the Holocaust was inaugurated in Luxembourg City. It is a work by Shelomo Selinger, a French-Israeli artist of Polish origin who is a survivor of nine concentration camps, among them Theresienstadt.

The monument, entitled "Kaddish" shows heads and flames hewn in red granite stone to symbolise the suffering of the Jewish people. The monument stands in the old town surrounded by Government buildings and the Cathedral of Luxembourg. The location marks the site of the first synagogue in the country, built in 1823. A bigger temple was then erected in 1894. The Nazis dismantled the building in 1943. Some 1300 Jewish people living in Luxembourg when German troops invaded the country on 10 May, 1940 did not survive the Shoah.

The monument was inaugurated by the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. Speeches were also made by Lydie Polfer, the Mayor of Luxembourg City, and by Albert Aflalo, President of the Israelite Consistory, in front of hundreds of citizens who attended the event.

Unveiling of plaque
Unveiling of memorial plaque. Credit: Olivier Bouton

The second ceremony took place on the same day at the central railway station from where, exactly 70 years before, the last transport of Jews left. In the main hall Laurent Moyse, the President of the ‘Comité pour la Mémoire de la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale’, recounted the details of these darkest chapters in the national history of Luxembourg. Then, in the presence of the Sovereign and the Grand Duchess, the President of the Parliament, the Prime Minister and many other dignitaries, a plaque was unveiled, reminding passersby of the tragic events that occurred in  railway station between October 1941 and June 1943.

Finally in the afternoon, the exhibition “Beyond Duty: Diplomats recognized as Righteous Among the Nations” was inaugurated by the Israeli ambassador, H.E. Ms. Simona Frankel, in the so-called Villa Pauly, which was the headquarters of the Gestapo during the Nazi occupation. The Head of the Department in charge of Memory issues in relation with WWII represented the Prime Minister on this occasion. The exhibition was made available thanks to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Yad Vashem.

On 13 June, the Prime Minister and high representatives of the Jewish community signed an Act giving birth to the ‘Fondation pour la mémoire de la Shoah’, whose initiation was made possible by the allocation of public money. This foundation will be active among others in the fields of culture, education as well as social and charity activities, and foster research linked to the Shoah.

Luxembourg has been a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance since 2003 and will chair the organization in 2019 with Ambassador Georges Santer acting as chair.

Monument commemorating the victims of the Holocaust by artist Shelomo Selinger. Credit: Olivier Bouton