At dawn the First German Panzer division starred its engines. The division, commanded by general Kirchner (but Guderian leading), was to advance through Luxemburg and Belgium towards Sedan – like Verdun, a choke point in Franco-German wars. Sedan will be covered in another story, this one is about the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
“Behind us lies a long, hot march right across the Eifel, on minor roads widened by the construction battalions. Over there is a signpost: ‘Wallendorf 1 Kilometre’. We have reached our first-stage objective, the Luxembourg border! The sight of the yellow road signs has clearly perked up our tank drivers, after sitting for five hours in this terrific heat behind their gear levers, changing gear — steering uphill and downhill — stopping and starting. The afternoon of May 10th 1940 … Our lead vehicles are crossing the Sauer Bridge.”
The day before, German ‘tourists’ had paved the way for the invasion. They were joined by a group of Fallschirmjäger (flown in by Fiessler “Storch”) who after taking their objective (some crossroads) were approached by a number of farmers and a policeman. The latter informed the mean-looking, heavily armed troops politely that they were on neutral territory and would they please leave at once. They did – in a westerly direction. The policeman was, by the way, disarmed just as politely and advised to go home.
“Luxembourg makes an orderly impression. It seems a clean and affluent country. The inhabitants look at us with curiosity, neither friendly nor hostile. They have probably not yet got over their astonishment at watching an endless procession of German columns with artillery, armoured reconnaissance vehicles, radio cars and now tanks filing past them since early this morning. On the straight, wide, well-paved roads we keep up a good pace. Woods, waving corn-flelds, streams and villages follow each other in quick succession: Reisdorf — Diekirch — the Rivers Alzette end Work — Grossbus — the Forest of Arsdorf — Martelange, then the Belgian frontier!”
The Germans encountered no real resistance in Luxemburg – understandable for such a small country. In fact, hardly a shot had been fired; Luxemburg losses were heaviest and accounted to six lightly injured gendarmes. Plus, one soldier had his ear slapped for trying to stop a panzer division on his own.
- “Blitzkrieg: In Their Own Words”, A. Bance (trans.), Zenith press 2005
- Bastogne Historical Center (visited 2009)