Diekirch, Luxemburg

National Museum of Military History

Never heard of it, you say? Well, if you know a little about the Battle of the Bulge you may have. Diekirch was one of the locations attacked by the Germans during that period and the civilians were only just evacuated in time by elements of a US army unit whose officer realised that the Germans were going to make a huge mess of the town.

The town was substantially damaged, but is now rebuilt – and the old Kaserne (military barracks, originally for the Luxemburg contribution to the Belgian Army and later for their own forces has been converted into a museum with lots of WW2-Occupation-Bulge memorabilia as well as a comprehensive look at the Luxemburg armed forces and their pre- and post-war existence (lots of contributions to UN ops and the like).

As is all too common, displays are either so dimly lit that you can’t take decent photos without flash … and flash isn’t permitted … or they’re behind glass and lit so that reflections from the poorly placed lighting make photography impossible … and in a number of cases they are simply so jam-packed together that you can’t get a decent angle on anything.

Still, I managed to get a few shots …

Better equipped than they probably were in real life, this mannequin is meant to represent one of the Volksturm units’ Anti-Tank elements … a guy on a bicycle with two Panzerfausts (90s or 150s, not sure which). Like the guy in Band of Brothers shouts at the German POWs marching along the centre-line of an autobahn with the occasional horse drawn waggon (from the back of a truck) … What were you thinking?
The box contains two different types of Panzerfausts — 60’s, I think, on the right, which were probably obsolete by the time of the Ardennes offensive, but still around (obviously) and the ones on the left are 150’s, I am pretty sure, which were the very latest.
Three generations of the late war German assault rifle … from top to bottom, MP-43, MP-44, and Sturmgeschutz-44. They’re really the same basic weapon with a few minor changes to make production easier and cheaper … and very few were available. Some were, however, used by elements of the various Volksgrenadier units during the Ardennes offensive.

They have a large hall (in the process of being expanded) on one of the top levels which contains a large number of soft-skinned WW2 era vehicles (and some light armoured cars and the like) … but, well, remember what I said about things being jam packed? That was the case. For the most part you simply couldn’t get an angle that would show the whole vehicle without something else getting in the frame.

There are, however, several large items (tanks and artillery) outside at the front of the museum … see below …

A US early model cast-hull Sherman with long 76mm gun. This sort of tank would have been used in US Armoured/Mechanised Divisions during the Bulge (this particular one wasn’t, IIRC, it’s merely representative).

Luxemburg was interesting … cheaper by far (for fuel) than Germany or Belgium since they have either no fuel tax or a much reduced one and, interestingly, open on Sundays. The place I stayed at was actually built over a huge shopping mall less than a dozen klicks from the Belgian border and not more than a half hour from the German one … and it had huge numbers of German and Belgian number plates in their parking areas, and was massively crowded inside … probably because Belgians and Germans (some of them, at least) are normal people and don’t really like having the entire country close down on Sundays … so they go to Luxemburg to shop!

Germany is like Australia was in the 1950’s, bugger all is open on Sundays … Belgium and France are like Australia in the 1960’s, there are usually limited trading hours, with supermarkets opening late (9-10) and closing way early (usually 12-1:30). Backward as all get out.

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