In his 1941 photoalbum of Germany (!) Kurt Hielscher published three photos from Luxemburg of which I managed to rephotograph two till today. The one left has been made in the city center of Luxemburg that I did not visit yet. The other two are from the most famous castles in Luxemburg and Luxemburg has a lot of castles though the country is rather small: 40. Well, I always thought Luxemburg was very small, but it can take some time to pass through when avoiding the main roads. Ànd I learned that one can discover some real gems like these impressive castles. Kurt Hielscher brought me to Vianden and Clervaux Castle in the autumn of 2021.
Schlass Veianen/Vianden Castle
The last night of our autumn holidays in 2021 we spent here in Vianden/Veianen on a huge RV Park. We found the only place that was left and felt lucky about it, because that way we had some more space at the edge of the line. The rest of the week we stayed in France in the wild, so this felt a littlebit inconvenient and we did not make use of the services due to the pandemic, so it was also a quite expensive night of a for the rest very cheap holidays. From our place we could see the castle lit in the dark. We arrived in the late afternoon and after dinner we went for walk to the city center which was doable, because it was really quiet.
Vianden Castle, Luxemburg, the 30st of October 2021. Photo: Casper Molenaar.
Earlier in the afternoon, I parked the van on the slopes of the Rue de Diekirch but noticed I had to be a little higher, so we jumped in the van again and then found the viewpoint on the castle. This was closest I could get with a stunning view on the castle. On the platform of the viewpoint there were several signs with relevant information about the castle. The impressive castle was built in between the 11th and 14th century on the foundations of a Roman settlement. It is one of the largest feudal residences of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Europe. In 1820, during the reign of William I of Orange-Nassau, King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Count of Vianden, the sale of the castle caused its decline ending it up in ruins only to have it renovated and rebuilt by its current owner starting 1977: the state of Luxembourg. Though its historic style has been respected during restoration works one can see some remarkable changes, for example the height of the roof and the turret on it.
Vianden Castle, the 30st of October 2021. Photo: Casper Molenaar.
WWII memorial with a view on the Castle.
Spending the night at the end of the line at the RV park. In the distance om a hill the Castle.
Schlass Klierf, Chateau Clervaux
The early foggy morning after we traveled through the north of Luxemburg. The fog and the autumn coloured trees contributed to the right atmosphere. Just before we drove downhill approaching Clervaux, the name of the city on the roadsigns we saw, the fog lifted. I knew exactly from where I had to take my photo: a viewpoint on the Route de Marnach, but on arrival it turned out again that trees grow over time and hinder free sight on the castle and its surroundings. The photo I used is made a few tens of meters down to the west. The castle dates back to the 12th Century and hosts a part of the local administration, an exhibition of models of Luxembourg's castles, the famous photo collection "The Family of Man" and the Museum of the Battle of the Bulge. Because of the pandemic we did not visit the castle, unfortunately. During the Battle of the Bulge, or more specific the battle of Clervaux the castle was burned to the ground on December 17th 1944 and completely restored after the war. Here an interesting film with images of the ruined castle, so sad to see. Some 100 American soldiers held the Castle of Clervaux, firing against German traffic in the town. Soon they ran out of ammunition and surrendered.
The battle became known as the Luxembourg "Alamo", referred to the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.
Clervaux Castle, 1941. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.
Clervaux Castle, the 31st of October 2021. Photo: Casper Molenaar.
The remains of the castle and its surroundings due to the Battle of Clervaux on the 17th of December 1944.
Clervaux Castle, 31st of October 2021. Photo: Casper Molenaar.
The photo from Kurt Hielscher is published in 1941 and therefore probably made during WWII, when Luxemburg was occupied by the Nazi regime. That's how the photos from Luxemburg ended up in Kurt Hielscher's 1941 edition of his Germany photoalbum. In his preface Kurt Hielscher does not mention Luxemburg specifically, but he shows fulfilment in the fact that German territories were united again now thanks to the Nazi regime. The question remains however whether Kurt Hielscher was free to choose his words for the preface of this edition at the time. Check also the online presentation I gave about my photoproject and Kurt Hielscher for the Geographical Society of Philadelphia. You'll hear how shocked I was when I bought this book and saw its contents at 52:33 min.
The viewpoint on the Route de Marnach.
On the road on an early foggy morning on our way to Clervaux Castle.
Below: panoramic view on Vianden Castle, 30st of October 2021. Photo: Casper Molenaar.