11/19 – The Battle of Vianden Castle

A Waffen-SS machine-gunner before the onset of winter. (source: Steam Community)

On this day in 1944 the Battle of Vianden took place in Northern Luxembourg (Western Europe). Allied forces had recently pushed German forces out of Luxembourg and armed local resistance fighters; the Luxembourgians were directed to take up positions in the Vianden castle – a scenic 10th century castle overlooking the German border – and await a German counterattack. US soldiers pulled back from the town, leaving resistance leader Victor Abens and his 30 fighters in control of Vianden. After aggressive German patrolling actions were wiped out by Abens and his men, 250 Waffen-SS soldiers attacked Vianden on November 19th. The SS – the military branch of the Nazi Party – were famed for their aggression and penchant for war crimes. Despite managing the breach the castle defences, the SS men were eventually flushed out through vicious room-to-room fighting. The SS withdrew and concentrated their second attack on the town of Vianden, but after suffering 18 casualties they withdrew. The Luxembourgians had lost two people – one was killed in the castle, and the other, an old women, was killed by a German grenade in her home.

Vianden Castle, Luxembourg. (source: Flickr)

Abens and his 30 resistance fighters were eventually pushed out of Vianden during the German Ardennes Offensive in December; ordinary Luxembourgians fled as well in (justified) fear of German revenge attacks against them. Abens and his men continued to fight alongside American troops and advise them on local terrain until they were eventually able to reclaim their hometown. The Battle of Vianden is one of many examples of how messy the Allied advance of 1944-45 really was – and how ordinary civilians were frequently caught in the middle of fighting.

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