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mattcw

German incursion into Luxembourg

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mattcw

Hi

I have just watched the BBC drama 37 days. In part 2 it shows a small group of German soldiers entering Ulfingen in Luxembourg by foot on 1st August 1914 before receiving orders to withdraw.

Does anyone know if this really happened ? I cannot find Ulfingen on google earth (I can find Ulflingen about 3 miles from the German border so maybe a typo on the BBC's part)

Matt

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ss002d6252

I was wondering the same but

Excerpt. Chapter: Germany Invades Luxembourg

On August 1, 1914, around 7 p.m., soldiers of Germany's 69th infantry regiment occupy the strategically located railroad switching station of Troisvierges [German: Ulflingen - Lëtzebuergesch: Élwen] in northern Luxembourg. The following narration of the event is from the Escher Tageblatt newspaper of Monday, August 3, 1914: [English Translation]

Occupation of Ulflingen by the Germans.

As already announced Saturday evening in our second edition, the occupation of Ulflingen by German troops is confirmed.

http://www.luxembourgensia.com/Germany%20Invasion.htm

Craig

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mattcw

Not quite as portrayed in the drama then. There must have been quite a few of them to tear up 150 metres of railway track and presumably must have arrived with tools etc. Why would they tear up the track, surely it would be counterproductive when they wanted to move westwards ?

Matt

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ss002d6252

Not quite as portrayed in the drama then. There must have been quite a few of them to tear up 150 metres of railway track and presumably must have arrived with tools etc. Why would they tear up the track, surely it would be counterproductive when they wanted to move westwards ?

It certainly seems like it was a little more than a few men sneaking through a corn field.

Craig

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centurion

I fear that there is another acronym to put beside TANSTAAFL (There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) and that is DBEYSOTAW (Don't Believe Everything You See on Television About WW1)

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squirrel

Not quite as portrayed in the drama then. There must have been quite a few of them to tear up 150 metres of railway track and presumably must have arrived with tools etc. Why would they tear up the track, surely it would be counterproductive when they wanted to move westwards ?

Matt

Three automobiles of them according to the article.

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healdav

It certainly did happen. See my book, "Victims Nonetheless", available on Kindle.

Why they pulled up the railway was a mystery then and is a mystery now. They put it back on the evening of 1 August and when they came for real on 2 August they didn't pullit up.

Apparently, there was a possibilty that Britain would stand aside in a war with France and so the Kaiser put the war off for 12 hours, but this detachment, based at a village called Lengeler in what is now Belgium, didn't get the telegram telling them to put off the invasion until they had invaded.

Ulflingen is the old German name for what is now known as Troisvierges. The name was changed in the hope of attracting tourists.

I was up there three weeks ago filming this story with Michael Portillo for a series to be broadcast at the end of the year.


It certainly did happen. See my book, "Victims Nonetheless", available on Kindle.

Why they pulled up the railway was a mystery then and is a mystery now. They put it back on the evening of 1 August and when they came for real on 2 August they didn't pullit up.

Apparently, there was a possibilty that Britain would stand aside in a war with France and so the Kaiser put the war off for 12 hours, but this detachment, based at a village called Lengeler in what is now Belgium, didn't get the telegram telling them to put off the invasion until they had invaded.

Ulflingen is the old German name for what is now known as Troisvierges. The name was changed in the hope of attracting tourists.

I was up there three weeks ago filming this story with Michael Portillo for a series to be broadcast at the end of the year.

How many vehicles there were was not recorded. The Gendarme sergeant simply says in his report that he saw a German vehicle with an officer. Presumably the men were in a truck.

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mattcw

All in all quite an interesting little episode and just the sort of thing that I like to find out about. Centurion is right about not believing everything on TV but the drama did its job and caught my curiosity.

I wonder whether there were any other similar incidents in the lead up to war ?

Matt

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centurion

Given the numbers of units involved and the limits of communications technology of the time it would be surprising if there were not

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healdav

All in all quite an interesting little episode and just the sort of thing that I like to find out about. Centurion is right about not believing everything on TV but the drama did its job and caught my curiosity.

I wonder whether there were any other similar incidents in the lead up to war ?

Matt

At one frontier crossing from France to Germany, the German told the French guy that he had received an order that Germany was mobilising, but he didn't know who against, but bizarrely he had received no order to stop people crossinng the border. He was baffled. An hour or so later, he called over to the French guy to say that he had now received orders to 'seal' the border.

The telegram boy had brought the second telegram (mobilising), but had forgotten to bring the first (seal the border) with him!

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Marilyne

represented right or not, I found the episode in the series really funny... the platoon commander all happy he did his job and then the message... "Sch..." and off they went "sorry to have disturbed you. we wanted to invade but... guess now we're not... "

MM.

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healdav

I have just been watching the first half of 37 Days including the Ulflingen episode.

It wasn't like that at all.

The Germans entered Luxembourg by road at a place called Wemperhardt and simply took over the usual frontier post with no violence.

They then went along to Troisvierges/Ulflingen by normal road by car and truck.

In fact, Wemperhardt is on the eastern border and Troisivierges on the western, with a couple of large valleys and hills to cross, not to mention several villages. So, it was not just a case of crossing the border and going to the station.

Once there, they went straight to the railway station, and broke the telegraph, and followed this up by tearing up the railway about a kilometre away.

Incidentally, they took over the road from the border to Troisvierges, and a local driver gives an account of being held up for a long time, and having his identity checked (presumalby looking at his ID card) before they let him go home (to Troisvierges).

How they 'know' that the officer in charge was Lt Fieldmann, I have no idea as the records say it was a Hauptmann, and give no name at all.

The officer in charge of the armoured train which arrived in the main station the next day was, as far as I can establish, a Lt. Wilsenbourg, but I give no guarantees.

In the whole episode, the only known 'violence' was the Hauptmann threatening to shoot the Gendarme who came to the station to find out what they were doing, as he kept asking why they had come into a neutral country.

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healdav

The programme I filmed with Michael Portillo at Troisvierges is to be aired on 4 August at 1800.

I have no idea what the programme is to be called nor how many episodes there will be in the series.

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SteveMarsdin

The programme I filmed with Michael Portillo at Troisvierges is to be aired on 4 August at 1800.

I have no idea what the programme is to be called nor how many episodes there will be in the series.

Thanks Dave,

I look forward to watching it.

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joerookery
I wonder whether there were any other similar incidents in the lead up to war ?

Not exactly the same but somewhat similar – German incursions into Holland. Look at this link in chapter 4. I looked at this with some trepidation in anticipation of Zuber's book on Liège.

http://www.google.nl/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=& ... asUTtq-2Lw

I hope Dave can come up with some sort of reason or explanation of why they tore up the railroad tracks. I thought the intent was to use them. A mystery I hope Dave will solve!

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CPhillips

The programme I filmed with Michael Portillo at Troisvierges is to be aired on 4 August at 1800.

I have no idea what the programme is to be called nor how many episodes there will be in the series.

It's called Railways of the Great War, and there are five episodes in total, showing each evening of the week commencing 4 August.

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healdav

Not exactly the same but somewhat similar – German incursions into Holland. Look at this link in chapter 4. I looked at this with some trepidation in anticipation of Zuber's book on Liège.

http://www.google.nl/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=& ... asUTtq-2Lw

I hope Dave can come up with some sort of reason or explanation of why they tore up the railroad tracks. I thought the intent was to use them. A mystery I hope Dave will solve!

I wish I could come up with an explanation of what was going on; but search as I have, there is no mention anywhere.

The intention was, indeed, to use the railways in Luxembourg and without them the Germans would never have been able to sustain the western front through the war. Luxembourg was their biggest railhead by far (which is why the Rue St Roche spy ring was so important).

In fact, had the German army really tried to use the rails they had torn up, the result could well have been a catastrophe for the German army. A train every ten minutes was planned to use the lines (the rails torn up were on a line leading across the Eifel eventually to Aachen).

As this line arrives outside Troisvierges it joins the main line from Liège which itself was due to have troop trains coming down it (of course the Belgians refused permission, but the Germans were not to know that). A couple of hundred metres before the lines meet the Aachen line comes around a bend in a cutting, and a train hitting the torn up line would have naturally veered to the right, and left the embankment to land in a large boggy area. The crash would have been hidden from the next train, which would undoubtedly have ploughed in, and as the Germans had broken the telegraph no one could have been told.

Trains coming from Liège would theoretically have seen what had happened (the line is straight for a couple of kilometres), but with no guarantee. Many hundreds could have died in the crash, the bog and a very probable fire.

Intriguingly, the mayor at Clervaux (a town south of Troisvierges) telegraphed the Prime Minister (the Germans didn't know that there was a telegraph they hadn't broken, going to Clervaux) telling the news about Troisvierges and asking whether he should blow up the infrastructure of the railway in the commune. I doubt that he thought this up for himself on the spur of the moment, so was there a plan? I know that the head of the army/Gendarmerie had studied sabotaging the railways and had been to Brussels to discuss the subject with the Belgian army, but I can find no plan to actually do anything. All very mysterious.

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Loader

I wonder what eventually happened to the German officer(s) involved in this event? Did they look back on it & laugh in later yrs or were they dead in a few wks or by end of the war? Maybe the CO found a junior officer or NCO to blame the mess on & avoid staining his own record?

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joerookery

Thanks for that Dave!

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healdav

There is a tie-in book available to go with the series (I haven't read it yet, but it looks pretty good).

It's called, "Railways of the Great War" and is by Colette Hooper.

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healdav

I've brought this to the top again as a few weeks ago I was filming up at Troisvierges with Chris Tarrant for a programme or series of programmes that is to be broadcast on the YESTERDAY channel in the Extreme Railways series. I have no dates available. If and when I hear I will post it.

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