ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Vianden, Luxembourg and territory of the Grand Duchy east of the Our River: past, irredentist psychologies

Updated on July 15, 2014
Flag of Luxembourg
Flag of Luxembourg | Source
Vianden, view from the castle
Vianden, view from the castle | Source
Map location of Vianden canton, Luxembourg
Map location of Vianden canton, Luxembourg | Source

Annexing a part of Germany adjacent to Vianden

For much of the course of the Our River, it forms the border between Germany and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. However, in the vicinity of Vianden (= French and German spelling; Létzebuergesch: Veianen ), Luxembourg, the situation is different. Much of the town and some of its hinterland is actually on the east bank of the river, thus breaking the seeming 'rule' of this apparent, natural boundary.

The history of World War Two and its aftermath has been significant regarding local geography in the Vianden area. When the Grand Duchy was in stages liberated towards the end of the War, the local castle at Vianden overlooking the town (from where the main photo, above, was taken) was actually liberated by partisans of the Luxembourg Resistance, rather than by the regular Allied armies. The area of Germany adjacent to Luxembourg was formally occupied by French forces, until the French, American and British areas of occupation united in 1949 to form the Federal Republic of Germany. During the French occupation, however, there were some smaller areas of western Germany which French forces, in turn, gave over to the Luxembourg army to occupy (1).

It was in this immediate post-war period that the Luxembourg government actually annexed outright a small area of Germany, adjacent to Luxembourg, known as the Kammerwald. (This was ostensibly for the purposes of war reparations.) Significantly, during this interesting period of irredentist policy on the part of the Luxembourg government, the area annexed was physically contiguous to the only area east of the Our river which belongs to Luxembourg.

As if to say, in terms of territorial psychology: the existence of Luxembourg territory around Vianden which lies east of the Our river proves that the river need not be regarded as a natural boundary.

However, this situation proved to be short-lived. In 1959, a treaty between Luxembourg and Germany returned the Kammerwald to Germany. With the European Coal and Steel Community, subsequently the Treaty of Rome's European Economic Community and the increasing reputation of the Luxembourg government for strong support for European integration, perpetuating territorial disputes with its large, eastern neighbour seemed increasingly outdated.

In the main photo, above, we see the town of Vianden, much of it east (to the left) of the Our river. The hill in the centre distance near the horizon is in the Rhineland-Palatinate (German: Rheinland-Pfalz ) Germany. This hill is located near the German village of Roth an der Our (Létzebuergesch: Ruet op der Our ), the current name of which is instructive, because clearly its location on the east bank of the Our river is being psychologically asserted. But interestingly, at the beginning of the 20th century, Roth an der Our was known as 'Roth bei Vianden': i.e., its proximity to a town beyond Germany's borders was being acknowledged as part of its natural, psychological locus: latent, toponymic fuel for irredentist Luxembourgers having wished in the past to stress the essential oneness of the adjacent Kammerwald area with Luxembourg? (2)

North Americans, accustomed to the now well defined borders of the United States and Canada, will readily understand how Continental Europe's many borders may thinly mask many psychological fault-lines, which in periods of history less committed to the principle of collective security, were able to flare up easily into cross-border disagreements.

December 8, 2012


(1) Luxembourg even introduced conscription in 1944, to cater for the army's increased rôle at the end of the War; this arrangement lasted until 1967. Interestingly, during this period, the people of Luxembourg seemed unable to agree among themselves about the rightness of maintaining a large, conscripted army. Historian Gilbert Trausch points out that the Social Christians, usually in government, tended to support conscription, while the Socialists and the Democrats would support conscription if they formed part of a coalition government, but once in opposition would revert to expressing more frankly their views on the matter: they were against conscription. (See: Gilbert Trausch, Le Luxembourg à l'époque contemporaine, Luxembourg: Editions Bourg-Bourger, 1981, p. 167.) This episode somewhat reminds me of the soul-searching nuances of Canada's defence policy during the Diefenbaker era.

(2) The Luxembourg government exercises caution, lest it be seen to be encouraging latent irredentist feeling regarding territories beyond its borders. A few years ago, Luxembourg's Minister of Culture became embroiled in controversy when she gave a hastily drafted Parliamentary answer which could have been construed as supporting a Liberation movement of Létzebuergesh-speaking separatists beyond the border in Belgium. The Prime Minister subsequently had to explain what the minister had wished to 'mean'.

Also worth seeing

In Vianden itself, its hilltop castle dates from 10th to 14th centuries; the town itself contains a museum to Victor Hugo, who stayed in Vianden at different periods; there are some interesting old church buildings.

Waldhof-Falkenstein , Germany (distance: approx. 10 kilometres); this craggy, partly ruined, Medieval castle overlooks the Our river.


How to get there: The nearest large international airport to Vianden is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, these items may be of interest


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)