Thursday, June 11, 2015

Guillaume, Stéphanie and the "Duty of Remembrance"

All photos: Marc Schmit / Cour grand-ducale
Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie hosted a round table discussion entitled "Devoir de Mémoire – Rencontre avec des témoins luxembourgeois de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale" (Duty of Remembrance - Meeting with Luxembourgish witnesses of the Second World War) at the palais grand-ducal.

The event was a follow-up to Guillaume and Stéphanie's May 8 visit to France, where they participated in the commemoration ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of Victory Day in Paris. During the day, they were accompanied by seven students and two teachers of the Lycée technique de Bonnevoie. Among a number of other engagements, they visited the Mémorial de la Shoah to view the permanent exhibition together and unveiled a plague honouring Jean-Michel Thill, a Luxembourger who died during the liberation of Paris.

The same students were welcomed at the palais today to speak to Johny Schmidt and Gerd Klestadt, two Luxembourgish witnesses of World War II. Mr. Schmidt was a member of the resistance during the war and later became a strong advocate for reconciliation between the former enemies, Luxembourg and Germany. In 1986, he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz, the highest German order. 

Mr. Klestadt was one of the many Luxembourgish forced recruits in the German Wehrmacht and a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Under the title "The Duty of My Memory for Today's Youth", he has talked to about 15,000 students from Luxembourg, Germany and France over the last years to inspire them to take responsibility and build a future of liberty and peace. The two Luxembourgish war witnesses were accompanied by Steve Kayser, director of the Documentation and Research Centre for Forced Recruitments (CDREF).

To thank the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple, the students of the Lycée technique de Bonnevoie, who where accompanied by two teachers and the headmaster of their school to the palais, gifted Guillaume and Stéphanie a framed picture of the text they recited in front of the plague honouring Jean-Michel Thill in Paris about a month ago.

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