The Monument of Remembrance, usually known by the nickname of the Gëlle Fra (Luxembourgish for 'Golden Lady'), is a war memorial dedicated to the thousands of Luxembourgers who volunteered for service in the armed forces of the Allied Powers during World War I.
The centrepiece of the monument is a 21 metre-tall granite obelisk. Atop of the obelisk stands a gilded bronze statue of a lady, holding out a laurel wreath as if placing it upon the head of the nation. At the foot of the obelisk are two (ungilded) bronze figures, representing those Luxembourgish soldiers that volunteered to serve for France; one lies at the base of the statue, having died in service of his country, whilst the other sits, mourning his dead compatriot.
The sculptor of the three bronze figures was Claus Cito, a native Luxembourger. The model for the Gëlle Fra is unknown. The monument was opened in 1923.
During the First World War, Luxembourg pledged itself to neutrality, but was occupied by Germany, which justified its actions by citing military necessity. However, most Luxembourgers did not believe Germany's good intentions, fearing that Germany would annex their country in the event of a German victory; these claims were substantiated by Bethmann Hollweg's Septemberprogramm.
When Luxembourg was occupied by Nazi forces in World War II, the Germans dismantled the memorial on the 21st October 1940. Several portions of the memorial were rescued, and after the war, the monument was partially restored. The Gëlle Fra herself however remained unaccounted for until January 1980 when she was found hidden beneath the main stand of the national football stadium. Later additions were made to honor Luxembourger forces who had served in World War II and the Korean War.
The monument was not fully reconstructed and restored to its original design until 1984 and then finally unveiled to the public in the presence of Grand Duke Jean on the 23rd June 1985, Luxembourg's national holiday.References:
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.
Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.
Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.
The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.