Air Ride Siren

Written by Kim Meyers

Historical background and context

Situated on top of the parish hall of Dudelange, one major air raid siren, in the type of our depictured one, served as a defense system for the city against attacks by air. Sirens are commonly known and have managed to keep their part in Luxembourgish everyday life up to these days. In fact, each first Monday of the month, at 12 o’clock, the sirens are tested for their functionality. Even though, Luxembourg would not need their functionality primarily to defend against falling bombs, they find their use as a fire alarm.  These sirens are equipped with an electric engine and can be engaged by the push of a button.

The siren which we can find in the Museum of the Forcibly Recruited, is not such a model. In fact, it is a very small, portable one. It was fabricated by the German company Elektror, still in existence today and specialized in electric engines and industrial ventilation systems, in the 1940’s. the company was known for their sirens, forced to produce for the German war machinery, they launched several models, varying in their sizes and their application. Luckily the depictured siren has still a completely intact plate on its side indicating the model and even serial number. The model is “HSM 7”, standing for Hand-Sirene-Mobil (in English: manually powered mobile siren). As available information about such a specific object are moderately rare, I could only find while my research, that the HSM 7 was the middle one in size of three mobile sirens made by Elektror. The serial number is: 456508, manufactured in Esslingen am Necklar.

History of this exemplar

As Mr. Norbert Sadler, a member of the Museum of the Forcibly Recruited and an eyewitness of the Second World War could vividly remember, this air raid siren was used by German soldiers, who were stationed in the fields and woods of the South of Luxembourg. They were primarily used to extend the range of the bigger models, fixed on the top of the cities and villages.  

In fact, the sirens we can still hear regularly in Luxembourg, permanently installed in different places, are similar in their functioning to the ones, used in Second World War. Usually placed on top of a higher building, they have the power to overfloat with their sound entire cities in order to warn its inhabitants. However, the people working in the fields or woods for example, were out of their reach, wherefore manually powered sirens were needed. By these small, mobile sirens, more people were reachable and could be warned by the deadly loads of the allied troops who were liberating Luxembourg from the German occupation. Another advantage was surely the mobility. As soldiers rarely stay in one place for a longer duration, they needed to move their protection gear with them. The HSM7 model is a particular light one, which can be transported over a further distance without any problem.

As the name of the Luxembourgish soldier, who was forcibly recruited for the German Reichsmacht and brought this wonderful piece of military and personal history to the museum, is unknown today, we can only surmise that he must have lived in Dudelange or its surroundings, as he deposited it directly at the museum. As mentioned, he was serving for Nazi Germany and managed to take this siren off the battle fields to store it at his home. In the late 1950’s, he decided to let it be accessible for the public and brought it to the exhibition of the museum.

Paradox as it seems, it is easily and hardly imaginable what pain and strong feelings this man must have felt at the sight of this small siren. While its service, it has not only saved the lives of many soldiers, but ultimately also announced death, terror and fear. Nowadays, it is a difficult task for people who have never witnessed this kind of feelings, to empathize let alone to understand the symbolic and personal value of this object.

The south of Luxembourg came under a special target of English and allied bombers as German canons and troops were installed here.[1] The most dense and efficient transport connections are also to be found in the strongly industrialized South of Luxembourg. This is another reason why the allied forces had a special target put on it, as the lines of communication and transport of the Germans, connecting the Reich with its western front should be disturbed.[2] More than 339,8 tons of bombs were dropped by the allied forces over the main train station in Luxembourg-city alone during Second World War.[3] These shocking numbers show enlighten which importance an effective defense system against bombardments by air had. The small siren HSM7, played its key role in this system.

As the example of this small siren was able to show, objects, which often are missed out by public interest or even historical research, can have intriguing and fascinating stories to tell. As mentioned before, this HSM7, in its simplicity and unspectacular appearance had a great emotional and symbolic value for many people of its time.  Therefore, the Museum of the Forcibly Recruited in Dudelange plays a main role in its preservation and remembrance.


 

[1]  Administration Communale de Pétange, Letzebuerg am Zweeten Weltkrich, 2020, p.171

[2] Administration Communale de Pétange, Letzebuerg am Zweeten Weltkrich, 2020, p.172

[3] Melchers, Emile T.,Über die Bombardierung des Bahnhofs Luxemburg in zwei Weltkriegen in Bombenangriffe .172

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