Land of the Red Soil: War Ruins and Industrial Landscapes in Luxembourg
The rapid industrialisation that transformed the small and rural Grand Duchy of Luxembourg into one of the world’s first industrial centres is deeply intertwined with a process of nation building. Alongside a literary production that praised modernity and saw in the steel mills the epitome of progress, dynamism and prosperity, a thriving photographic market produced and circulated illustrated postcards of the industrial centres. Despite Luxembourg’s neutrality during the First World War, these sites became a main target for Allied aerial attacks, and the images of the devastation were instrumental in Luxembourg’s national self-portrayal as well as in German counter-propaganda. Through an analysis of illustrated postcards of Luxembourgish industrial sites produced during the war, this chapter explores how the process of ruination of the industrial landscape transformed a symbol of modernity into a memento of the past, sustaining shifting narratives around identity and nationhood.