|Michelshof: Still Standing
Between Sept 1944 and Dec 1944, occupation of this old farm went back and forth
between the Americans and Germans several times. The thick walls and sturdy
buildings made it a handy fortress, and heavy combat swirled around the farm
across the road in the open field, on nearby Hill 313, and in the forest behind the
farm. Today it's a small hotel & very good restaurant.
Main entrance to house/restaurant on left. The
inside is in more or less original condition.
Louise, the cook/matriarch with many wartime
memories, doesn't speak English but her grown
kids do if they're around.
Our friend George Daubenfeld
in 2001 retrieving WWII
webbing he noticed hanging
from the roof - and then there
These two stalls at one time held around
200 German POWs for a short time. At
times during the battle, GIs inside the
compound could hear Germans off to the
right in the forest.
The thick walls and enclosed courtyard of the Michelshof farm provided a secure American
command post, and came back under US control after 22 Dec 44. Locals and vets agree the
farm today is almost unchanged in appearance from the wartime years; the main change is
the outside wall is higher. Not only does the farm's location at the crest of Hill 313 provide
an excellent view of the battlefield, but the La Bonne Auberge restaurant serves home-
Fred Karen reported the stalls directly across from the entrance were used as a temporary
holding area for about 200 German POWs as the Americans gained ground. Questions as to
provisions and toilet facilities naturally came up after a look at the two small rooms; Fred
responded with a snort "Who cares? The Americans didn't have enough for their own guys
at that point. The Germans had to work it out for themselves". The woods immediately
adjacent were held by the Germans during the battle for Hill 313. It was Michelhof's sturdy
walls the 159th Combat Engineers yearned to be inside during their frigid night 21 Dec 1944,
watching artillery shells rain down on the roof from their shallow foxholes across the
highway. On a dash to Michelshof, 159th Combat Engineer Eli Hanchert lost a foot, and
Sam Greenwood's best friend was hit by a shell and permanently paralyzed. They were
dragged inside by their buddies and settled on straw for the trip to Luxembourg City. The
war was over for them but the hardest battle hadn't yet begun.
Several artifacts from the war years were found in the barn in June 2001 by Luxembourger
George Daubenfeld. As several friends mingled in the courtyard, George noticed several
pieces of dusty webbing hanging from the rafters just to the right of the main entrance. The
webbing was retrieved, and its origin hotly debated: "Kraut!" "Nein, Amerikanisch" The
group eventually decided the webbing and attached clip were rigging for a GI rucksack, left
behind in the winter of 1944.
Following lunch, George asked permission of the owner to look into the many small rooms
around the farmyard. Within minutes he emerged in a cloud of dust carrying a rusty German
helmet with a bullet hole, an American helmet in good condition, and a US weapon
magazine. More artifacts turned up later, as is common in older buildings in this area.
"That place was a gold mine!" he exclaimed in a thick Brooklyn accent, a reminder of his
GI English instruction during the fall of 1944.
Ironically, Michelshof was used by the Luxembourg government to house Kosovo refugees
in 2000 and 2001. The unwelcome guests, referred to by the locals as "wild Indians",
worked in the restaurant during their stay but Luxembourgers resented the government-
paid refugees, and many locals boycotted the unfortunate restaurant during this time.
In 2011, more research is underway by the families of two American men who fought in the
Michelshof area. Of the two 4th ID 12 IR soldiers, one survived the war but the other died
in a firefight just northeast of the farm. Both researchers have located veterans who are
willing to help.