Programme, Esch2022 - news, Territory

Municipality of the month : Thil under the spotlight

Crypt of Thil ©Emmanuel Claude – Focalize

Thil (1,905 inhabitants, 3.32 sq. km), called Hilde-sur-Alzette in 803, was part of the seigneury of Audun (châtellenie of Longwy) in the thirteenth century. At the end of the nineteenth century, the commune of Thil grew thanks in particular to the boom in the steel industry. Today, the workers’ housing estates bear witness to this past activity. The Viaduct, a symbol of the city, was an important railway bridge linking Audun-le-Roman to Villerupt and serving the mines and factories. Its history is also connected to deportation, as evidenced by the rich local wartime heritage. Recognised as a concentration camp in 1949, the Thil-Longwy Camp became a National Necropolis in 1984. The crypt, erected thanks to the commitment of the local population and inaugurated in 1946, aims to keep the memory of these past events alive. Leading to the crypt is the Memory Trail (inaugurated in 2005), which is punctuated by a series of works of art (statues) that convey messages of peace and hope. Thil-Longwy is the only concentration camp with remains of a crematorium built by the Nazis on non-annexed French territory. The Mine of the Syndicat de Tiercelet housed one of the largest factories built by the Nazis, dedicated to the construction of V1 and V2 rockets.

There is also a wall painting located on the visible part of the Café du Stand de Sainte Claire, the home of Baru, a talented local cartoonist (‘La Piscine de Micheville’, ‘Quéquette blues’, ‘L’Autoroute du Soleil’, ‘La Communion du Mino’, etc.), who has won several awards at the prestigious Angoulême International Comics Festival. The mural represents a comic book page. Finally, the coat of arms of Thil depicts a crest and a silver anchored cross evoking the arms of the family of Malberg, who gave several lords to Thil. The arm in the brazier symbolises the former Thil concentration camp and its crematorium.

Developed as part of Esch2022, the project ECCE HOMO is based on an installation of paintings and sculptures by Bruce Clarke. The exhibition, hosted by the National Museum of Resistance and Human Rights in Esch/Alzette from September 2021 to January 2022, partakes in a wider movement of critical figuration. It will be punctuated by the Butō dance performance THE WRECKAGE OF MY FLESH by the Tebby Ramasike dance collective, which will establish a physical dialogue with the works on display. Through their works, the artists will address the consequences of wars, crimes against humanity and genocide for individuals. They will be speaking of victims, suffering, deportation and destruction, creating connections to forced displacement, exile and migration. But they will also look at their corollaries, such as resistance, physical and psychological resilience, and human dignity.

The artists will intervene within the museum but also on the premises of the former annex in Thil (F) of the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp. In parallel, their installations and performances will be presented by our partner cities at the Kaunas Ninth Fort Museum, a site where thousands of Jews and political prisoners were executed during the Nazi occupation. The project furthermore includes artistic workshops and a series of conferences as well as an extensive educational programme aimed at schools in France and Luxembourg.