A Manhattanite in Luxembourg

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Chris Pavone is author of “The Expats,” a crime novel that takes place in our all-time favorite Grand Duchy. From New York City, he temporarily moved to Luxembourg with his wife for her work and began writing a manuscript for what would become an Edgar Award-winning book. In a New York Times piece, Pavone writes about his move from the Big Apple to the quaint and “cobblestoned” European country wedged in between Germany, France and Belgium that’s “about the same geographic size, and half the population, of Rhode Island … “

Here’s an excerpt:

… we took what’s called a preview trip, a long weekend in a business hotel, nice meals and fine weather, visits to the tourist attractions. And a full day of house-hunting with Petra, a skeptical relocation agent who had a hard time accepting that we wanted to live in an apartment in the dead center of the Unesco World Heritage old town. She was used to clients who wanted big houses in the suburbs, with driveways and yards; she was used to Americans who wanted to recreate America, abroad. We didn’t. We wanted a European version of Manhattan.

TBT: A postcard from WWI-era Luxembourg

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It’s been a few weeks since the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the start of WWI, but I thought I’d this postcard today, which is addressed to my great-great-grandparents from a Luxembourger in Beaufort whose name is illegible to me. Their last name is most likely misspelled because there are several variant spellings of “Eischen.” Also, the Prime Minister at the start of the war, whose sudden death in 1915 caused a government crisis, was named Paul Eyschen, which might have had influence on the spelling because of his popularity. The woman on the stamp is Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde. Her support of the German occupation during the war made her so unpopular with her people that, at the behest of Luxembourg’s legislature, she abdicated the throne. Her sister, Charlotte, succeeded her and would later live briefly in Dupont Circle to spend considerable time and effort imploring FDR to join WWII. My girlfriend and I took a picture in front of the statue of the Grand Duchess in the capital.

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Eleanor Roosevelt said of Luxembourg in one of her columns in 1946: “Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and to little countries peace is very necessary. They cannot hope to defend themselves in war, and for prosperity and happiness they must depend on the cooperation of their neighbors.”

I’m back, Juncker wins

I’ve returned.

Apologies for posting to this thing so irregularly. Hopefully I addressed the most recent comments, and please do not hesitate to email me any time. I might be slow to respond — I have a busy life full of politics, cats, bill-paying, Washingtonian humidity and other wonderful and not-so-great surprises.

First of all, it looks like the all-important Bierger Center has moved locations. Here’s the new address:

44, Place Guillaume II / 2, rue Notre-Dame, L-2090 Luxembourg

Shannon and Dan have already shared this in the comments section of one of the posts because, per usual, they’re better about checking this blog than I am (Everyone clap for them because they’re truly invaluable resources to the online community of soon-to-be Luxembourg dual-citizens!).

The architecture of the new building for the Bierger Center is pretty cool, especially compared to the old Bierger Center where I dropped off my application.

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Help, I need sunglasses!

While I was in Europe submitting my documents, the second largest democratic election on the planet — India ranks first — was happening. The European People’s Party won the most seats in the European Parliament …

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SO MANY LANGUAGES. It wasn’t open for tours because the election was going on, but that gave me more time to drink Belgian beers.

… and whom did the party choose as its candidate for President of the European Commission — the executive branch of the EU? None other than Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg who served for 19 years in the post before resigning last July amid a scandal over the Grand Duchy’s intelligence agency. He subsequently lost to Xavier Bettel, the current prime minister, in a snap election.

So, what’s this Juncker guy all about?

He likes cognac with his breakfast, is “famous for his sarcasm, heavy drinking, and chain smoking” according to the Telegraph, and he comes from a working-class background in which his father was a steel worker (Steel is a huge part of Luxembourg’s economy in addition to its well known banking sector). But most importantly, he believes in a stronger union among EU members, perhaps even a federal one, even though he recently denied this. After all, he hails from a country that produced Robert Schuman, the grand architect of European integration. The Grand Duchy has also for years relied on peace and cooperation from its neighbors to ensure its own stability. These factors explain why Juncker follows political ideologies that many label as being federalist.

Unfortunately, tabloids in the United Kingdom made many attempts to dredge up dirt with which to smear Juncker. They claimed his father was a member of the Nazi Party during World War II. The truth, however, is that his father, Joseph, was forced into conscription along with more than 10,000 other Luxembourgers.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to Juncker’s democratic nomination with ire that was, of course, politically motivated. His Conservative Party isn’t the most popular at the moment in the UK. A fringe conservative group called the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), led by Nigel Farage, who’s known more for his crazy speeches on the floor of the European Parliament than substantive policy initiatives, won an historic number of parliamentary seats this election. Cameron began a campaign to stop Juncker from becoming president of the commission to pander to conservative constituents and those voters upset about the UK’s place in the European Union. The European actually calling the shots in this and most episodes, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, could only remain her noncommittal self for so long.

Merkel is thinking: "These tea-drinking idiots really think a boat ride is going to make me change my mind about Juncker?"

Merkel is thinking: “These tea-drinking idiots really think a boat ride is going to make me change my mind about Juncker?”

She backed Juncker for the post, and the heads of government for the 28 EU member countries held a vote. Cameron was joined only by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in voting against Juncker, allowing a vote to proceed in the democratically elected parliament. Yesterday, Juncker received 422 votes out of a possible 729 — 376 is the minimum — from the European Parliament to become president-elect. He will officially become the 12th president of the European Commission in November, around the same time I will celebrate my 25th birthday and hopefully hear back from the Luxembourg government about my citizenship status.

Alas, my cat is pathetically meowing at me to fill her empty bowl with more food. I already have a bunch of posts queued, some of which elaborate upon my travels to Europe, so there won’t be a blackout after this goes up; I promise.

Before I go, however, I have one question for the general public that I’m guessing the dual-citizens already know and I might have already asked on here but I totally forgot:

If a relative in my family wants to apply for citizenship reclamation, is there a process they can follow using the information on my ancestral lineage that I have already filed with the Luxembourg government?

More people have been asking me this question. If no one has an obvious answer, then I’m going to start investigating. I’d like to be able to hand out citizenship to my sisters as a Christmas present.

Until next time! Gutt Nuecht!

Submitted my papers

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Moien, y’all.

You might have noticed an obvious lack of posts and responses to emails. I’ll hopefully clear the backlog as I wait for my flight in Frankfurt, which takes me to Iceland where I’ll wait for another flight to Washington, D.C.

I’ve been in Europe for the past two weeks, experiencing Dublin, Belfast, London, Brussels, Frankfurt and (drumroll, please) LUXEMBOURG, where I submitted my documents for recovery of Luxembourg citizenship.

It’s been an outrageously fun vacation, and it’s finally provided me with some extra content to share with you. In addition to writing a detailed account about Luxembourg, I’ll also be writing about the other European cities I visited. I assume many of those who read this blog and are pursuing citizenship reclamation probably find travel an exciting pastime and might want to know an extra thing or two (also relatives read this, so I’m in a way obligated to document my travels).

Luxembourg was unlike any place I’ve ever seen, but that’s not saying much for anyone considering that this is my first time off of the North American continent — unless you include that time I celebrated my 23rd birthday at the Uruguayan Embassy. I don’t think I can justly describe the Grand Duchy, as I spent most of my time in and right outside the central hub of Luxembourg City. But a true Luxembourger showed me around the city, and gaining his perspective on certain sights and the demographics of the capital, which consist mostly of foreigners and workers who commute from outside the country, provided an invaluable cultural experience. My experiences won’t necessarily mirror the experiences of readers or reflect the truest account of someone who has really delved into the intricacies of life in Luxembourg, but it’ll hopefully offer some idea of Luxembourg culture, life and politics (anyone keeping up with the Merkel/Cameron feud over former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker’s claim to the EU presidency?). Only those who have spent considerable time in the country — I was there for two and a half days — can detail in full the way Luxembourgers operate as a people and a country.

After I devise and successfully execute a plan to accrue an insane amount of wealth that allows me to take frequent international trips, I hope to explore the northern part of the country, where there are more castles, wilderness and towns where my relatives once lived and worked. I also want to learn more French and German, and maybe ein bisschen Luxembourgish, so that when I return, I do not have to rely so dependently on my girlfriend for translations, and I can also show respect to the inhabitants of these smaller communes through language, however badly I botch words with my pronunciations and accent.

My flight to Iceland is about to board. For now, I sign off. But in the coming weeks and months, expect a trickle of stories, pictures and information that I hope will provide knowledge, assistance and entertainment.

Till then, äddi!

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