On 26 February 1908, Lily Unden was born in Longwy, where her father, Emile Unden, a metallurgical engineer, was employed by the steelworks in eastern France. When the First World War broke out, the child was repatriated with her family to the Muhlenbach district of Luxembourg City. It was in this district that the Unden industrial dye works was located. She received her school-leaving diploma from the Saint Joseph School and studied Fine Arts in Brussels, Paris, Metz and Strasbourg.
A professional painter, Lily Unden is a member of the Cercle Artistique Luxembourgeois, where she regularly exhibits her paintings and drawings. After the Nazi invasion, the artist was forced to interrupt her career as she refused to join the Nazi movement (Volksdeutsche Bewegung). On requisition by the occupation authorities, she worked for the Comptoir pharmaceutique.
A member of the resistance, Lily was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 and deported to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. There she met her compatriot Cécile Ries, a Luxembourg poet.
After her liberation, she took art courses at Columbia University in New York before working as an art teacher in various schools in Luxembourg. Lily Unden retired in 1973 but remained active in painting, which she dedicated mainly to floral themes, still lifes and landscapes.
Her literary work focuses on poetry about her memories of being a prisoner of war and its atrocities. Lily Unden is a member of the Amicale des femmes concentrationnaires et prisonnières politiques and a member of the Conseil national de la Résistance. Poems with religious themes are published together with works by Thérèse de Vos or Cécile Ries.
In addition to the many awards Lily Unden received for her commitment to the resistance, the author was awarded the silver Dicks-Rodange-Lentz plaque of the Actioun Lëtzebuergesch in 1986. In 2015 the Lily Unden Home, a refugee centre, opened its doors in Limpertsberg.
Lily Unden died in Luxembourg on 9 September 1989.
● Germaine Goetzinger und Claude D. Conter: Lily Unden, in: Luxemburger Autorenlexikon, Centre National de Littérature Mersch, 2007
● Lily Unden - Wikipedia