Dutch celebrate liberation from Nazis
5 May 2004
AMSTERDAM — Thousands gathered across the country on Wednesday as the Netherlands celebrated Liberation Day. Prince Bernhard attended the traditional ceremony in Wageningen, where the German forces in Holland surrendered on 5 May 1945.
The city centre of Wageningen streamed full of people in the afternoon to commemorate the surrender of the German army. A special remembrance service was held at 3pm in the Johannes de Dooper-kerk.
The traditional march past the Hotel De Wereld started at 4.30pm and the 92-year-old Prince Bernhard was expected to again salute the marching troops in accordance with tradition.
But the aging German-born prince — whose wife Queen Juliana was laid to rest in Delft in March — did not attend the special church ceremony earlier in the day. Pieter van Vollenhoven — the husband of Bernhard’s daughter Margriet — did attend.
Prior to the march past the hotel, Prince Bernhard — who was placed in charge of Dutch troops during the allied campaign in World War II — laid a wreath at the monument commemorating the signing of the German capitulation in the Netherlands.
Three days later on 8 May 1945, Admiral Karl Doenitz – who succeeded Hitler as German Head of State – signed the Allied terms for the unconditional surrender of all German forces.
Thousands of people gathered by 2pm at 13 festival locations across the Netherlands on Wednesday as the sombre mood of Remembrance Day gave way to Liberation Day festivities. Diverse musical artists are performing right across the country.
Performers Tasha’s World, De Vliegende Panters, She Got Game and Hind will be transported by helicopter to several festival locations, news agency ANP reported.
The organisers were expecting 85,000 people in Zwolle and by the start of the afternoon about 25,000 had already assembled, but police said no serious incidents had been reported. Artists such as Blof, Di-rect and Soulvation will perform in Zwolle and the concert will be broadcast live on Radio 3FM.
The annual Liberation Day festivities start in a different province each year and this year the province of Groningen was hosting the official kick-off. Events were being held in the Bevrijdingsbos te Noorddijk (Noorddijk Liberation Forest), the Martinikerk and the Liberation Festival in the Stadspark.
Prime Minister Balkenende said at the Martinikerk that the Dutch people were so accustomed to liberty that they possibly no longer appreciate its value, Dutch public news service NOS reported.
At the ceremony attended by ambassadors from all EU nations, the prime minister also said that the Dutch people think too easily that “others”‘ will ensure that liberty is maintained.
This year’s theme commemorative theme states that freedom is choosing and sharing and focuses on the political aspects of liberty.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people were expected to gather in the Groningen Stadspark, where Krezip and the Heideroosjes were scheduled to perform. Several thousand had already gathered by 2pm.
The traditional 5 May concert will be held on the Amstel in Amsterdam. Queen Beatrix will attend the concert, which will feature the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, led by Edo de Waardt. Music from Bernstein and Gershwin will feature in the concert, which marks the official end to Liberation Day festivities.
The festivities come after the Netherlands observed a two-minute silence on Tuesday night to honour the nation’s war dead. Queen Beatrix and Crown Prince Willem Alexander laid a wreath at the national war monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam.
The German army invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940 and the Dutch capitulated five days later. The entirety of the Netherlands was not liberated by Canadian and allied troops until 5 May 1945. A total of 102,000 Dutch Jews died in concentration camps during the Nazi occupation.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news