“We share a commitment to throw light on the still obscured shadows of the Holocaust.”
-- Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust
The Netherlands commemorates World War II and Liberation Day on the 4th and 5th of May every year.
Tradition in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has its own tradition for commemorating WWII and celebrating the Liberation. In the Netherlands, two days are set apart - one for the observances and one for festivities. On the evening of the 4th of May, which is known as Remembrance of the Dead, the Dutch victims of WWII and victims of other wars and peace-keeping operations since the war are remembered. Liberation Day is celebrated on the 5th of May, and marks the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II. Liberation Day is celebrated with festivals around the Netherlands. Throughout the year, dozens of additional commemorations are held in the Netherlands for a large variety of people, including victims of Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, the raid in Putten, forced laborers, hostages, and more.
4th of May 2011
On the evening of the 4th of May, all victims of the Second World War and peace-keeping operations since the war are commemorated in the Netherlands. At 8 pm a two-minute period of silence is observed in the Netherlands. The National Remembrance Ceremony takes place at the National Monument in the presence of the Queen, the Prince of Orange, his wife, and several government officials and members of Parliament.
The ceremony is preceded by a gathering in the Nieuwe Kerk at Dam Square in Amsterdam. At Dam Square, Her Majesty the Queen first lays a wreath in memory of all soldiers and civilians who perished in the Kingdom of the Netherlands or elsewhere in the world since the outbreak of the Second World War, during wartime activities, and during peace-keeping operations. The two-minute silence is then observed.
Afterwards, wreaths are laid in respect to certain groups. In 2011 there were special wreaths for the Jewish victims, laid by Ted Musaph-Andriesse, a survivor of Bergen-Belsen, and by Zoni Weisz, representative of the Sinti community. Zoni Weisz also spoke in the Gemran Bundestag on Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January 2011. There were also wreaths for victims in the Dutch Indies, for the Dutch resistance during World War II, and on behalf of the Dutch government. Around 20,000 people attended the ceremony on Dam Square.
The National 4 and 5 May Committee:
The National 4 and 5 May Committee was established in 1987 by Royal Decree. The former Prime Minister Lubbers initiated the establishment of the Committee, thereby ensuring the future of the Dutch National Days of Remembrance and Liberation. Although a variety of activities connected to May 4 and 5 had taken place all through the country since 1946, coordination and structure on a national level were lacking.
Support and interest for May 4 and 5 have increased strongly over the last 20 years. Over three quarters of the Dutch population greatly value the annual Remembrance and Liberation Day ceremonies and festivities. The National Freedom Inquiry (which annually researches the values of the Dutch public on the subjects of May 4 and 5) proves that 80 percent of the Dutch population of all ages insist that remembering and celebrating May 4 and 5 needs to continue in the future.
The National 4 and 5 May Committee is responsible for the official national ceremonies in relation to May 4 and 5, which include the presents of Her Majesty the Queen and the Prime Minister. Duties in the field of improving significance, information, education, communication, coordinating, and structuring nationwide activities are of equal importance.