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The Netherlands celebrates Liberation Day

Every year, May 5 is recognized as the day the Netherlands freed from the reign of German soldiers during the Second World War. This date was chosen because it marks the day the German army was finally defeated.

From September 1944 to April 1945, the First Canadian Army battled German forces on the Scheldt estuary and opening the port of Antwerp. They successfully rid Northern and Western Netherlands of German soldiers. In doing so, millions of people in the Netherlands were finally granted access to food and the aid of Canadian soldiers and their allies. The Netherlands would not become fully liberated until August 1945.

Now known as Liberation Day (or Bevrijdingsdag), the Netherlands commemorate the end of the German occupation and the sacrifices made to free them from the Nazi grips. Every five years, it becomes a recognized national holiday. Banks, post offices, and some business close their doors for the day.

Often, festivals and parades are held for veterans all over the Netherlands in honour of Liberation Day. 

The liberation of Ermelo (Holland) The people of Ermelo (Holland) liberated by “B” Squadron of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (RC) on April 17th 1945. Photo courtesy of Historica Canada.

 

Traditionally, the events and festivities are announced by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte. Each year the announcement is made in a different province. This year, the events will be announced in Fryslân. 

During the evening of May 4, His Majesty King William Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Maxima will be present for a memorial meeting in de Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, laying the first memorial wreath on the National Monument at de Dam afterward.

Every year, a team of 5,000 runners will carry a torch, lit at the Liberation Flame in Wageningen, to over 200 different cities around the Netherlands. 

Other events taking place are Open Jewish Homes, where commemoration ceremonies will be held in the living rooms of these and other resistance homes, Freedom Feasts, where people from all over the Netherlands open their doors and everyone is welcome to help make or just enjoy the Freedom Feast, and even Liberation Day for Kids, where there will be guided tours, train rides and walks and talks relating to the War, freedom, and resistance. 

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