International thoughts on Dutch monumental days

Beeld: Photo: Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei

2 mei 2018, 11:34

Auteur: Nora Kajamaa

International thoughts on Dutch monumental days

Beeld: Photo: Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei

2 mei 2018, 11:34

Auteur: Nora Kajamaa

This week on International Wednesday: what for Star Wars fans is a day to celebrate the adventures that happened “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” May 4th holds a widely different story in the Netherlands. We set out to the streets of Amsterdam to ask the internationals living among us their thoughts on the two upcoming monumental days: May 4th (Dodenherdenking) and May 5th (Bevrijdingsdag).

It may be a long time ago, but not in a galaxy far, far away. 73 years ago on May 5th, the Netherlands was freed after 5 years under Nazi occupation. 73 years later, this day is still widely celebrated across the country with festivals, parades, and music. Although worthy of a celebration, the day before commemorates the loses that the Netherlands suffered during the war. May 4th is a day to remember the dead in all wars since the beginning of WWII with two minutes of silence and other markings.

Tobias Draxler. Photo: Andrew Kambel

While important in the Netherlands, these days are largely unknown to people from abroad, who previously may have had no tradition of the 4th and 5th May celebration. Therefore, we went out and asked some of the internationals living in the Netherlands about their thoughts on the days.”If I remember correctly, May 4th is Remembrance Day, on which essentially the entire country takes a couple of minutes to remember all the victims of WWII. May 5th is much happier as it is the day of freedom. May 5th, 1945 was when the Nazis were defeated in the Netherlands and the country regained its freedom, which is celebrated that day. I think mostly it means something to me because I worked at the Anne Frank House for my first year in Amsterdam and it was obviously a big deal for the people there. It’s mostly some sort of positive memory of it all, even though I have done absolutely nothing to commemorate these days in the years since. I don’t think I will do much on May 4th and on May 5th this year either. I will join some sort of celebration depending on my study schedule.”

– Tobias Traxler from Austria

Lauriane. Photo: Andrew Kambel

“Well, I didn’t specially know how the Dutch celebrate those days until a few days ago, when my friend told me that I actually celebrated it at the festival in Haarlem last year. I did know that the Netherlands has a few days to commemorate the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis at the end of the WWII. Although it was fun, I don’t think that I am going to do anything special on those days this year.”

– Lauriane Noirot from Belgium

Julia Keizer. Photo: Andrew Kambel

“May 4th is Dodenherdenking, or Remembrance of the Dead from WWII and wars in general I think. On the 4th, they usually have a televised event on Dam Square, where people, like the King and others, lay wreaths at 8pm, and then there is a moment of silence to remember the dead. May 5th is Bevrijdingsdag, so it celebrates the Netherlands’ liberation from occupation in the WWII. There are usually a lot of festivals and activities around the country to celebrate the freedom so to say.

It doesn’t mean much to me personally. That sounds horrible when I say it like that, but what I mean is I think the war was so long ago for it to affect me personally, if that makes sense. I still think it’s a nice tradition though, it’s good to remember pivotal events such as WWII – as well as sacrifices that were made for our lives today.

I’m not sure yet about what I’m going to do. May 4th I’ll probably just do some studying and have a chill day. On the 5th, I might go to the festival in Haarlem, I went there last year and it was pretty good.”

– Julia Keizer from the Netherlands, lived her whole life in Dubai

Sam Johnstone and Michaela Murphey. Photo: Andrew Kambel

“Liberation Day I don’ know too much about, other than its the day the Netherlands was liberated from Nazi Germany, and May 4th is not really a thing in the U.K. as we commemorate November 11th instead. Two minutes of silence, which we do at the 11th hour, works well to remember all those who have died in war. To me it was always sombre, the U.K. one anyway. I have never thought more about either May 4th or 5th, but I think I will join the celebration this year perhaps.”

– Sam Johnstone from the U.K.

“I think May 5th is Liberation Day, marking the end of Nazi Germany having been in the country and May 4th is Remembrance Day – two minutes of silence to remember all those who fought in the war. To me, I really didn’t know anything about it because I am South African, but I realise it is a really important thing to do – to reflect and remember so we appreciate what happened and hopefully try to not let it happen again. I think we might just take two minutes to remember everyone who fought.”

– Michaela Murphey from South Africa

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