HOLLAND – The Netherlands remembered the victims of the Second World War with commemorations across the country on Saturday. King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Prime Minister Mark Rutte attended the National Commemoration in Amsterdam on Saturday evening. Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema stressed that the the lack of freedom during the war must be passed on so that it can be remembered “as if the war were yesterday. Even if no one remembers what it is like to live in an occupied country”, Het Parool reports.
The National Commemoration started with a closed gathering in De Nieuwe Kerk for war survivors, relatives and representatives of war organizations. That was followed by the public memorial service at the National Monument on Dam Square. Mayor Halsema gave a speech during the public service.
“We are now living 74 years after the liberation. There are sill people who experienced the the difference between occupation and freedom themselves. Every year there are fewer”, Halsema said, according to the newspaper. “We breathe free air, we walk undisturbed through the city, we give our opinions, we choose freedom. But our freedom was preceded by pain and great sorrow. Our freedom is surrounded by pain. That is why we commemorate this year, next year and all years thereafter.”
Just before 8:00 p.m., the Dutch King and Queen laid a wreath at the National Monument. Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Minister Ank Bijleveld of Defense, State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health, and Ministers from Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten also laid a wreath on behalf of the Council of Ministers.
The wreath laying ceremony was followed two minutes of silence, observed nationwide, including by Schiphol Airport and various transport companies throughout the Netherlands.
Exactly how many people attended the National Commemoration is not yet clear. Before the commemoration the National Committee for 4 and 5 May said they expected over 20 thousand attendees.