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May 4 and 5

On May 4 and 5, we will reflect on freedom together.


The National Remembrance Day takes place annually in the Netherlands on 4 May. We will then commemorate all civilians and soldiers who have been killed or murdered since the outbreak of the Second World War, in war situations and during peacekeeping operations. The national commemoration takes place on Dam Square in Amsterdam. At 8:00 PM we are all silent for 2 minutes to commemorate the victims.

Reconstruction of the Venlo Incident in 1948.

It all started on November 9, 1939. Then the Venlo Incident took place. Two English spies from Dutch territory were kidnapped at the border crossing Venlo-Herongen to Nazi Germany by a German raid command. In a brief firefight, Lt. Knock, the Dutch observer, killed. Hitler used this Venlo incident as an excuse to approve the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940. He found the involvement of a Dutch officer in this border incident proof that the Netherlands was not neutral. The Second World War started for Venlo with the German invasion. Immediately after the invasion in 1940, more than 15,000 workers and forced laborers worked by order of the Germans on a large military airfield east of Venlo: Fliegerhorst. A large complex covering almost 1800 hectares. The airfield was mainly used by Luftwaffe night fighters (German air force), who shot down an estimated 400 Allied bombers from Venlo. Venlo was also an important link with its rail and road connections to provide assistance to people in hiding and allied pilots on the run.

Until October 1944 the city survived the war relatively unscathed, but at the end of the war Venlo suffered a lot of damage. Blerick had already been liberated, but Venlo was on the other side of the Maas and was still under Nazi rule. The city was finally liberated on March 1, 1945 by the 35th 'Santa Fe' Division of the 9th United States Army. The largely destroyed Venlo airfield was partly restored and used as American air base 'Yankee 55' to make the Allied crossing of the Rhine possible.

The city center of Venlo in March 1945.

Every year on 5 May we celebrate the liberation from the German occupation from 1940 to 1945. At the time, the government chose this date because the Germans surrendered on that day. On May 5, we will also reflect on the value of freedom, democracy and human rights.

Liberation Day starts every year in a different province of the Netherlands and this year it is in South Holland. A May 5 lecture will be held by a well-known Dutchman and then the liberation fire is lit. This kicks off, normally, 14 liberation festivals and other festivities in the country. Unfortunately, these activities cannot take place this year due to corona. The Liberation Festivals do offer an online program with more than 200 performances and activities.

Liberation Fire

The Liberation Fire is the national symbol for liberation and the realization that freedom cannot be taken for granted. Every year in the night of 4 to 5 May, the Mayor of Wageningen ignites the Liberation Fire according to a tradition, on the 5 May Square in front of Hotel de Wereld. The capitulation (surrender) was signed in 1945 in this hotel.

After the Liberation Fire ceremony, various walking groups depart from this historic location to spread the fire throughout the Netherlands. The relay symbolizes the Liberation of the Netherlands and represents an important transition from commemoration on May 4 to celebrating freedom on May 5. The arrival of the Liberation Fire in their own municipality heralds the local May 5 activities.

Follow the Liberation Fire ceremony here and view the entire Wageningen program

Liberation Festivals

On May 5, we will celebrate our freedom together with 14 Liberation festivals with song, dance, music, theater and conversations about freedom. Not to mention the ambassadors of freedom: Davina Michelle, Tino Martin and Jonna Fraser.

Keep an eye on this website for the full program

Photo: Los - Liberation Festival Limburg 2016

May 5th-concert

Every year Liberation Day is festively closed with a May 5 concert on the Amstel in Amsterdam in front of the Royal Theater Carré. Due to the corona measures, it will not take place outside but inside the theater this year and you can follow the concert live via NPO 1 (Dutch public broadcaster). The concert starts at 9:00 PM.

View the full program here

Photo: National Committee 4 and 5 May.


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