Dutch migrants recall liberation day

Liberation Day / images via wikimedia

By Lisa Merts

It’s a year late because of Covid, but the Netherlands Society Waikato will commemorate 75+1 year of Liberation Day and freedom later this month with an exhibition.

On May 4, 1945, at 7.30 am, at the headquarters of Field Marshal Montgomery on the Lüneburger Heide, a document was signed that contained the absolute capitulation of the German armies in the Netherlands, North-West Germany, Sleeswijk-Holstein and Denmark.  The agreement was that all weapons would be silenced as from 8am on the next day, May 5.

This day is and remains for the Netherlands the end of five years of occupation by Germany, the end of the Second  World  War.  In hotel “De Wereld” in Wageningen the Canadian General Foulks delivered the capitulation document to the German General Blaskowitz and both signed this document, the “Instrument of Surrender”.

The liberation of the Netherlands was celebrated August 3, the birthday of the then Queen Wilhelmina.  Every year after 1945 the commemoration of the dead has been on the evening of May 4 and the liberation celebrations have been on May 5.

In 2020 it was 75 years ago that Germany surrendered and the Netherlands was again a free country.  The Netherlands Society Waikato had planned to organise an exhibition to commemorate this event, but due to the Covid-19 lockdown it had to be postponed.

This year we can celebrate 75+1 years of freedom and the exhibition will go ahead from April 27 to May 2.

In general the exhibition will give an idea of life during the occupation. There are items on display from a scrapbook with news articles, kept by a person who lived through these years of occupation and oppression.   Also on display are documents about a New Zealand soldier, who lost his young life as the plane in which he was a navigator got shot down over the Netherlands.  Two hundred and twenty six New Zealand soldiers have their final resting place at a Dutch cemetery and six had clear links to the Waikato.

These men lost their lives so we could again live in a free country.

We will never forget and be forever grateful to them.

The Tauwhare Military Museum has been generous to supply on loan some of the military equipment and smaller weaponry used at that time.  The Hamilton Military Vehicle Club will stage a parade on May 1 at 11am.

The exhibition is in the hall of the Netherville Retirement Village,  4 Admiral Crescent in Hamilton, from April 27 to May 2.  Opening hours are from 10am to 4pm.  Admission is by gold coin donation.

  • Lisa Merts is a committee member of the Netherlands Society Waikato.

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