Remembrance Day and Liberation Day
The Netherlands has a unique way of commemorating the Second World War. There are two important days for this particular tribute: Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking) on May 4 and Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) on May 5.
The commemoration starts with solemn ceremonies on May 4 as a symbol of respect for all the Dutch who died in conflicts around the world and continues the next day, usually with pop festivals.
The main Remembrance Day ceremonies are attended by the Dutch royal family and military leaders and veterans, with speeches and flower-laying ceremonies commemorating the soldiers and civilians who died fighting in wars across the world.
Remembrance Day began as a memorial day specifically for those killed in World War II, but since 1961 it has also included victims of other military conflicts and peacekeeping missions.
The most famous locations typically include the National Monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam, the Waalsdorpvlakte near The Hague and, the war cemetery in Grebbeberg. The ceremonies are broadcast live on television and radio across the country.
There is a two-minute silence at 8pm on May 4 every year, which is an important thing to keep in mind if you think you might be in a public place at that time.
Liberation Day takes place the day after Remembrance Day, celebrating the freedom of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation after World War II. Some sources claim the first commemoration of this kind took place in 1946, but other sources say it was the previous year. Liberation Day is a day of national observance, but every five years it’s celebrated as a public holiday, with schools and businesses closed throughout the country. The next public holiday will be May 5, 2025.
Check out the website 4 en 5 mei for full details of this year's programme.
Plan your Remembrance Day and Liberation Day
Keep in mind that there is a two-minute silence at 8pm on May 4 and public transport and other traffic stops at this time, so be prepared.