The Netherlands remembers its war dead with two minutes silence

The king and queen walk past the wreaths after the ceremony. Photo: Remko de Waal ANP
The king and queen walk past the wreaths after the ceremony. Photo: Remko de Waal ANP

The Netherlands remembered those who died in World War II and in later conflicts with two minutes silence at 8pm on Wednesday evening.

In Amsterdam, king Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima laid the first wreath at the war memorial on the Dam, followed by representatives of the armed forces, and the relatives of some of those who died.

Thousands of people flocked to the centre of the capital to pay their respects. Parents brought young children and couples stood hand in hand, while tourists who tried to move through the crowd were asked to wait as the speeches took place.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema referred to the first days of the war and the bombing of Rotterdam on May 14, 1940. ‘A proud port city lost its heart,’ she said. ‘The Netherlands lost its freedom, its democracy and the rule of law.’

She went on to draw parallels with the current situation in Ukraine.

‘The memories of the survivors of World War II, of people who have fled bombs, of soldiers who risk their lives for peace and security are flooding back, now there is war on continent again,’ she said. ‘The pain that never really went away is being felt again, intensely.’

On Thursday, the Netherlands will celebrate Liberation Day with festivals and events nationwide.

The celebrations start in Wageningen around midnight where the Liberation flame is lit and torches are then taken by 1,300 runners in relay to other fires all over the country. Germany signed the capitulation documents in Wageningen on May 5, 1945. The south of the country had been liberated months earlier.

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