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Remembrance Day

b2ap3_thumbnail_dodenherdenking500.jpgMay 4th is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands, a day to remember the people killed in World War II. It is good to see that even now, nearly 70 years after the end of the war, this day is still alive. Many people join one of the many ceremonies all over the country and respect the two minutes of silence at 8 p.m.


Over the last years there is an increasing discussion around this day. Not about stopping with it, but how to keep it alive. We are approaching a point that no-one is alive who actually remembers the war from own experience. Therefore there is a discussion about if the day should be used as well for a broader purpose, e.g. remembering all people killed in wars and conflicts.

The discussion can be fierce sometimes, understandably as this involves personal experiences and losses. Although I can understand both sides I personally agree that main focus should be what happened in World War II – and especially to the civil victims. World War II was the first time in history that with such vigour and to such and previously unimaginable extent people not being soldiers have been chased and killed for who they were. Especially of course the Jewish people – but also other groups as Roma, homosexuals, handicapped, people opposing the regime and other groups. No, it was not the first genocide in history – and also not the last. But it was the first that basically industrialised killing and involved so many henchmen.


But beside this clear focus there should be also room for people to give their own meaning to this day. Only then we will still respect the silence, even 50 years from now – when all survivors and even their kids have passed away already.

Keeping the memories alive is important so that we are aware of what people are capable of doing – and how shockingly easy it can be to manipulate them. It is something that can happen everywhere – as history has shown. To minimise the risk of this happen again and again people have to know to what horrors the human race is capable.


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