memorial second world war May 4

This is May 4 Remembrance Day or Dodenherdenking memorial in the Netherlands

in Dutch tradition on 30 April, 2024

What does Remembrance Day mean in the Netherland?

On May 4, we commemorate the victims of war and oppression in the Netherlands. This commemoration has deep meaning for our country and its history.


First of all, why do we commemorate?

The Netherlands suffered a lot during the Second World War, especially under the German occupation. Many people lost their lives during that period, both soldiers and civilians. Remembrance Day is a way to show respect to all those people who died as a result of war, but also to those who died in other conflicts, peace operations or due to oppression.

On May 4 at 8 p.m. (8 p.m.) we will hold two minutes of silence. This is a very special moment. During these two minutes the entire country stands still. People stop what they are doing, traffic comes to a standstill and television and radio interrupt their programs. This silence is a sign of respect and memory of the victims. Many people also lay flowers at war monuments or graves of fallen soldiers.

Memorial gatherings are often also held, such as in towns and villages, where people gather to listen to speeches, music and poems. These gatherings are intended to share stories and keep the memory of the victims alive.


Remembering Anne Frank: A Testament of Courage and Hope

Anne Frank’s story is one that transcends time and generations. Born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, Anne’s life was forever altered by the rise of Nazi Germany. As a Jewish girl, she and her family faced persecution and discrimination, eventually leading them to seek refuge in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1933.

Tragically, in 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, and the Frank family went into hiding in a concealed apartment above Otto Frank’s business. For over two years, Anne, her parents Otto and Edith, her sister Margot, and four others lived in confinement, unable to step outside for fear of capture.

Tragically, the hiding place was betrayed, and on August 4, 1944, the occupants were arrested by the Gestapo. Anne and her family were deported to concentration camps, where she ultimately perished at the young age of 15. Only Otto Frank, Anne’s father, survived the Holocaust. Read more about Anne Frank here >

Dutch flag half-staff as a token of respect for the fallen soldiers of war

Lowering the flag to half-staff is a way to express sympathy and honor

Flags in the Netherlands are typically flown at half-staff (half-mast) as a sign of mourning or respect. There are several reasons why the Dutch might lower their flags in this manner:

  1. National Mourning: Flags are lowered to half-staff in the event of a national tragedy, such as the death of a member of the Dutch royal family, a significant political figure, or a national disaster.
  2. International Mourning: Flags can be lowered in solidarity with other countries experiencing a tragedy or loss. For example, after major disasters or terrorist attacks in other countries, the Dutch may lower their flags as a sign of respect.
  3. Remembrance Days: The Netherlands observes several national days of remembrance, such as Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking) on May 4th, which commemorates those who died during World War II, and National Memorial Day on the second Saturday in November, which commemorates all Dutch military personnel who have died in conflicts or peacekeeping missions since World War II. Flags are often flown at half-staff on these occasions.
  4. State Funerals: During state funerals or official ceremonies honoring notable figures, flags are lowered as a mark of respect.
  5. Tragedies or Losses: Flags might also be lowered in response to specific tragedies or losses that deeply affect the Dutch nation, such as mass casualties in accidents, acts of terrorism, or natural disasters.

In all cases, lowering the flag to half-staff is a visible and solemn gesture to acknowledge loss, reflect on tragedy, and show solidarity with those affected. It’s a way for the Dutch people to express their sympathy and honor the memory of those who have passed away.

Freedom cannot be taken for granted

In addition to the commemoration on May 4, we celebrate Liberation Day on May 5, the day on which the Netherlands was liberated from the German occupation in 1945. This is a festive day on which we celebrate that we can live in freedom.

These are important days in the Netherlands, reminding us how precious peace and freedom are, and that we should never forget those who fought and died for them.

celebrating with flags in the streetsstreet in Holland with orange flags

For more information:

so dutchie oranje
So Dutchie


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