4 May Remembrance Day
Remembrance of the Dead (Dutch: Dodenherdenking) is held annually on May 4th in the Netherlands. It commemorates all civilians and members of the armed forces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who have died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II.
Until 1961, the commemoration only related to the Dutch victims of World War II. Since 1961, the victims of other military conflicts (such as the Indonesian National Revolution in Indonesia) and peacekeeping missions (such as in Lebanon or Bosnia) are remembered on May 4 as well.
At 20:00, two minutes of silence are observed throughout the Netherlands. Public transport is stopped, as well as all other traffic. Radio and TV only broadcast the ceremonies from 19.00 until 20.30. Since May 4, 1994, the flags, having hung at half-staff from 18:00 onwards, are then hoisted to the music of the “Wilhelmus“, the Dutch national anthem. Since 2001 the new protocol says it is allowed to let the flag hang half-staff.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands memorial places in the Netherlands, and each city has it’s own. Last year I wrote about Stolpersteine, little stones in the pavement you might stumble upon, with the names of the victims of WW II who lived in that street, in that house. This year my attention was caught by a little memorial just beneath a railway crossing just before you enter Delft.
I pass this crossing biking on my way to work (just before the train goes under ground-level in Delft). And there is a little memorial stone 20 meters away from it I think. A simple concrete low wall with memorial wreaths each year on May 4th on 18:30 hours. The flagpole on the right is to raise the our red-white and blue flag. The picture on the left a flattering image of the memorial it really is nothing but a memorial plate
four hooks in it, painted white. The hooks are for the memorial wreaths
“for the fallen ones, and the names of 10 people that died”. I was curious about this little almost invisible memorial.
The story behind it is this: 10 young men from the resistance, the youngest 22 years, the oldest 54 years old were executed at the railway crossing that you saw above. The resistance group was betrayed and brought to the “Oranjehotel” in Scheveningen.
Another resistance group blew up the railway tracks at that very place we are talking about on the night of 6 to 7 October 1944. The Sicherheitdienst knew how to deal with this act of sabotage. They took ten random men they just had arrested and had nothing to do at all with this act of sabotage, put them at the railway crossing and killed them all. People who passed by were forced to watch…
Trains were soon riding again in October 1944. But these men didn’t see them anymore:
- Frans Britzel
- Pieter Bogaard
- Roland Colberdinge
- Christiaan van ’t Hoff
- Roelof Koopmans
- Hermanus Schram
- Hendrik en Pieter Stavast
- Klaas de Vries
- Jacobus de Waal
For years the monument was in decay. Now it has been restored and it pleased me so much there were two baskets of plants there yesterday.
Tomorrow, on May 5th, Dutch people celebrate freedom, the liberation of the nation from the German occupation of 1940 to 1945.