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Liberation torch lights national Liberation Fire at Zwolle

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ZWOLLE / ROTTERDAM – The Dutch remember their war dead on the eve of May 5 with solemn silent walks to special memorials or cemeteries, where they frequently observe an appropriate ceremony with the national commemoration always held at the Dam Square in Amsterdam. The following day, the 1945 Liberation from Nazi rule usually is celebrated extensively, particularly every fifth year when veterans from Allied countries are invited to visit the Netherlands once more. This year, Liberation torches were taken from Wageningen’s May 5 Square by bearers to various destinations in the Netherlands, including Zwolle, where Premier Jan Peter Balkenende used the torch to light the national Liberation Fire to launch the national celebrations. Dutch provinces take turns to hosting such celebrations. Nazi rule in the Netherlands ended on May 5, 1945 with its surrender in a Wageningen hotel. World War II in Europe ended on May 8 and in Asia on August 15. The southern part of the Netherlands was liberated as early as September 1944 and the eastern regions in April 1945. It tends to confuse some people that in the weeks following the liberation festivities, others remember the May 10, 1940 invasion of the country. For example on May 14, Rotterdam commemorated the devastating German bombing of its historic city core. Historians continue to search for an answer to the question if the aerial bombing was in fact an error or a sinister retaliation to punish stubborn Dutch military resistance, which had obstructed and slowed optimistic German expectations of a speedy Dutch surrender. The Dutch military had in fact agreed to surrender shortly before the bombing commenced, and pilots were signaled by flares. A similar bombing had been promised for Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Zeeland, which was excluded from the initial surrender, followed suit after its capital Middelburg was bombed.