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Liberation anniversary celebrations a huge Thank You, Canada

Mutual ties continue to flourish

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

The sixtieth anniversary celebrations in The Netherlands once again remind Canadians from coast to coast that their wartime-hardships still draw plenty of praise, now mostly from people who were born after the conflict ended in May 1945. The ties forged in the heat of battle in the Netherlands, continue to flourish, often in new ways. In one telling example, the municipality of Apeldoorn which in 1945 hosted the headquarters of the Canadian army in The Netherlands, plans to sign a twin city relationship with Burlington, Ontario.

WWII hostilities are hard to cover in one series of books. Just the official Dutch account in an extensive overview - but far from complete required a series of nearly thirty books. Numerous other books have been published, often with very local vantage points such as the one which details information on Allied planes that crashed around the Overijssel city of Zwolle.

There are WWII history books that focus on military aspects. Then there are books that cover angles dealing with the German occupation, with the resistance movement or aspects of it, the hunger winter, the labour conscription, and the persecution of the Jews. The list of specific subjects could go on much longer.

There has much controversy over the question who were good (anti-Nazi) and who were bad (pro-Nazi or tolerant of them) during the occupation years. And how extensive was Dutch resistance to Nazidom. The debate still continues on those points.

It is good to remember that the Dutch did not endear themselves to the Nazi leadership in Germany. Its efforts to Nazify Dutch society, part of the war behind the War, failed miserably. Why? The answer is a two-word summary: Massive resistance. When the Nazis took over national organizations, the vast majority let their membership lapse if it had not yet been cancelled. For example, only about 250 Dutch physicians did sign a Hitler pledge, the rest many thousands of them) resigned from their regulatory obligations although they continued to care for their patients.

Dutch families hid about 300,000 people who were wanted by the German authorities and their Dutch henchmen. The largest resistance alliance known as the LO/LKP numbered about 15,000 people, a small number to be sure, but finding a hiding place for all those people, one way or other, certainly points to wide-spread support.

Yet, no one should feel comfortable about the occupation years. Many people could have done (much) more to aid country men in distress. That is why the dark times of Nazi ideology should be taken as a life-sized history lesson. There always are new isms waiting in the wings to rear their ugly heads.

The May 9, 2005 issue, on pages B2, B3 and B6 carried excerpts from Albert van der Meys book When a neighbor came calling. This book details every-day experiences of the average person in occupied Dutch society. If these excerpts not available for internet posting - whet the appetite, feel free to order the book from Its still available.