Liberation Day, known in Dutch as ‘Bevrijdingsdag’, is on May 5 and we are getting ready to celebrate peace and security! Marking the end of the Nazi occupation after the Second World War, Liberation Day is celebrated with much fanfare with events, veterans parades, and music festivals throughout the Netherlands.
History of Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag)
The Second World War began in 1939 and lasted until 1945. In 1940, the Dutch foreign policy was neutrality, as it had been for a century. The nation’s policy was to avoid international conflicts until it was attacked, a strategy that worked for them in the past. However, World War II was a different story when Nazi Germany invaded the country.
One may wonder why German forces invaded the Netherlands. Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, which led to Great Britain and France declaring a war on Germany. This event marked the beginning of World War II that would ultimately have devastating effects and destroy lives, land, and property for the next six years. The occupation of the Netherlands was part of a larger picture. Adolf Hitler’s goal was to conquer France by bypassing the French defense line at the eastern border by going through the Netherlands and Belgium. Furthermore, by occupying the Netherlands, Hitler could prevent England from setting up a base of operations there.
After being occupied for several years, in 1945, the army troops of America, Canada, Britain, and Poland entered the Netherlands from the east and succeeded in liberating the eastern and northern provinces. Ultimately, on May 5, an agreement was reached between General Charles Foulkes of the Canadian forces and the German general Johannes Blaskowitz for the surrender of the German forces at Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen. However, even after the surrender, some German troops remained on Dutch soil until May 8.
Nevertheless, that’s how Liberation Day came into being and why it is celebrated on May 5, as it marks the date of the German surrender. It is interesting to note that Liberation Day was made an annual observance only after 1990 — up until then it was observed every five years.
Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) timeline
Despite the Netherlands’ declaration of neutrality, Nazi Germany invades the country.
Allied forces start advancing across Europe with key engagements in the south of the Netherlands by September of the same year.
German General Blaskowitz and General Foulkes from the Canadian forces reach an agreement on the surrender.
Until 1990, Liberation Day was observed only once every five years.
Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) FAQs
Why does the Netherlands give Canada tulips?
According to Netherlandsandyou.nl, “Following the end of the Second World War in 1945, when Canada had liberated the Netherlands, Princess Juliana presented Canada with 100,000 tulip bulbs as a gesture of gratitude. Since then, the tulip has become a symbol to represent the friendship between the Netherlands and Canada.”
Who liberated the Netherlands in WWII?
The Canadian, British, and Polish armies played a significant role in liberating the Netherlands from Nazi Germany.
How many vacation days do you get in the Netherlands?
When working full-time, the Dutch are entitled to a minimum of 20 paid vacation days per year.
How To Celebrate Liberation Day
Read up about the Netherlands’ history
Usually, Liberation Day is celebrated with much gusto but if you’re not in the country, you can still celebrate by reading up and immersing yourself in Dutch history.
Search for online events
Since we live in a digital world, you can easily find online events that will be hosted to celebrate this day.
Host a Dutch-themed party
Even if you cannot celebrate in the Netherlands itself, you can host a party with your friends and family nonetheless. Get together, whip up some good food, create a playlist, and enjoy the privileges of living in a free world.
5 Surprising Facts About The Netherlands
The Netherlands and Holland are not the same
The Netherlands and Holland are often used interchangeably, however, the former consists of 12 provinces and the latter is an area that consists of only two provinces.
One-fifth of the population in the Netherlands is foreign-born and more than half of the country’s immigrants are of non-Western origin.
The Netherlands only has one official language and that is Dutch.
Tulips aren’t native to the Netherlands
They were imported from Turkey in the 16th century and when the prices of tulip bulbs rose, the farmers started cultivating them themselves.
Sixth happiest country in the world
The Netherlands is the sixth happiest country in the world according to the World Happiness Report in 2020.
Why Liberation Day is Important
It showcases the significance of freedom
Liberation Day teaches us how to take cognizance of the value of living in a free country, as not everyone in the world may have the same privilege.
It celebrates Dutch culture
Liberation Day is celebrated across the country with performances, parades, music festivals, etc. This provides a common place for people to come together and celebrate Dutch culture by commemorating their freedom from the Nazi occupation.
It remembers the forces that liberated the Netherlands
The Netherlands was liberated by mainly Canadian, British, and Polish armies and this day helps to remember and honor their efforts.
Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) dates