Bevrijdingsdag in Utrecht

BevrijdingsdagToday is Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day) in the Netherlands. It marks the 69th anniversary since the Germans surrendered at the end of World War II and signed the capitulation documents in Wageningen. There are various celebrations held throughout the country today, including here in Utrecht. Today is also one of the official days when the flag is flown and there are flags fluttering in the sunshine across the city and on most streets. Our neighbor is flying the flag and it looks lovely against the bright blue sky.

Although today marks the liberation of the Netherlands, the full component of allied forces didn’t arrive in Utrecht until 7 May (and later in other areas). However, in the days leading up to their arrival, food began to make its way into the city as part of Operation Faust. Food had been dropped by airplane in various cities in the country and then was gradually distributed to help feed the starving citizens of the Netherlands.

The Utrecht Archives has some photos of the early arrival of these important food deliveries, which I found particularly fascinating and poignant, as many were taken here in my neighborhood. This first one shows some of the trucks arriving on the eastern edge of the city center, having driven up Biltstraat (in the background) and then crossing over to Wittevrouwenstraat. On the right is the turn to Lucas Bolwerk.
http://www.hetutrechtsarchief.nl/collectie/beeldmateriaal/fotografische_documenten/1940-1950/97576In fact, in this next photo, you can see the trucks lined up along Lucas Bolwerk. There’s a narrow park that runs along this street, with the city ring canal on the other side. It’s where we used to take our dog Pippo every day, so it’s an area I know very well. That makes it seem that much more real and not just a historic photo.
http://www.hetutrechtsarchief.nl/collectie/beeldmateriaal/fotografische_documenten/1940-1950/22187The final photo is of an allied motorcyclist riding up Voorstraat in the last few days leading up to the liberation of Utrecht. From the waves of the hats, he was surely a wonderful sight to see. And once again, it’s a street I know so incredibly well — in fact, we walked along there on King’s Night last week — which makes it more personal and yet still so hard to imagine.http://www.hetutrechtsarchief.nl/collectie/beeldmateriaal/fotografische_documenten/1940-1950/97699After the liberation of Utrecht, a tree was planted on the south-eastern side of the city, in the park area at the end of the Nieuwegracht. It’s where my beloved Spoetnikkijker statue now stands. The Bevrijdingsboom (Liberation Tree) has a painted, ironwork sign in front of it to mark its commemoration of the liberation of Utrecht and the country in May 1945.BevrijdingsboomDirect links to the photos:Wittevrouwenstraat
Lucasbolwerk
Voorstraat

Feeling Free

Bevrijdingsdag
It’s been a week of important dates here in the Netherlands. First the last Queen’s Day, and now this weekend — May 4-5 — we’ve had Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenkingdag) and Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag). Remembrance Day (May 4) started as a day of remembrance for those killed during World War II, although now it’s generally a time to remember all who have died in conflict. It is marked each year by special ceremonies and two minutes of silence at 8 p.m.
Bevrijdingsdag

Remembrance Day is obviously a more somber day, whereas today, Liberation Day (May 5) commemorates the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis at the end of World War II. There are large festivals held in cities across the country and Utrecht is hosting a large one this year, in part due to the Vrede van Utrecht (Treaty of Utrect) ongoing celebrations.

Typically, the Dutch flag is only flown on a handful of official days/holidays. As a result, it’s much more noticeable when it is out, as it was this weekend. It seems that technically, it’s not meant to be flown on a Sunday. However, a number of people didn’t follow that particular rule today. Here’s a bit of info on when the flag should be flown:

The Dutch flag instruction also stipulates on which days the flag should be flown. Of course this includes a selection of popular festivities such as Queen’s Day (soon to be King’s Day) and formal occasions such as Liberation Day, royal birthdays, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, Victory in Europe Day and Koninkrijksdag (Kingdom Day). On these days, the flag may be hoisted from sunrise and must be taken down before sunset. However, as the Dutch flag should never be flown on Sunday, if a celebration happens to fall on that day, the flag is raised the following Monday instead.

Considering the flags were flown on the Domtoren and the Domplein today — even while Prime Minister Rutte was visiting — I’m not sure how hard-and-fast some of those rules are. Anyway, I took a number of photos of the flags flying at various spots around town today. It’s a warm, beautiful day and a great day to celebrate freedom.

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Another Moment

Dodenherdenking
Today is Dodenherdenking, otherwise known as remembrance day. It’s the commemoration of 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. (Source)

The main celebration is held in Amsterdam at Damplein, with a national two minutes of silence at 8 p.m. Radio, tv, and I gather even traffic halts at this moment. I will be in Amsterdam tonight, although I’ll be in the Melkweg waiting for the second Flight of the Conchords show. I’ll be curious if they do anything inside at that moment.

Tomorrow is a national holiday, Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day), celebrating the Dutch liberation from German occupation during WWII. There will be celebrations and music performances all over the country.

ETA: They did, in fact, observe the two minutes of silence at the Melkweg last night. They had a sign on the door announcing they would do so, and someone came out and announced it at the time.