Nobody is going to be able to avoid it: in 2019 and 2020, the commemoration of 75 years of freedom, the end of the Second World War. Busy times for hundreds of Dutch people with preparations for the numerous events across the country.
Many people are involved in organising commemorations, events and festivities, but there are also people who ‘dress up’ as it were. They act like allied liberators, German occupiers, or civilians in wartime.
Keep Them Rolling
From June 6, 2019 until June 2020, they move from one place to another. “That is not awful, that’s fun.” says Wim Hoekwater from Barendrecht, member of Keep Them Rolling and owner of two historic army vehicles.
Keep Them Rolling the club of owners of vehicles, aircraft and vessels from the Second World War, is a well-known appearance at commemorations. The now very old Allied veterans who still travel to battlefields from that time, are usually driven around in their jeeps and trucks.
At the wheel the owners of the vehicles, dressed in preferably original uniforms from the Second World War. “Everything has to be in order.”
Robes and Cloaks from Nijkerk specialises in recreating historical clothing. “Making a complete uniform is taking about a week. It costs around 600 euros,” says tailor Els van Leeuwen. “The orders for clothing from 75 years are rolling in.” Van Leeuwen is participating in various events in civilian clothes from the war years. “My whole family is enthusiastic re-enactor, we spend a lot of time with it.”
Re-enactors are people who re-enact historical events as lifelike as possible. In the coming commemorative years they will appear in numerous moments. There are dozens of associations of re-enactors, from the ‘Netherlands Paraat’ (infantry and cyclists) to the Princess Irene Brigade and the Domestic Forces.
There are groups representing allies or Germans. “We do not play soldier, we portray serious history. Military groups have a command structure, citizen groups act according to the rules of that time.” the National Platform Live History explains.
The commemoration of 75 years of freedom begins on June 6 in Normandy, France, where the Allies landed in 1944. In the Netherlands the commemoration commences on August 31 at Terneuzen, where the Battle of the Scheldt was conducted in October and November 1944.
September 2019 is dominated by Operation Market Garden, the liberation operation with which the Allies wanted to put an end to the war quickly. The advance struck by the failed Battle of Arnhem. In the run up to 4 and 5 May 2020, the Holocaust (January 2020) and Operation Veritable (February 2020) will be commemorated.
April 2020 has been declared the Month of Freedom. In that month can all Dutch people for instance join in a Freedomdish in their own neighbourhood.