Dutch celebrate 76th anniversary of war's end
The Netherlands celebrates Liberation Day - the end of the German wartime occupation in 1945 - on 5 May. This year Angela Merkel will give an online speech to mark the occasion. The speech was to be given last year for the 75th anniversary of the event, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Other public figures have also attracted attention with gestures marking the day of remembrance.
Reconciliation a prerequisite for lasting peace
It is highly symbolic that Angela Merkel is to deliver the Freedom Speech, NRC Handelsblad points out:
“Reconciliation does not mean that the past, history, must be forgotten. It is important to keep the dialogue about the war alive, especially given that after 76 years of peace, the last eyewitnesses are now dying. ... The presence of Germans in the moments when the Netherlands commemorates the victims of the Second World War is awkward - and will perhaps remain awkward. But the fact that freedom can be celebrated together shows that many wounds have healed in 76 years. Reconciliation is a basic prerequisite for lasting peace.”
The right have misunderstood freedom
Ahead of May 5, the right-wing populist politician Thierry Baudet circulated a banner online that depicts 2020 as marking the end of freedom. Many were incensed - including philosopher Alicja Gescinska. She writes in De Volkskrant:
“We realise our personal freedom not in spite of, but thanks to others. Not at the expense of, but with others. By subjecting our own will and behaviour to certain moral and social restrictions, we can realise our freedom as well as that of others. This certainly does not mean that every restriction is legitimate and must automatically be accepted. But nor does it mean that every restriction is an impermissible curtailment of dictatorial proportions. However frustrating the Covid measures may have been, the crisis has not clipped the wings of our personal freedom. ”