Commemoration ceremony of the evacuation of Camp Vught
The evacuation of SS concentration camp Vught, now 75 years ago, was commemorated on Sunday, 8 September 2019, with a silent march, speeches and the laying of wreaths. The President of the House, Ms Khadija Arib, shared a few reflections with the participants in the commemoration in Vught.
At the time, the evacuation of the camp put an end to one and a half years of 'Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch'. More than 32.000 people have been held prisoner there. The commemoration event started on Sunday at noon, with a silent march to the site where executions by firing squad used to be staged. 329 members of the resistance were shot dead there between June and September 1944. The year 2004 marked the beginning of a tradition to commemorate the evacuation of the liberated camp every five years.
Along the route of the silent march, children read the names of the Camp Vught victims and one of the children lit a fire bowl. Alongside relatives of the victims, representatives of the National Monument Camp Vught and the Central Organ Former Resistance and Victims laid wreaths. People attending the commemoration laid down flowers during the parade. Director Mr Jeroen van den Eijnde gave the floor to the President of the House, Ms Khadija Arib. She called into memory that factually, the evacuation of the camp was not a liberation, because there were no prisoners left there at the time the Allies arrived. What few prisoners had remained in the camp were set free only days earlier, but the majority had been shot dead by firing squads hastily, in ever increasing numbers. Or they had been deported: the women to Ravensbrück, the men to Sachsenhausen.
Ms Khadija Arib: 'We are gathered here today -- in celebration of 75 years of our country's liberation -- to commemorate and reflect on what has happened here in the Second World War. We celebrate the freedom to vote for or against proposals as we please. The freedom to cast our vote for whoever we want to. The freedom to express our opinion on matters relevant to us all. The freedom to disagree on such matters fervently and passionately. That freedom carries with it the responsibility to form a society on the basis of all these differences. A society in which everyone can hear his or her voice reflected. A society in which everyone can participate. A society in which everyone can take part. That too is freedom, the freedom that in this country, so many take for granted.
Relatives of victims of Camp Vught held speeches to commemorate and remember their lost ones as well. The ceremony was concluded with music and a reflection by professor of constitutional law Mr Ernst Hirsch Ballin.