This year, the House of Representatives is commemorating the end of the Second World War, and 75 years of freedom. This is taking place in different ways and, because of the coronavirus crisis, differently to the original plans. The commemoration ceremony took place as planned on 4 May, but could only be watched by the general public via the live stream. Several online activities have now been planned, such as a virtual guided tour around historical locations in the building.
Commemoration ceremony at the Roll of Honour for the Fallen 1940-1945
The House of Representatives’ commemoration ceremony at the Roll of Honour for the Fallen 1940-1945 took place on 4 May at 11:00. This year the ceremony was moved from the entrance hall of Binnenhof 1A to the Central Passageway where there was more room for the attendees. The speaker of the House, Khadija Arib, gave a speech and laid a wreath at the national monument, together with President of the Senate Jan Anthonie Bruijn, on behalf of the States General. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Paul Blokhuis, State Secretary at Health, Welfare and Sport, laid a wreath on behalf of the Council of Ministers.
The House of Representatives decided that the commemoration should go ahead on 4 May, with some changes. Speaker of the House, Khadija Arib: “Particularly in this significant year of commemoration it is important to stop and consider the horrors of the Second World War and the meaning of freedom and democracy, and to honour those who fought and died for their country during the war.”
In her speech, the Speaker talked about how everyone in these times feels restricted in their freedom and yet we realise, maybe more than before the present crisis, just what it means to be living in fear and to not feel safe or free. After the speech there was a short film in which pupils from the Johan de Witt Scholengroep in The Hague read out poems. Just like every year, a page in the Roll of Honour was turned. The wreath-laying was followed by a minute's silence.
Roll of Honour for the Fallen 1940-1945
The Roll of Honour for the Fallen 1940-1945 contains almost 18,000 names; besides resistance fighters, they include Dutch people who were killed as part of the armed forces and the merchant navy during the Second World War. The Roll of Honour is a national monument. Down through the years suggestions are regularly made for additions to the list. The Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) ensured that many of these additions were written on the list in calligraphy. However, as the physical document is deteriorating with age, making it no longer possible to make additions on the paper list, the NIOD has decided to digitise the document and publish it online. There is a digital register in the House of Representatives where people can look up whether a name is included in the roll of honour. You can also find these names at www.erelijst.nl.
List of the Fallen during wars and missions since the Second World War
A second digital list, the List of the Fallen during wars and missions since the Second World War, was unveiled in 2016. This monument honours the over 6,000 Dutch servicemen and women and other civil staff who have been killed since the Second World War in war zones or during peacekeeping missions. Through this digital list, the House of Representatives wants to express its recognition of and appreciation for the fallen, and to acknowledge the important part it plays in sending servicemen and women and other civil staff on missions abroad. This list is also to be seen in the House of Representatives, and at www.lijstvangevallenen.nl.
Photographs of the Second World War
To mark 75 years of freedom, during the last year a national search took place for the hundred photographs that best expressed the Netherlands in the Second World War. Speaker of the House Khadija Arib chaired the committee that selected the photographs for the exhibition The Second World War in one hundred photographs. The exhibition gives a particular insight into how we look at the years of war and occupation with today's eyes. The exhibition was to have been announced in the House of Representatives, but this had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis and instead the photographs were published online on 4 May at www.in100fotos.nl.