The way in which remembrance and celebration have taken shape in this country since 1945 is not unrelated to other ways that people have come to terms with the Second World War. The Netherlands’ way of dealing with wartime memories has resulted in more than 3500 war monuments throughout the country, in war and resistance museums, in commemoration centres, and in organisations of people affected by wars, but also in studies, novels, poems, television programmes, films, exhibitions and types of teaching material. The National Committee for 4 and 5 May thinks it is important to involve young people in remembrance and celebration in order to keep the memory of the Second World War alive, but also to pass on the idea that freedom is not something to be taken for granted. The Committee does this not merely by offering existing educational material for teachers and pupils, but also by developing its own products for both elementary and secondary education. An example of a product is the webportal www.tweedewereldoorlog.nl. On this website the National Committee categorizes useful information about the Second World War on the internet. And periodical digital exhibitions give light to lesser known themes. In addition, the Committee also provides grants for activities in the area of education and public information.
Het Nationaal Aandenken
The booklet Het Nationaal Aandenken (‘The National Memento’) is offered to all elementary schools in the Netherlands by the National Committee for 4 and 5 May. The booklet is intended for all children aged 10-12 in the Netherlands and on Aruba, Curaçao and Saint Martin in the Caribbean. It tells of the importance of peace, freedom and democracy, and it describes the traditions and background of Remembrance Day commemorations and Liberation Day celebrations on 4 and 5 May. Children can learn more about the various topics mentioned in the booklet with a website which is also easy to use in classrooms.
‘Adopt a Monument’
To let children get acquainted with the traditions and rituals of commemorating, the Committee has set up the nationwide educational project called ‘Adopt a Monument’. School classes with pupils from the age of 12 can ‘adopt’ a war monument in their own village or neighbourhood. This project helps children learn more about the local history of the Second World War and lets them experience for themselves how it is to attend a commemoration ceremony. During that ceremony, the pupils lay flowers on the monument and recite poems.