Remembrance of the Dead

National Monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam

Remembrance of the Dead (Dutch: Dodenherdenking) is held annually on May 4 in the Netherlands. It commemorates all civilians and members of the armed forces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who have died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II.

Until 1961, the commemoration only related to the Dutch victims of World War II. Since 1961, the victims of other military conflicts (such as the Indonesian National Revolution in Indonesia) and peacekeeping missions (such as in Lebanon or Bosnia) are remembered on May 4 as well.

Traditionally, the main ceremonies are observed in Amsterdam at the National Monument on Dam Square. This ceremony is usually attended by members of the cabinet and the royal family, military leaders, representatives of the resistance movement and other social groups. At 8:00 p.m., two minutes of silence are observed throughout the Netherlands. Public transport is stopped, as well as all other traffic. Radio and TV only broadcast the ceremonies from 19.00 until 20.30. Since May 4, 1994, the flags, having hung at half-staff from 18:00 onwards, are then hoisted to the music of the "Wilhelmus", the Dutch national anthem. Since 2001 the new protocol says it is correct to let the flag hang half-staff.

The main celebrations in Amsterdam are broadcast by the public broadcasting company NOS, but there are ceremonies in other cities and places as well. Especially notable are those at the Waalsdorpervlakte near the Hague, where many Dutch resistance fighters were executed during the war, and at the war cemetery Grebbeberg, which are broadcast by the commercial broadcasting companies. In many towns, before or after the two minutes of silence, people gather around a monument, listen to speeches, and lay down flowers to remember the dead.

The next day, on May 5, Dutch people celebrate the liberation of the nation from the German occupation of 1940 to 1945.

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2010 incident

The 2010 ceremony on Dam Square was disrupted towards the end of the two-minute silence by a 39-year-old man with a history of violent crimes and drug trading.[1] Standing on the Rokin side of the square dressed as an Orthodox Jew, he refused to end a loud conversation on a cell phone during the two-minute silence, then pushed his way through the crowd while muttering unintelligibly and issued an extended loud scream that was heard all over the square. A person nearby dropped a suitcase in the resulting panic which prompted a cry of "Bomb, bomb, run!" which caused a panicked stampede among the 20.000 people crowd.[2] Many people were trampled and some ended up trapped underneath crowd control barriers that were pushed over in the chaos. The sounds of the barriers falling were mistaken for gunshots by many people and added to the chaos.[3] A total of 63 people were treated for injuries, mostly minor ones and some broken bones.[4] The panic reaction was explained by many as resulting from the tension after the attack on the Dutch royal family that killed eight people just over a year before the incident.

Queen Beatrix, who had been rushed to safety with the rest of the royal family, returned once the situation was under control and the ceremony was continued. The owner of the dropped suitcase was arrested but released because his suitcase contained only personal belongings. The 39-year-old man was also arrested and charged with disrupting public order and indirectly causing bodily harm.[5] He later confessed to the police that he had been drinking and had screamed because of "frustrations in his personal life."[6] He professed to be sorry and claimed there was no deeper meaning or thought behind his action.[7]

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References


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