Amsterdam is shaped by a rich history of steadfast civilians, standing up against oppression and injustice, and fighting for freedom and equality. We have the privilege of living in freedom for almost 75 years after the Second World War ended in 1945. The group of people that witnessed the war is shrinking, but their stories are still alive and of great importance.
Right after the war, in 1946, a committee was created by former members of the resistance. Their motto: “Dat nooit meer…” (“Never again…”). Everyone has their own way of maintaining this spirit. The story of Amsterdam during the war can be told and remembered in many ways.
The "Amsterdam 4 and 5 May committee" coordinates a varied programme for people of Amsterdam and by people of Amsterdam, together with the municipality and hundreds of partners. For everyone who wants to know more about the war history of their own neighbourhood and for those who want to reflect on the past. Young or old, religious and non-religious, born in Amsterdam or ‘imported’: together we commemorate the victims, listen to stories in Open Joodse Huizen (Open Jewish Houses), Huizen van Verzet (Houses of Resistance), walk in silence past locations with memories of the war, experience the performances of Theater Na de Dam (Theater after the Dam), meet each other at Freedom meals, concerts, lectures, tours, and celebrate freedom by dancing at Freedom festivals. Each year we add new stories to the traditions of 4 and 5 May and stimulate conversations about issues that matter.
On May 4th, Amsterdam joins the rest of the Netherlands in commemorating the civilians and members of the armed forces who have died in war and peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II. During the Remembrance of the Dead, people all over the country observe two minutes of silence at 8 p.m. The streetlights will be on, public transport will stand still. Shortly before you will here all the church bells toll.
Events on May 4th
The Remembrance of the Dead ceremony was held for the first time on Dam Square in 1945 and takes place every year. The King and Queen walk through a veterans’ guard of honour to the monument on Dam Square to lay a wreath on behalf of the citizens of the Netherlands. At 8 p.m. the nation observes a two-minute silence. The flags around Dam Square and in the rest of the Netherlands fly at half mast from 6 p.m. to sunset on Remembrance Day. Everyone is welcome at the remembrance ceremony on Dam Square.
During Remembrance Day, there is a wide range of activities in Amsterdam to keep alive the memories of World War II. As well as the National Remembrance of the Dead ceremony on Dam Square, some 40 other ceremonies will take place in different neighbourhoods of Amsterdam. Dozens of events will be organised by neighbourhood committees and civil society organisations.
Open Jewish Homes and Houses of Resistance
On both Remembrance Day and Liberation Day, intimate memorial services will take place in the living rooms, attics or cafés of former Jewish residents and members of the resistance. During Open Jewish Homes and open Resistance homes speakers will tell the story of life before, during and after the war, persecution, resistance and liberation. The stories will be accompanied by film, music, poetry, photos and diary excerpts. Two of them will be in English: click here.
Events on May 5th
Celebrate freedom together, and join or help cook one of the Freedom Meals (Vrijheidsmaaltijd)! Everyone is welcome this day to participate in the Freedom Meals organised all around the city. You can look forward to intimate and grand meals in community centres, parks and living rooms or on streets or squares. For an overview of the Freedom Meals, click here.
The Liberation Festivals taking place across the country are a highlight of Liberation Day. The festivals will have extensive musical programmes and big-name acts relating to the theme of freedom. At various spots in the city, Dutch bands and international musicians and DJs will perform live.
Programme of stories told in English or music (no language needed): click here
Do you want to meet Stadsdorp neighbours: there is a Freedom Meal in buurtsalon Jeltje, Eerste Helmersstraat 106N, from 5.30 p.m. until around 9.30 p.m. Please sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org Costs € 7.50 to be paid cash at arrival.