Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) is celebrated each year on May 5th to mark the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II. Make sure to also read our post about the brave men that helped free the Netherlands! —> (#59: Canadians!)

Holland Free Again (Dutch Liberation Postcard, 1945)

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1. Dutch people waving at allied planes during liberation of the Netherlands (1945)

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2. Allied forces air dropping supplies due to the dire food situation in the Netherlands (April 29th, 1945) 

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3. Liberation of Harderwijk by Canadian troops (April 18th, 1945)

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4. A girl from Roermond is free to return home with her doll after the liberation (March, 1945)

5. German soldiers looting Arnhem before evacuating the city (September, 1944)

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6. German soldiers handing in their weapons in Soest (March 10th, 1945)

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7. Celebrating the end of the occupation with handmade flags (May 7th, 1945)

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8.  The Dutch town called Hoensbroek was liberated by allied forces on 17th September 1944. The picture was taken near the Castle of Hoensbroek, where these children were cared for by Catholic nuns. Before the troops had to move on towards Germany (which is 12 miles from Hoensbroek), the kids dressed up in traditional Dutch clothing and performed dances and songs (September, 1944)

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9. Prince Bernhard picks up his wife Princess Juliana and their kids from Teuge airport. This is the first time Juliana has Dutch soil under her feet after the Liberation. From left to right: Princesses Margriet (who was born in Canada), Beatrix en Irene (Aug. 2nd, 1945)

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10. Two Dutch girls asking Princess Beatrix for her autograph. Out of security reasons, the family arrived separately. Prince Bernard; Beatrix and Irene; and Princess Juliana and Margriet arrived in 3 different planes

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11. Two local women from Zeeland hitch a ride on a jeep with allied soldiers during the liberation parade (May 5th, 1945)

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12. Two Dutch kids get some much needed food from an allied soldier (Jan 1st, 1945)

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13. American soldiers are greeted enthusiastically by a group of monks in the town of Ryckholt (Sept. 12th, 1944)

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60 Responses

    • Warren Folsom

      I love the Dutch people. My wife’s father was put in a camp by the Germans. Princess Margriet visited us in 1965, 20 yrs. after liberation of Holland. In Brussels the little boy was dressed in different uniforms, Canadian, English, American, and other allies. The Dutch keep the cemeteries of our fallen in such great shape.

      Reply
    • Henny Merkley

      Liberation day ,all of us older people will never forget.
      My husband was one of the soldiers that helped liberate Putten and Delfzijl , so for me ,it is a special day.

      Reply
  1. Michele

    My grandfather, from Lisse, was fought in the dutch army and was caught and placed internment camp for years, and my grandmother, from Rotterdam, transported secret correspondence during the war. She had a Nazi general living in her home for years. Her brothers lived unerring the the second floor crawl space. She never talked about those days, until the end of her life.

    Reply
    • irene leeuwenkamp

      my oma who lived in Holland was german and the gestapo were always on the look out for her my father escaped from them jumping out of the rijks museam where they took him to interrogate him such awfull stories I have heard over the years I know oma had to hide away from the germans as she married a dutch man we should never forget then my father fought in Indonesia also really tough time there

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      • Michelle van der Woude

        My father was born and lived in Amsterdam. He was almost 10 yrs. old when the Liberation Day came. When he was a young man he enlisted into the RNA…Royal Netherlands Airforce,where he served as a pilot. Close to the end of his military duty,he meet my mom. Who had moved to The Netherlands. I believe she was in her early twenties. My mom and her family ( mom,dad,2 sisters,1 brother) are Indos….Half Dutch,half Indonesian. Having been born in Surabaya…enjoying her childhood & young teenage life in her beloved Indonesia,suddenly turn terrifying with the invasion of the Japanese. Her once close,loving family,Carefree, exploring,learning with her older sister & younger brother turned into terrifying days & nights in a Japanese war camp with her mom,sister & brother. Her dad was sent to another camp on Java. Years after their Liberation…. Indos were forced out by Indonesians. This is how they meet. Two Liberation worlds apart brought them together. This is their story…..In 1968 with my birth,became my story. Happy Liberation Day Naderland.

    • Deb

      My grandfather was from Lisse also and came to the US in the 20’s. Lisse is so beautiful if you haven’t visited. The fields of tulips are amazing!

      Reply
  2. harmina moolhuizen ==Kokx

    I will be 80 pretty soon live in the USa for 50 year I still watch holland op my computer every night, and I remember the bevrijding in Rotterdam als de day van gisteren Thanks to al the bevrijders I loved them all.

    Reply
    • Joël

      I hope that English is a Joke XD. Because if it’s not I’m wondering how you can live in the USA.

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      • Tjapko Detmers

        It is called yankee dutch………and most of those folks got by very well….at least up here in Canada. I have heard many conversations carried on in that very vernacular.

      • Anouck Green

        That’s the only thing you can say? Pretty jerky thing to do. You understood what she said, didn’t you? How many languages do YOU speak?

      • Marie

        Harmina Moolhuizen shared a moving nice piece of text with us. This website is called ‘stuff dutch people like’ Also dutch people who emigrated can still like to use their language. We dutch speak a lot of languages and that is to the benefit of people who don’t speak dutch or a second language. Now for little bits of text in dutch you could may be do an effort to translate what you don’t understand. In clear dutch: i think your remark is een kloteopmerking!

      • Anouck Green

        Dude, have you heard Arnold Schwartzenegger talk? Besides, it’s entirely possible for people to live in the US and not speak ANY English. That comment was just rude, and uncalled for.

      • Eva Dunn

        No need to be nasty to an 80-year-old woman who survived the Nazi occupation.

      • lola gets

        Joel. She’s 80 years old and survived a major world war, you douche. Show some decency.

      • Diane Moore

        Not very nice. The woman is 80 years old. Back in those days the children didn’t always have the luxury of going to school.

      • Dixie Van Amerongen

        Joel, that is an extremely rude comment. Harmina is nearly 80 years old and reminds me a lot of how my mother would talk, a little bit of Dutch and a little bit of English all thrown together. I’m sure those people who are around Harmina can understand her and appreciate her speaking English as best as she could. My mother also struggled with speaking English but people had no problems communicating with her. I would love to see an apology from you Joel but that might be expecting too much from you.

    • Erna

      Wat zal de bevrijding in Rotterdam voor u een bijzonder moment in uw leven zijn geweest. Verschrikkelijk dat u de oorlog heeft mee gemaakt. Wat fijn dat u nog steeds aan Nederland denkt. Gefeliciteerd met uw 80 verjaardag.
      Groetjes uit Holland van Erna (29 jaar)

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      • nelly mcgowan

        happy birthday I use to live in Arnhem born after the war.. we moved to Canada in 1960 with my mom dad and my sister and brother

      • Ali Rietdyk

        I have lived in Australia for 60 years this October ,but I watch the Dutch news every night.
        I am friesian from birth

    • Cindy Hendriks

      Hi Harmina, nice that you stay in touch with the Dutch culture.Greetings from Holland (Venlo).

      Reply
  3. Elly de Boers Ashe

    Loved that little bit of Dutch history

    Reply
  4. Christine De Boer

    I remember that day as if it happened yesterday. I watched the Nazis leave our town and the girls who corroborated with the Nazis, got their heads shaved and swastikas painted with tar on the back of their heads walking through town.

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    • june van farowe

      I am surprised to hear that they shamed those publically who corroborated with the Nazis. We have public shaming happening here in the U S now and a lot of it happens on the social networks. If they disagree with you, they will form a lynching mob and get you even tho they were horrified of the actions of the KKK., Now they shame people with no regard for hell they put people thru. The dutch really deserved a chance at justice because their own people betrayed them to the Nazis.

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      • Yvonna

        This was not the same the collaborators would spy for the Germans and if they found someone who hide people they would turn them in so you can not compare this with what you are saying beside that they would turn in their parents if they had a reason to I am surprised you would compare this today’s
        action

      • Anouck Green

        Those women deserved to be shamed publicly for what they did. This was not a matter of “disagreeing”, they collaborated with the enemy! They’re lucky they got out alive. A lot of Dutch people didn’t.

      • Wilbert Kerkhof

        It was a very common thing through The Netherlands to happen during the first days of Liberation. It was a tragedy in itself really.. Dutch girls mostly, who dated German soldiers or officers were shaven and shamed. Sometimes beaten, sometimes worse. Often they were shamed from their communities for the rest of their lives, especially if they had actually gotten pregnant with the Germans they dated.

        It is one of those things that make you realize that you don’t need a Nazi government for people to be horrible to others.

        Of course it was a reaction after years of oppression where everyone suffered, especially during the last winter (De Hongerwinter), except those who got close to the Germans. Either by collaborating or, as these girls, by getting close to them romantically.

    • victoria west-Oram

      this was very brutal.A lot of these young men and women fell in love. after all they were all humans..

      Reply
  5. Allegonda van den Elzen

    It was 70 years ago yesterday and I remember it well. I’m Canadian now but in my heart I be still a Dutch girl, although I’m 86 now. Thanks to all the men that fought and liberated our country, we will never forget ❤️

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  6. Alice Sliekers Kaldeway

    Great to see these pictures! Let us never forget! So proud my parents supported the Allies…..we will never know the difficulty of those times! Thank You to All! (I was born in 1942 and had a little brother who died because of the inaccesibility of a doctor’s care..).

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  7. Maggie O'Reilly

    Hi! My father, Michael O’Reilly, was a Canadian soldier who helped liberate the Netherlands. In fact, he looks a lot like the soldier in photo #3, who is sitting on the tank to the left of center. Do you have any additional information on this particular photograph that might help me determine if it is indeed him. Anything you might know would be so much appreciated. Thank you for this post. Every shot is beautiful, amazing and moving. And they all make me feel even prouder of my Dad.

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    • Johan Boch

      I remember september 1944 I watch the nazis leaving Brunssum

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    • Marlene VanderLaan

      My dad was also a Canadian soldier involved with the liberation of Holland. His name is Albert Brimelow from Guelph Ontario. Where is your dad from?

      Reply
  8. Erna de Burger Fex

    ERNA (75) My memories of the Liberation of my hometown HULST in Zeeland is of large groups of people shouting and crying gathered at the market in the centre of the town on VE DAY May 8. Flags which had been hidden during the war now boldly and happily appeared everywhere. It is my first real memory as a young child, but it is very clear!

    Reply
  9. Cathy Reynolds

    Wonderful photos – enjoy your celebrations, The Netherlands is a beacon of tolerance and an example to the rest of Europe

    Reply
  10. Roberta Buhrman

    As an American, it is heartwarming to read of a people who still have regards for us and all the other Allies. I am proud that we were able to help at this terrible time. Thank ou my friends.

    Reply
  11. Helena Obbink nee Vromans

    Great photos. My father’s twin brother died at the hands of the Nazis in 1943 at Leiderdorp. They have a plaque there with his name on it. It was extremely hard for my dad to talk about the war. He left behind his family and moved to the states in 1944 to try and get away from it and start over.

    Reply
  12. William Hill UK

    My Mother went through the war was a child in Alkmaar losing several friends and forced out of her home to German Occupation – So a poignant day for me. Thank you so much for this lovely tribute

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  13. Joanna Tatham.

    So moving-and makes me realise what a blessing freedom is.

    Reply
  14. michael surant

    My father, Pfc Henry S. Surant was in the USAAirforce stationed in Wittem from 11-44 to 4-45 in the 401st signal co [avn] i t was a radar unit with their radar trailer set up at the highest elevation in Holland close to the village of Elys he spoke of the hard winter, the battle of the bulge, the starving dutch people who they tried to help and feed and the Catholic Redemptionist monastary that made beer. My wife and I plan a 10-17 trip there to see what he told me about and meet the people. Any info and help in planning our visit would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Marie-Ange

      Hi, the town near Wittem is called Eys, not Elys (otherwise you could be looking for a long time). Have a great time, if you haven’t alteady been there. My dad lives in a town near Eys called Kerkrade and he tells me regularly stories of the Americans who liberated the town.

      Reply
  15. john pilcher

    It brings to life the stories of my mother Suzanne Bast from Hilversum, she was a teenager during the occupation and told many stories about what they got up too including the things my 2 uncles got up to. Hard times and hunger but also they had some fun at the expense of the occupying forces.

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  16. Annie

    I was born well after the war ended but my parents told us many stories of the terrible things they and of course everyone endured, they lived in Kerkrade very close to the German border and had a German tank facing towards their door as one night they had a bit of light showing through the windows and that was a crime. My step siblings who lived through the war have told me many stories about all the friends my parents lost and were killed or maimed, their oldest child (my sister) who was about 3 was killed in the war and buried in a mass grave, my parents have never known where she is buried. My parents have told me also many stories about the joy when the war ended and they both loved the solders who freed the country. My father made bracelets out of silver 10 cent coins and saved one for me (I treasure it) for the solders as a huge “thank you”. My dad was so happy that I decided to immigrate to Canada as that is what he had wanted but just did not have the chance to do. Happy Freedom Day!

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  17. Diane Moore

    My parents were only 11 years when the war began. My Dad lived in Amsterdam, one of 5 children. My Mom lived in Eindhoven, one of 7. They never got over the trauma of it all. More often than not they went to bed hungry, didn’t have shoes or clothing that fit during those horrible years. The Nazis’ would parade through the streets, and they were ordered to hang blankets over their windows at night so planes flying overhead wouldn’t see any lights. I grew up hearing about it nearly every day all the years I lived at home. My Oma and Opa lived through WW1 and WW2. They spoke often of those days, which weren’t easy, but they still appreciated the little they had, and would still manage to have gezelligheid playing card games and reading out loud to each other.

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  18. Valerie Koetting (/(nee Zandstra)

    My great-uncle Walt (Oom Wout) den Dulk was the oldest of a family of 11 and already married so he didn’t come to California with the rest of the family. My mom remembers seeing her uncle’s sitting around the radio crying because Holland had been invaded. He survived BC he had had a laundry and traded soap for food. He was from Scheveningen but moved inland during the occupation and welcomed the liberation troops in Haarlem, I think. His first wife died and he came to America, remarried and lived a very active life. He died at age 99 in 1999. When his wife died 10 years later, they found a bunch of things (cigarettes, military stuff) that the liberating troops gave him.

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  19. Amy Van Duesen

    Thank you for sharing. I am learning more all the time about my Dutch heritage. I find it wonderful. I really like seeing the connection between Canada and the Netherlands. It is amusing as my sister now lives in Canada.
    Though I may not have as strong Of a connection to this as many of you do, I am grateful for all of those who put their lives on the line to free The wonderful country my family comes from. We are from an area called Brabant (sp?) . A small town called Dussen.

    Reply
  20. Loes van Tilburg

    Great photos, even though I was born just after the war I heard a lot of stories from my mum about struggles to find any food . She also had three brothers who were interned, they made it back but their stories are just horrific and they do not like to speak of their experiences.. I wonder if there are any books written that are pertinent from the war years in the Netherlands.

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  21. Marita Van Smoorenburg-Warmerdam Flett

    On this day every year I remember my Oma and Opa, my mother, aunts and uncles who were their 12 children and their 3 other siblings that died during the War of complications of the cold, lack of food and their young age,(two were twins under the age of 2 and one was 9 run over by a German truck convey refusing to stop for a child crossing to school) as well as the Jewish boy they hid in the attic named Herman Meyer. Also that one day they were told to evacuate their home to live in an outbuilding so German soldiers could occupy their barns and the officers their home. My Opa knowing they would be found out for hiding the boy told them to come back the next day as the family of 17 needed a day to do it. Luckily they were allowed and that night spirited Herman down the Dutch Underground to safety. Tragically he died of disease before Holland was liberated this day 71 years ago. They spent the rest of the war in that outbuilding before the glorious day of liberation! Mom told us how wonderful it was and the love for the liberators. The family moved to the USA .following the war and I was the first grandchild to be born here as a citizen! Many of our second cousins were born in Canada too! One even grew up to be a Premier of British Columbia. We are thankful for our countries all of them!

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  22. Mimi Hansen

    Picture number 5 is from my home town Arnhem. Remember September 17, 1944 as if it was yesterday.
    My dad was in a Labor Camp in Germany and was freed after a lot of praying and luck.

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  23. Bernadette H.

    Groetjes ,

    a few snippets of those very difficult horrific times :

    I was born in den haag in 1950 , my parents endured the war … my mother was a young nurse in the Helige Jan de Deo ziekenhuis in den haag …she, along with many other staff witnessed , and forced to assist gathering up the Jewish patients to move them outside to waiting vehicles to meet the horrific gassing in boxcars outside the city …
    my oma had a bullet come in the window over her head into the wall as there was a creak of light showing in the black outs …
    this oma and her husband and 16 children ( my father the oldest ) had a large acreage of greenhouses in Loosduinen and much glass shattered with bombings in the area ..

    my mother’s tante ( aunt sophie ) ran out onto the street during a bombing and was killed .

    my father was a hernia operation patient in my mother’s hospital and so they met !

    my husband a Canadian : his father was in the Canadian air force intended for Holland and then was not sent … his older brother , Arnold , was a navigator in a Canadian air force plane in the ” Operation Market Garden ” … the plane was shot down , and this young man was buried in a village cemetery in Streijen … very well kept graves ! we visited him about 10 years ago .. very emotional , my husband’s middle name is Arnold , named after his late uncle.

    my parents then came to Canada on an immigrant ship in stormy October of 1950 …I was 6 weeks and 2 brothers 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 . arrived Quebec City , wintered and worked on a farm in New Brunswick , horribly cold !! left in spring 1951 for the West Coast by train … eventually 3 more children , a thriving greenhouse business and garden center in greater Vancouver … my dear Papa passed 3 years ago at 100 and 16 days. …my mother is 98 and still with us. seems that hard work has kept them going.

    I have a good Canadian friend whose father was in the Canadian air force involved in the liberation and met an English air force nurse . They raised 9 children back in Canada and have enjoyed several return trips every 5 years to celebrate the liberation and became very good friends with their billet hosts.

    b.

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  24. Rudolf Anders

    Almost 80 living in Australia. Saw the food dropped from the planes. I was surprised the bread was white and had never tasted butter before. I also remember bombs falling from planes.and fighter plane shot down.

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  25. Dianne

    My Dad was a Canadian soldier part of the Liberation. He was billeted in Neede at the home of the town architect and his wife and three daughter. He was so thankful for their hospitality, knowing it was a hardship for them with limited food and supplies.

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  26. Marianne Bremner (nee:Koren)

    My family was from Heemstede and Zandvoort. My father and his brother were sent to Germany to work for the Germans. My father was sent to Essen to work in the Krupp works as a welder. He somehow escaped and made it back to Holland just before Christmas 1944 and had to go into hiding for the rest of the war. His brother died in Germany. I often think if it had not been for the brave Canadians I would not be here. My family immigrated to Canada in 1956. I asked my mother once why we came to Canada and all she told me was that she never wanted to be so hungry again.Any information I ever got from the war time I got from my aunts and uncles. My parents never spoke of that time.

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