Dear residents of Oegstgeest,
We were already living towards it since September last year. In the autumn of 2019, many municipalities in the south of the Netherlands commemorated and celebrated the last acts of war and the liberation. The fallen were commemorated in cemeteries and at war memorials, both the Allied soldiers and many civilians who had died in war. At the same time, the liberation of 75 years ago was celebrated with parades and festive gatherings, sometimes also with the now very elderly liberators of that time. They were beautiful and impressive images.
For us in Oegstgeest these images were a source of inspiration to commemorate and celebrate our liberation on 4 and 5 May with just as much enthusiasm. The newly established Commemoration and Celebrating Committee, in which the Orange Association, the War Graves Committee, the Halifax Committee, the Veterans Committee and the Council of Churches have joined forces, was busy preparing the commemoration on May 4 and the liberation celebration on May 5.
Then came the corona crisis. This crisis has now been labeled by Prime Minister Rutte as the greatest crisis outside of wartime that has hit the Netherlands (and the rest of the world). And no matter how much it hurts, we have had no choice but to cancel all intended activities. Here in our village, too, people have been affected by the corona virus, and there are numerous restrictions for whom this is not the case. A commemoration in the Bos van Wijckerslooth with hundreds of people present is not on the agenda.
Nevertheless, we do not want to let the dates of 4 and 5 May pass unnoticed. That is why this letter, which we can distribute thanks to the media that are still available to us, both the trusted written press and the modern digital media.
First of all: the National Commemoration will be organized nationally, albeit in a sober form. This will be broadcast on television, so that we can all reflect for 2 minutes at 8 p.m. on the Dutch war victims, civilians and soldiers who have been killed or murdered in the Kingdom of the Netherlands or anywhere in the world, since the outbreak of the Second World War. and then in war situations and peacekeeping operations. May we also point to an initiative to invite trumpeters and horn players to commemorate the dead from home on 4 May with a tattoo signal.
Here in Oegstgeest we draw particular attention to the local war victims. Locally we have to take a broad view. It concerns soldiers who died in war actions in or around Oegstgeest and who are buried here, but also resistance fighters who operated in or from Oegstgeest and of course the Jewish residents of Oegstgeest (including Endegeest) who were deported to the extermination camps.
The names of all the fallen are on the war memorial in Wijckerslooth forest.
Although there is no memorial, it may be possible for you to walk by (of course with due observance of all corona regulations). And also on this website you can find more information about these people.
Especially now that our thoughts turn to the people who died of the corona virus, let us also consider all those who were killed or killed in the war years. Let's think of these people who - often at a young age - lost their lives, but also of their next of kin who had to continue with this loss. To this day many lives have been marked by these events. Lest we forget!
5th of May
No liberation market this year. No entry of municipal employees who brought the liberation torch from Wageningen to Oegstgeest in relay. But even without those festivities, we can be happy with 75 years of freedom and democracy. Perhaps especially in these dire times of corona. Of course: numerous measures temporarily impede our freedom of movement and harsh and severe sanctions have been imposed. However, unlike unfortunately in some other countries, this is done in a way that is consistent with our democratic tradition and under parliamentary control. Almost everyone also accepts that there is no other option, no matter how much social and economic pain that sometimes causes.
How different it was in World War II when civil liberties were taken away by an occupying power. The feeling that prevailed back then is now completely missing. Living in freedom and democracy also means being able to accept well-reasoned restrictions on that freedom. It may be a little early to draw conclusions now, but 75 years of freedom has definitely contributed to our ability to deal with the measures and sanctions of the corona crisis now. And that alone is more than enough reason to celebrate those 75 years of freedom - if possible again.
For now, the Commemoration and Celebrations Committee wishes all residents of Oegstgeest strength in getting through the corona crisis. Above all, we hope that you will stay healthy or - if you are ill - recover quickly. We also hope with you that the social and economic consequences for you personally will be limited.
And of course we ask you to reflect on our war victims on May 4 and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the liberation on May 5.
On behalf of the Commemoration and Celebrations Committee
Linda van der Zon - Bronsgeest (chairman)