Dear residents of Oegstgeest,
We have been living there 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 numerous civilians who had fallen in war. At the same time, the liberation of 75 years ago was celebrated with parades and festive gatherings, sometimes 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 with equal enthusiasm on 4 and 5 May. The newly established Commemoration and Celebration 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 since been labeled by Prime Minister Rutte as the largest non-wartime crisis to hit the Netherlands (and the rest of the world). And no matter how much it hurts: we have been unable to decide otherwise than to cancel all planned activities. People have also been affected by the corona virus here in our village, and many restrictions apply to those who are not. A commemoration in the Bos van Wijckerslooth with hundreds of people present is not an option.
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.
4th of May
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 take a 2-minute pause at 8 p.m. to remember the Dutch war victims, civilians and soldiers who have been killed or killed in the Kingdom of the Netherlands or anywhere in the world since the outbreak of World War II and then in war situations and peace operations. May we further point out an initiative to invite trumpeters and buglers to commemorate the dead from home on May 4 with a tattoo signal.
Here in Oegstgeest we draw special attention to the local war victims. Locally we have to take a broad view. It concerns soldiers who fell during 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 inhabitants of Oegstgeest (including Endegeest) who were deported to the extermination camps.
||The names of all the fallen are on the war memorial in the woods of Wijckerslooth.
Although there is no commemoration, it may be possible for you to walk by (of course taking into account all corona regulations). You can also find more information about these persons on this website.
Just as our thoughts turn to the people who died of the corona virus, let us also reflect on all those who died or were killed during the war years. Let’s think of these people who – often at a young age – lost their lives, but also of their relatives who had to go on 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 arrival of municipal employees who brought the liberation torch from Wageningen to Oegstgeest in a relay race. But even without those festivities, we can be happy with 75 years of freedom and democracy. Perhaps especially in these nasty times of corona. Of course: numerous measures temporarily impede our freedom of movement and harsh and strict sanctions have been announced. But, unlike unfortunately in some other countries, this is done in a way that is in line with our democratic tradition and under the control of parliament. Almost everyone also accepts that things cannot be any other way, 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 then is now completely missing. Living in freedom and democracy also means being able to accept well-argued restrictions on that freedom. It may be a bit early to draw conclusions now, but 75 years of freedom have certainly contributed to our ability to deal with the measures and sanctions of the corona crisis. And that alone is more than enough reason – if the weather is possible – to celebrate those 75 years of freedom exuberantly.
For now, the Commemoration and Celebration Committee wishes all residents of Oegstgeest strength in getting through the corona crisis. We especially hope that you stay healthy or – if you are ill – recover quickly. We also hope with you that the social and economic consequences for you personally will remain limited.
And of course we ask you to remember our war victims on May 4th and to celebrate the party of 75 years of liberation on May 5th.
On behalf of the Commemoration and Celebration Committee
Linda van der Zon – Bronsgeest (Chairman)