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We'll meet again

NOS 75 years of liberation
It is finished. Exactly one year after our letter on Mad Tuesday marked the start of liberation for our country, we present our last newsletter, number 53. Japan surrenders, war has come to an end.
A member of the Japanese delegation signs the surrender.
A member of the Japanese delegation signs the surrender.
“I would have never guessed that I would land here without firing a single round”, an American general said after landing in Tokyo. After the atomic bombs and the declaration of war from Russia it all happened in a fraction of the expected time. The Americans enter the country with an enormous occupation force.
A few days later a subdued ceremony is held in the Bay of Tokyo to mark the surrender. A silent crowd of soldiers watch as the Second World War ends with the stroke of a pen. The Americans printed special cards for all attendees so they could prove show they were there for this historical moment.
The was has also ended in the Dutch-East-Indies. All over the colony pamphlets are spread notifying everyone of the news. However, people are still warned Allied soldiers are yet to take power from the Japanese. It is a power vacuum the Indonesian nationalists profit from.
Now that the war has come to an end the total number of casualties can be calculated. A worldwide estimation lays around 55 million. In the Netherlands the number is around 280 000 victims. The largest share in this is for Jews murdered by the Nazi’s, and followed by victims that succombed to hardships like the hunger winter.
“Drink fully from the cup of joy, but never forget the sorrow mixed in”, prime-minister Gerbrandy said on May 5th. In the festivities surrounding the liberation the victims are kept in mind. As for example during the large play that was held on the first Queens day in freedom, August 31st. in the Olympic Stadium 5 years of occupation is acted out. Amsterdam also celebrates rather exuberantly as field marshal Mongomery drops by.
The battle against the Germans reenacted (Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam)
The battle against the Germans reenacted (Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam)
The celebrations are not without danger, as seen in reports on methanol poisoning. Even Canadian soldiers sometimes fall victim to the life treating, illegally brewed liquor. It would of course be safer to grab a drink in an official rest center, but now that the war has come to an end those are closed as well.
What remains is the trial of Dutch collaborators and German war criminals. It seems those cases will overrun the Dutch legal system. Prime-minister Schermerhorn suggests letting smaller fish go for in expectation of their trial, but this idea leads to heavy protests.
As we mentioned before people showed no mercy to collaborators: during the first trails the reintroduced death penalty was demanded. Eventually the punishments turned out less harsh: from the roughly 150 death penalties only 39 were enforced. The government had already decided in 1946 that the executions would be bad for moral, so most perpetrators were given a pardon by queen Juliana, who had succeeded her mother in 1948. It led to frustration for the prosecutor Zaaijer, who during the trail against collaborator Carel Piek (chef for the NSB-beneficial campaign Winterhulp) said: “if Piek was given the sentence he deserves he would have hung from a tree the second the Netherlands was liberated.” He strengthened his protest with a demand for only twelve years, which turned into eight.
Göring in the dock
Göring in the dock
Of the 24 Nazi leaders that stood trail in Neurenberg in 1946 twelve were sentenced to death. Under them commissioner Seyss-Inquart and party leader Bormann, who was convicted in absentia. Seven were sentenced to serve time in prison, from 10 years to life sentences. The others were set free. Just before the executions were to take place on October 16th, 1946 Hermann Göring took his own life. The American executioner John Woods was proud of his work: “10 people in 103 minutes. That’s rather fast”.
Appeal
Even though the end of this project is upon us, the NOS is already working on new initiatives. In February it will be 80 years since the February Strike. We are looking for stories on the raids and the strikes. The people that have experienced them have almost all passed awy. But maybe you have an unheard story (diaries, letters, pictures) from your family that you would like to share.
We would love to hear from you.
Marjolein Bax and Marieke de Vries
Not on the site
A picture from December 1945 that beautifully shows the rather noticeable rise of the Jeep. These men are watching with great interest to buy a vehicle like that for personal use.
A look back
Our project has now come to an end. The articles will for now still be available on their trusted address, NOS.nl/75yearsofliberation. We are still working hard on preserving them for the future to come. But deals still have to be struck on how we will do so.
If you are interested in reading back the older letters they have all been collected here. All five series of the NOS liberation newscasts can now also be watched back online.
And lastly we will release our book with the best stories from our project in October.
More on WO ll
If you are interested in finding out more on the Second World War slowly but surely museums are opening up again. The Resistance Museum in Amsterdam will present from September 17th the exhibition De Tweede Wereldoorlog in 100 foto’s (The Second World War in 100 pictures), that had been delayed due to the corona-virus. A week later the pictures will also be visible in the parliament building in The Hague.
In Huis Doorn, the estate of the last German emperor, an exhibition will be shown from the 1st of October on the complex relation between Wilhem ll and national socialism. His family tried to gain power trough the Nazi’s, which eventually led to disappointment for both parties.
And on that note we end the last newsletter of this project. It has truly been a pleasure to work with such surprising, shocking and moving stories from the last year of war every week. We thank you for the many email received with tips, compliments, corrections and extra’s.
We hope of course you will be just as exited for any the further projects NOS has to offer. And so we mark the end with the words of the recently passed Vera Lynn: we’ll meet again.
Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again (1943)
Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again (1943)