Prime Minister on finding aunt's grave on Remembrance Day
King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Prime Minister Mark Rutte attended the National Remembrance on the Dam in Amsterdam on Monday night. Prime Minister Rutte gave a speech entitled "Passing memories" after the memorial service in the Nieuwe Kerk.
In his speech Rutte talked about how his father, who was living in the Dutch East Indies when the war started in the Netherlands, received a letter from his parents in May 1940, telling him how they saw Rotterdam burning. "We have seen hell", Rutte's grandparents wrote to his father. "I still have that card. And I cherish it. As a reminder that was passed on." Rutte said.
Two years ago Rutte was in Indonesia himself for the first time. He went to lay flowers in the Menteng Pulo cemetery in Jakarta - the final resting place for about 5 thousand Dutch soldiers and civilians, including people who did not survive the Japanese camps. "Suddenly someone came to me with a picture of a war grave from Bandung. It was the grave of my aunt, who I only knew from the occasional stories of my father. She also died in a camp. That Unexpected human touch, that picture, this new reminder to pass on - it hit me. It touched me."
Rutte called memories and reminders "precious" because they "bear witness to our profound respect for all victims of war and violence. Because they provide comfort and connection. But also because they are a powerful weapon in the fight against enslavement and injustice, which must be fought always and everywhere."
Following Rutte's speech, the King and Queen laid a wreath at the National Monument on the Dam. Rutte, Minister Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert of Defense, State Secretary Martin van Rijn and Plenipotentiary Ministers Alfonso Boekhoudt of Aruba, Marvelyne Wiels of Curacao and Josianne Fleming-Artsen of Sint Maarten laid the wreath on behalf of the National Council of Ministers.