80th anniversary of Rotterdam Blitz commemorated, largely digitally
Today Rotterdam is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the city's bombardment by the Nazis in World War II. Due to restrictions in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the commemoration will be held mainly digitally. Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb will lay a wreath at the statue 'The destroyed city', and a memorial program from the Laurenskerk will be broadcast.
The Rotterdam Blitz heralded the capitulation of the Netherlands on 14 May 1940. While negotiations were in progress for the city's surrender, a fleet of German bombers razed the city center. At least 800 people were killed. Fires started by the bombings burned for weeks, increasing the chaos in the city. Around 80 thousand people were left homeless and at least 25 thousand buildings were destroyed.
The memorial will be broadcast by Rijnmond from 1:00 p.m., according to Dagblad van het Noorden. City carillonneur Geert Bierling will play from the Laurenskerk. Aboutaleb will give a speech from his office and lay a wreath at the statue by sculptor Ossip Zadkine on Plein 1940. At 1:24 p.m. two minutes of silence will be held, followed by church bells ringing throughout the city.
Paul van de Lar, director of Museum Rotterdam, will also give a lecture from the museum. And pastor Harold Schorren will give a memorial speech and prayer from the Laurenskerk. At 1:42 p.m., around the time the 15 minutes long bombardment ended 80 years ago, the chairman of the Commemoration Committee 14 May will end the memorial with a few words.
Photos showing the days around the bombardment will also be displayed on advertising screens throughout Rotterdam city center.