Comfort the sorrow, restore the destroyed: A'dam mayor on Remembrance Day
In her speech at the National Commemoration on Dam Square, mayor Femke Halsema said that people's memories of the bombs and violence from World War II are coming back to life now that there is war "on our continent." Thousands of people attended the National Commemoration. The ceremony proceeded without incident.
"Survivors of the Second World War, people who fled from elsewhere from bombs, soldiers who risk their lives for peace and security: with a war on our continent again, many people's memories are coming back. Of torture, oppression, of loved ones dying. The pain that never really w4ent away makes itself felt intensely," said Halsema.
Se described an old image that has become current again. "A man bends over a woman who lies lifeless on the street. All around him smoking rubble, emergency services working feverishly, people looking around dazed, and dead bodies under white sheets. These are old photos but images that are all too current."
"Near here, a bomb destroyed the corner of Blauburgwal and Herengracht. And 44 lives. 'It's like the city is moaning,' wrote an Amsterdam woman who heard the air raid siren just before. It was 11 May 1940. A tragic day. Still, the bomb in Amsterdam was only a harbinger. Three days later, Rotterdam was hit by the heaviest bombardment in Dutch history. On that day, the Nazis came closer to their goals: to conquer power in Europe and to commit a genocide that we still can't comprehend. On 14 May 1940, the people of Rotterdam lost hundreds of fellow citizens. A proud city lost its ancient heart. The Netherlands lost its freedom, its democracy, and its rule of law."
"Commemorating together offers comfort. Here, with this symbol of national unity and with the countless memorial stones and monuments in other places in our country," said the Amsterdam mayor. "One of the most impressive war monuments is in Rotterdam for a reason. It is called The Destroyed City. It reminds us of the suffering of a city that - in the words of the artist - just wanted to bloom like a forest. A figure raises its hands to the sky. A big hole in his body screams out. And yet it is also a monument of desire and willpower. It shows us how the Maasstad and the whole of the Netherlands would rise again: modern, free, and reaching for the stars. The survivors built on the memory of the dead," Halsema recalled the statue by sculptor Ossip Zadkine.
"It's like the city is moaning. It resounds - even now - from the past. It resounds from cities not so far away. And it urges us to show willpower. The power to comfort where there is sorrow. To restore what is destroyed. And never to forget those whom we have lost," Halsema concluded her speech.
Reporting by ANP