On 4 May in Amsterdam Zuidoost, the 4th and 5th May Committee Amsterdam Zuidoost organises the annual commemoration of the victims of the Second World War and its aftermath in the Netherlands and in the former Dutch East Indies, Suriname and the Caribbean.
The ceremony starts at 19:10 at the north side of Holendrecht Metro Station. From here, there will be a silent march to the monument at De Drecht. Several speakers will be present.
At 20:00, we will observe 2 minutes of silence. Then the national anthem will be played and the laying of flowers will take place. After the official programme, there will be an opportunity for socialising in De Drecht, where coffee and tea will be served.
Floral tributes can be handed in from 4pm at De Drecht residential centre, Niftrikhof 1.
19.10 – Gather at the north entrance of Holendrecht metro station
Location of Commemoration
Monument at De Drecht residential centre, Niftrikhof 1, 1106SB Amsterdam
Every year on 4 May, at the Holendrecht monument in Amsterdam-Zuidoost, the victims of World War II in the Netherlands, the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and Suriname and the Antilles are commemorated. These are the countries that were part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the time. The war changed the relationship between the motherland and the colonies forever. Indonesia fought its way free of the Netherlands between 1945-1949. In the Antilles and Surinam, the desire for independence grew.
Much has been written about the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies but the role of Suriname and the Antilles is much less well known. While these territories were also at war with Hitler’s Germany and imperial Japan during 1940-1945, but no actual combat operations took place there. As early as 11 May 1940 – when the Netherlands had only been at war for one day – British troops arrived on the islands of the Netherlands Antilles. For the Allies, the Netherlands’ Antilles were of great military importance due to the oil refineries in Curaçao and Aruba. The British air force depended on these refineries for 80 per cent of its fuel. German submarines were therefore constantly lying in wait to strike. The United States also sent troops to the Antilles to ward off the constant threat from the Germans.
Suriname was particularly important to the Allies because of its extraction of bauxite, the mineral used to make aluminium. About 60 per cent of Allied aircraft built during the war were made from Surinamese bauxite. Because of this vital importance and because the country was virtually undefended, America sent troops to Suriname in late 1941. Soon, 8,000 US soldiers were stationed there.
The population in De West were actively committed to the Allies’ victory. Daily life changed dramatically. Conscription was instituted to support the Allied troops in the protection of the important locations. In addition, many Surinamese and Antilleans volunteered to take an active part in the fight against Nazi Germany. In 1944, hundreds more Surinamese volunteers sign up to fight against Japan. They received training in Australia and were deployed to the Dutch East Indies. Many of them did not return from the battlefield. Little is known about the small number of Surinamese, Antilleans and Arubans in the Netherlands at the outbreak of war in 1940. Some joined the resistance. Of these, Anton de Kom, who was rounded up by the Germans and died in a concentration camp, is the best known. More than a hundred Surinamese jews living in the Netherlands were deported by the Germans and murdered in the death camps.
The 4th May gathering at the Holendrecht monument commemorates the victims and resistance heroes in the Netherlands, both East and West. The commemoration underlines the global character of World War II; a war with far-reaching consequences for all continents. Just think of the thousands of Moroccan soldiers and countless other Africans from former colonies who were sent to the front to fight for Europe’s freedom. They made great sacrifices. Their role has long remained unknown. By bringing attention to these memories, commemoration in solidarity takes on a multicultural meaning. In all its multiformity, the Holendrecht monument commemorates this common battle that was fought at the time, in which victims fell for a common goal: to live in freedom.