What do the Dutch think of Canadians
When Holland was finally liberated from the German occupiers in May 1945, it was not least thanks to the Canadian troops. The two countries remain close friends to this day: commemorations are held every year in honor of the thousands of Canadian soldiers who gave their lives for the liberation of Holland.
- Interesting facts about the fighting that preceded the Allied victory.
- In memory of the many fallen soldiers who found their final resting place in the Canadian military cemeteries in Holland.
- The advance of the Canadian troops to liberate Holland.
Canada played a crucial role in the liberation of Holland from September 1944 to May 1945, from the southwest - the site of the decisive battle of the Scheldt estuary - to the northeast, where the battles of Groningen and Delfzijl took place.
Relevant fighting in the southwest
It all started in October 1944 with the outbreak of the Battle of the Scheldt Estuary, when international troops were led by the Canadian 1st Army. The battle was one of the largest and most bitter of the entire war, was fought under extremely harsh conditions and lasted until November 8th. It was supposed to ensure that after D-Day supplies reached the Allied forces on the rest of the continent, but the price was high: over 6,000 Canadian soldiers were killed, wounded or captured. During your stay in Holland, a visit to the Zeeland population museum provides extensive information about this historical period. In this way, the battle of the Scheldt estuary in particular comes to life again.
Another important battle in the southwest was that at Kapelsche Veer on the Maas river, in the province of Noord-Brabant. It happened in the extremely harsh winter of 1944-1945, the so-called hunger winter, in which thousands of Dutch men, women and children fell victim to hunger and the cold.
Liberation of the East of Holland
The liberation of the northeast of Holland began in the spring of 1945. The armed conflict over the Twente Canal led to the liberation of Almelo and Hengelo, and the fighting over Zutphen and Deventer succeeded in liberating the two cities on April 8 and April 10. Now the way was clear to cross the river IJssel: Operation Cannonshot.
At the beginning of April, the Canadian troops reached the borders of the provinces of Friesland and Groningen. Fierce fighting ensued for Groningen, which was liberated on April 16. Delfzijl - a strategically important port - followed and 62 Canadians lost their lives in a skirmish that lasted over a week. During this period, the Allies also took the Dutch section of the Atlantic Wall, a Nazi defense system along the coast. The province of Drenthe was also liberated and, after a long wait, so was the Westerbork camp.
The battle of Otterlo
The Battle of Otterlo was the last to take place on Dutch soil. Otterlo was trapped between Canadian troops on one side and German troops on the other. The latter tried desperately to get their remaining soldiers to safety. The result was a surprisingly tough, chaotic fight.
Liberation of the Western Provinces
In the west of Holland, the Canadian 1st Army was responsible for the liberation of large cities such as Amsterdam (May 7th), Rotterdam (May 8th) and The Hague. The last Dutch place to be liberated on June 11th was the island of Schiermonnikoog, which is considered the last battlefield in Western Europe.
Canada's role in the liberation of the Netherlands
Canadian liberators in Holland
There are numerous military cemeteries in Holland that are considered the final resting places of many international soldiers. The fallen Canadian liberators are remembered at the military cemeteries in Bergen op Zoom (province of Noord-Brabant), Groesbeek (near Nijmegen) and Holten (near Almelo). In addition to its poignant, monumental location, the information center in Holten offers an insight into the battles, the liberation and experience reports of individuals. The Memory Museum in Nijverdal (reopening after renovation in summer 2019) and the Victory Museum Grootegast in Groningen are great places to go to learn more about World War II and the Allied soldiers who helped liberate Holland.
There is also a very special memorial in Groningen, the Bevrijdingsbos (Liberation Forest), where 30,000 maple trees have been planted. And the city of Apeldoorn is home to the Canadian national monument entitled De Man met de Twee Hoeden (The Man in the Two Hats). The statue holds a hat in each hand, which symbolizes the duality of war and peace, of oppression and freedom, of life and death, joy and sadness. A corresponding statue is also in Ottawa to express the bond between Canada and Holland. In fact, the Canadian city has hosted a tulip festival annually since 1953 to commemorate those who lost their lives in the war and in honor of Princess Juliana, who recognized Canada for her role in the liberation of her country and willingness to provide a haven for To serve her family, she donated 100,000 tulip bulbs. If you want to learn about the pre-war era, experience the occupation and witness the liberation and rebuilding of Holland, you should definitely visit the Freedom Museum in the Dutch town of Groesbeek.
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