Canada and the Liberation of Europe

Each year, Canadians pause in solemn reflection to honour those who have fought and died in the defence of liberty. But rarely do Canadians acknowledge the reverence and deep respect held for our Armed Forces around the world.

May 5th is celebrated as Liberation Day in the Netherlands. Festivals, concerts, and the like are held, in the words of Holland’s government, “to realize how lucky you are to live in a country where people live in freedom”.

Our nation has never been conquered. Our government has never capitulated. And never have we lived under a regime built upon terror, subjugation, murder, and destruction. From 1939-1945, most of Europe suffered these under the rule of Nazi Germany.

Hitler’s conquest was swift and shocking. Poland, The Netherlands, Norway, and France were quickly defeated, forcing an Allied retreat and leaving continental Europe in the hands of the Third Reich. For the next 4 years, the Nazi occupying forces stood unchallenged in Europe, save for infrequent (and often ineffectual) bombing campaigns. Europe once again needed saviours, and they arrived June 6th, 1944: D-Day.

Less than a year later, on May 5th 1945, the German Army in the Netherlands surrendered at the Hotel de Wereld in Wagenigen.

Over the coming month, No Stone Left Alone will be taking an in-depth look at the Second World War, and the sacrifices made by Canadian service people in liberating Europe.

Photo credit: Alexander Mackenzie Stirton / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-134376