Wetenschap - 25 april 2002

Wageningen prepares for liberation festival

Wageningen prepares for liberation festival

The fifth of May is the day the Dutch celebrate the end of the Second World War. Wageningen hosts the most important festival in the country. Music, acts and a march of veterans and the army are the main ingredients.

The Netherlands was freed from its German occupiers in May 1945. With the help of the allied forces, the period of five years in which the Germans laid down the law ended. Many people died during that period, most of them Jewish deportees. The Dutch remember their war dead on 4 May, the eve of the day the Netherlands was liberated. Throughout the nation two minutes of complete silence are held at 8 p.m. In most localities meetings and silent processions take place.

Events in Wageningen have particular significance as the peace treaty was signed in this town, in De Wereld. At midnight the liberation torch lights the flame in the ?5 mei plein? in front of De Wereld. This marks the national start of liberation day. Each year a theme is chosen for the festival; this year it is 'freedom requires precision'.

On 5 May Wageningen will be flooded with visitors. Among them former members of the resistance and peacekeepers who take part in a march, which will be watched by many. Prince Bernhard, the father of the Dutch Queen Beatrix, will take the salute in front of De Wereld, where 57 years ago he was also present at the signing of the peace treaty.

The formal proceedings however are now overshadowed by the musical and cultural events that take over the town centre, transforming Wageningen into a lively, swinging street festival. On several stages in the centre of town groups from all over the world will be playing. The stage in the marketplace will host popular Dutch groups. In the Salverdaplein you can hear music from all corners of the world, including the pachanka group Chango and virtuoso guitarist Habib Koit? from Mali. If punk, ska and heavy metal are more your idea of good music go to the car-park facing the Edah.

There are also activities for children including a circus performance outside the Junushoff. Best of all is to wander around and soak up the atmosphere and sample the food and drink on offer. It is handy to know that cafes will serve beer and drinks in returnable plastic glasses, to reduce the litter.

Yvonne de Hilster

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