Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands
May 5, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands:
“It is a privilege to be marking the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands alongside the very same brave Canadian soldiers who participated in this historic military campaign, the Allied countries who fought by our side, and of course the Dutch people, whose resistance fighters provided invaluable support and intelligence to retake their homeland. Our countrymen worked together as brothers in arms to free the country from the grip of Nazi tyranny.
“In the fall of 1944, the First Canadian Army began its assault on the occupying Nazi forces to break their stranglehold on a war-ravaged and starving nation. Reinforced by Dutch and Allied troops, the First Canadian Army endured harsh and gruelling conditions against the entrenched Nazi forces. The flat, Dutch countryside, much of it reclaimed from the sea, was often flooded, caking and weighing soldiers and their machinery down in mud, and offered little-to-no protection from enemy fire.
“More than 7,600 Canadians were killed during the nine-month offensive with many more injured. A poignant reminder of this cost is the row upon row of headstones of Canadian soldiers laid to rest in the region’s hallowed war cemeteries. Thousands of Canadians lie buried far away from the homes and families they left behind.
“Today, the bonds of mutual respect and friendship between our countries endure, forged by the sacrifices made in the name of freedom and strengthened by our shared values of freedom, democracy and rule of law. This is illustrated by our frequent exchanges, including the upcoming visit of Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands to Canada from May 27 to 29, 2015.
“Seventy years ago, the advancing Canadian soldiers were heralded as heroes and greeted by entire towns of grateful Dutch citizens.
“Seventy years later, these same selfless veterans continue to be warmly embraced and welcomed as heroes by a forever grateful Dutch nation. To the Dutch people, we say Dank u wel. Thank you also for the beautiful tulips which bloom each spring in our own nation’s capital, Ottawa, a symbol of your gratitude for the refuge Canada provided to members of the Dutch royal family.
“We gratefully acknowledge the service and sacrifices, and honour the achievements of the brave Canadians in uniform who fought and died during the Liberation of the Netherlands. We will remember them.”