It’s now early May, the time of year when many West European countries celebrate their liberation at the end of World War II. Today is in fact Liberation Day in the Netherlands, a public holiday, while yesterday was Dodenherdenkingdag – Day for the Remembrance of the Dead. And at a ceremony in The Hague a certain Eberhard van der Laan, a former government minister for the Dutch Labor Party, gave an interesting, even provocative speech (covered here in the Algemeen Dagblad) calling for a line of a certain sort to be drawn under the WWII experience so that society can finally move on.
The “hook” to Van der Laan’s speech, as it were, was the fact that it has now been 65 years since the end of the war – that’s the standard retirement age, at least within Europe, so why don’t we finally put WWII out to retirement as well? With this, the ex-politician was giving voice to what many in Europe surely have always thought in secret about the War (especially those too young to have lived through it): for how long will we have to keep paying respect, keep letting it influence our lives? It’s a very pertinent question, especially when applied to Germany and the issue of when, if ever, the guilt for what that nation perpetrated will finally be washed away and made irrelevant through the eroding effect of all the passing years. (more…)