Sunday 5 May is ‘Bevrijdingsdag’ (Liberation Day). We celebrate the day in 1945 when we were liberated from German occupation in Europe and Japanese occupation in Asia.

Yes, we still had colonies in the East back then, one of them being the Dutch East Indies. They called themselves the independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945, but we couldn’t let that happen, could we now?  So in 1947 and 1949 there were two large military interventions, in Java and Sumatra.

It was mostly a guerrilla war and the interventions didn’t last longer than a few weeks. However, we don’t refer to it as ‘war’, just ‘Politionele Acties’ (police actions). We did activate an army of 100,000 soldiers, though. During 1947 and 1949, 5,000 Dutch soldiers and 150,000 Indonesians were killed – not just by the Dutch, but also by local factions.

So to say that ‘Since 1945 the Kingdom of the Netherlands has been free from war and oppression’ – as they put it proudly on the website – is not really the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so to speak.

However, 5 May is a day to reflect on the importance of freedom. Groningen always organizes a big festival in the Stadspark, with music, drama and plenty of food and drink. A list of bands who will be performing can be found here.

Entry and toilets are free, but you’re not allowed to bring your own drinks. They say nothing about food, though, so I guess if you really want to economize, you could bring your own sandwiches. If you want to travel light, though, just bring your wallet and spend some euros to celebrate everybody’s freedom!