A cultural history of the 4th and 5th of May in the Netherlands


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Title A cultural history of the 4th and 5th of May in the Netherlands
Period 11 / 2009 - 10 / 2013
Status Current
Dissertation Yes
Research number OND1342215
Data Supplier Website Huizinga Instittuut


The importance of the memory of the Second World War for the Netherlands is irrefutable; the war has increasingly become a moral gauge in present-day society. Historiography has paid extensive attention to the Second World War, but left the subject of commemoration largely undiscussed. Shortly after the end of the war, the Netherlands adopted two remembrance days: on the 4th of May all Dutch war victims are commemorated; on the 5th of May liberation from German occupation is celebrated. In my research, I want to provide a cultural-historical analysis of these Dutch remembrance days. Every generation searches for the meaning that the past has for their own times, and thus cultural and social developments affect memories of the past. The memory of the Second World War is dynamic; it has continuously been revisited. This becomes apparent during the commemorations on the 4th and 5th of May. Therefore, a research into commemorations reveals more about the time in which one commemorates than about the remembered past. I perceive the commemorations as reflections and agents of socio-cultural changes in Dutch society. My research focuses on such questions as: in which ways are the war victims and the war s end remembered? Which aspects of the memory of the Second World War are highlighted and which are (consciously) forgotten? Special attention is given to the actors in the commemorations. Which groups are involved and what mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion do they instigate? How did these groups functionalize the memory of the Second World War to confirm their own identity, and did they succeed? The relationship between memory and identity is an important assumption in my research. The memory of the Second World War has become an elementary part of who the Dutch are. The above-mentioned questions will be answered for a national and for different local memory cultures. Furthermore, the tension between national and local memory culture will be studied in an international context, resulting in an analysis of the dynamics of these interactions.

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Supervisor Prof.dr. M.J.H. Meijer
Project leader Prof.dr. G. (Georgi) Verbeeck
Doctoral/PhD student I. Raaijmakers (MA)

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