This marks the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Army's liberation of the Netherlands from German occupying forces during the Second World War. From autumn of 1994 through May 1945, the Seaforth Highlanders of the Canadian Army spearheaded efforts to remove the Nazi yoke from around the necks of the Dutch populace.
During the German occupation of the Netherlands, Nazis had murdered over 100,000 Jewish citizens and refugees, and Dutch men were forced to labour under Nazi rule. Starvation and brutality were part of daily life in the Netherlands, and the Dutch were grateful for the Canadian Army's diligent work in freeing them from oppression.
The Canadian Army entered the Netherlands on their mission of liberation in April 1945. Combat took place in urban areas and on city streets as Canadian soldiers fought with the occupying forces. Allied forces engaged in food drops for the Dutch people, to assuage starvation, while fighting on the ground continued.
Dutch men, women, and children greeted Canadian soldiers with joy and tears as they liberated town after town, forcing the Germans out. The Canadian troops were greeted with accolades and praise by a population that had suffered too long under the brutal tyranny of Nazi rule.
The liberation of the Netherlands was the beginning of a great friendship between the two nations, and there were stories of Canadian soldiers finding wives, family, and kinship in that northern European nation.
Liberation day in the Netherlands came on May 5, 1945, when Canadian General Charles Faulks negotiated the surrender of the occupying German army to the Allied Forces in the Netherlands.
This liberation came at a great cost to Canadian forces. Over 7,600 Canadian men gave their lives so that the Netherlands and Europe would be freed from the Nazi scourge. In an ongoing tradition of gratitude, the Netherlands sends bouquets of tulips, that nation's national flower, to Ottawa every year to commemorate the sacrifice of their soldiers, and the two nations' lasting friendship.