Germans and ‘Bevrijdingsdag’

Last week, the UKrant published a story about how German students experienced the Dutch national Remembrance and Liberation days. It turned out they’re quite uncomfortable. But not all Germans feel this way, says German RUG student Max Heintzen.

Born and raised in Germany, I have spent more than 7 years in the Netherlands, particularly Groningen, and I like to think that I have a decent impression of how life here as a German is. My nationality was never a burden to carry, therefore, I was shocked when reading the article.

‘Always the bad guys’. In the interviews, it appeared that the poor Germans do not enjoy the Bevrijdingsfestival as attending it triggered the same feelings as entering Auschwitz. The Bevrijdingsfestival is a celebration of freedom, the victory over tyranny, and also the beginning of the rebuilding of a Dutch-German friendship.

Auschwitz, on the other hand, is a place of suffering and death, the pinnacle of human cruelty. To have the audacity of comparing these two is, in my opinion, appalling and out of place, offensive and disrespectful towards the families who have lost their dearest or have been wiped out completely.

Complain

What I do find remarkable on the other hand is the fact that one seems to happily complain about the Bevrijdingsfestival, and yet happily attend it year after year. It really can’t be that bad then.

Another notable line that struck me was: ‘It’s easy to know how to feel as a victim, but nobody really thinks about how it feels to be the offender’.  If one thinks really long and hard about this one, it becomes pretty clear that there is no way that the person interviewed could possibly know that either.

You are probably in your twenties and therefore in no reasonable connection with the offenders from back in the day. If you think you do know, I can assure you, you don’t.

Drunk Dutchman

Lastly, a person interviewed complains about the ‘rude’ behaviour of a drunk Dutchman that pointed out that speaking German in public during the Bevrijdingsfestival took quite some guts. First of all, that is something that drunk people tend to do, being rude, regardless of nationality.

Also, are those really the things that deserve a spot in an interview? Someone getting his feelings hurt by a drunk person? If a simple comment of a drunky causes you to immediately cry out discrimination, then this really is more your problem than anyone else’s.

To have these statements (amongst others made in the article) represent the mindset of the German community is simply wrong, out of place and potentially harmful to the relationship with our fellow Dutchmen and -women.

Stop self-victimising

We are by no means the victims here and should not behave like this either! The sooner we can move past it and stop self-victimising in order to attract attention, the better it will be for everyone.

The Netherlands have offered most of us access to excellent education and moreover have welcomed us with open arms. We should appreciate and cherish this opportunity and not put it to the test with these kinds of non-reflected statements.

I hope you had a great Bevrijdingsfestival!

Max Heintzen just graduated from the Faculty of Medical Sciences

Nederlands

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