Canadian army liberates Holland in 1945
Day by day, the news got better as the Second World War wound down in Europe. Sixty years ago, CBC Radio brought home reports of retreating Germans, freed prisoners of war, captured spies and surrender in Italy. But with the end of hostilities came dark news of hellish concentration camps, starving civilians and a rocky future for U.S.-Soviet relations. CBC Archives counts down the days to victory in Europe.
• The 1st Canadian Corps was charged with clearing the western Netherlands; the 2nd Corps took on the northeastern Netherlands and the German coast.
• Canadians liberated most of Holland, but units from Britain, Poland and the United States also fought there.
• It quickly became clear to the Canadians that feeding the Dutch was far more urgent than driving out the Germans. Listen to CBC Archives clips about the dire food shortage in Holland and the Allied-Axis truce that allowed food drops for the Dutch.
• The Germans didn't retreat without a fight. On the night of April 16-17 they attacked the Canadian headquarters at Otterlo, Holland in a bid to regain ground. Listen to a CBC Archives clip about the battle at Otterlo.
• The liberation of Holland wasn't complete until the German surrender. Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, were among the last to be liberated. Listen to an additional clip in which reporter Marcel Ouimet describes the rapturous welcome Canadian soldiers received from the Dutch.
• The Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery is the resting place of 2,332 Canadians who died in Holland during the Second World War. Of these, 1,305 died in April and early May 1945.
• Because of Canada's role in liberating Holland, a close affinity between the countries remains 60 years later. After the war Holland thanked Canada with a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs and still sends Canada 20,000 bulbs annually.
• Holland's royal family was also grateful to Canada for sheltering Princess Juliana and three of her children during the war. The third, Princess Margriet, was born in 1943 at the Ottawa Civic Hospital in a room designated as Dutch territory.
• Each May, the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa commemorates Holland's gift of tulips with concerts, tulip tours, an art exhibition, water parades and other events.
• In Holland, the 100,000 Canadians who liberated the country are remembered with the Liberation Forest outside Groningen. The memorial park is planted with maple trees and was dedicated to the Canadians in 1995.
• About 7,600 Canadian servicemen died while fighting in Holland.
• "Collaborators" was the term used for civilians in occupied countries, such as France or Holland, who co-operated with their Nazi occupiers. While some collaborators were government officials or political figures, others were everyday citizens.
• Some collaborated by informing the Nazis of citizens who were hiding Jews from persecution. After the war many collaborators were tried in court, jailed and executed.
• Shaving the heads of women collaborators and parading them in public was a common mob-imposed punishment.
Program: Canadian Army Newsreel
Broadcast Date: April 14, 1945
Last updated: April 30, 2013
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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