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Chairman of the 4 & 5 May committee Andrée van Es: “This year may be the most difficult edition after the war”

Preparations for the May 4 and 5 commemorations are in full swing. This year, under the leadership of Andrée van Es, the level of the Amsterdam committee took over from Job Cohen. “It may be the most difficult edition after the war, with everything that is happening in the world at the moment.”

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She did not experience the Second World War herself, but it always played a role in the life of Andrée van Es (71). The family of the former politician and councilor of Amsterdam was not spared. “My grandparents both died during the bombing of the Bezuidenhout in The Hague. Other family members were in Indonesia. That mixed experience of the war in Indonesia and here has always played a role in us. That I do this work for the 4 and 5 May committee has to do with my indirect message that you must all do your best, every time, to ensure that it does not happen again.”

“This year could well be one of the most difficult editions of the May 4 commemoration and the celebration of freedom on May 5,” says Van Es. “We are so surrounded by war between Ukraine and Russia, but certainly between Israel and Gaza. Many people in the city are closely involved and feel the pain, great sadness and also anger about what is happening there and want to express it clearly. That mixes and I understand that.”

Abrasive conversations

“There must be room for those emotions during the commemorations throughout the city,” Van Es believes. “Everyone is welcome, even if they lead to understandable and abrasive conversations.” But those two minutes of silence are sacred to her. “When it comes to commemoration and the two minutes of silence and attention for what happened here, then I ask everyone to share that attention. Even if we still walk, that is different from a demonstration.”

Sympathize

Van Es is confident that the city can handle a peaceful commemoration without being disrupted by demonstrations against the Gaza war. Security measures have been considerably tightened around the National Commemoration on Dam Square, as became clear yesterday. But there are also dozens of smaller commemorations in the city, which are coordinated by the Amsterdam committee. Attention is also paid to the tensions there. “We have spoken to all committees in the neighborhoods and asked if there are any concerns and contact persons in the districts and the police. And we also want to convey that you would like to do commemoration with everyone. And know that in that entire procession the people think and sympathize and marry for those 30,000 people in Gaza.”