National Commemoration Took Place on Saturday, May 4, in the Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen

Ambassador Ronald van Roeden, representing the Embassy of Norway, and the chairman and director of Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin Paul Spies, lead the ceremony’s speeches

May 08th, 2024
Alice Gnappa, News from Berlin
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The national commemoration took place on Saturday, May 4, in the Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen. In his speech, Ambassador Ronald van Roeden reflected on the importance of commemoration in these times: "Because even and especially in the past year, we see not only far away, but also around us, developments that should worry us very much.

It’s important to be more vigilant than before. To resurgent anti-Semitism and to other expressions of intolerance and hatred.” He further discussed the importance of a society that does not allow this and mentioned examples of hope in both Germany and the Netherlands.

The chairman and director of Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin Paul Spies spoke as a guest speaker during the memorial ceremony. During his speech, he emphasized that commemoration has regained its significance in recent years. He gave beautiful examples from his time as curator of an exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam that was dedicated to artists who died during the Second World War. A special moment during the commemoration ceremony was the musical performance by Lotus Lemaire and Helena Koopman. They are both relatives of Dutch people who were imprisoned in Sachsenhausen.

Song 1: 'Opa’s Lied' - This song was written and performed by Helena. It was about the “Schuhläuferkommando”, where both Helena's grandfather and his father, Joop and Peter Snep, were in for weeks. They were arrested during the war because they were in the resistance. This song is Helena's attempt to translate her grandfather's stories, which she found so impressive, into a more modern story form.

Song 2: 'Hup Holland' or 'Kop op Jongens' - Lotus' grandfather was also imprisoned in Sachsenhausen for years. He was a poet who actively went against the Germans with his words. During his captivity, 'Dutch evenings' were occasionally held, in which many Dutch prisoners performed for their fellow countrymen and the soldiers. Theatre, recitation of poems, singing, everything was allowed on such an evening. Wim Zwart, Lotus' grandfather, had also written a song for a Dutch evening on December 6, 1943. The text of this has been preserved. Lotus and Helena came up with a new melody and performed it together. Dutch violinist Arthur Rusanovsky provided the musical accompaniment. He played 'Malinconia' by Eugène Ysaÿe and 'The Windmills of your mind' by Michel Legrand. Wreaths and flowers were then laid.


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