Home » Dutch scale down World War II remembrance to keep ceremony safe

Dutch scale down World War II remembrance to keep ceremony safe

The city of Amsterdam on Tuesday said it would severely restrict attendance to the annual national World War II remembrance on May 4, in a bid to keep the ceremony safe and to curb potential disturbances amid tensions over the war in Gaza.

The war between Israel and Hamas and heightened tensions throughout the Middle East have raised the risk of protests and of “spontaneous actions” disturbing the ceremony, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema said.

Therefore, organizers said measures were needed to ensure that the ceremony would remain “dignified, controlled, and safe.”

At the March opening of a Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, pro-Palestinian protesters who were opposed to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza set off fireworks and booed Israeli President Isaac Herzog as he arrived at the museum.

An annual ceremony

Hundreds of thousands gather at Dam Square and other places throughout the Netherlands on May 4 every year to hold two minutes of silence at 8:00 p.m. to commemorate the victims of World War II.

National Holocaust Museum Amsterdam 2016 (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In the hope of preventing disturbances on Saturday, total capacity at the central Dam square will be limited to 10,000 – roughly half the normal attendance at the ceremony, the city said.

People who want to attend will have to make a reservation upfront and will not be allowed to bring any signs, flags or sound equipment.