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On ‘Remembrance Day,’ Zelenskyy asks Dutch to mourn dead Ukrainians

The annual commemoration in the Netherlands honors the victims of World War II and subsequent wars.

Remembrance Day, the Netherlands. Source: Facebook/Embassy of the Netherlands in the United States.
Remembrance Day, the Netherlands. Source: Facebook/Embassy of the Netherlands in the United States.

On a visit to the Netherlands on the country’s Remembrance Day—held annually on May 4 at 8 p.m. to commemorate soldiers and civilians who died in World War II, and in other wars and peacekeeping missions since—Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the Dutch Parliament to mourn Ukrainian casualties, too.

“When today, as always on the 4th of May, at 8:00 in the evening, you will honor the memory of all those whose lives were taken away by wars—World War II and others—please also remember Ukrainians—men and women, adults and children, who would have been alive now but for this aggression,” he said. “The war we didn’t want, the one we have to make the last.”

Ronny Naftaniel, former chair of the Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands, tweeted in Dutch, according to a Google translation, that Zelenskyy is always welcome in the Netherlands on May 4. “He fights for the freedom of his country. But the struggle in Ukraine should not be mixed with the Remembrance Day,” Naftaniel wrote. “The wreath-laying and the two minutes of silence are left untouched.”

Geert Wilders, a right-wing Dutch politician, added in Dutch that he would not attend the meeting with Zelenskyy. “As far as I am concerned, today in the Netherlands, it is not about him but about our own national Remembrance Day,” he tweeted.

Alexander Hammelburg, a liberal Dutch politician who is of Jewish ancestry on his father’s side, disagreed. “Commemorating my family killed in the Holocaust. Thinking of all the killed Dutch civilians and soldiers. Listen to Zelensky. Reflecting on friends trapped in Putin’s war in Ukraine. The many victims,” he wrote in Dutch. “I can do that all at once today.”

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