The liberation of the Netherlands like you’ve never seen it before (coloured videos inside)

Each year, on May 5, the Dutch celebrate the day their country was liberated from Nazi occupation during WWII. This is known as Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day) — a national holiday here in the Netherlands. 🇳🇱

Throughout 1944 and 1945, several Nazi-occupied Dutch cities were liberated by the Allies. On May 5, 1945, an official agreement was signed on the capitulation of German forces in the Netherlands.

These days, the Dutch commemorate those who lost their lives during WWII on Remembrance Day on May 4, and the country’s liberation is celebrated on the next day.

To give you an impression of what the liberation of the Netherlands felt like, we’ve gathered four videos that’ll throw you right back to 1945! The best part? They’re colourised, which really brings the feelings of joy and relief felt by the newly-liberated Dutch citizens alive.

Thanks to RicksFilmRestoration for these beautiful and insightful video restorations! On Rick’s YouTube Channel, you can check out a full series about the Liberation of the Netherlands in 1945.

1. Haarlem

The city of Haarlem, located in the North Holland province, was liberated on May 8, 1945. In its early years, the city used to be a major trading port in the North Sea. Today, it’s home to blossoming tulip fields, art museums, and stunning cobblestone roads lined by gabled houses.

2. Nijmegen

This Dutch city was liberated between 17 and 20 September 1944 during the largest military operation enacted on Dutch territory: ‘Operation Market Garden.’

Earlier that year, Nijmegen suffered badly from an aerial bombardment on February 12, 1944, which left many of its buildings destroyed.

Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands, which is evident from its rich history. This historic footage shows the damaged city, battles of American paratroopers and liberated cheers of Nijmegen’s residents.

3. Zutphen

Zutphen is a Dutch town located in the East of the Netherlands. It was liberated from Nazi occupiers on April 6, 1945, by the 3rd Canadian division. Zutphen’s liberation took a lot of effort, as extensive fighting left many parts of the town in shambles.

Despite all the damage, modern-day Zutphen is known to have one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. It has kept its historical charm with beautiful historic warehouses, churches and courtyards.

4. Deventer

Deventer is a Dutch town located in the Salland historical region of the Overijssel province. It was liberated on April 10, 1945, and left destroyed after a brutal battle between Canadian liberators and Nazi occupiers.

This colourized video shows members of the Dutch fascist NSB party being forced into the crowd by armed resistance fighters. Dutch crowds can be seen parading along the streets of Deventer and mocking the newly-found traitors.

There you have it! These are the videos of Haarlem, Nijmegen, Zutphen and Deventer showing original footage of Dutch citizens being liberated from Nazi occupiers.

While there are many pictures of the Netherlands during WWII, colourised videos enable us to really feel the sense of relief, joy and freedom the Dutch experienced after almost five years of oppression and hardship.

If you enjoyed these videos, check out Rick’s youtube channel for more restored and colourised footage of other cities worldwide.

Have you ever celebrated Liberation Day in the Netherlands? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2022, and was fully updated in August 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature image: Imperial War Museums/Picryl

Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea has a passion for writing and sharing new ideas with the world. She enjoys film photography, Wes Anderson movies, fictional books and jazz music. She came to the Netherlands in 2019 for her media studies and has fallen in love with the country and its culture ever since. She loves to ride her bicycle in the city but also feels the need to overtake everyone on the bike lane (she's working on it).

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  1. Nice article about my work. It would be appreciated if you at least included a reference to my Rick88888888 Youtube channel and not only copy my descriptions. Thank you very much.
    There are more videos now available about the liberation of Dutch towns. See this playlist:
    Rotterdam will follow this evening and the last in this series about Amsterdam tomorrow

    Best Regards

    • Heey Rick, thanks for your message! We’ve just added a bit thanking you for the glorious video’s and we’re also contemplating of doing a piece on your liberation of The Hague video. Should have been done from the get-go but this piece was originally scheduled to be shared on May 5 (for obvious reasons 😉 ).
      Also, awesome channel, we’ve watched it a lot at both home and at the office – like a time-portal when viewed at a big screen. Especially a fan of the NY waterfront vids too, and the choice of music. Any more Rotterdam stuff coming up?

  2. Maybe my previous comment will show up, but I think it might have been blocked because I included a link to a Youtube video.
    Just to that you (again) for placing a link to my channel. The series about the liberation of Dutch towns and cities now comprises 9 locations:
    Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Haarlem, Apeldoorn (De Veluwe), Nijmegen, Venlo, Deventer en Zutphen. Amsterdam wil premiere this evening at 19:30h. I don’t have much more footage of Rotterdam. I’ll have to take look again in the Stadsarchief.
    I’m pleased you like my work. My favorite is about Rotterdam before WW-II (Around 1930). It has nearly 300.000 views. Every time I watch this video it makes me emotional, despite the fact that I did the restoration and colorization.
    I’m curious to see what you will release tomorrow. Keep up your nice website!

  3. Amazing ! well written summaries ! Loved the videos integration in the article! The videos are chilling !


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