High praise from Schulz and Rutte for ‘Routes of Liberation’
Unique travelling exhibition holds grand opening in European Parliament
“This exhibition has amazing potential and it is an honour to be its patron”, was the response from Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, about ‘Routes of Liberation: European Legacies of the Second World War’. In European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday (13 February 2014) afternoon, Schulz opened the travelling exhibition together with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Prime Minister Rutte was just as impressed: “The European ‘routes of liberation’ unite us, both literally and metaphorically. I’m proud of this initiative. And I’m proud that seventy years after D-Day there is so much support for it in European countries.”
More than two hundred guests from twelve nationalities travelled to Brussels on Thursday (13 February 2014) – together with the international press – for the first glimpse of this unique exhibition created by a consortium of organisations from five European countries. Collectively, these partners have contributed their own perspectives on how people in Europe lost their freedom during the past century, how they regained that same freedom, and what they are doing to retain that freedom today. “The topics are sensitive. The quality is exceptionally high and unique; thanks to this rather special European consortium”, concludes Victoria van Krieken, director of the Liberation Route Foundation - initiator of the exhibition. “The exhibition clearly demonstrates yet again, that freedom is not, and never has been a given.”
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A symposium was held prior to Rutte and Schulz opening the exhibition entitled Towards a multinational perspective on war, liberation and remembrance. The speakers at the symposium were Professor Pawel Machcewicz, director of the National Museum of the Second World War in the Polish Gdansk, the German professor Dr Sönke Neitzel and author Keith Lowe, acclaimed for his bestseller ‘Savage Continent’. The afternoon’s proceedings were opened by the Dutch MEP Thijs Berman who suggests, that we should stop and think “about the staggering sacrifices our liberators made”. According to Berman, the Liberation Route Europe clearly shows the route that these liberators took, and reminds us that freedom and peace are never a foregone conclusion, “not even in Europe”.
The ‘Routes of Liberation’ offer a multi-perspective view of how Europe managed to handle the losses, regain, and maintain their freedom during the past century. A number of examples from the exhibition include contemporary biographies of people from a range of different nationalities, information about the battle in the German Hurtgenwald and the interactive ‘Rundfunk Liberation Wolnosc’, where people can share their views about what the Second World War means to them, using social media. Various leading museums have contributed to the exhibition including the National Liberation Museum 1944-1945 in Groesbeek, the Netherlands, the Allied Museum in Berlin (Germany), the Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk (Poland) and the Mémorial de Caen (France).
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