News

‘Europe Remembers 1944-1945’ presented in presence of Frans Timmermans

‘Europe Remembers 1944-1945’ is an international campaign aimed at renewing a universal commitment to peace. It coincides with the run up to the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 2019 and 2020. By raising public awareness, the campaign will encourage people to reflect on and appreciate the freedom that veterans fought for. Europe Remembers was introduced at the Liberation Route Europe Annual Conference in Brussels today in front of hundreds of people, including first Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans and the international press.

Europe Remembers is an initiative of the Liberation Route Europe Foundation and its key partners. The foundation, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018, promotes Liberation Route Europe. Currently traversing nine countries in total, this freedom trail helps create mutual understanding by bringing together national perspectives on the liberation of Europe through education and shared experiences.

The Liberation Route Europe Foundation commemorates the Second World War and encourages the citizens of Europe to connect with key events that occurred across the continent. The goal is to create a unified awareness of the importance of freedom. Visit www.liberationroute.com to find out more about Liberation Route Europe and its aims.

25 million projected visitors
The 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War is an ideal moment to honour veterans. Europe Remembers 1944-1945 (www.europeremembers.com) is designed to salute their sacrifices. During 2019 and 2020, numerous commemorations and activities will take place in different countries to mark the anniversary. By raising international awareness, Europe Remembers aims to reach at least 25 million visitors who are expected to attend these events. The project will operate in all nine countries currently associated with Liberation Route Europe and an informative WWII portal will be launched in advance of the anniversary.

“With this campaign, we aim to bring attention to two important years of remembrance and create the awareness that freedom should never be taken for granted,” states Managing Director Rémi Praud of the Liberation Route Europe Foundation. “The project will also inspire visitors to learn about history and encourage them to get on the road and come face to face with it.”

Frans Timmermans
In a speech during the Liberation Route Europe Conference, Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans stated that the need for remembrance is greater than ever: “We are arriving at a turning point where living memory is substituted by written history. Distance in time has the same effect as distance in space, as events disappear from view and budding threats are perceived less keenly. Let us use our history to teach the next generation of Europeans where their freedoms came from and how they hung in the balance.”

Timmermans also praised the work of the Liberation Route Europe Foundation: “One of the best ways to remember our history is to see where events took place and tell the stories of the people who lived through them. Liberation Route Europe is doing important work in retelling these stories. To understand the reality of the wars that were fought in Europe, we need to stand where our ancestors stood.”

Thomas van Neerbos, director of the European Press Prize, was interviewed on stage. He said it is necessary to keep telling personal stories about the war: “We need to gather the stories of veterans before it’s too late. But not just the stories of heroes, also the ones of those who were on the wrong side for example.”

The German Ambassador in Belgium Rüdiger Lüdeking stated that the world has to continue to commemorate the war: “We have an obligation towards the victims of war by trying to prevent creating new victims. That’s why we have to explain to the younger generation what war is about: terror and cruelty.”

Vice-president of Normandy François-Xavier Priollaud told the audience that to keep the memory of the war alive, his region aims to organise an annual ‘World Forum for Peace’ immediately following D-Day commemorations.

Transition of Liberation Route Europe
Liberation Route Europe International was recently established in Belgium. Its Brussels’ office will now become the headquarters of Liberation Route Europe. Although Victoria van Krieken has been the foundation’s managing director for the past five years, she is handing over the role to Rémi Praud. Van Krieken will remain involved with the organisation as chair of the international supervisory board and as statutory director of the Dutch Liberation Route.

“From now on, I will be focusing on fundraising for the foundation in the USA and Europe and will also be responsible for strategic partnerships,” explains Van Krieken. She believes Praud is the “best person one could wish for” to take over the daily management of the foundation. “He has been working for the French region Normandy and has developed quickly within our organisation over the last few years. This is the right time for him to step up.”

Van Krieken will also be working on the Dutch programme for the 75th Anniversary commemorations in 2019 and 2020 together with vfonds. Thanks to a renewed agreement with vfonds (the Dutch Foundation of Peace, Freedom and Veteran Support) and the growing number of Liberation Route Europe members, the foundation can continue working on expanding the international remembrance route.