The Lesson – Liberation of the Netherlands


Brainstorm the following questions with your class, either teacher-led or in groups.

What did life look like in Nazi-occupied countries across Western Europe from late 1944 through early 1945? (build on existing knowledge from the Second World War unit on the Nazi advances) How would being occupied affect the lives of the people who lived in those countries?

Background on the Liberation

Framing Question: What was life like in the Netherlands in early 1945? (Hunger Winter, starvation, deportation of Jews, etc.) This can be completed through teacher-led discussion, student readings, video segment, etc.

VIDEO: Canada 150: Pier 21 tour guide shares his immigration tale
Source: CTV NEWS | Video Link: http://bit.ly/2ZEk3GZ

PDF: Canada Remembers
Veterans Affairs Canada (Link)

Soldier Stories

Have students read 2-3 stories from each of the categories listed below, and complete the worksheet for 1 person from each category. (PDF for worksheet here)

Then, consider the following discussion questions. (In groups or as a class)

  1. Which of the stories you read resonated with you the most. Why?
  2. Of the stories you read, think about the roles and experience of each person. In what ways did their individual experiences contribute to their hardships? What elements might have contributed to the positive memories they have of the liberation?
  3. In what ways do you think the experience of the liberation was the same for the different groups?
  4. What factors do you think would most influence if the experience was similar or different? Consider factors such as age, gender, geography, role, family’s political ideologies, etc.

Extension Activities

Below are some suggested activities connected to the lesson.

  1. Have students complete a research project on the Dutch Resistance and present their findings. (or other Second World War resistance movements – e.g. French, Polish, Jewish)
  2. The occupation of the Netherlands was not the only example of the loss of freedom in the 20th century. Using the information covered throughout the course, discuss times when the freedoms of Canadians have been taken away and how, or if, they were restored.
  3. Research other examples where Canadians have played a positive role in international affairs in the last 75 years.
  4. Conventional soldiers were not the only group to experience combat. Research non-typical roles in war such as those of children, women, and animals. Why were they used? How were they used? Consider groups such as the Hitler Youth, women spies (e.g. Mona Parsons – Resistance), carrier pigeons (e.g. Gustav the D-Day Pigeon, Beachcomber Canadian pigeon, who delivered the news at Dieppe), dogs and horses, etc.