Freedom and Friendship: Life, Liberation, and Legacy of the Netherlands Campaign

2020, Royal Canadian Military Institute
75th anniversary, Canada, Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian Army, commemoration, freedom, friendship, Holland, liberation, military history, Netherlands, RCMI, Royal Canadian Military Institute, Second World War, World War II
About This Project

Date: May 5, 2020– April 30, 2021

Partner: The Royal Canadian Military Institute

Location: 6th Floor Elevator Hall Display Case, Royal Canadian Military Institute

Project Members: Amelia DeWolfe, Anne-Julie Hurtubise, Samuel Richardson, and Jessica Stevenson


Freedom and Friendship examines the combat and relief efforts of Canadian soldiers during the Second World War campaign to liberate the Netherlands. These efforts helped Dutch citizens recover from the hardships of the German occupation and forged a friendship between Canada and the Netherlands that has lasted 75 years.


The exhibition highlights three main themes: (1) “Occupation,” notes the terrible conditions and oppression that the Dutch endured during the occupation; (2) “Liberation,” discusses the Canadian Army’s advance across the country and their subsequent relief efforts; and (3) “Admiration,” outlines how Canada’s friendship with the Netherlands has endured since 1945. To highlight the formation of Dutch-Canadian friendship, artifacts and their didactics are organized into two groups: objects that Canadian soldiers brought to the Netherlands and gave away to the Dutch people, and objects that Canadian soldiers took home as tokens of appreciation.


This exhibition engages audiences that have either minimal or significant knowledge of military history, including members of the Royal Canadian Military Institute (RCMI), students visiting for school tours, and the general public. As such, Freedom and Friendship informs our audience about the role of the Canadian Army in freeing the Dutch from mass starvation, destitution, forced labour, and brutal executions under occupation and how Dutch citizens expressed their gratitude in return.