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4 & 5 May

May 4, 2010

The 4th of May is the day the Dutch remember their death in all wars. The main tribute with two minutes silence is held in de Dam, the main square in Amsterdam, at eight o’clock in the evening.

On the 5th of May there are festivities throughout the country to celebrate the liberation from occupation. Of course some southern and eastern parts of The Netherlands were liberated as a result of the heroic operation ‘Market Garden’ on the 17th of September 1944 but on the 5th May 1944 the whole country was free once more.

It is therefore very appropriate at this time, to remember all who have suffered in the most recent war in Europe, which took place in the former Yugoslavia, with a special poem. If you do not know much about this war, the poem will be an eye opener. Remember there is still a War Tribunal sitting in The Hague to investigate the role of Radan Karadzic in the atrocities that took place during the Bosnian conflict.

Yugoslav Requiem

it’s not what I’ve seen
it’s what I’ve not seen
it’s always looking round at where you’ve been

the man at the road-block
demands a cigarette
at home he beats his wife

today for the first time she puts
her headscarf on
she thinks of her son

her muslim man who works in the fields
listens intently to the sky
his father taught him that

he also learned how you kill someone
who used to be your friend or neighbour
and about Ìãåetniks   hitler and ustaÌÉåÁas

and this land is mine
and I’m in charge
I work the clay

the you lot and they
the we and them
the we know our own kind


it’s not what they hear
it’s what I don’t want to see
I’m thirty and don’t want to die

© Arnold Jansen op de Haar; Translation Paul Vincent

Want to read the full poem and several more like it? You can buy Yugoslav Requiem, the collection, from this page in English or in Dutch.

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