Four weeks ago I successfully defended my PhD dissertation. Over the last several years, I had been rapt with exploring the history of post-war reconstruction in northwest Europe, particularly in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, and the many challenges civilians of this region faced both during and after the Second World War. These included civil-military issues, institutional problems, as well as socio-economic problems that hindered recovery once the war came to an end. What I found most interesting was that the weeks leading up to my defence were filled with media bytes about Israel’s renewed offensive against Hamas-controlled Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and Israeli Air Force (IAF) were killing civilians by the score, but they were also targeting known Hamas militants who had orchestrated attacks on Israel. I couldn’t help but draw some parallels between the civilians I had been so concerned about over the course of researching and writing my dissertation, and the people of Gaza who were caught in the crossfire and subject to the awesome power of Israeli air superiority.Read More
It seems that every November the same question about political correctness arises: is it okay to say “Merry Christmas” as opposed to the more inclusive “Happy Holidays”? While some businesses opt for the all-encompassing holiday wishes, others vehemently oppose getting rid of their Christmas wishes.Read More
There are two major misconceptions about the Netherlands. The first is that every Dutch person speaks English and, second, that all Dutch people love Canadians for our role in liberating large parts of the country in 1945. As we approach Remembrance Day on 11 November, we've decided to explore the history of Remembrance Day and reflect on its future. Before we do that, however, today's post looks at Canada's involvement in the Second World War, particularly in the Netherlands, and how both the Dutch and Canadians have come to remember this period of history.Read More
In this post, we offer some reflections about the use of water as a weapon during the Second World War, and specifically its use in the southern Netherlands. The battle for the Scheldt, which took place between October and November 1944, began by flooding large swathes of Dutch territory in an attempt to dislodge Nazi occupying forces. In the end, and because of the mobilization of water as a weapon, this particular region in the Netherlands doesn't necessarily subscribe to the "sweetest spring" narrative typically associated with Dutch-Canadian relations in 1945.