Leiden University: Second World War victims commemorated in Hour of Remembrance

On 4 May, Leiden University remembered the victims of the Second World War from our university community. Alumni, students and present and former staff of the University came together for this Hour of Remembrance.

‘We will tell the stories about lives lost… lest we should ever forget.’ With these words, Hester Bijl opened the Hour of Remembrance (link to pdf). She spoke the names of five victims for whom there is a memorial. ‘Five lost lives. There are 663 names in the In memoriam of victims from our University community – and the list isn’t complete. For so many of these victims we know only their names, and in some cases not even that.’

Pancras Hogendoorn, Dean of the LUMC, gave a speech entitled Die Gedanken sind frei, which began and ended with a verse from this song. He gave examples of when this freedom of thought and expression has been deliberately put to the test and described the dilemmas doctors and nurses faced during the Second World War. For example, during the evacuation of the Jewish psychiatric institution ‘Het Apeldoornse Bos’ and within the resistance at the AZL, the Academic Hospital Leiden.

Willemijn Waal, Director of the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO), presented a clip of an audiovisual tour of the director’s room at NINO, which tells the story of NINO during the War on the bases of various objects. Watch the story of NINO onThings that Talk.

Two students from MFLS, the Faculty of Medicine/LUMC study association, spoke about two medical students who joined the resistance and perished during the Second World War: Jan van Nes and Jørgen Bech. They ended their contribution with an appeal: ‘Let us try to learn from them that if we all would be a little more selfless in life, and lend each other a helping hand when needed, we could come closer together as human beings.’

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