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Heroes Remember Video and Fact Quest

Aim

To increase youth awareness of Canadian efforts in the Liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War.

Objectives

Youth will be expected to:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of the events surrounding the Liberation of the Netherlands;
  • gain an appreciation of the challenges faced by the Canadians who participated in the Liberation of the Netherlands; and
  • develop an awareness of the importance of remembering the sacrifices and achievements of Canadian Veterans.

Target Audience

This activity is suitable for ages 15 to 17.

Sequence of events and anticipated time trame [80 minutes]

(This activity can be modified to fit available time.)

  • Introductory Discussion [15 minutes]
  • Guided Viewing of the “Heroes Remember the Liberation of the Netherlands” Video [15 minutes]
  • Liberation of the Netherlands Fact Quest Activity [30 minutes]
  • Wrap-up Discussion [20 minutes]
  • Possible Extension Activities [variable]

Materials

Introductory Discussion [15 minutes]

Begin a discussion about the Second World War. More than one million Canadians served in uniform during the Second World War—that is more than the entire population of some provinces. Ask youth if any of them know about the Liberation of the Netherlands – based on movies they have seen, books they have read, stories they have heard or having a family connection to the country – and the important role that Canadians played in this pivotal campaign.

Talk about where the Netherlands is compared to Canada and how large and deadly the Second World War was. Germany had been occupying the Netherlands since the spring of 1940 and the Dutch people were suffering. In late 1944 and early 1945, Canadian soldiers were tasked with trying to liberate their country and help finally bring the Second World War to an end in Europe. You could discuss things like how the Canadian soldiers had to fight in terrible conditions in the Netherlands, across dikes, canals and often-flooded low grounds against a skilled and deadly enemy.

Guided Viewing of the Heroes Remember the Liberation of the Netherlands Video [15 minutes]

Explain to youth that they will be watching a video about the Liberation of the Netherlands told from the perspective of those who know about it best – the Veterans who fought there. Listening and watching will provide an understanding of a chapter of our wartime history that helped to shape Canada as a nation and is the basis for a lasting friendship between our country and the people of the Netherlands.

Distribute the video question sheet. Youth will be guided through the viewing by answering the questions while watching the video (which contains the information needed to find the proper answers). This activity will help set the scene for the fact quest activity that will follow.

Fact Quest [30 minutes]

Distribute the Canada Remembers the Liberation of the Netherlands historical sheet and the historical sheet questions. Have everyone read the information sheet and answer the questions. Tell them that they will be called on to share what they have learned. They should also locate the Netherlands on a map during this phase of the activity.

Once the class has completed their research, lead a debrief of the historical sheet answers they found for the questions. Take the opportunity to see if anyone has family or neighbours who may have served in the Second World War. They can also share their personal thoughts on Canada’s military efforts in that key battle so long ago.

Wrap-Up Discussion [20 minutes]

Follow up with a group discussion. Ask them to reflect on the following statement:

The First Canadian Army saw heavy action in the Netherlands from September 1944 to May 1945. More than 7,600 Canadians died in the efforts to free the country from harsh German occupation and help end the Second World War in Europe. It would be a difficult battleground but, with great courage and sacrifice, the Canadians played a leading role in the Allied victory there.

Then lead a discussion based on the following questions:

  • Do you think the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform during the Liberation of the Netherlands to help the Allies triumph in the Second World War were worth it?
  • What do you imagine the Dutch think about the Canadians who fought so hard and sacrificed so greatly to help liberate their country?
  • Do you think it is important to remember the Canadians who served in the Second World War even though the conflict has been over for so long?
  • How can we best remember the Canadians who have served in the cause of peace and freedom?
  • Do you think there is any relationship between what Canadian did during the Second World War and international military missions that our country have undertaken in more recent years?

The Dutch people have never forgotten the great sacrifice Canadians made for them and students there are taught a great deal about the brave soldiers who liberated their country. Dutch children regularly visit Canadian war cemeteries to lay flowers on the graves, for example, and also perform other heartfelt acts of remembrance. If they can remember, should Canadian youth remember, too?

Possible Extension Activities [variable]

There are a number of ways you could extend this lesson. For example, you could ask youth to imagine that they are war correspondents covering the Liberation of the Netherlands and then have them file news reports on the battle’s events. These could be in the form of mock newspaper articles, radio broadcasts or “newsreels” (videos). Alternately, they could imagine that they took part in the fighting there and were writing home the next day to tell their family or friends what they had just been through. Or they could imagine that they are a loved one writing to a soldier on the front lines asking if he is okay, what life is like there and how he is feeling.

Inviting a Veteran who took part in the Liberation of the Netherlands to be a guest speaker would be an exceptional opportunity to learn first-hand what it was like to serve in the cause of peace and freedom during the Second World War. For more information visit the Memory Project Speakers Bureau website.

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