Dedicated on May 5, 1960, the 15th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Carillon was presented "From The People Of The Netherlands To The People Of The United States" in gratitude for assistance given during and after WWII.
WWII tied the United States and the Netherlands together as allies for the first time in history. During WWI, the Netherlands remained neutral. However, peaceful co-existance was shattered when Germany invaded The Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Later, when the United States was drawn into WWII with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, The Netherlands declared war on Japan.
The United States joined the Allied Campaign to free Nazi-occupied countries in western Europe. Although The Netherlands was occupied, the underground efforts of the Dutch resistance made this task less difficult. The Dutch transmitted intelligence to the Allies and provided escape routes for Allied plane crews to Great Britain and Switzerland. In addition, although 100,000 Dutch Jews were murdered in German concentration camps, thousands were saved through these same escape routes.
The first American units crossed The Netherland with the Allied forces in September, 1944, freeing the southern part of The Netherlands. However, the heavily populated western territories remained occupied. These areas suffered tremendously; more than 15,000 died of starvation during the winter of 1944/45. Help finally came in the form of food dropped by American and British bombers, made possible through secret negotiations with the Germans. Thousands were saved.
Continued military pressure forced Germany to surrender The Netherlands on May 5, 1945. Although liberation ended this human tragedy, the price was high. Approximately 240,000 Dutch civilians died during WWII, and thousands of U. S. soldiers remained behind. Today, many rest in Margraten, the U. S. Military Cemetary in the south of The Netherlands.
Following WWII, the idea for presenting a symbolic gift to The United States met with generous response from all sections of The Netherlands. The original 49 carillon bells were inscribed with symbols representing the different facets of Dutch society.
The Carillon Today
Today, the Carillon has 50 bells. The 50th bell was presented to President Clinton by Netherlands Prime Minister Wim Kok on February 28, 1995. The bell symbolizes 50 years of friendship. Its inscription:
1945 - 1995
Freedom - Friendship
The Netherlands - The United States
Restoring The Carillon
The restoration of the Carillon and the addition of the 50th bell were made possible by a generous contribution from The Netherlands government and corporate sponsors. The restoration work included recasting and re-tuning all 49 original bells, replacing the bell-playing mechanism, repainting the tower structure, and replacing the deteriorated steel plates.
ABN AMRO BANK
KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES
J. P. VAN EESTEREN