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A bitter battle was fought for the liberation of Europe 75 years ago. With the exhibition 'Hij of Ik' (him or me) the NMM is focusing on this battle in 2020. Through the eyes of Léo, a Canadian, and Hans, a German, you experience the liberation of the Netherlands in the exhibition from a personal perspective.

A Canadian and a German

When you think about the liberation, you often conjure up images of people celebrating, waving flags.

In the exhibition Hij of Ik, the National Military Museum focuses on the hard battle that preceded these festivities. We do this from two points of view: through the eyes of both a Canadian and a German soldier.

What is their story, how did they experience the battle, what did it cost them and how did they fare?

Hij of Ik is raw, personal and truthful. A Canadian and a German. Their emotions, their story.

Léo Major

Léo Major (1921-2008) was born in French-speaking Québec in 1921. He voluntarily joined the Canadian army in 1940. Being part of the Régiment de la Chaudière, he was trained to be a radioman and sharpshooter in Great Britain in 1941. Here he became friends for life with Welly Arsenault. On 6 June 1944 he and thousands of other Canadians landed on Juno Beach.

Follow Léo in his advance from Juno Beach, along important battles such as the fierce fight for the Scheldt river, to places where was injured, lost his best friend and invaded Zwolle on his own.

Hans Kürten

Hans Kürten (1925) from Leverkusen grew up in a country under Hitler. In December 1942 he was forced to work in Venlo and in June 1943 he was drafted. He hated both, also because he wanted to become a mechanic, while the regime forced him to take different training. After a few months of training he went to the Eastern Front, the Ukraine.

On the Eastern Front he faced tough fights and terrible hardship. In May 1944 he was transferred to Normandy, as part of the 116th Panzerdivision ‘Windhund’. In October 1944 he was involved in the Battle of Arnhem. Hans also lost his best friends and was seriously injured multiple times.

Top pieces

We are pulling out all the stops for '75 years of liberation'. In addition to the exhibition in the temporary exhibition space, part of our permanent setup in the Arsenaal is making room for the presentation of spectacular vehicles, planes and vessels, weapons and other objects involved in the liberation of Europe.

We are also bringing a number of special vehicles from abroad: for instance, we are bringing a Canadian Kangaroo tank to the Arsenaal and the dreaded German Tiger II is coming over from England. We will also display our manned V1 ‘Reichenberg’, of which there are only four in the world.

Hij of Ik promises to be a special exhibition, full of unique objects and stories. Follow the experiences of both men and view the liberation through the eyes of a Canadian and a German. Hij of Ik opens on 14 February 2020.