Events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II may have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped one organization from putting together a series of programs specifically designed to adhere to the unique age of social distancing.
Europe Remembers, an effort by the Liberation Route Europe Foundation that “connects people, places, and events to mark Europe’s liberation from occupation,” is offering a platform to virtually converse with veterans and civilians who lived through the horrors and triumphs of the Second World War.
The program will run from May 4-8 and will include English, Dutch, French, and German speakers, the organization announced. Europe will officially celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day on May 8.
“Many people don’t know, or have never had the chance to speak with someone who can share first-hand accounts of life during WWII,” Rémi Praud, Liberation Route Europe managing director, said in a press release.
“This is especially true for younger generations, so we’ve organised a series of video calls with people who can describe what living through the war was like for them. ... Some of them lived through the war as children, others were adults, and we have civilians and ex-service people taking part from many places in world.”
Registration for video calls is open to anyone with an internet connection, the organization said. But if the number of registrations exceeds the number of available spaces, priority will be given to participants 25 and under — part of the group’s ongoing efforts to inform younger generations.
Each participant can customize a logo to share on social media, which they are encouraged to do alongside the hashtag #IRemember.
In addition to interactive, virtual conversations, live streams will be made available through both Facebook and Youtube, the organization said.
“The restrictions on freedom of movement that Europeans and people around the world have experienced in 2020 have stimulated profound discussions and reflections on the value of liberty,” Praud said.
"We’re bringing remembrance very close to people online, while also ensuring that participants can stay at home, socially distanced and safe. This is a new and different way to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII and its consequences for our communities.”
Registration for video calls and additional information can be found here.
Additional information on Liberation Route Europe, which remains in the process of developing a hiking trail network that will “connect the main regions of the Allied advance across Europe,” is also available on their website.