Saturday, May 15, 2010


Rotterdam's city center after the bombing of May 1940
Exactly 70 years ago, on May 15, 1940, one day after the Bombing of Rotterdam by the German Luftwaffe, the Dutch forces capitulated and the Netherlands surrendered to the Nazis. This was the start of Nazi occupation of western Europe.

Oranje Boven: Soccer fans in Amsterdam on the day of a game against Scotland, March 2009 / © I.A. Daglis
Orange is the national colour of the Netherlands, because its royal family of Orange-Nassau used to own the principality of Orange in Provence, south France. There is no etymological connection between orange (the fruit and colour) and Orange (the name of the principality), and the similarity is fortuitous. In modern Dutch society however, the Dutch word oranje, 'orange' is often associated with the reigning royal house of the Netherlands. The first "stadtholder" (Governor) of the Dutch Republic was William I of Orange, who joined with Dutch nationalists and led the struggle for independence from Spain. Partly out of respect for him, the first flag adopted by the Dutch was a horizontal tricolour of orange, white, and blue. It became known as the Prinsenvlag ("Prince's flag") and was based on the livery of William of Orange. However, the orange dye was particularly unstable and tended to turn red after a while, so in the mid-17th century, red was made the official colour. Nowadays an orange pennant may be attached to the red, white and blue national flag, especially on the Queen's birthday. Orange is the colour of choice for many of the national sports teams and their supporters. The nickname of the Dutch national football team is Oranje, the Dutch word for orange. Oranjegekte ('Orange Craze') signifies the inclination of many Dutchmen to dress up in orange colours during soccer matches.
National Dutch Flag with orange pennant

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