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Temporary Exhibition

Black Liberators: African-American soldiers in the Netherlands

Until 25 November 2019

When the Dutch are asked about the soldiers who liberated the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945, they think of white American, Canadian, English and maybe of Polish soldiers. Many are unaware that about 10% of the American liberation army in Europe consisted of black soldiers. Despite their merits, the stories of African-American liberators have disappeared from Dutch collective memory, historiography and -until recently- from national commemoration.

The exhibition Black Liberators: African-American soldiers in the Netherlands intends to contribute to make these soldiers visible again. Because of the scarcity of historical documentation it is of great importance to cherish existing stories about them. Six artfully woven tapestries highlight various chapters in the history of Afro-American soldiers, focusing on the Netherlands. Also, there is a display of historical documentation. The tapestries are based on the artwork of Brian Elstak, the design is by Lyanne Tonk, and the tapestries are made by FiberArt Pure Country Weavers.

The exhibition Black Liberators: African-American soldiers in the Netherlands is to be visited at the Vrijheidsmuseum in Groesbeek (16 September – 25 November 2019), Theater aan het Vrijthof in Maastricht (1 December 2019 – 25 January 2020) and at NIOD, Netherlands Institute for War-, Holocaust- and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam (3 February 2020 – 10 April 2020). Furthermore, a series of lessons will be available for high school education; organized by The John Adams Institute, and supported by Stichting LovingDay.NL.

The exhibition is combined with the graphic novel Franklin: Een Nederlands bevrijdingsverhaal (ROSE stories, 2019), designed by Brian Elstak, written by Marga Altena and the lay-out by Lyanne Tonk. Franklin: Een Nederlands bevrijdingsverhaal is a fictional story based on historic sources. The story is about a romance between an African-American soldier and a white Dutch girl, and about the search of their granddaughter after her family history and her identity as a woman of color. After 16 September 2019, the book is available at the exhibition, in book shops and at websites.

Funds and partners:
Freedom Museum, Groesbeek; United States Embassy, The Hague; Theater aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht; Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie; Stichting LovingDay.NL; Stichting 4 en 5 mei; Stichting 75 Jaar Vrijheid; Sociaal Historisch Centrum voor Limburg, Maastricht; ROSE stories; Provincie Limburg; Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds; NIOD Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies, Amsterdam; J.E. Jurriaanse Stichting; The John Adams Institute; 75 Jaar Bevrijding Limburg; Hendrik Muller Fonds; Centrum voor Gender en Diversiteit, Universiteit Maastricht; BankGiro Loterij Fonds; Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst.