National War Cemetery Loenen
National War Cemetery Loenen in the Netherlands has a brand new memorial and educational centre, which was officially opened by King Willem-Alexander at the end of 2020. Dutch experience design agency Tinker imagineers was commissioned to design a permanent exhibition, part of which is located in a multifunctional space and therefore had to be movable. The first part of the exhibition focuses on stories by Dutch war victims and the deployment of the Dutch during international (peace) missions. Visitors encounter the relatives of war victims through mirrors, confronting them with the idea that this could have been about themselves. The stories show how sorrow lingers after so many years and often continues to play out across multiple generations. Visitors are constantly aware of their own reflection while looking at this piece.
Meanwhile, a projection with various clips on one of the walls offers a perspective of war and peace back then and today. The adjacent room puts the spotlight on the veterans and tells the story of military missions that the Netherlands has contributed to since 1947.
Meeting the relatives of war victims
The first room boasts six mirrors that display the relatives of victims. They look you in the eye and talk about their loved one buried at Loenen National War Cemetery. Visitors go face to face with the survivors of Anton de Kom (resistor), Ben Buunk (escapee to England), Philip Schwarz (Jewish victim of persecution), Anda Kerkhoven (resistor), Raviv van Renssen (military, perished in Srebrenica) and Timo Smeehuijzen (military, perished in Afghanistan).
Personal stories of veterans
In the second room you will find all military missions since 1947 that involved a Dutch contribution. In addition to a factual overview of the missions, this piece tells the personal stories of veterans. What were the considerations of Dutch soldiers to go and put their lives at risk in a faraway land? The room contains an interactive touch screen table with a large world map. The table acts as an interactive database of missions that involved the Dutch military between 1947 and today. Some missions are accompanied by an interview with a veteran.
Photos: Mike Bink, Rob Gieling