The liberation of Europe officially occurred when Germany surrendered, almost ending the Second World War. Canadians played an important role in the overall liberation of Europe, specifically, Canada took a major part in D-Day, the liberation of Rome, Belgium, and most notably, the liberation of the Netherlands.
The liberation of Europe affected everyone in Europe and essentially everyone in the world. Canadians played an important role in the overall liberation of Europe along with the help of allies such as America and Great Britain. Canada most notably freed the Dutch of Nazi Germany.
The liberation of Europe (by the help of Canadians) occurred in the Netherlands, Italy, Normandy, and Belgium.
The liberation of Sicily occurred in 1943, and the mass liberation of Belgium and the Netherlands occurred after D-Day, which occurred in June of 1944. The Germans had officially surrendered to Canada on May 5, 1945, and the entire liberation of Europe occurred on May 8, 1945.
Canadians originally went to war to support France and Britain, however, after Normandy, they decided to carry on through Netherlands and Belgium. The Netherlands and Belgium had all resources (food, first aid, clothing, etc.) cut off by the Germans, leading to mass starvation in both countries. After D-Day, Canadians carried on west to eventually get to Germany, while freeing both the Netherlands and Belgium, all while Britain and the United States focused on the rest of Italy and France.
Overall, the liberation of Europe may not have been possible without the help of Canadians, who sent more soldiers than the US per capita. The liberation was viewed by Canadians as a bright light at the end of the tunnel, as many Canadians were sent to war with little experience in the army, and with Canadian forces having very few modern warfare technologies. The lack of time before going into war put lots of stresses on Canadians, as many women needed to step in for jobs of men at war. In addition, it wasn’t only Canada that Canadians needed to supply for, they also needed to supply for Britain, putting in a total of three billion dollars towards British forces. Part of these expenses went into building Lancaster bombs (seen on the right).
Not only was the liberation a relief from economic stress, rather, it was a time for personal stress. With 63% of Canada’s immigrants being European in 1931, many relatives may have been living in highly affected countries, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria. After liberation, information was given to families who had relatives living in affected countries. This news was incredible for some, however; it was terrible for others.
Continuity and Change
The Liberation of Europe changed Canada’s political and social relationships for many years to come. After the war, many Europeans had moved to Canada as an escape from now communistic governments. New immigration was great for Canada, as immigration had come to an (almost) halt during the war. Canada’s particular involvement in the liberation of the Netherlands built very strong ties, as Canada not only helped save millions of lives, Canada also welcomed and protected the royal family of the Netherlands at the time. The Dutch royals had immigrated to Ottawa after realizing that England was still unsafe from the Germans. After the war, the Royals had sent Canada 100,000 tulip bulbs as a sign of gratitude. To this day, the Netherlands send Canada 10,000 tulip bulbs each year, and Canada holds a tulip festival to showcase the loyal relationship between the two countries.
During the liberation of the Netherlands and Belgium, Canada needed to make the autonomous jump of taking the lead. Canada went into the war being relatively under-experienced and under-equipped, however; Canada took the risk, knowing that the freeing of the Netherlands and Belgium was a clear path to defeating Germany. While the allies such as the United States and Britain were clearing the rest of Europe of German Nazis. Canada was originally sent to war to fight for/with Britain, however; after D-Day, it was evident to Canadians that they were able to take on the big challenge of the Netherlands and Belgium. This was a huge sign to the rest of the world (particularly Great Britain and the United States) that Canada can take risks, which further built trust politically and economically. After the liberation of the Netherlands, many events had unfolded, which eventually lead to the overall liberation of Europe.