The Liberation Forrest is a monumental and living gift from the citizens, institutions and business community of the city and the province of Groningen. In 1995, during the 50 year memorial anniversary of the liberation, the city presented this relatively young forrest to the liberators of Groningen as a token of their lasting respect and gratitude.
After five years of occupation and four days of heavy fighting, the city of Groningen was liberated by the Canadians on the 16th of April, 1945. This event is celebrated each year on May 5, the National Liberation Day. It was on this day that Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces.
The supposed final Groningen-visit of the Canadian liberators took place on the National Liberation Memorial Day in 1995. In preparation for this visit, an ‘adopt a tree’ campaign was launched in 1992, whereby individuals could purchase certificates of adoption for one or more trees in the Liberation Forrest. This was to be a lasting tribute to the liberators of the city of Groningen.
To this end, the local authority made 9 hectares of land (approximately 22 acres) available for planting thousands of Maple trees in five varieties.
This expression of gratitude was extended to all foreign military and domestic resistance forces.
In 1995 the forrest was dedicated to the Canadians with great ceremony. This coincided with the fiftieth Liberation Day.
More then 200 former soldiers and resistance fighters were present. Together with schoolchildren they planted 120 pear trees.
The forrest is part of the local scenic area Kardinge, at the north east side of the city of Groningen. Once in the main lane, you can see a maple leaf mosaic that has been set into the paving stones on the Plein van de Wereld. A bench has been built around the tree and from this point, you will have a great view of the regimental plateau, engraved with the names of the 23 army units from the Second Canadian Infantry Division who took part in the liberation of Groningen.
Behind the regimental plateau, on the island, there are some important trees, especially the two that were planted by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency Roméo LeBlanc on March 22, 1996.
Through the forrest runs a paved educational route. Pieces of stone from 10 different countries have been spread along this path, each carved with one of the “Ten Rights of the Child”.
In the 21st century it will be the young in particular who will have to protect our hard-won freedom. What better than to honour the established rights?
The Maple Leaf
The maple leaf is a metaphor, a symbol of a great nation, a sign of liberty and the beginning and ending of seasons.
The perforations in the leaf refer to the 43 Canadians fallen during de liberation of Groningen. The veins our youth, strength and hope for the future. The leaf our generations from past and present, a tight bond between Groningen and Canada. The dynamics of departing doves, symbol for freedom and rights of the child, as well as a never ending appeal of society to protect and defend our liberty.
Remembering, contemplating, and passing on a bridge to the future.