Stories about 75 years (lack) of freedom

2 June to 15 September

The big question is whether we have learned anything from the past. It has been 75 years since Limburg was liberated, and the generation that witnessed it and who can tell us about it is disappearing. Once this generation is no longer with us, do their stories go with them? Will these memories be lost to time? What do we still know and, more importantly, what have we learned?

It is not only the stories from the past that we need to treasure, – the stories of the present are just as important. Every day we are confronted with news about wars and refugees searching for safety. While freedom is a basic human right, it is a right that, unfortunately, not everyone enjoys.

Centre Céramique and Kumulus have captured these stories and the history of freedom in a series of activities including theatre performances, a large exhibition in Centre Céramique, audio tours through the city, theatre workshops, and a big pavement chalk festival on Plein 1992 (square 1992).

To keep the stories of the past and the present alive, collaboration was sought with asylum seekers' centres, the Expat centre, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg (Limburg regional history centre, RHCL), Liberty Maastricht, the Struikelsteentjescomité (stolpersteine committee), Museum Eyewitness, Schuilkeldermuseum Maastricht (underground shelter museum), and many volunteers and eyewitnesses.


22 June to 15 September / Centre Céramique

The exhibition explores the way that freedom was experienced in the past and how we experience it in the present. The Netherlands might have been free from the violence of war for the past 75 years, but the images that we see and the stories we hear in the media about refugees confronts us with war every single day. The exhibition Vrij (‘Free’) presents the stories of the people who remember or experienced the Second World War and the years of liberation through films and other media. It includes the heartbreaking stories of people whose lives and families were destroyed, such as those of many Jewish families in Limburg.  These stories of the past are placed next to the stories of refugees living in Limburg in the present. These are people who had to flee their homes in Syria, Iraq, Africa, and Afghanistan, because of war and ethnic persecution. This poses the question: we might be free, but are we free of fear?
We continue to be confronted by the burning question of whether the world has learned anything from history.

Fear continued to reign after liberation in September 1944: the war had not ended, and Maastricht was a city behind the front. Up until the end of the war and even after, freedom came at a price.

In addition to these stories, the exhibition includes images and objects from the private collections of the Liberty and Eyewitness museums, such as the famous 43 'Püppchen' rocket launcher, an anti-tank weapon left behind by the Germans in Heer in 1944, and the original uniforms of our American liberators.

A stolperstein (literally a stumbling stone) is a stone commemorating the victims of the Nazi regime. These stones remember the Jewish, Sinti, and Roma victims as well as those members of the resistance who fought against the occupying Nazis. These stones with a brass plate bearing the name of the victim are inserted in the pavement in front of the house from which they were deported. The exhibition tells the stories of 35 of these lives. 21 of these stolpersteine will be on display until 27 June. Once the physical stones are laid, the empty space will be filled with transparent, illuminated stolpersteine.

This monument is not static, but presents a living work of art. The placing of a commemorative stone is an old custom that uses the symbolic timelessness of the material to illustrate that we do not want to forget a certain memory or an event. The stones also symbolize eternal love and respect. We invite visitors to read the stories and biographies of each of these stones and to take a moment to think about our freedom in the present. You can even help to expand the monument by placing your own stone with a message next to the monument.

Take part!
Vrij/Free!? is more than an exhibition. It is an interactive display that you can take part in. You can give your opinion, record a film with your own story, and take part in the many activities around this exhibition. You can also explore the history of Maastricht during a guided tour through the city.


Verhalen over 75 jaar (on)vrijheid

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