Roger Wu, 29, from China (Psychology)
“I didn’t know that the Netherlands commemorates war victims on 4 May, but I think it would be interesting to attend the ceremony at some point and it’s a good thing the Netherlands is doing it. As time passes after wars, younger people tend to lose interest in them. During such moments of commemoration, people will get together to focus on the history of their country and what shaped their country.
“In China we have a similar day in December – Nanjing Massacre Memorial Day – which commemorates the Japanese invasion of Nanjing on 13 December 1937. A lot of people died that day. People will lay wreaths at a memorial in Nanjing. China didn’t do this until 2014. Why didn’t we start doing it until then? What with globalisation and China’s development into a strong world power, young people sometimes forget about such wars. It’s good to focus on them occasionally.”
Alexandra Voltea, 19, from Greece (IBA)
“I’d never heard of this Dutch commemoration service before. In Greece we get a lot of them – three per year. One for the German invasion during World War II, one for the Italian invasion in World War II and one for when we won our independence from Turkey.
“Every year on 25 March we commemorate the War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, in 1821. The Ottomans took Greeks and turned them into slaves. In 1821 we kicked them out. That day is a national holiday, complete with parades. We celebrate our independence while commemorating the war at the same time. But basically it’s just a party.”
Areyan Vahagn, 21, from Armenia (IBEB)
“Commemoration of the dead is important. It brings people closer together and promotes national values. That is, if it is done the right way. In Armenia we sometimes get people who are a little too nationalistic in their views and preach hatred against the Turks. But generally things are fine.
“In Armenia we have two remembrance days – one for World War II and one for the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Genocide commemorative service was held last week, on 24 April. My Facebook timeline was full of messages about it. Normally, this commemorative event is a huge deal in Armenia. There is even a commemorative service in the Armenian church in Amsterdam. Many Armenians march carrying torches – which symbolise life – from the city centre to the memorial. They start walking early in the morning and arrive at their destination in the evening.
“This year, rather exceptionally, the event was a bit less huge, because our prime minister chose to resign the day before, following mass protests. The country is in turmoil. We will soon have elections for a new parliament.”