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flag of peace, flag of remembrance

No, not specifically *this* flag, though it would qualify.

May 4 and May 5 are special days in Holland: May 4 is a National Day of Remembrance for the 200,000 Hollanders who lost their lives in World War II, and May 5 is Liberation Day, when the Germans left the country. Flags were flying at half-mast on the 4th:

One thing the Germans did was launch V-2's from all over this city in secluded places; they would set up transporters in a park or side street, fire, then scoot away to another location, pick up another missile, and repeat... The V-2 was the world's first ballistic guided missile and the scientists who developed it went on after the war to play a big part in the USA space program, which eventually put a man on the moon.

There were hundreds of V-2's deployed and fired from den Haag but none remains here today; the Dutch army just borrowed one from another city and moved it into our city historical museum, lifting it on slings and with a big crane, getting it through one third floor window with only inches to spare.

It is 47 feet long, 5 and a half feet thick at the biggest diameter [11 and a half across the tail fins,] weighed 14 tons at takeoff and could go straight up to a max of 128 miles, developing thrust of 160,000 pounds... because the higher you go the thinner the air gets, so you go faster, along with the fact that you are lighter as the fuel tanks empty. Fueled by liquid oxygen and alcohol. Warhead was 2000 pounds of amatol, which was enough to flatten a city block. So, quite a terrifying monster, since it traveled 3,356 mph -- must faster than the speed of sound. That meant if you lived in London or Antwerp at the time you could not hear it coming down out of the sky at you. Quite the monster, and I had never seen one close up. So off I went to the museum.

There's quite a lot of bad karma in the silent room.

Pics are of the body, the tail fins, and the nose cone which also contained the guidance system [faulty all through the war, only about half of them ever actually reached their precise target --- another scary thing... they could come down anywhere:]

Nobody could see this view: straight up the tailpipe, 18 nozzles where the rocket plume emerged at about 5,000 degrees F. You're not sposed to take flash pics in there but I cheated a bit to see what this part looked like:

The most ironic photo ever taken of these events shows the exhaust trail of one that's just been launched, against the outline of the tower of the Peace Palace, given by Andrew Carnegie to promote international peace and built around 1905:

And the most damage done to this city during the war was not done by the Germans, it was by 56 Royal Air Force bombers from English bases who got their aiming point coordinates wrong and, instead of bombing the park, bombed a civilian residential area next to it, causing 850 Dutch casualties and something like 6,500 homes destroyed or partly wrecked.

This year celebrates the 65th anniversary of the Liberation, so a bigger deal than usual; the Queen attended a church service [one of many events she attended] and one of the readings was from the Torah; a young singer named Miriam intoned some verses from the Kaddish, which is the memorial prayer, in the Jewish tradition, for the dead. This is a screencap of her standing in front of an elaborately-carved facade in a Protestant church:

A nondenominational service. Which fitted the spirit of the day just fine.

The next day, May 5, is a national holiday and the tone was much different, but that's my post above this one!


kiota too late for the stars
Moonfire Marion Bridge / Brad

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