Speech Chief of Defence Admiral Rob Bauer opening exhibition ‘Him or me’

Speech by the Netherlands Chief of Defence Admiral Rob Bauer at the opening of the exhibition ‘Him or me’ at the National Military Museum on 13 February 2020.

This is the story of HIM or ME.
The story of two soldiers, who fought in a war that impacted the whole world.
Two men… called upon by their countries to serve.
One by choice, the other by obligation.

We see the war through their eyes.
Their stories add colour to the black and white images in our minds.
The war scarred these soldiers for the rest of their lives.
Both mentally and physically.
For them and for their families, the war would never truly be over.

Their stories are of another time. Another era.
But even now, there is still much hate and conflict in the world.
People living in fear… oppressed… threatened.
That is why it is so important that we not only believe in the power of peace, but that we work hard to maintain it.
Close to home. And far away.

I am proud of the men and women in our Armed Forces whochoose to make freedom their life’s goal.
They make sacrifices in the service of their country.
In the service of freedom.
In a world of “me”.
They fight for the “we”.

All soldiers wear a uniform.
It is a symbol of unity and collective strength.
But we should never forget that underneath each uniform… is a human being.
With strengths and weaknesses.
And with a unique story.
We must never forget what we ask of the men and women who serve.
Freedom is not free.
It is fought for, with blood, toil, tears and sweat.This is the story of HIM or ME. The story of two soldiers, who fought in a war that impacted
the whole world. Two men… called upon by their countries to serve. One by choice, the other by obligation.

After the war, our countries found a way to transform enemies into friends.
We have sworn to protect each other against all evil.
To never again turn our backs on each other.
Now, we stand side by side in the most powerful alliance the world has ever known.
We stand side by side in the fight for freedom.
Today… we are stronger.
For today… we stand together as one.

I hereby declare this exhibition officially open.
May I ask the families of Sergeant Léo Major and Obergefreiter Hans Kürten to be the first to join us.