Commemoration 2.0

The Bridge to Liberation Experience

On Friday 20 September 2019, the Bridge to Liberation Experience will be a unique commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem. The annual multimedia spectacle features music, dance, film and special effects depicted on the John Frost Bridge in Arnhem. Since the first event in 2014, the annual show has attracted thousands of visitors. Young and old sit along the river Rhine to be taken back to Arnhem to experience that city during World War II. Impressive, moving stories are shown each year on a huge movie screen on the John Frost Bridge and floating concert stage, giving the spectator a glimpse of the impact of the war and the hard-won value of freedom.

Battle of Arnhem

The Bridge to Liberation Experience, developed by the city of Arnhem in 2014, is a popular example of commemoration 2.0 experiences intended to attract a wide audience, especially younger generations, to remember and to commemorate World War II. This concert starts immediately after the official commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem, a few hundred metres away.

Photo credit: Chiel Eijt - Thephotocrew.com

Battle of Arnhem

The Bridge to Liberation Experience, developed by the city of Arnhem in 2014, is a popular example of commemorative 2.0 experience intended to attract a wide audience, especially younger generations, to remember and to commemorate World War II. This concert starts immediately after the official commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem, a few hundred metres away.

Photo credit: Chiel Eijt - Thephotocrew.com

Storytelling, dance and music

Each year, the number of eyewitnesses of World War II grows smaller. To continue to reach a wider and especially younger audience, many organisations have been looking for new forms of commemoration. The combination of storytelling, dance and pop music is appealing, but can also put organisers in a difficult position. How can historical facts and emotion surrounding this era intermingle in a modern way? The City of Arnhem early recognised this conundrum. In response, since the first Bridge to Liberation Experience in 2014 (commemorating 70 years of Operation Market Garden), the city has worked closely with historians to ensure the success and accuracy of the event.

Photo credit: Chiel Eijt - Thephotocrew.com

Involvement of historians

For Marieke van Kessel, business manager and producer of the Bridge to Liberation Experience, the involvement of historians is an important aspect:

"Everything we do is continuously checked. Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ is an important partner, in fact, they are our ‘historical conscience.’ Their historian is constantly reading along. Other historians are participating in viewings as well, in order to check images, texts and films that will be shown during the performance. For example, they noticed wrong planes in a first draft of the film. Obviously, we immediately deleted them. To make a point in a theatrical setting exaggeration is sometimes necessary. That means that there will always be a tension between the perception of historians and how to convey a story to a wider audience. Substantive discussions between historians and our producers are therefore crucial for the historical quality of the performance."

Involvement of historians

For Marieke van Kessel, business manager and producer of the Bridge to Liberation Experience, the involvement of historians is an important aspect:

"Everything we do is continuously checked. Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ is an important partner, in fact, they are our ‘historical conscience.’ Their historian is constantly reading along. Other historians are participating in viewings as well, in order to check images, texts and films that will be shown during the performance. For example, they noticed wrong planes in a first draft of the film. Obviously, we immediately deleted them. To make a point in a theatrical setting exaggeration is sometimes necessary. That means that there will always be a tension between the perception of historians and how to convey a story to a wider audience. Substantive discussions between historians and our producers are therefore crucial for the historical quality of the performance."

"Multiple faces"

The theme of the upcoming Bridge to Liberation Experience 2019 will be "multiple faces".

"In a multi-perspective way we are going to tell the story about the different countries and people involved in the Battle of Arnhem," explains Marieke van Kessel. “Determining the annual themes is a long process. We first discuss ideas with our art director Alvin Williams. What do we want to say and what goals do we want to achieve the coming years? This resulted in a nice list, which we then discussed with our board and people in our sector. Especially consultation with the main stakeholders in the Airborne Region is particularly important."


For more information on the 2019 Bridge to Liberation Experience, visit

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