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Freedom quotes

Here you will find 16 excerpts that deal with freedom. Each with a specific perspective on freedom. 

They are excerpts from the oral history collections of Specially Unknown, Veterans Tell and Witness Stories-War Sources.

These excerpts are intended as inspiration to think and interpret the concept of freedom yourself. 

The fragments were chosen based on labels assigned to them using the LabelMaker programme.

For further details: READ HERE

Aïda, Bosnia
fled at age 28

Fragment from 19:00

That we have freedom to move.
Move, then move from one city to another.
Travelling and things like this.
Freedom is singing. Freedom is praying. Freedom is swimming.
Everything, everything you can think of in your life is freedom to me.


Aïda, Bosnia, fled at age 28

24 years during KFOR deplyment Kosovo 

fragment of 24:15 log in

And that man stood sweating beside our, beside our vehicle. And yes, we had to help him then. And that was a Serb. yes, I don’t speak Serbo-Croatian and he doesn’t speak English. So you stand there fiddling with each other and in the end it turned out so, so I got out that his wife was giving birth. And so she had to go to the Albanian hospital. And so together with another group member, I drove with the man and the woman to the hospital. At first, the Albanians didn’t want to help, because the woman giving birth was a Serbian.

And then all at once you are confronted with a situation you just can’t imagine. So that on the basis of, well religion, race, I don’t know what, you are thus excluded. And that, yes I couldn’t grasp that very well.



Pascal, 24 years during KFOR deployment Kosovo

Franciscus, WWII veteran,
aged 20 when war broke out


Collection: Klim naar de vrijheid
Fragment of 13:08

Then the Germans demanded a declaration from us, which we had to sign, a kind of loyalty declaration, that we would not do anything against the Germans.

There are also etter colleagues of mine, cadets, who therefore did not sign this declaration and were then taken away on the spot by the Germans, into the camp at the same time.

So there I had three days, we had a few days to think about it.

It did take me three days to make this decision. To sign or not to sign.

Well I finally decided that I still wanted to do something against the Germans, pertinently, I signed the thing anyway.

At least then I had the freedom, to do something.



Franciscus, WWII veteran, aged 20 when war broke out

But your thoughts no one can take away from you.

That does have a certain freedom somewhere that no one can take away from you.

It’s only dangerous that at some point those thoughts get caught by reality, so to speak.

That you can no longer find refuge there.

Hana, Bosnia, fled at age 16

Chris, UNTAG veteran in Namibia
deployed at the age of 44

fragment of 48:43 log in

It was mainly supervision that everyone could have their say. But we did also go to churches and then we would say from the pulpit that there were elections. That those and those parties were participating and that you were free to vote for the party you wanted.


Chris, UNTAG veteran in Namibia

Jo, WWII veteran
aged 19 when war broke out


Collection: Samen leven en samen werken in het Bakkumse Sperrgebiet
Fragment of 19:22 (…) 19:56

At one point, that all ended, that freedom.

That football was no longer allowed, because those were gatherings.

And that dancing was no longer allowed either, because we had to be inside at 8 o’clock in the evening.

And this was Spergebied, this was really closed territory.


Jo, WWII veteran, aged 19 when war broke out



Sister Adrie,
19 years old when WWII broke out 


Collection: Bommen en habijten
Fragment of: 23:55

You’ve always had to hold back. All this time, all these years.

You couldn’t just say what you wanted. And not to anyone.

There was no one to trust actually in the war, was there?

No, you had to watch everything.

Sister Adrie, 19 years old when WWII broke out


I feel like a Kurd mainly because of oppression.

By when I see my brothers everywhere, in northern Kurdistan, in Turkey for example.

Which for the smallest right, like speaking your language in a hospital, is banned.

So, then you feel even more drawn to your identity.

Because you are denied.


Kasha, Kurdistan, fled at age 10

John, UNTSO veteran South Lebanon
deployed as 44-year-old professional Royal Army

fragment of 1:00:54 log in

Those people were actually forced by circumstances to employ the sons they had either with Hamas, but also one with Haddad, and one who, well, those on two sides, for security, not only for income reasons, but also often for your own security to make sure you didn’t get caught.


John, UNTSO veteran South Lebanon

21 years old when WWII broke out


Collection: Retourtje Sachsenhausen
Fragment of: 25:00 (…) 25.32

My view on the concept of freedom? It hasn’t changed.

Yes, I have perhaps delved into it more than I used to.

Before, freedom was something to be taken for granted. And now, yes, now you have to say I’m glad I have it.

But is that a drastic change in my way of thinking? I don’t think so.

I feel very strongly about it, yes. That we are free. I do.

But I feel I am entitled to that. So if I don’t have that, there is injustice.

No, we should all be free. Yes, I agree.


Pim, 21 years old when WWII broke out

[r] What I have become. That Bosnia plays a very big role there. Definitely. There I was also a bit free.

Always I wanted to be free, there too. There it was a bit harder to be free. Sometimes there were situations there that were not nice because I was so free.

Because I have long hair, because I wear earrings. That was a bit more difficult with us, but …

[i] Is it easier to be free in the Netherlands than in Bosnia?

[r] I think it’s a bit easier yes, think it’s a bit easier yes.

[i] Why?

[r] You don’t think much what others think of you or think about things and where I come from it’s still important what your neighbour thinks of or what your what people around it, your friends, family, what they think.


Zoran, Bosnia, fled at age 24

17 years old when WWII broke out

Source: oorlogsbronnen.nlCollection: Groningen in oorlogstijd – Stichting Oorlogs- en Verzetscentrum Groningen (OVCG)
Fragment of 16:24 (…) 16:53

Yes, we thought that was very terrible, that they had to wear a star, but they didn’t do that to us, those Jewish people, they just didn’t do that.

The police might have been watching, but they didn’t do anything about it, no. No they still had a pretty good life.

Well the biggest thing was only when they were picked up. That was the big intervention.

Beforehand, we didn’t notice much.

You did notice once in a while, but still not that you mind, but when they were collected, that was something terrible.


Martha, 17 years old when WWII broke out

Dolf, as an 18-year-old conscript soldier in the Dutch East Indies
Employed on the Burma railway line during his captivity.

fragment of 2:25:28 en 2:27:00 log in

[i] And what is freedom to you?

[r] Not being forced to do something you don’t want to do. (…)
[i] Yes I think, yes and that freedom, for me freedom was everything, above everything else, freedom. That you can decide for yourself what you want. And not completely, but a reasonable, a reasonable way then.


Dolf, as an 18-year-old conscript soldier in the Dutch East Indies

Everyone needs bed, bath, bread, security, to feel safe.

These are all wonderful things, but people still sleep under bridges.

And are excluded from amenities, basic human services.


Sabina, Bosnia, fled at age 26

12 years old when WWII broke out


Collection: Joodse kinderen in kamp Vught
Fragment of 58:23

Because there was shouting. There were dogs, the SS.

There was pushing, there was beating by the SS.

Because they had been given the notice, they were given a transport of criminals.

Well, we were criminals too, because we were … Jews.

And Jews to them were criminals who had to be exterminated.


Ernst, 12 years old when WWII broke out

I’m not married off or anything.

No, to some extent I am … or had a free-thinking father, so to speak.

And that’s not really, marriage, not really something that’s common in Iraq either.

Only. Yeah. I had no mother and a bit of difficult circumstances, but I was very good at school.

So if I were my father I would, yes, not let a girl like that get married.


Inaam, Iraq, fled at age 20