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Freedom often comes up in people’s stories. This is true for people who lived through World War II, for people who had to flee their country, but also for other groups.


In 2021/2022, the Telling Oral History Hub implemented the exemplary project My freedom – your freedom?
In general, people in the Netherlands experience freedom as self-evident. So much so that they often do not realise what it takes to maintain freedom. In the current discussions following the coronagraphs, among others, it seems to be mainly about individual freedom. But past experiences show that freedom means much more.


The aim of the project Freedom as a theme is to:


  1. Take stock of what meaning speakers from different periods and groups give to the concept of freedom.
  2. To find out in practice what is involved when you want to connect different oral history collections and make them searchable on a certain theme.


The project had several components.

Part 1: Developing content

In this part, 150 interviews were selected from the collections Veterans Tell, Witness Stories and Unprecedented Special (refugees). These interviews were transcribed where necessary AND the fragments dealing with freedom (or unfreedom) were brought together. This yielded 22 unique labels.


To transcribe and label the interview fragments, two software programmes were developed in collaboration with Clariah. The transcribing and labelling was mostly done by volunteers recruited through the Veterans Institute and Oorlogsbronnen.


The labels created from the interviews can be found here


16 examples of interview excerpts on freedom from the three interview collections can be viewed here.


‘your freedom – my freedom’



Part 2: Making presentations and educational materials

20 volunteers from The Hague (young people from the MDT project School of Life from Schilderswijk and Moerwijk and adult refugees) made digital presentations about freedom. For this, they used quotes from the interviews as well as their own ideas. To make the presentations with their smartphones, they received short courses from Ruben van Gogh (smartphone art), Farah Rahman (stop motion) and Frank von Meijenfeldt (video creation).


The exposition of their work, previously shown at Sound and Vision in The Hague, can be viewed here.


Educational material
‘Freedom in sound and vision’




Based on the experience in The Hague, an educational programme on freedom has been developed together with young people. This programme is intended for youth workers of, for instance, MDT projects and teachers of MBO and secondary education. You can find this educational programme here.





Finally, Marie von Meijenfeldt (27) wrote a short essay based on the labelled interviews. In it, she compares the meanings the different groups of interviewees give to the concept of freedom and talks about how writing the essay influenced her own thinking about freedom. The essay can be read here.



The project was carried out in collaboration with:




The project was funded by:


Martin Luther King

There is nothing in all the world greater than freedom.


The theme Freedom:

  • connects past and present

  • invites you to think about the future

  • appeals to very different people and groups

  • touches upon deep human motives

  • is about the relationship between individual people, groups, organizations and the state

  • changes with the times and the social context, but also has a number of constant values