Saba observes Memorial Day

As is customary on May 4, Memorial Day, the victims of World War II were remembered at the
war monument in The Bottom. On the monument are the names of 130 persons of the Netherlands
Antilles, including 12 Sabans, who perished during the 1940-1945 war.
Formerly, there were 129 names on the war monument, but on December 19, 2021, the name of a 130 th
person, Thelma Esther Polak was added. She was a Jewish nurse who was born on Saba in 1920 as the
daughter of a Surinam Jewish doctor who worked on Saba. She perished at concentration camp Sobibor
in 1943. The original, larger plaque contains the names of 11 Saba seafarers died on sunken oil tankers
during WWII.
Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Island Secretary Tim Muller, several Members of the Island Council,
a group of more than 20 students of the Sacred Heart School (SHS) and the Saba Comprehensive School
(SCS), civil servants and other members of the community were present at the solemn ceremony. The
SHS had students of grade 6 and staff present, while the SCS had delegated at least one student of each
grade, students of the Saba history program and staff.
Cherish freedom
Island Governor Johnson, Island Council Members Hemmie van Xanten and Carl Buncamper, and four
students laid wreaths at the monument following the one-minute silence at 2:00pm, the exact same
moment of the Memorial Day observance in the Netherlands and in other parts of the Dutch Kingdom.
“We are very lucky to live in freedom on Saba. We should cherish and enjoy this this freedom, and
remember what it means, especially now with the war in Ukraine,” stated Johnson in a short address at
the start of the ceremony. He also mentioned that since December last year, the name of Thelma Polak
was added to the monument on a separate small plaque. “We remember her as well as she too was
born on Saba,” said Johnson. He noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony did not take
place last year.
The victims of WWII were commemorated at the war monuments throughout the Dutch Caribbean. The
129 victims whose names are engraved on the identical plaques, which were installed in 1957 on all six
islands, include merchant navy personnel, persecuted people, civil and resistance victims, and military.
The majority of the Antillean victims were seafarers who worked on oil tankers. The oil refineries in
Aruba and Curaçao supplied fuel for the allied forces.

May 4, 2022

Note for the Editor: for more information contact Communication Officer Suzanne Koelega
A large group of students was present at Wednesday’s commemoration. “It is important to have our
students appreciate freedom, to observe the importance of living in a safe environment and to
remember that freedom is not a given,” said SCS Principal Anton Hermans.
Freedom breakfast
On Liberation Day, May 5, the SCS will hold a freedom breakfast at eight locations on Saba from 8:00 to
10:00am: the Flight Deck, Bizzy B in the Windwardside, Island Flavor, Bottom Bean, Queen’s Garden,
Ecolodge, the Home and the SCS. Students, former students and many others will assist with this
breakfast which serves to observe and celebrate freedom. “It is a true community effort,” said Hermans.
Besides Saba, freedom breakfasts and meals will be held on Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire and St. Maarten.