Renee van Bavel



Commissioned by the “Nationaal Comite 4 & 5 Mei” – the Dutch National Committee 4th & 5th May, I wrote the lyrics and composition of the song EEN MENS (A human being) for the Dutch National Commemoration Ceremony 2019 at the “Nieuwe Kerk” in Amsterdam.

For inspiration for writing this song, I spoke with Dutch resistance fighters during the Second World War, Engelandvaarders, children of resistance fighters and was a guest at the Indisch Remembrance Centre in The Hague to research the role of resistance in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial war in Indonesia.

I performed the song EEN MENS in the presence of His Majesty the King and the Queen, on the Dutch National Commemoration Day Ceremony, the 4th May 2019, in the “Nieuwe Kerk” in Amsterdam. During this performance I was accompanied by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The ceremony was broadcasted live on Dutch national television.

The song EEN MENS is about being and remaining human and being and remaining compassionate in times of war, violence and oppression. It is about humanity.

For the lyrics I was inspired by a brave old lady, who was part of the Dutch Resistance during the Second World War: I had a very special conversation with her and I quote her in the chorus:

The old lady told me “You just do it”.

You are a human being, are you not?
And I am a human being, am I not?
And when it comes to it,
And you come face to face with injustice and violence
Then you are still a human being
Then I am still a human being
Then you stop thinking
about the consequences and possible danger.
Then you do what needs to be done
“You just do it”
Because you are a human being.