The deaths included the 102,000 Jews massacred in Nazi death camps. The large majority of Dutch Jews had been deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor.
Of the countries in Western Europe occupied by the Nazis, the Netherlands suffered the largest number as a result of the persecution of the Jews, both in terms of percentages and in absolute numbers, according to the nonprofit the Anne Frank House.
Marking Jewish life in Germany
Merkel lauds 'European solidarity' amid pandemic
During her speech, Merkel also highlighted Europe's current challenges in freedom and fundamental rights posed by the coronavirus crisis.
"For the first time since World War II, fundamental freedoms are restricted to an extent that was beyond our imagination before the pandemic," she said during the virtual session.
She praised "European solidarity as the result of a unique process of reconciliation and unification" that helped overcome the crisis.
The Dutch broadcaster NOS reported Merkel was asked to give the lecture on Liberation Day because, according to the National Committee for 4 and 5 May — a Dutch authority for war monuments and memorials — she is "steeped in history and has been committed to peace, freedom and stability in Europe for many years."
Speeches were previously given by the writer and scientist Rosanne Hertzberger, the actor Nasrdin Dchar and King Willem-Alexander (then the prince). In 2012, German President Joachim Gauck delivered the lecture.