Dutch History


Figure 1.--History is replete with small nations being overwealmed by great empires and disappearing. One of the great questions in history is why the tiny Netherlands not only defied one, but two great empires. The Dutch not only managed to maintan their independence from the Spanish Hapsburg Empire, but also Louis XIV's French Empire as well. These were the superpowers of 16th and 17th centuries. The answer is complex, but surely the invention of capitalism and the country's maritime tradition are at the heart of the answer. The Dutch boy here in a 1908 postcard stands in front of Delft tiles depicting some of his country's maritime tradition.

The medieval history of the Netherlands was complicated, but led to the development of an independent spirit which caused the Dutch to resist first Spanish and then French rule. Here they were assisted by both geography and the interests of the English in preventing a continental power from dominating the area. In the 20th century not only the English, but the Americans and Canadians played a role in insuring the independence of the country. The location of the Netherlnds at the mouth of the Rhine River and close to England and the expansion of the European economy during the late-Medieval period made the Lowlands an important trading center (12th-14th century). This lead to the emergence of a wealthy merchant class. The merchants began to challenge the power of the nobility and achieved a substantial degree of autonomy. The Netherlands became a center of relative freedom and tolerance. It was also an early convert to Protestatism after Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation (1519). The Lowlands passed from the control of the dukes of Bourgogne into the hands of the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (early 16th century). Charles was the most powerful monarch in Europe with land streaching from Gemany to Spain. Charles and his sucessors were less willing to honor the concessions made to the merchants by the dukes of Bourgogne and determined to supress Protesantism. Charles granted control of Spain and the Netherlands to his son, Philip II (1555) who set out to establish Spanish absolutism in the Lowlands and to extinguish Protetantism. This led to the Dutch War of Independence and the creation of the mdern Netherlands as we know it (1568-1648). The Netherlands became a major trading nation and established an overseas empire. The Dutch Republic was gradally overshadowed by the expanding power of Britain and France. Discension between conservatives and democratic reformers weakened the Dutch Republic. It ws overwealmed by the French and eventually ansorbed by Napoleon's French Empire. The Congress of Vienna restored an independent Netherlands, under the House of Orange. At first the new monarchy included Belgium, but the Belgiums revolted and became an independent country (1830). The Dutch monarchy developed into a constitutional monarchy. They remained neutral in World War I (1914-18), but were invaded and occupied by the NAZIs in World War II (1939-45). The NAZIs succeeded in killing most Dutch Jews. The post-War era was focused on efforts to rebuild the country which was heavily damaged by the War. The Dutch attempted to restablish their colonial rule in the Dutch East Indies, but failed to do so and the colony became independent as Indonesia (1949). The Dutch were a strong supporter of European integration. A series of coalition governments have ruled the country: Roman Catholic People's Party and the Labor Party (1973-77) and the Christian Democratic Party (1977-94). The Labor Party took control again (1994). The experienced anoter occurnce of serious flooding (1995). Rivers throughout northwestern Europe overflowed and the Netherlands which extensive areas below sealevel was especually affected. The Dutch today are seen as one of the most democratic and tolerant nations in the world. That tolerance has permitted many Muslims seeking reguge and economic opportunity to seek refuge in the country, some of whom do not share the Duch commitment to tolerance and free speech.

The Low Lands

The modern Netherlands is part of the Low Lands of northwest Europe. Today it is the area of modern Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The geographic feature of the Lowlands have played a major role in the area's evolving history. The fact that the Mouth of the Rhine River was located in the Low Lands dictated in an era that rivers were the princial arteries of comerce. The Rhine and other rivers drained much of north central Europe including a substantial area ogf Germany. This dictated that the Low Lands would be a major commercial center, especially Amsterdam and other Dutch ports. The area was couveted by the major continental powers (France, Germany, and Spain). It is this competition in addition to the spirit of its people that enabled the Lowlabds to establish their independence. The desire of the English/British to prevent a major continental power from dominating the area was another major factor. In turn came the Americans and Canadians who with the Engkish liberated the Dutch from the NAZIs during World War II.

Roman Era (1st century BC-4thd century AD)

The first written historical accounts are Roman (1st century BC). The Roman Legions conquered Germanic and Celtic tribes that inhabited Gaul and the Lowlands. The Germanic tribes which inhabited the Low Lands were largely conquered bt Ceasar and Augustus (1st century BC). The northern border of the Roman Empire was the Rhine River. North and east of it tribes were independant. The Netherlands was thus a frontier area. As part of the Roman Empire, the Lowlands and Gaul prospered.

The Frisians (?-7th centuries)

The Frisians were a Germanic tribe located along the North Sea coast of the modern Netherlands (Fryslan and Groningenand) and Germany east of Jutland as well as coastal islands. Their origins are not well known, but may have been in Scandinavia. They Frisians were known and respected by the Romans, n=meaning they were an important, powerful German tribe. They signed a treaty with the Romans along the Rhine River (28 AD). This may have hekped avoid conquest by the Romans. The Romans apparently demanded heavy tribute. The Frisians hanged the Roman tax collector and defeated a Roman force sent to punish them in the Battle of Baduhennawoodby during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (44 AD). The Frisians were mentioned by Tacitus in his landmark study of the Germanic people. He mentions maioribus minoribusque frisii (major and minor Frisians) which settled along the mouth of the Rhine. The difference appears to be related to the fertility of the soil they tilled and the resulting harvests. Other Roman authors also mention them, including references to Frisii and Frisiavones. [Pliny the Elder] The two terms seem to be synonamous. The Frisians are believed to be a seafaring people. The North Sea at the time was referred to by the Romans as the Mare Frisia. Frisians settlmets have been found at some distance from their homeland, including England (especially Kent), Scotland, Denmark, Belgium, and France. Frisians are known to have served in the Roman army.

The Franks (5th-10th centuries)

With the decline of Roman power, Germanic tribes from the East began crossing the Rhine in increasing numbers. The Romans withdrew and the German and Celtic tribes settled down in these regions 9afterabout 400 AD). One of the most powerful Germanic tribes was the Franks who suceeded in overwealming local tribes in the Lowlands and large areas of Gaul. The southern Netherlands came under the authority of the Franks first. At about this time the conversion of the Low Lands to Christianity was just beginning. Missionaries were active, roaming the country looking for converts. Missionaries built a small church was built in Utrecht on the ruins of an old Roman fort (629). To the north, the Frisians continued to resist Christianity and honor their traditioinal gods. The North-Netherlands remained "Fries" until the defeat of the Frisian King Radbod (690 AD). An Anglo-Saxon monk named Willibrord is one of the missionaries who were worked in the Netherlands. He focused on the Frisians. The Pope ordained him archbishop of the Frisians and bishop of Utrecht. Willibrord died (739), but his labors were continued by Boniface (bishop of Mainz). Boniface was, however, was murdered by Frisians in Dokkum (754). Pepin III deposed the last Merovingian king and had himself proclaimed King of the Franks (751). Pepin had the Pope's support and was anointed king by the missionary archbishop Boniface. Pepin's action established a new dynasty. Pepin began the aggressive Christinization of the Franks. Under Pepin the Lowlands were converted to Christianity. The entire territory of the modern Belgium and the Netherlands was governed by the Franks (785). The new FRankish dynasty became known as the Carolingian named after Pepin's his celebrated son, Charlemagne (742-814). The Low Lands were part of Charlemagne's Frankish Empire (800 AD). After Charlemagne's death, his Empire began to desintegrate. The Lowlands became part of the territory of Holy Roman Emperor Lothair I and subsequently became known as the Kingdom of Lorraine (9th century). The area was contested by the East and West Franks and eventually became part of the Duchy of Lower Lorraine under a German overlord. It is at this time that Vikings raids on Western Europe began.

The Vikings (8th-9th centuries)

With the decline of the Frankish Empire, Scandinavian riders (the Vikings) plundered the coast and attacked cities along major rivers (8th-9th century). The people built fortified towns for protection. The Lowlands like England and Scotland were the areas of Western Europe most exposed to the Norsemen. It was local authorities in the Lowlands that fought off the Norsemen which made them powerful local lords and a force for their nominal feudal ducal overlords to deal with. Spanish Rule

Medieval Trading Center (10th-15th centuries)

The location of the Netherlands at the mouth of the Rhine River and close to England and the expansion of the European economy during the late-Medieval period made the Lowlands an important trading center (12th-14th century). Especially important was access to English wool. The English did not have an important weaving industry. They thus exported the fleeces, primarily to the Low Lands. An important weaving industry did develop in the Lowlands. The wool textiles produced in the Lowlands were perhaps the most valuable product of medieval Europe. A product which could be readily sold thrrought Europe. The weavers of the Low Lands produced carse textiles for the peasantry and fine textiles for aristocrats and wealthy perchants. With the help of Venice and other Italian merchants, these textiles could be sold in the Middle East in exchange for the goods from the East, silk, porcelin, spices and more. And the wealth generated by weaving help to spin off other economic development such as ship building. Thus the Lowlands were at the heart of the rapidly expanding European economy of the late-medieval period and Renaissance. The weaving industry was important throughout the Lowlands (modern Belgium and the Netherlands as well as adjecent areas of northern France). This lead to the emergence of a wealthy merchant class. Gelders, Holland, and Brabant were able to exercise a degree of local autonomy. As the pace of commercec quickened, city communes organized by the bourgeoisie began to challenge feudal lords throughout the rapidly developing Low Lands. During the middle-ages the Low Lands between modern France and Germany were governed by a group of autonomous duchies, Gelre, Brabant and counties, Holland, Zeeland and the diocese of Utrecht. The Northern Provinces became part of Burgandy (14th and 15th centuries). The merchants began to challenge the power of the nobility and achieved a substantial degree of autonomy. The Netherlands thus became a center of relative freedom and tolerance. Sephardic Jews expelled by Spain were accepted in Amsterdam with a degree of toleration.

The Hapsburgs

One of the longest ruling European royal families was the Hapsburgs. The Habsburgs often dominated European history from the 16th to the 19th century. Even in their declining years of Hapsburg rule, the family played a key role in the 20th century. It was the assasination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand that was to lead to World War I. Like the Hohenzollerns, the Hapsburgs took their name from a family castle in Medieval Germany. This renowened family of German origins was in various periods the ruling family of Germany, as a separate family and as part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was the Hapsburgs who stopped the advance of the Ottimans into Christain Europe. The heighth of the dynasty's powers came in the 15th and 16th centuries with Philip I and Charles V who united Germany and Spain making the Hapsburgs the doiminate power in Europe. His son Philip II comanded vast armies and navies, but their blind religious faith was to lead to devestating religious wars in Germany and Spain becoming a backwater of Europe. Most European ruling families are associated primarily with one coutry. The Hapsburgs, while of German roots, ruled over many European countries. The Hapsburgs ruled Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, the Netherland, Spain, and many smaller European principalities--not to mention Mexico for a few years. The story of the Hapsburgs is in fact the history of Europe for centuries.

Hapsburg Rule (16th-17th centuries)

Burgandy and with it the Low Lands as a result of the death of Mary of Burgandy passed into the hands of the Hapsburgs (1482). The Hapsburgs thus obtained title to Flanders, Brabant, Artois, Halnaut, Luxembourg, Limburg, Holand, and Zeeland. The Lowlands passed from the control of the dukes of Bourgogne into the hands of the Habsburg. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1500-1558) added Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel, Friesland, and Drenthe. Under Charles, the various territories in the LowLands were united to one territory under the name "Lage Landen". Charles was the most powerful monarch in Europe with land streaching from Gemany to Spain. Charles handed over control of the Lowlands to his son Prince Philip. Charles and Philip were less willing to honor the concessions made to the merchants by the dukes of Bourgogne and determined to supress Protesantism. The Hapsburgs were unfamiliar with the degree of autonomy that the Dutch had over time obtained. The Dutch found Spanish rule oppressive. The Dutch were also early converts to the Protestant Reformation. The Dutch and the Flemish in large numbers turned to Calvinism. Philip II attempted to both stamp out Protestab=ntism and curtail the powers that the provincial estates (representative assemblies) were exercisng. Protestantism and Dutch autonomy were unacceptable to the Spanish monarchs who were strong supporters of the Catholic Church and the Counter Refornation. The Belgians to the south, however, remained firmly Catholic. The cruel actions by the Duke of Alba provoked a general revolt.

Dutch Reformation (16th century)

Erasmus strongly promoted reform of the Catholic church during the years leading to the Reformation. The Netherlands was by the early 16th century a non-German possession of German Hapsburg Emperor Charles V. The Emperor within the Holy Roman Empire (Germany) attempted to resolve the dispute with Luther and his followers diplomatically. His approach outside the Empire in the provinces where he ruled directly, he was not prepared to compromise and invoked the full force of the Inquisition. he University of Leuven (Louvain) condemned Luther's theses (1519). Emperor Charles appointed van der Hulst as the Inquisitor General to supress the Protestants in the Netherlands (1522). He applied the full force of the Inquisition and within a year there were executions. Count Alva's brutal methods in the southern Netherlands appered for a time to have succeded in destroying the Reformation in the Netherlands. Imperial forces were in control in the south. Alva when he left the Netherlands, however, was a hated man as was the emperor (1573). The Count was, however, was unable to completely eliminate Protestantism. To many people in the Netherlands had cinverted. Despite supression in the south, rebellion flared in the north. The provinces of Holland and Zeeland rose in revolt (1572). The most repected nobleman in the Netherlands, William of Orange-Nassau, had serious differences ith the Imperial government (1568). The fighting became a bitterly fought war and excesses and atricities were committed by both sides. The creation of Union of Utrecht brought on one of the longest struggles in European history--the Dutch War of Independence. It was foiught by the Dutch againt local Catholic forces and the Spanih. (Upon the death of Emperor Charles V, the Netherlands became a Spanish territory.) Fighting continued until the Peace of Utrecht (1648). The Dutch made Calvinim the sate religion or confession. They looked on Catholics with great suspission, although they were not arrested for their faith. Other religioins were tolerated, this included not only other Protestants, but the Jews as well. This made the Dutch the most tolerant people in Europe and the Netherlnds a refuge for those facing religious persecution. This was an element in the Dutch become the most prosperous people in Europe.

The Dutch War for Independence (1568-1648)

The creation of Union of Utrecht brought on one of the longest struggles in European history--the Dutch War of Independence. It was foiught by the Dutch againt local Catholic forces and the Spanih. (Upon the death of Emperor Charles V, the Netherlands became a Spanish territory.) The Union of Utrecht upon its establidshment abolished religious persecution (1579). Religion was to be determined by the constiuent territories. Archbishop Frederik van Schenck van Toutenberg died and at that point the Calvinism was introduced in Utrecht (1580). The seven United Provinces eventually declared their independence from the Spanish king in 1581 following the Union of Utrecht of 1579. The Dutch in areas they controlled introduced a Calvinist state confession. Dutch speaking areas under Spanish control (roughly Flanders in modern Belgium--Noord Brabant, Limburg, and eastern Gelderland) experienced conversion at the hands of the Counter Reformation and were compeled to accept Tridentine Catholicsm. Here we do not yet have details on the actual process. Over the course of the war, control of these provinces swayed back and forth. The Dutch upon taking any of these areas looked on them as occupied enemy territory. Politically they were established as Lands of the Generality. They were denied representation in the Dutch Estates General. Catholics were prohibited from holding public office. Jean Taffin published his book Marks of God's Childre (1585). It was a sensation among Dutch and French Protestants. He offered encouragement to those engaged in spiritual warfare. The Dutch Government founded th University of Leiden s a Calvanist institution (1575). It became a noted center of Calvanist teaching. It was also center of a debate which developed among Calvanist threologians. Jacobus Arminius and Gaomarus were leading figures and taught differing interpretations of scripture. The followeres became known as Remonstranten (Arminius) and Contraremonstranten (Gaomarus). Upon the death of Armminius, Calninists split into rival groups (1609). Many of the city councils were Remonstranten. Stadholder, Maurice of Orange-Nassau supported the Contraremonstranten. It was the Contraremonstranten and Stadtholder Maurice who emerged victorious. Remonstranten supporter Johan Oldembarneveld, Pensionary of Holland, was tried and executed. The Council of Dordt (Dordrecht) condened the Remonstranten or Arminian interpretatioin. The Canons of the Council of Dordt are today still used by Calvanist theologiands around the world. The Calvanists punlished their vesion of the Bible, the Statenbijbel (1637). Fighting continued until the Peace of Utrecht (1648). The Dutch made Calvinim the sate religion or confession. They looked on Catholics with great suspission, although they were not arrested for their faith. Other religioins were tolerated, this included not only other Protestants, but the Jews as well. This made the Dutch the most tolerant people in Europe and the Netherlnds a refuge for those facing religious persecution. This was an element in the Dutch become the most prosperous people in Europe.

Overseas Expansion (1600)

The Netherlands became a major trading nation and established an overseas empire. Dutch merchants dispatched an expedition of three vessels from Amsterdam to Indonesia (about 1600). This was the first of numerous expeditions that resulted in the establish of Dutch trading stations throughout the world and eventually an empire. The small Dutch Republic became the foremost commercial and maritime power of Europe. Amsterdam as a result became the financial center of Europe. Competition between the Dutch and the English over maritime trade resulted in two Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars (1650s and 1660s).

Dutch Wars (1652-74)

The Dutch Wars are commonly referred to as the Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars. This is an appropriate tern for the first two wars. The third war was, however, a very different matter. It went far beyound the Anglo-Duch nval rivalry and eventually involved most of Europe. As a result the Dutch Wars seems the most appropiate term to use. The English played a major role in securing the independence of the Netherlands. And usually the Dutch and English were on the same side of European conflicts. Never-the-less, the English fought three naval wars with the Dutch during the 17th century. The more important ones were conducted by Stuart King Charles II who maintained close relatioins with England's traditional enemy France. The Dutch Wars are thus somewhat of an anomaly in England's basic policy of resisting foreign domination of the Low Lands. The Wars were fought as naval engagements. One important outcome was the English seizure of New Amsterdam which became the English colony of New York,

Spanish Netherlands

The Spanish Netherlands is the area of the Lowlands that remained under Spanish rule when the United Provinces suceeded in gaining their independence in the Dutch War of Independence. France also acquired some territory. It is in large measure the approximate territory of modern Belgium. With the Peace of Utrecht (1714), what remained of the Spanish Netherlands reverted to the Austrian branch of the Hapsburg family. Emperor Joseph II introduced reforms which resulted by conservative Catholic elements and the proince declred independence (1790). The Haopsburgs managed to peacefully restore order (1790), in part because of the outbreak of the French Revolution. French Revolutionary armies conquered the province (1794). Austria formally ceded it to France (1797). After the Napoleonic Wars the Congress of Vienna combined it with the United Provinces to form the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815). The povince revolted from Dutch rule and formed modern Belgium (1830).

Louis XIV

Louis XIV was one of France's most ilustrious kings. He finalized the creation of an absolutist, centralized monarchy. He also attempted to expand the borders of France to the Rhine. This included the absorption of the Dutch Republic. The Dutch once again were faced with seemingly overwealming force and the superpower of the era. The Dutch fought naval wars with the English, but the English generlly supported Dutch independence. English support provided critical support in the wars with France. The English-Dutch alliance was a major factor in twarting Louis' territorial designs.

House of Orange

The House of Orange, so associated with the Neterlands today, actually oriniginated in southern France and has nothing to do with the modern Dutch state. Orange was a principality in southern France near Marseilles. The earliest record I know of dates to 1163. After the death of the last count, Rene de Chalon (1544), Willem van Nassau obtained Orange. The French family of Chalon-Orange and the German family of Nassau were united by the marriage between Hendrik III of Nassau-Breda and Claudia of Chalon-Orange and by heredity to the property of Willem van assau-Dillenburg, who since then called himself Willem van Oranje-Nassau. Louis XIV in 1672 seized Orange. It became undisputed French territory in 1713 as part of the Treaty of Utrecht, the peace treaty ending the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). The title and royal arms of Orange were passed to the Dutch Royal House.

William II (1625-50)

Prince William II of Orange was stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. His father was Prince Frederick Henry of Orange. He married Princess Royal Mary Stuart of Orange in 1641. William destinguished himself as a young soldier. After the death of his father a peace treaty was finally reached with Spain recognizing Dutch independence. William was, however, opposed to the terms of the trreaty and quarled with the influential merchants who controlled the Netherlands. He favored an alliance with France. William was succeeded by his son, the future William III of England, who was born after his death.

William III (1650-1702)

William like his wife Mary was a Stuart. His father was William II de Nassau, Prince of Orange. His mother was English Princess Royal Mary Henrietta Stuart, a daughter of Charles I. William and Mary replaced James II in the Glorious Revolution. Their reign meant the end of royal prerogative and efforts to establish royal absolutism. William's primary accomplishment as Statholder and King was to twat efforts by France to dominate Europe. He also profoundly impacted English government. After William and Mary it would be Parliament that would increasingly dominate English Government. Control of Parlialent would be contested by the merchant backed Whigs .

American Revolution

The Dutch provided critical financing to the Colonies.

French Revolution (1789-1815)

The French Revolution marked the end of the Republic of the Seven Netherlands. Discension between conservatives and democratic reformers in the mid-18th century weakened the Dutch Republic. It ws overwealmed by the French Revolutionar Army (1795). The French created a satellite-state called "The Batavian Republic". Napoleon appointed his brother Louis (Lodewijk) as King of the Republic, which was renamed the Kingdom of Holland (1806). His wife was a daughter of Emperess Joséphine. Neither Louis's rule or the marriage proved successful. One of their children was to rule France as Napoleon III. Napoleon tiried of the difficulties with his brother, who he thought to influenced by the Dutch, who wanted to trade with the British, rather than following the Emperor's instructions. Napoleon decided to dispense with his brother and simply annex Holland totally to France.

Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815)

The Congress of Vienna restored an independent Netherlands, under the House of Orange (1815). At first the new monarchy included the Spanish Netherlands (essentially Belgium), but the Belgiums revolted and became an independent country (1830). The Dutch monarchy developed into a constitutional monarchy. The Government gradually lexpanded the suffrage and instituted liberal reforms. The Dutch experienced the benefis of economic expansion as the Netherlands developed an industrial economy.

Emigration

The Dutch were another people who never emigrated to America in large numbers. Remember that the people commonly referred to as the Pennsylvania Dutch in America are Germans. (Presumably the confusion comes from the German word for German--Deutsche. There is a small Dutch population in American, originating to large part frpm the first colonizers in New York. Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan in 1626 from the Native Americans for $24.00 after New Netherland was established. Peter Stuyvesant (1592-1672) founded New Amsterdam in 1647 which became New York. Names like Harlem, Brooklyn, Yonkers, Staten Island, etc. are all of Dutch origin. Individual Dutchmen went everywhere in America, but Michigan and Iowa are the only states where they settled in groups and where some Dutch influence is still noticeable there . Three American presidents were of Dutch descent: the two Roosevelts and Martin van Buren, rather remarable given the small portion of the Dutch in the American population. A reader notes some Dutch influence in Texas. He writes, "The only place in Texas where I found some Dutch influence was Nederland near Beaumont. I only could tell by the Dutch and Frisian names on the mailboxes."

World War I (1914-18)

The Dutch were neutral during World War I. Neither the Allies or the Germans occupied the Netherlands. The German invasion launching the war was directed at neighboring Belgium to the south. Belgian civilians and soldiers sought reguge in the Netherlands. The Dutch as a trading nation, however, were significantly affected by the Allied naval blockade. The Allies were concerned that the Germans might obtain goods and supplies through Dutch ports. The Allies thus carefully regulated Dutch trade and put them under strict quotas. The Netherlands Trust was established to administer the Allied quotas regulating Dutch imports through the blockade. The Allies even attempted to prevent Dutch trade with Germany, but were unsuccessful. It is less clear why the Germans did not occupy the Netherlands. The German offensive launching the war did not need to pass through the Netherlands. The port of Rotterdam was important to Germany, but rendered useless by the Allied naval blockade. In part because of the allied blockade there was considerable sympathy in the Netherlands for the Germans during World I. Ethnic and commercial ties were also factors. The Dutch offered asylum to the Kaiser at the end of the War and refused to turn him over to the Allies for trial. After the war, the Dutch supported charities offering relief to children in both Germany and Austria.

World War II (1939-45)

The Dutch were neutral during World War I. There was considerable sympathy in the Netherlands for the Germans during World I. The Dutch offered asylum to the Kaiser at the end of the War and refused to turn him over to the allies for trial. After the war, the Dutch supported charities offering relief to children in both Germany and Austria. The Dutch hoped to remain neutral in World War II, but were invaded by the NAZIs as part of their Western offensive. The Dutch Air Force was destroyed and the country capitulated after the Luftwaffe terror bombing of Rotterdam. The NAZIs occupied the Netherlands for 4 years. They succeeded in killing most Dutch Jews. The Resistance had little possibility of armed oposition, but assisted the allies with relaying intelligence and assisting down airmen. After D-Day, the Allies reached the Dutch in September, but the failure of Operation Market Garden (October 1944) left most of the country still in NAZI hands until the Allies crossed the Rhine (March 1945). By this time the Dutch were near starvation.

The Holocaust

The NAZIs succeeded in killing most Dutch Jews. Some German Jews had fled to the Netherlands before the War began. Dutch Jews had heard rumors of what had happened in Poland. Many had thought that they were safe in the Netherlands. Most Dutch thought that the Germans would respect Dutch neutrality as they had in World War I. They were wrong. The Germans invaded and occupied the country in only a few days (May 1940). The terror bombing of Rotterdam and threats of similar bombings of other Dutch cities convinced the Dutch that resistance was futile. Queen Wilemina fled with her family to England. Hitler appointed an Austrian, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, who had been involved in the administration of occupied Poland to seve as the NAZI governor of occupied Poland. In his first addressed to the Dutch people, Seyss-Inquart assured the Dutch people that Germany would not impose NAZI ideology and that they would respect existing Dutch laws. Unlike Poland thaere were no mass killings of Jews or burning of syynagoges as German soldiers occupied the country. The NAZIs administered the Netherlands differently than other occupied countries in the West (Belgiumm Denmark, and France). Most scholars believe that if Germany had won the War that the Netherlands would have been annexed to the Reich. The Dutch population was in fact more Aryan than the German population and thus for the race-obsessed NAZIs like Hitler and Himmler it would be a valuable addition to the Reich. Seyss-Inquart ruled by decree. Over the 5 years he governed the Netherlamds (1940-45), he issued hundreds of decrees. Contrary to his pledge, he turned the Netherlamds into a throughly NAZI police state. Many of his decrees were inconsequential, but slowly they created thge circumstances that permitted the NAZIs to murder most Dutch Jews.

Post-War Era

The post-War era was focused on efforts to rebuild the country which was heavily damaged by the War.

North Sea Floods (1953)

A Dutch reader tells us, "Today is special to most Dutchmen: On February 1, 1953, spring tide and storm winds sweeping the North Sea combined to produce one of the biggest disasters ever in Holland and Flanders. The resulting floods were the largest since the infamous All Saints’ Flood of 1570.

Dutch Colonies

The Dutch after World War II attempted to restablish their colonial rule in the Dutch East Indies (DEI), but failed to do so and after several years of fighting the colony became independent as Indonesia (1949). The Netherlands' New Guinea was part of the DEI, but since the population culturally and ethnically was Papua, the Dutch did not want to surrender this territory to Indonesia in 1949. It never gained independence because in 1962 it became part of Indonesia as Irian Jaya, ruled from (Muslim) Jakarta. The Papuan people are very unhappy about it and identify more with independent Papua New Guine, the easter half of the island. A Dutch reader writes, "I spent several weeks in Irian and I had been approached many times by natives who told me that they wanted their independence, separated from Indonesia." Suriname became independent (1975), but continues to receive Dutch economic assistance. The Dutch islands in the Caribbean (Aruba, Bonaire, Curico, ans St. Maartens) became self-governing, but retaned a relationship with the Netherlands.

European Integration

The Dutch were a strong supporter of European integration.

NATO


Governments

A series of coalition governments have ruled the country: Roman Catholic People's Party and the Labor Party (1973-77) and the Christian Democratic Party (1977-94). The Labor Party took control again (1994).

Flooding

The Dutch experienced anoter occurnce of serious flooding (1995). Rivers throughout northwestern Europe overflowed and the Netherlands which extensive areas below sealevel was especually affected. Damages and evacuation expenses were estimated at more than $1 billion.

Muslim Minority

The Dutch today are seen as one of the most democratic and tolerant nations in the world. That tolerance has permitted many Muslims seeking reguge and economic opportunity to seek refuge in the country, some of whom do not share the Duch commitment to tolerance and free speech. Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh was stabbed to death by Muslim fanatic Mohammed Bouyeri. Bouyeri was offened because Van Gogh directed a documentary film criticizing Muslim treatment of women. Some Muslims believe that God gives them the right to take the life of people who offend them. The knife Boyuyeri used had a note about Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This young woman has become a cause celebre in the Netherlands, but a very controversial one. She is a Dutch-Somali politican who has been under Dutch police protection since 2002. She had complained about the treatment of women in the Dutch Muslim community and described herself as secular. (Apotasy is according to the Koran punishable by death.) At first a darling of the Dutch media, after the Van Gogh murder, many Dutch people have reached the conclusion that Ali is to loucd and too vocal and protecting her is not worth the cost. Some Dutch believe that the issues Ali raised such as women's rights and integration should be a matter of public debate. Others are uncomfortable about discussing these issues and raising any criticism of Muslim and other Third World peoples. The Dutch Government even tried to revoke her citizenship (2006). Her neigbors went to court to have her evicted claiming that the security threat was an infriment on their human rights. The Dutch Government terminated her security funding, although it is still an issue before the Parliament. Ali explains that many Dutch people tell her esentially that she "brought her problems on herself". Ali has decided that she needed to seek protection in America.







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[Maiken Island] [Dutch boys bangs] [Dutch choirs] [Dutch school uniform] [Dutch catalogs] [Dutch post cards] [Dutch royals] [Dutch youth groups]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing national pages:
[Return to the Main countries page]
[Australia] [Belgium] [England] [France] [Germany] [Ireland] [Italy] [Japan] [Korea] [Mexico] [Netherlands] [Scotland] [United States]



Created: 12:27 AM 10/10/2007
Last updated: 3:15 AM 1/8/2008