Neutral Netherlands (Holland) during WW1

Argentina, Chile, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Venezuela, Sweden and Switzerland.

Only these countries were neutral during the Great War 1914-1918. The rest of the world conducted war with each other.

Following the adage that he who wants peace prepares for war, the small Dutch army exercised continuously. In the East Holland bordered to Germany and in the south to German-occupied Belgium. The heavy gunfire in Flanders was heard in Holland every day. The Belgian battlefields were no more than 40 km's away (about 26 miles).

The Dutch mobile artillery corps crosses a brook in the southern province of Brabant. 1914

When the war broke out more than one million Belgian refugees fled to Holland. Thousands of soldiers, from both sides, followed them. They crossed the border because the enemy had them encircled, like it happened to 2,000 British marines at Antwerp.

Disarmement of German infantry troops who fled across the border to the Netherlands

All foreign soldiers arriving in The Netherlands were disarmed and interned in camps where they were to stay during rest of the war. The German soldiers called this place the graveyard, because of the bayonets that were put into the ground.

The Dutch government had mobilized 500.000 man to reinforce the regular army. They guarded the borders and filled their days with exercising and polishing...

Mobile pigeon station

There were many incidents in which war-countries were involved. England for instance, bombed - by accident - the Dutch port of Zierikzee.

And German U-boats torpedoed and sank many Dutch ships - even one that transported German prisoners-of-war from England to the Netherlands.

In spring 1915 the Germans erected an dreadful electric fence between occupied Belgium and the Netherlands. The 2,000 Volts wire ran almost 200 Km (125 Miles) long through villages, orchards, meadows, woodland, over brooks - even over the river Meuse. The height of the construction was over 3 meters. How many people the fence killed is unknown. Estimates vary from 2,000 to 3,000.

The word neutral comes from ne uter (=none of both), but in the Netherlands making a choice was a near thing: commander-in-chief General C.J. Snijders had a strong liking for the 'invincible' Germany.

Dutch queen Wilhelmina on horseback, observing a military exercise

Because of his attitude the government several times tried to get rid of the general, but Queen Wilhelmina kept on backing her CIC. The queen was fond of the army and often visited the troops and observed exercises.

Dutch navy men defuse mines washed ashore

To maintain neutrality the Netherlands laid mines in coastal waters, to prevent hostile landings.

Three times (in 1916, 1917 and 1918) Germany considered occupying the Netherlands. In that case the allied countries without doubt would have invaded the country from the seaside.

Germany eventually refrained from invading Holland, also because of the food supplies that continuously flowed from this country. This trade made some merchants in Holland very rich. They were called OW'ers, meaning 'oorlogswinst-makers': war-profiteers. Until this very day OW'er is considered a harsh term of abuse in Holland.

In the Netherlands there are some cemeteries where victims of the Great War are buried. Many were sailors who fell at sea. Others are civilians or navy-personnel who died at the beaches where countless mines washed ashore.

Many people still bore a grudge to England because of the Boer War, fifteen years earlier, when thousands of Boers (Dutch descendants) in South-Africa had been killed by British soldiers.

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Popular Articles On This Site

Quotes about war....

"War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man."
--Napoleon Hill

"We have failed to grasp the fact that mankind is becoming a single unit, and that for a unit to fight against itself is suicide."
--Havelock Ellis

'Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."
--Mao Tse-Tung (1893 - 1976)

"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
--George McGovern

"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
--Joseph Stalin

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
--Voltaire, War

In war, truth is the first casualty.
-- Aeschylus

"The ability and inclination to use physical strength is no indication of bravery or tenacity to life. The greatest cowards are often the greatest bullies. Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery."
--Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
--Adolf Hitler

"To walk through the ruined cities of Germany is to feel an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization."
--George Orwell

"Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country."
--Bertrand Russell

Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.
--Francis Meehan

Snippets From History

German Soldiers in Russia: Part 1

Hubert Menzel was a major in the General Operations Department of the OKH (the Oberkommando des Heers, the German Army headquarters), and for him the idea of invading the Soviet Union in 1941 had the smack of cold, clear logic to it: 'We knew that in two years' time, that is by the end of 1942, beginning of 1943, the English would be ready, the Americans would be ready, the Russians would be ready too, and then we would have to deal with all three of them at the same time.... We had to try to remove the greatest threat from the East.... At the time it seemed possible.'

Battle for Berlin, 1945

'We started to fire at the masses,' says one former German machine gunner. 'They weren't human beings for us. It was a wall of attacking beasts who were trying to kill us. You yourself were no longer human.'


Berlin after it fell to the Russians, 1945

"Vladlen Anchishkin, a Soviet battery commander on the 1st Ukrainian Front, sums up the horror of the whole event, when he tells how he took personal revenge on German soldiers: 'I can admit it now, I was in such a state, I was in such a frenzy. I said, 'Bring them here for an interrogation' and I had a knife, and I cut him. I cut a lot of them. I thought, 'You wanted to kill me, now it's your turn.'
Read More


Dramatic Pictures: Battle For Stalingrad
"...Effective command no longer possible... further defense senseless. Collapse inevitable. Army requests immediate permission to surrender in order to save lives of remaining troops."
General Paulus' radio message to Hitler on January 24, 1943

"...Capitulation is impossible. The 6th Army will do its historic duty at Stalingrad until the last man, the last bullet..."

Hitler's response to General Friedrich Paulus' request to withdraw from the city


Points To Ponder....

The fall of France was shocking. It reduced France to virtually a non-player in the Second World War. The efforts of Charles de Gualle were more symbolic than material. But the martial instincts of the French must never be doubted. Under Napoleon they were a formidable military power. The French definitely have more iron in their blood then say, the Italians [I do not mean it in a derogatory sense. War never makes sense]


Bias Of Western Historians

Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany.

It can hardly be called mere 'resistance'! If it hadn't been for the Russians, Hitler would have made mincemeat of British forces in Africa and landed on British shores in no time. Hitler attacked Russia first because it had more land and resources than Britain. It is as simple as that.

Eastern Front: Bias Of Western Historians