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1 - Initial Choices and Conditions

from Part I - Patriotisms under Occupation (the Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Thailand)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2023

Aviel Roshwald
Affiliation:
Georgetown University, Washington DC
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Summary

The German invasion of the Netherlands commenced on May 10, 1940 and ended with the Dutch armed forces’ capitulation four days later.1 Rapid and decisive though this defeat may have been, the Dutch military did manage to extract a political silver lining from its encounter with the Wehrmacht’s overwhelming power: German airborne troops sent behind the lines to capture the royal family in The Hague were held off long enough to allow the escape of Queen Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana and son-in-law Prince Bernhard, along with their children, on May 12, followed by the queen herself on the 13th. The monarch’s initial plan of having the British destroyer on which she had embarked take her to join Dutch forces in the country’s southwest was overtaken by the rapid advance of German forces; all the royals ended up conveyed to London, with Princess Juliana eventually being sent on to Canada as a hedge against the contingency of a German invasion of the British Isles. The members of the Dutch cabinet, backed by a coalition of most of the country’s major political parties, also departed for Britain at the urging of several outspoken ministers, who overrode the hesitations of a somewhat shell-shocked prime minister, Dirk Jan de Geer. In London, they joined two ministers already visiting the UK for the coordination of military efforts. Queen and cabinet together constituted a government-in-exile for the duration of their country’s occupation by the enemy. During the weeks that followed, the prime minister’s inclination to negotiate some sort of compromise with a Germany whose victories seemed irreversible were overridden by a defiant queen, backed by a majority of the cabinet; Wilhelmina accepted de Geer’s resignation in August. His place was taken by Pieter Gerbrandy, a maverick member of the Anti-Revolutionary Party – a conservative Calvinist party supportive of strong central government and historically more open than de Geer’s Christian Historical Union to working across sectarian lines with Catholic parties. Gerbrandy’s voice had been critical in the cabinet’s original decision to decamp to the United Kingdom.

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Chapter
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Occupied
European and Asian Responses to Axis Conquest, 1937–1945
, pp. 18 - 37
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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