24 MAY 1940, Page 9



HOLLAND has been trampled down because the Germans have with totalitarian thoroughness betrayed every trust they had been given and every service they had been offered. The Dutch people had to be kept quiet by Hitler's solemn premises and assurances. But they could not put their trust in anything after what others had experienced. Holland had put itself into a state of preparedness as good as could be attained. The country was on its guard. But there was one thing which had not been taken into account, and that was the besmirching of military and other honour of which the Germans proved themselves capable. We knew the Germans as militarists ; as militarists who had their own code. To that we credited faith- fulness to the given word ; no misuse of enemy uniforms and above all no making use of civilians and prisoners of war for shielding themselves.

The Germans, however, used Dutch soldiers, civilians, women and even children as a shield for German parachutists, and they even made a system of that. This clearly belonged to their training. The Germans living in the Netherlands had in recent times been put under strong guard. Nevertheless they proved capable of acting as a fifth column. They co-operated with Dutch traitors, who were not numerous, but did a lot of harm. Germans naturalised as Dutchmen took part in these activities.

These Germans got their best results through the misuse of Dutch uniforms. By this means they captured such a vital point as the Moerdijk bridges. Uniformed as Dutch military police, they approached the block-houses. They came as friends, but overpowered the guards with hand grenades. The Dutch could not destroy those bridges, because they expected help from the south along this route. The Germans, however, by capturing the bridges outflanked the Dutch water-line.

Holland had been undermined by treason. Every confidence given to any German or any German assurances proved fatal. Treason had been studied with great thoroughness. Their aeroplanes machine-gunned civilian traffic on the road. They did that from the first moment. They wanted murder to paralyse the population and to demoralise the army. All this has not succeeded, but the treason opened in the long run all defensive positions.

One was not safe for one instant even in the parts where Dutch troops still commanded the position. The Hague was still strongly occupied. The parachutists and fifth-columnists were hunted. Nevertheless they attacked the police head- quarters and even the seat of the Government. They tried to lay hands on the Queen. The danger of assassination was ever present.

Amongst the parachutists some had instructions to reach certain persons and to assassinate them. The Dutch shot down an aeroplane in which the commander of the columnists and parachutists was seated. In that aeroplane was found a list of those who had to be captured and murdered before the occupa- tion of the Netherlands. The list contained the names of some Ministers, Dutch officers in important posts, as well as some British officers and diplomats in the Hague. I had the honour to be included in this list. Those whose names were men- tioned were advised to leave immediately for England because there were no means to prevent their assassination by persons of German or Dutch nationality. Only the Ministers who were under guard of the troops and who had not seen their houses since the outbreak of war could be guarded effectively.

I was in the Hague when I got the warning to proceed imme- diately to the Hook of Holland. I could not go back to my house in Wassenaar, north of the Hague. That was Monday morning, May 13th. I did not have a car, and at the moment that would not have been of much use either. I departed fox the Hook of Holland on a twenty-year-old bicycle. It was a difficult journey. The enemy was expected from all sides. At all barricades on the road machine-guns pointed both ways. I was told that fighting with fifth-columnists was going on between the Hague and the Hook of Holland. I had, however, a reasonably calm journey. The columnists and parachutists were driven back into the undergrowth in the duncs, where they could not be reached easily. At one point I was impressed by Dutch soldiers to help to dig a tank-trap. Many times I was held up. A British visa proved very useful. It showed where I was bound for, and I could continue where others were stopped. But it was as if no end came to this lonE road. Happily the soldiers were not nervous, otherwise I would not have reached my goal alive, with all those weapons pointed at me from far ahead. It was necessary to stop in time long before one reached the posts, because these posts did not allow anybody to approach. There had been too much treason by people in civilian clothes or Dutch uniforms. Dutch soldiers were treated more severely than I was.

When I reached the Hook I experienced a minor crisis. My passport aroused distrust instead of trust. They had the impression that I had already been captured by the Germans and that my passport was misused by one of their agents. I would have found a bad reception had not one of the N.C.O.s of the military police had the bright idea to put me through an examination. I had to recite what I had written in certain articles which he remembered. The examination was success- ful, and I had. gained a friend who did all he could to get me safely on board a British destroyer. In the meantime the General Staff in the Hague had got through to give information about me. That also was helpful.

At last I arrived at the Hook of Holland. There prevailed a quiet atmosphere. There were no air-raids. British troops were stationed there, together with very well trained Dutch marines and military police. But a destroyer had just left. Nobody could tell me when I would be able to go. However, that same evening I departed by the same destroyer that took the members of the Dutch Government to this country.

The Dutch Government had decided that afternoon that it was time to go. The Queen had gone in the morning. Several Ministers reluctantly agreed to leave the country Was it not too early? In fact it was not a moment too early. The Govern- ment had the duty to keep out of the hands of the enemy, because only so could they continue the war with all means. The Queen had to be safe in the company of her advisers. The Dutch fleet had escaped and had joined the Allies. On all seven seas ships under the Dutch flag were sailing—they will now serve the common purpose of the Allies—and then there was the mighty background of the small Dutch State; the great Indian Empire, with its population of 65 millions, all loyal; all enemies of the enemies of the Motherland. This rich Empire which produces, together with the British possessions, the rubber of the world, and so much oil and other valuable raw materials, had to be governed in the interests of the Allies and the freedom of the European part of the Empire. From London all parts of the Empire and everything that makes the Nether- lands useful to the Allied cause could be controlled. The Netherlands fights on only with a small part of her army, only with a minor but not entirely unimportant fleet, but with the enormous economic power which belongs to the Far East.

The Germans, who do not recognise any human or divine law, have now discovered that the Dutch Government in London cannot, according to our constitution, be a real govern- ment. The Dutch constitution requires, so they argue, that a Dutch Government has its seat within the European boundaries of the Netherlands. The Dutch constitution does not, in fact, include a clause forcing a Dutch Government to stay within the power of an invader so that a Seyss-Inquart can take the lead. Another discovery of the German propa- ganda is that Holland is not at war, because Germany has not declared war, and the Dutch constitution required the consent of Parliament for the declaration of war, and Parliament was not able to meet in the circumstances. The Dutch constitution, however,- does not leave any doubt about the position of the country if it is being invaded by the enemy. Holland will con- tinue her struggle with all the resources that have been kept outside the power of the invader. It knows its place and it knows its duty.