|Full Name||34 Kingdom of the Netherlands|
|Alliance||Allies - Minor Member Nation or Possession|
|Entry into WW2||10 May 1940|
|Population in 1939||8,729,000|
|Military Deaths in WW2||7,900|
|Civilian Deaths in WW2||198,000|
|- Civ Deaths from Holocaust||106,000|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseDuring WW1, the Netherlands maintained a neutral status. In 1936, when Germany began a rearmament policy, the Netherlands also began building its defenses while continuing to maintain neutrality. As Germany annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia and invaded Poland, and as Japan became more of a threat in Asia against the Dutch holdings in the Pacific Ocean, the Netherlands government progressively increased its military budget in preparation for a potential war. These increases in military budget, however, would soon prove to be too late especially in light of so many years of military cutbacks during the inter-war years. On 10 May 1940, German forces crossed the border despite Dutch neutrality as part of a strategy to tie down Allied forces in the Low Countries while another force crossed through the Ardennes region on the Belgian-German border. With the mere 19 ill-equipped battalions unable to stop the German invasion, surrender came on 15 May; Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government fled to London, England, United Kingdom to establish a government-in-exile (along with, eventually, 2,000 Dutch), while Princess Juliana fled to Ottawa, Canada. Among the chief reasons of the decision to surrender was the devastation observed at Rotterdam, Netherlands, which saw the death of over 900 civilians, and that the Germans had threatened to repeat such devastation against other Dutch cities. The German invasion resulted in 2,300 military and 3,000 civilian deaths; the Germans suffered 2,200 deaths and 1,300 captured.
ww2dbaseFrom Britain, many Dutch worked toward the Allied cause. In the air, Dutch pilots formed the No. 320, No. 321, and No. 322 Squadrons with the RAF; in 1943, the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School was re-established at Hawkins Field, Jackson, Mississippi, United States to train more Dutch pilots for the war effort. At sea, Dutch sailors and ships sailed with Allied convoys while a small Dutch naval presence continued to exist in the Pacific Ocean. On the ground, the Princess Irene Brigade was formed in Britain to train for, and would participate, the invasion of Western Europe.
ww2dbaseFrom airfields in the Netherlands, German Luftwaffe operated both fighter and bomber airfields, participating in attacks on the United Kingdom as well as in the defense against Allied bombers. On the ground, the Dutch coastline was a part of the extensive German coastal defense line that stretched from France in the south to Norway in the north.
ww2dbaseArthur Seyss-Inquart, a German civilian, was placed as the governor of occupied Netherlands. By the end of 1940, the occupation administration had outlawed all socialist and communist political parties. In 1941, all political parties except for the Dutch Nazi Party (Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging or NSB for short) were banned. While Nazi philosophy viewed the Dutch Christians as one of the Aryan races, and thus eligible to be Germanized, the Dutch Jews were subjected to the same persecution as Jews in other Nazi-occupied nations. The first deportation took place in Feb 1941 when a small group of Jews were sent to Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria. In response to this, Dutch workers staged a nation-wide protest. In May 1942, realizing that the Dutch people as a whole resisted Nazi German philosophies, the occupation administration's treatment toward the Dutch became harsher. In the same year, the Westerbork camp was established as a transit camp for holding Jews awaiting transport to concentration camps to the east. Of the 140,000 Dutch Jews, only 30,000 would survive the German occupation and the war; the most well known victim was arguably Anne Frank. Many Dutch Christians, particularly men, were drafted into forced labor service.
ww2dbaseSome Dutch participated in active resistance. Unique to the Dutch resistance movement, the activities that the resistance groups engaged in were overwhelmingly non-violent, though attacks did infrequently take place. Much of the resistance efforts centered around forging ration cards, counterfeiting money, and hiding Jews, forced labor candidates, and downed Allied airmen. Some of the more visible acts of resistance included the strike of Feb 1941, doctors' strike of 1942, and the general strike of 1943. Many workers who were drafted into German labor service engaged in passive resistance by working slowly or intentionally making mistakes. The four largest resistance organizations were the LO ("Landelijke Organisatie voor hulp aan onderduikers" or National Organization for Help to People in Hiding), the KP ("Knokploeg" or Assault Group), the RVV ("Raad van Verzet" or Council of Resistance), and the OD ("Orde Dienst" or Order of Service); they generally operated independently from each other. Like in other occupied nations, the German occupation administration responded brutally against the resistance groups, especially those that were militant. After the successful Feb 1943 assassination of collaborator Lieutenant General Hendrik Seyffardt by resistance group CS-6, for example, 50 Dutch were killed. In another incident, Dutch resistance fighters killed a number of German troops near the village of Putten on 1 and 2 Oct 1944; the Germans responded by killing 7 of Putten's inhabitants and deporting most of the remainder of the Putten population to concentration camps (most of whom would not survive the camps).
ww2dbaseThere were Dutch who supported the German occupation. Largely registered members of the NSB, which was about 3% of the adult Dutch population at the start of the war but grew during the occupation, they held many civilian posts in the occupation government, searched for Jews for bounty, and several thousand joined the German military. In regards to the latter, between 20,000 and 25,000 Dutch served in the German Army and the Waffen-SS, most of whom were assigned to the 4th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Brigade Nederland which saw action against the Soviet Union and the SS Volunteer Grenadier Brigade Landstorm Nederland which fought in the Low Countries.
ww2dbaseThe harsh winter of 1944 to 1945, combined with German rationing of food for Dutch civilians, caused the Hongerwinter famine that killed about many thousands. As Allied troops approached, Dutch railway workers staged a strike, and the Germans responded by cutting off all food and fuel shipments into the Netherlands. The combination of the two, through starvation, disease, and the cold, led to the death of 30,000. Relief came as Allied troops arrived from the east in May 1945, spearheaded by Canadians.
ww2dbaseThe German occupation surrendered on 5 May 1945 after the death of 205,901 Dutch in Europe and about 30,000 in the Dutch East Indies. The NSB was outlawed on 6 May 1945. Its leader, Anton Mussert, was arrested on the following day and would eventually be found guilty and sentenced to death. Many other collaborators were likely killed, either through proper legal proceedings or at the hands of vigilantes. The Dutch government initially pursued a campaign to annex German territory to effectively double the size the country, but ultimately it would only gain two small villages. In the few years after the war, most German passport holders in the Netherlands were deported back to Germany.
|Gerbrandy, Pieter||Mussert, Anton||Wilhelmina|
|Helfrich, Conrad||Poorten, Hein ter|
Events Taken Place in Netherlands
|Invasion of France and the Low Countries||10 May 1940 - 22 Jun 1940|
|Bombing of France and the Low Countries||1 Jul 1940 - 7 May 1945|
|Discovery of Concentration Camps and the Holocaust||24 Jul 1944 - 29 Apr 1945|
|Operation Market Garden||17 Sep 1944 - 25 Sep 1944|
|Battle of the Scheldt Estuary||2 Oct 1944 - 8 Nov 1944|
|Advance to the Rhine||20 Jan 1945 - 25 Mar 1945|
|Operation Manna and Operation Chowhound||29 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945|
Territories, Possessions, and Nations Under the Influence of Netherlands
|Dutch East Indies||Dutch West Indies|
|Westerbork Concentration Camp||Prison Camp|
Netherlands in World War II Interactive Map
Visitor Submitted Comments
All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.
- » New website Russian Retrospective (10 Jan 2017)
- » Unexploded WW2-era Bomb Discovered in Augsburg (2 Jan 2017)
- » WW2DB's 12th Anniversary (29 Dec 2016)
- » See all news
- » 986 biographies
- » 322 events
- » 33,582 timeline entries
- » 714 ships
- » 315 aircraft models
- » 179 vehicle models
- » 319 weapon models
- » 97 historical documents
- » 133 facilities
- » 433 book reviews
- » 24,017 photos
- » 274 maps
Winston Churchill, on the RAF