THE WAR HAS BROUGHT ABOUT A HIGH DEGREE OF COLLABORATION between the two Allies. Netherlands and British ministers meet at frequent intervals and consult closely on great matters of State, while their officials are in daily association in order that the multitude of questions which arise may be discussed and solved.
Collaboration between the Allies covers four fields--political, military, financial and economic. So far as political collaboration goes, meetings between the two Prime Ministers are of frequent occurrence. Moreover, when he is in England, the active Netherlands Foreign Minister, Dr. van Kleffens, has conferences at the Foreign Office at least once a week, when questions of moment are discussed and important decisions are taken. But a very heavy burden falls on Mr. Welter, the Minister for the Colonies, who is also Minister of Finance. Relations between the Netherlands Colonial Ministry and British Departments in Whitehall, as a result of events, have become closer and more cordial than ever before.
There were many mutual interests in peace-time in the field of colonial affairs. Now that the two nations are allied there is daily interchange of ideas and a full measure of mutual understanding. It is almost unnecessary to refer to the various commodity controls in which both Governments are vitally interested--rubber, tin, sugar, fibres, tea, and others. On all the control committees Mr. G. H. C. Hart, the head of the Economic Division of the Netherlands Colonial Ministry, works in the most intimate co-operation with his opposite numbers in Downing Street. The Minister himself, as a matter of course, when he is not travelling abroad, is in regular consultation with British ministers of the Crown and other public men.
But there are other questions which call for constant attention--shipping, finance (the Netherlands Government are completely independent financially) and supply. All call for careful handling by Netherlands ministers and Netherlands colonial authorities. None will deny the generous spirit which has animated them in their approach to these questions.
Economic co-operation has become increasingly intimate since 1932, when most of the commodity controls already referred to were either first thought of, initiated or re-organized. Economic necessity was the motivating force which first brought the two
Governments together a decade ago in an endeavour to find answers to the problems which beset primary producers in their tropical territories. In the event agreements were entered into which ensure an adequate return for the producers, regulate supplies and enable consumers to secure their requirements at a fair figure.
Contrary to general expectation, the majority of these commodity controls have gathered strength since the outbreak of the war. Even the International Sugar Convention, on which twenty-four countries (including present enemy countries) were represented, has continued to function, notwithstanding difficulties, and has a British chairman and a Dutch vice-chairman. The war has given a new meaning to these international agreements, since they have afforded the two Allies, whose interests in almost every case outweigh those of all other nations, with a basis on which to build wartime economic arrangements. As an instance, the Rubber Restriction Scheme has enabled the two Allied nations to supply the United States with a large stock of rubber which is being held in reserve for strategic purposes. This is over and above normal requirements and has been produced as to two-fifths by the Netherlands East Indies, two-fifths by Malaya, and one-fifth by other British rubber-producing territories. The total figure of these
special purchases by the United States to date aggregates 430,000 tons, which is two-thirds of the normal American annual consumption.
A similar story can be told in regard to tin. America already has purchased jointly from the world's tin producers some 75,000 tons and will continue her purchases until the end of 1942. The British Empire and the Netherlands East Indies are the principal suppliers.
More direct economic assistance which the Netherlands East Indies are rendering to the Allied war effort covers a wide range of products. Large quantities of indispensable bauxite (the basis of aluminium), rubber, fibres, palm-oil and tea--90,000,000 lbs. of the latter--have come direct to Great Britain from the Netherlands possessions as an outcome of agreements reached between the Netherlands authorities and the British supply departments. The tea purchase was negotiated through the International Tea Committee which is controlled largely by British and Dutch interests.
Of the many products of the Netherlands possessions which are invaluable for the Allied cause petroleum and its derivatives must not be overlooked. Curaçao in the West Indies and the ports of Tarakan and Balik Papan in the East Indies are providing exceedingly large quantities of oil for the Allies.
In addition to these commodities, the Netherlands East Indies have supplied Great Britain with large quantities of cinchona bark and its derivative, quinine, without which no military campaign in malarious areas, whether in the tropics or other parts, would be possible. The Netherlands East Indies produce practically the whole world output of this valuable medicinal drug. Every ounce which is needed for the Allied war effort has been placed at the disposal of the British Government by that of the Netherlands.
Most of the great Dutch merchant fleet managed to escape from Dutch ports before the Germans entered into possession. Of the total tonnage available, practically one-half, or more than 1,000,000 tons, has been taken over by the British Ministry of Shipping on time-charter. This figure represents an equivalent of some 200 ships, assuming them to be of 5,000 tons each. The remainder of the Netherlands merchant fleet likewise sails the seas freely under the Netherlands flag. This considerable tonnage plies largely between British Empire ports in the Far East and America. Those ships which have been chartered to the Ministry of Shipping are being used for the transport of war-material to all theatres of war where it is needed. Twenty German ships which were seized in Netherlands colonial ports when the Netherlands were drawn into the war have also
been placed at the disposal of the Ministry of Shipping on time-charter.
The greater number of Dutch ships are cargo-steamers. Generally speaking, these are ships of the most modern type. Many of them are quite new. Apart from these, however, the magnificent passenger liners, owned by the Dutch shipping companies, have been transferred to the British authorities for use as troop-transports. All these ships employ Dutch seamen, 10,000 in all. It need hardly be added that the Netherlands are able to share in the melancholy glory which attaches to the loss of courageous men and fine ships as a result of enemy action.
Enthusiasm in the Netherlands East Indies for the Allied cause is intense. Voluntary contributions for every conceivable kind of war purpose have been pouring in since the first day of the invasion and there seems to be no end. Those who lack coin have given property and jewellery, and even wedding-rings. Shortly after the invasion the Queen of the Netherlands was able to hand over 5,000,000 guilders to the Spitfire Fund through the medium of the 'Prince Bernhard' organization. Since then money has poured in for the purpose of building up a new Netherlands Air Force to take the place of that which was destroyed in the calamitous days of 1940 after accounting for more than 200 enemy machines.
In recent months the people of the Netherlands East Indies have subscribed large sums in order to form a dollar fund in America for the purpose of purchasing bombers, all of which are being named ' Rotterdam,' so that the vile destruction wrought by the enemy on that great city shall remain green in the memory not only of Hollanders but also of Germans.
But the contribution of the Netherlands East Indies to the war effort is not a matter of guilders alone. Not so long ago an American author wrote,1 'Powerful unfriendly expansionist nations covet the lucrative rubber-growing monopoly which Great Britain and the Netherlands have controlled for many years. The future of the Netherlands East Indies is doubtful, to say the least, and harassed Britain may lose Malaya.' The status of this author is unknown, but since his views were printed in an American publication which has a wide circulation it is necessary that a loose and inaccurate statement of this nature should be flatly contradicted. In any event, the American Government would possibly have something to say to the 'powerful, unfriendly expansionist nations.' But ' harassed Britain' will not lose Malaya. The condition of British defences in that part of the world is generally known and little further need be said on this point. In regard to the
Netherlands East Indies, however, a little more light needs to be shed on the situation. The fact is, as stated elsewhere, the standing army of the Netherlands East Indies is fully mobilized and is probably more powerful than that of almost any other country in East Asia. This army is being rapidly mechanized and strengthened in every way possible, while the Netherlands Air Force in the Far East, which is in process of considerable expansion, now consists in large measure of heavy Glenn Martin bombers. Moreover, the Netherlands navy cannot be left out of the picture. The greater part of the navy, be it repeated, was able to avoid falling into enemy hands. Three modern cruisers, a large number of destroyers and submarines and smaller vessels, besides a rapidly increasing number of seaplanes, are stationed in Netherlands East Indies waters. ' Powerful unfriendly expansionist nations ' which might essay a fall with Anglo-Netherlands forces in the Far East would have to reckon not only with the might of Britain, but with the might and determination of the Netherlands as well. There is close liaison between the British authorities in Malaya and the Netherlands authorities in the East Indies. They work virtually as one and while, like the three sacred Japanese apes, they see no evil, think no evil and hear no evil, none the less they are fully prepared to act with a swift and retributive
determination should any of the shadows seen by the American writer who has been quoted materialize into unhappy reality.
Apart from those ships of the Royal Netherlands Navy which are stationed in East Indian waters, others supplement British forces in the Channel, the North Sea and the Atlantic. Convoy duty, submarine patrol, and submarine warfare are some of their duties. Gunboats and destroyers also guard estuaries and harbours, while trawlers have been fitted out as mine-sweepers. Indeed, sections of the British coast are patrolled regularly by units of the Netherlands Navy, operating of course under the direction of the British Admiralty, but officered and manned by Dutch subjects. In the evacuation of Dunkirk, ships of the Netherlands navy played their part. Subsequently, they transported French and Dutch troops from France to England. A flotilla of Netherlands submarines has operated for some considerable time with British naval forces. Two submarines have been lost. Among the warships which were brought to Great Britain after the invasion there were several the construction and fitting out of which had not been completed. These have now been completed in British yards and put into commission. The Netherlands navy has made a contribution to the war at sea fully commensurate with its strength. Co-operation between the
Netherlands naval authorities and the Admiralty is most cordial.
Early in 1941 the Netherlands East Indies authorities placed the most modern Netherlands motor-liner, the Oranje--which has a speed of 26 knots--at the disposal of Great Britain for use as a hospital-ship for Australians and New Zealanders. The ship is in process of being entirely reconstructed at the expense of the Netherlands Indies authorities, who will also assume financial responsibility throughout. The ship will be manned wholly by Hollanders, and all the medical staff will be of Netherlands nationality. This spontaneous act of generosity illustrates in its simplest lines the manner in which the Netherlands Government and the Netherlands East Indies authorities are collaborating with Great Britain and the Empire in this struggle. The Dutch people feel that they cannot give enough in the cause of freedom.
To return to the subject of economic collaboration, it is noteworthy that the Netherlands authorities are assisting the Allied war-effort by purchasing goods needed for the Netherlands Indies so far as possible from the British Empire. The interests of both countries are served by this, as the Netherlands Indies are accumulating considerable sterling balances which the authorities are prepared to exchange for British manufactures. This policy benefits
British Empire countries, since British exports remain a lifeline, even within the sterling area to which the Netherlands Indies now belong. The Netherlands Indies have created special facilities whereby Great Britain is enabled to export large quantities of cotton textiles. It is not always possible for Great Britain to supply all the Netherlands East Indies' requirements in this respect, but both sides are doing everything possible to meet the situation. Orders for cotton textiles aggregating £2,500,000 have already been placed. New factory machinery is also being supplied by Great Britain as far as war circumstances permit. In this connection mention should be made of the financial agreement entered into between the two countries whereby the Netherlands guilder has been pegged to the £ sterling at a fixed rate of 7.60 to the £. This has facilitated reciprocal trade. Both Governments have undertaken to hold adequate balances in the other's favour.
The Netherlands Government co-operate closely with the Ministry of Economic Warfare in the conduct of the economic war against Germany. It stands to reason that this co-operation is principally effective in Netherlands overseas possessions, where measures are taken to prevent raw materials and foodstuffs from reaching Germany. The Netherlands Government, painful though the
decision may be, fully concur with the determination of the British Government to prevent anything from reaching the enemy by way of Holland. They have their own Trading with the Enemy enactment and their own control offices, which work in close association with British officials, in London, Batavia, Paramaribo (Suriname), Curaçao and New York. There is an Anglo-Netherlands Committee on Economic Affairs, one on Shipping and others.
Fervour in the Netherlands East Indies is not limited, as mentioned on several occasions in these pages, to the European population. The native-born Indonesian and Chinese inhabitants are playing a great part in showing their attachment to the Allied effort. The deep feeling which has been roused has been most touching. There is, in truth, little that many of these big-hearted people can do in direct furtherance of the war effort, yet thousands, even the very poorest, have made their gesture. They have sent talismans, heirlooms, prayers and small gifts. Not only do they offer up their prayers for their fellow-European Dutch subjects, but also for Great Britain. They have insisted on the People's Council in the East Indies agreeing on the creation of a native militia. There has even been house-to-house collection for aluminium for the benefit of the British war effort. From Stratton House to the Celebes, from Piccadilly
to Paramaribo is a far cry. Yet, wherever subjects of the Kingdom of the Netherlands may be--Europeans, Asiatics or Afro-Americans--there will be found the most loyal of Britain's allies. Across the North Sea the oppressed Dutch people who remain in Holland help us in other ways.
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