NOT SO LONG AGO PROFESSOR GERBRANDY, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, made the following statement:
There must be no after-victory pity or weakness shown to Germany. It is not only Hitler we must conquer. It is also the recurring German danger, which will always persist if we do not conquer it for good and all. I see the possibility of weakness and pity arising with regard to the 'poor misled Germans' who, as soon as they see signs that they cannot continue the struggle, will attempt to repudiate their rulers as in 1918. If we give way to such feelings without definite safeguards against the recurring German danger, then we forsake our duty to posterity.
These are wise words and well spoken. They should be read alongside a broadcast made on March 12th, 1941, by the iniquitous Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the German Civil Commissioner in occupied Dutch territory, who said: 'I judge every man from one point of view only, how will he behave when there is no longer a German army of occupation? We do not want to occupy Holland
for ever. We want to assure Dutch co-operation. We shall not leave until this mission is carried out.'
The calm confidence and reasoned thought of the Netherlands Prime Minister and the nervous bluster of the Austrian troubador are in marked distinction to one another. The day is not far distant1 when the Germans' temporary satrap in the Netherlands and his employers will retreat from their comfortable surroundings in far quicker time, physical conditions permitting, than the five days in which they seized Dutch territory.1 The famous Hall of Knights and many public buildings will need to be cleansed of the German taint left behind. Many of the Germans, including Seyss-Inquart, will go to their death or to the obscurity from which they were lifted by the gangster element which now controls the Reich. The rest will beg the Dutch people to believe that they never agreed with the acts of harshness which they were obliged by ruthless masters to do. They will find their flaccid friends and spokesmen in every country, even in Great Britain--congenital idiots who will endeavour to prove to everybody's satisfaction that the gentle German is a harmless kind of person, even as they trotted out Adolf Hitler's garbled story that the Treaty of Versailles was a harsh instrument,
forgetful (either unintentionally or wilfully) of the terms which the Germans would have imposed on the Allies had they been victorious in the last war.
But 8,500,000 subjects of the Queen of the Netherlands in Europe and 70,000,000 in the Dutch Empire will not forget the Battle of Holland, the perfidy which preceded it, nor the obnoxious occupation of their homeland which followed. They, unlike other nations who made but a faint resistance to German 'advances' will show none of that after-victory pity or weakness to which the Netherlands Prime Minister referred in his statement quoted earlier in this chapter. They will wish to see their country made secure for all time against a possible repetition of the horror which tortured them in May 1940. In this they will not be alone. Yet there will be conflicting counsels. Therein lies danger.
We are told that our first duty is to win the war. But is this enough? We must also win the peace. The small enlightened nations of Europe will have a great deal to say in fashioning the new Europe. They cannot be expected to take a detached academic view of a recurrent danger. They know too well the nature of 'the blond Teuton beast,' as Nietzsche termed his fellow-countrymen in his Genealogy of Morals. And yet they must live alongside him. They know that aquilae non generant
columbas. The Netherlands will need to trade with Germany as in the past, since without that trade the great ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam would languish. The Dutch are still one of the greatest maritime nations in the world. Their ships sail in every ocean and the Dutch ports serve the considerable German hinterland. But it is hot in the nature of a great free people like the Hollanders to enjoy their independence on sufferance. Seyss-Inquart says, 'We do not want to occupy Holland for ever. We want to secure Dutch co-operation.' The whole world knows what the German idea of 'co-operation' is. In effect it amounts to subjugation and meek submission to German dictates.
But the very fact of Seyss-Inquart's speech on these lines gives much food for thought. It savours of the trial balloon, almost of an attempt at bargaining, though of bargaining there can be little. It also shows that the Germans are learning from their experience that whatever they may succeed in doing elsewhere, they can neither bend nor break the spirit of the Dutch people, nor engorge the Dutch nation. It shows further that the Germans are beginning to feel the weakness of their position. They know that they are dependent on the Dutch carrying-trade and that Dutch discrimination against them in a post-war Europe would
cripple South German industrial life. Evidently they are now realizing, too, that, while an independent Netherlands was a buffer State, now they have to face the might of Britain with nothing between. Professor Gerbrandy's statement was evidence of strength; Seyss-Inquart's bluster manifests fear of what the future may hold, and progressive weakness. Seyss-Inquart has been able, with such judgment as one as inexperienced as he may possess, to gauge the temper of the Dutch people. He has met Hollanders of varying degree, and Hollanders are men who speak their mind. No doubt he has had close consultations with his masters in Berlin and with his military master in Holland, Air-General Christiansen. And still, at the height of the war, he is ready to make overtures to the Dutch people. This is not the language one is used to hearing from the invincible Nazis. It is a tribute to Dutch passive resistance--a sign that the Germans now are beginning to realize that the day is approaching when they will have to renounce their ill-gotten gains and live alongside their neighbours in such measure of amity as may be possible. 'We want to assure Dutch cooperation'! The words are prophetic in relation to the future when history will repeat itself and an inevitable general rot will set in and bring about the German collapse. As for Seyss-Inquart's 'We
shall not leave until this mission (i.e. Dutch cooperation) is carried out,' that is merely a blackmailing statement of little worth. The revealing fact is that, subject to Dutch co-operation, at least one leading German spokesman is willing to concede that the Germans are prepared 'to leave' and that they do not look upon their occupation as having any degree of permanence.
The German invader will leave Holland, and the Queen and her Government will return to their homeland. That much is certain. What next? That is the question to which statesmen will need to address themselves. There will be a natural and unforgettable bitterness against the Germans throughout the Netherlands. There will be likewise, as the Netherlands Prime Minister has said, a determination that never again shall the Teuton repeat his evil deed. But the Netherlands cannot change their geographical position and it is questionable whether the Germans can be brought to earth from their mad conceptions, whether they can be cured of their periodical attacks of a maniacal urge to gash and mutilate and seize their neighbours' lands and goods. The Allies may--it is to be hoped that they will--inflict severe and condign punishment on the whole German people as a mnemonic. The Germans will need to be made to say with Ansaldo, Hinc Mae lachrymae! New rules
will need to be made in dealing with war criminals. On this occasion they indeed must be brought to justice!--that swift and sure justice so lauded by the present-day leaders of the German State. All this, however, will not sufficiently safeguard Germany's neighbours and the Netherlands in particular, against a future treacherous attack by a distasteful people to whom treaty obligations have no meaning, whose sense of honourable dealing is perverted and whose whole political development is so retarded that they can be led by a degenerate such as Adolf Hitler. Neither ' Maginot' lines nor Leagues of Nations will afford a sufficient protection against a possibility of a repetition of German plunder mania and a future attack on the Netherlands. Of what use a 'Maginot' line along the whole of the German-Dutch frontier when great cities such as Rotterdam can be reduced to rubble from the air; of what use a League of Nations--even were it to be guided by realists instead of men who only think in terms of ultimate ideals--if it cannot exercise discipline on its members?
The people of the Netherlands will look for more than this. They never can be expected, from a military point of view, to offer by themselves alone successful resistance against numerically superior forces. None can expect any Netherlands Government or military authorities to acquiesce in
indiscriminate bombing of their densely populated country. It was the German threat to bomb the ancient city of Utrecht--comparable perhaps with Canterbury--that finally urged General Winkelman to ask for a cessation of military operations in May 1940. It must not be forgotten in this connection that the Netherlands only covers an area of 13,514 square miles and is but half as large again as Wales, and that within this area are congregated some 8,500,000 people as compared with 2,500,000 in the case of Wales.
Hollanders, as mentioned in the first chapter of this book, believe in a 'universal cause.' Until recent years, when its weaknesses became so apparent that the cracks in the fabric became fissures, the Netherlands people were among the staunchest supporters of the League of Nations. Few among the nations sent statesmen of such balanced views to Geneva as did the Dutch. But the realization was brought home to them that to depend on the League of Nations which had proved ineffective on every major issue was insufficient. As a result, the so-called 'Oslo' States2 put their heads together with a view to consultation and the crowned heads and Governments of the Netherlands and Belgium were obliged to take counsel as referred to elsewhere in these pages. In the result, these
consultations unhappily proved to be of little value. And that is the only touchstone by which they can be judged. Were they effective? Were they able to ward off the blows of the aggressor? Two of the nations concerned saved their honour, one made a feeble attempt at resistance, the fourth lay prone when the enemy walked in. 'Paper' understandings of this kind will be unacceptable to the Netherlands people in their future now that they know the measure of their worth. Events will have proved to them conclusively that their only hope must lie in a continuance of that close collaboration with Great Britain and the British Empire which the exigency of war has brought about. All those so highly desirable things which could not be done before the invasion of the Netherlands will be possible in future. The two nations will become 'unfederated friends, joined and allied together for the defence and preservation of the liberties and freedom of the people of each against all whatsoever.' But more than even this will be needed to secure the Netherlands' immunity from fresh attacks at some time or other.
None can foresee the picture of the Europe that will be shaped once victory has come to us and to our Allies. We know that it would be folly to repeat the mildness of 1918-19. The scourge of Europe will need to be dealt with in a fell and
drastic manner. The head of the beast will need to be severed from the body. That head is Prussia, the fount of all the evil which has come to the German-speaking peoples. It seems self-evident that the Roman Catholic parts of the present Reich, notably Austria and Bavaria, should become an independent State, removed so far as possible from all the malign political influence which blows from the Baltic. East Prussia possibly may go to Poland to compensate for the loss of other territory, and separate kingdoms or republics of Saxony and Wurtemberg may be constituted. The remaining former principalities and Grand Duchies each will be dealt with as the circumstances warrant. But the Rhineland and the Ruhr will remain independent, and, it is suggested, attached to the Netherlands by the closest economic bonds that statecraft may be able to fashion. This great industrial hinterland, as already mentioned in these pages, is needful for the welfare of the Netherlands. Its economic, though not political, attachment to the Netherlands, should give that country an opportunity of recuperating from the exhaustion which will follow the war.
These views, so far as is known, have never been discussed in Netherlands circles in London, but they call for the most earnest consideration of those who even now, behind closed doors, are planning
a free new Europe from which blackmail and bullying will have been exorcised. To ensure that economic co-operation of the nature outlined shall be properly carried into effect, military measures will be essential, so that the frontiers of the Ruhr and Rhineland with those parts of Germany situated further east will need to be guarded in perpetuity by strong Allied garrisons.
Yet even this will not safeguard the Netherlands from a possible recrudescence of German madness in another twenty years' time. The craftiness of the German in evading international engagements by this time is universally acknowledged, so that something more is required. A mere treaty of friendship for the defence and preservation of the liberties and freedom of both Great Britain and the Netherlands, even if supplemented by military agreements, will not suffice. The free democratic and enlightened nations whose coasts are washed by the North Sea, must band together as one. A North Sea confederation must come, a true federation of all the Anglo-Saxon and Frankish peoples who have given to the world the best that mankind has had to offer, bound together in spirit and deed to protect themselves against the faithless German. This must be no loosely drafted instrument, but a living document, implemented by military power, supplemented by a full accord with the United
States, based on the realities and eschewing those dreamlike ideals which floated for a while over Geneva. Then and then alone will the Netherlands feel secure once again from attack by the aggressor who has planted his calloused Satanic heel on Dutch soil and wantonly has sought to destroy the simple prosperity and contentedness of a people of quality.
ALLES KOMT TEREGT.
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