A Battle for All Nations


By CROWN PRINCESS JULIANA of the Netherlands

Delivered over the radio from Montebello, Quebec, June 17, 1940

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VI, pp. 638-639.

I WANT to express my admiration for the valiance of the armies of the Allies, who up to the present have persevered in an unequal struggle against the German hordes, with their superiority in numbers, artillery, aviation and above all motorized equipment.

They know they are fighting not only for their country, but for the liberty and all humanity.

I want to express my heartfelt thanks for the support already given by my friends in Canada and the United States to the refugees and for relief in general. I fervently hope that you will all continue to lend your help to the hundreds of thousands who lost everything in the Netherlands through the invasion of my country by the Nazis.

A few days ago as we neared your shores we saw early in the morning, in the dim distance, the outline of a new coast. It was the coast of the new world. I had always expected to see it, but only when I was not as occupied as I have been during these last few years. I had hoped that perhaps I would have seen it on my way to that other and glorious part of our beloved land which lies beneath the equator. In that case, I would have come to you as a visitor. Today I come to you to beseech your hospitality and to find safety for my two small daughters that they may be out of danger and the persecution of the enemy.

I had not travelled very much before I started upon this sudden voyage. . . . You see life is very busy for one who some day must bear the burden of a crown. . . . and so, quite naturally, before I set forth upon this voyage I asked my friends who already know this part of the world what sort of people I might expect to find here. All of them answered: "You will find there a people who above all things display an almost incredible kindness to strangers."

Those were the most heartening words I had heard for many a month, and they gave me the courage to say what I would now like to say.

Please do not regard me as too much of a stranger now that I have set foot on these shores which my own ancestors helped to discover, to explore and to settle. But you may not know very much about me so I had better tell you who I am.

My name is Juliana. My mother, Wilhemina, is Queen of the Netherlands. My mother stayed in London. The Nazi propaganda machine, the most perfidious, lying machine in the world, blamed her for not staying with her people after the invasion, but she, my husband, my two little daughters and I are on the black list of the Nazis. Moreover, you all know what happened to those who were, and are still, the prisoners of the Gestapo.

Nobody ever knows what becomes of them. And, please do not forget that my mother is not only Queen of theNetherlands, or, as you say, Holland, but also of the Netherlands East Indies with a population of 65 million people, and of the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea, and of Dutch Guiana, or Surinam in South America.

The Queen works day and night in London for the welfare of her people and for our common cause which we believe is also your cause. Neither the Queen nor my husband, Prince Bernhard, intends to leave London as so many rumors have intimated.

My father, Prince Hendrik of the Netherlands, passed away some years ago. Happy are they who did not live to see these fearful, hideous days. He lived happily working for his country, for the welfare of the people of the Netherlands kingdom. It was always his greatest joy to help anyone who approached him. I hope it will interest you to know that my father was for many years president of the Netherlands Red Cross and I had the privilege of succeeding him in this humanitarian endeavor.

My husband is one of the most indefatigable men I know. He is doing his share in the most righteous cause that was ever fought. He was with the last defending Netherlands forces in Zeeland, Holland. He was in Belgium and France too, and now he is a great help as aide-de-camp to my mother in London. My only great fear is that my husband is exposing himself too much to danger, for he is by nature reckless, with no regard for his own safety. An ocean separates us, but we hope that victory over the Nazis will reunite us happily.

And then there are my two children. You will see them among you. Indeed, you will see them quite often, for we do not like to lock ourselves up—it just is not in our nature. I hope that you will be kind to them. I am their mother and, therefore, I rather think that they are very sweet children. Above all things, they smile quite easily. Please give them your smile and they will be happy and they will ask for very little more.

That, I think, is about all there is to tell. But may I express one more thing when for the first time I talk to you, my unknown friends of Canada. . . . (You other Canadians with me carry the blood of our French ancestors.) . . . There is one favor I would like to ask of you. Whatever you do, do not give me your pity. No woman ever felt as proud as I do today of the marvelous heritage of my own people. They had always lived their own lives.

They had always maintained the right of the individual to his own liberty, to the liberty of his person and to the liberty of his soul. When others were denied those rights in other parts of the world, they welcomed them—they took them into their hearts and into their homes. But when suddenly they were placed before the terrible choice of surrendering those rights or of dying in their defense, they never hesitated. They died, and everlasting glory to the men of our armies, who, hating and loathing the very idea of violence, stood firm until they were completely overwhelmed by the superior force and the treason of an enemy unto whom they had always been a generous and helpful friend.

And so, more than ever before, we have reason to be proud of being called by the ancient name of our glorious old country of Holland. For these reasons, then, never speak to me of the word pity. Pity is for the weak and our terrible fate has made us stronger than ever before.

But if you want to show us in some way that we are welcome among you, let me ask you just one favor. Give us that which we ourselves shall give unto you from our most grateful hearts—give us that which just now we need more than anything else. You people of Canada and the United States, please give us your strengthening love.

My Canadian friends already know the existence of the Netherlands relief fund at 1103 Castle Building, Montreal. All the newspapers of the United States carried the appeal for contributions to the Queen Wilhemina Fund, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City. I wish to express my profound gratitude for the extraordinary help our common cause received by the great Canadian and United States press and radio broadcasting companies.

The ravages of the war have been so unbelievable, the devastation of property has been so tremendous that only great help from this side of the Atlantic could aid in appeasing the suffering.

This is not a gigantic battle for one nation alone, but for all nations. Not only your and our life is threatened, but our freedom of conscience. Wherever the Nazi power dominates, all our old democratic principles, our religion, are lost. Life itself is not worth while under Nazi tyranny.