During the Second World War, the Dutch government in exile and the illegal press in the occupied Netherlands on several occasions discussed the question what to do with Germany once the war ended. Strikingly, they both resented a harsh treatment of post-war Germany. There was a plain reason for this: the economic importance of Germany to a recovery of the Netherlands was of fundamental concern. This led to moderate views on the treatment of the enemy. The Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, E.N. van Kleffens, embodied the opinion of the Dutch community in London: Germany was not to be humiliated as had been the case after the First World War, but to be allowed to retake its place in Europe. The same voices were heard in the Dutch illegal press. Economic considerations were the impetus for this lenient posture. Only during 1944, when the Germans flooded large parts of the Netherlands, started demolishing the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and the western part of the country was weighed down by a dramatic famine, the views of Van Kleffens and in his wake the Dutch government stiffened. Annexation of German soil was named as an opportunity. The illegal press, however, with some notable exceptions, was reluctant. Here also, economic considerations were the main motivation for a lenient posture towards the enemy.

Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Lak, M. (2010). 'Our nation's prosperity stands and falls with that of Germany.' Wartime opinions of the Dutch government in exile in London and the illegal press in the occupied Netherlands with regard to post-war Germany. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis (Vol. 123, pp. 401–413). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/92500