1870-1914 1918-1929

The Netherlands in World War I, 1914-1918

During World War I, the Netherlands stayed neutral; it mobilized it's forces ( Armed Neutrality). The various political parties rallied behind the Dutch government in it's course of neutrality; partisan politics was postposed til after the war.

The British blockade and German u-boat-warfare reserved a narrow corridor straight north from the peninsula of Holland for Dutch commercial shipping; ships on their way to and from the Dutch East Indies now had to sail all around the British island. Food became scarce; coupons had been introduced (bread coupons in 1915). A considerable number of refugees, mostly Belgians, fled to the Netherlands - the number peaked at over 1 million early in the war; c.100,000 stayed throughout the war. In addition, Belgian troops were interned in camps in the southern Netherlands. Lodging the refugees came to the Netherlands' government at a cost of 37 million Guilders. The refugee camps were closed down in 1919.
In 1916 severe floods devastated parts of the Dutch countryside; parts of Amsterdam itself were inundated. The prevent similar disasters in the future, water engineer Cornelis Lely had developed the Zuiderzee Project back in the 1880es; the Act of Closing and Drainage of the Zuiderzee according to Lely's plan was passed in 1918; the dam closing the Zuiderzee and turning it from a saltwater bay into a sweetwater lake was finished in 1932.
In 1917 the constitution was amended, universal manhood suffrage introduced. On November 10th 1918, German Emperor Wilhelm II. abdicated, to live in the Netherlands in exile (at Doorn, where he died in 1941).

Dutch Government Revenue and Expenditure, 1914-1918
Source : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics 1750-1988, pp.801 and 822
figures in Dutch Guilders




Biography of Cornelis Lely, from Golden Circle
Escape from Internment in neutral Holland, from The Heritage of the Great War 1914-18, illustrated
A neutral Army prepares for the Great War, from The Heritage of the Great War 1914-18, illustrated
Receiving Refugees in the Netherlands during the First World War, 1914-18, by M.P. Wielinga, illustrated
De Geschiedenis van Goirle : den Eersten Wereldoorlog, from Gemeentearchief Tilburg, in Dutch, illustrated; Goirle was a border community were both Dutch troops were stationed, and Belgian refugees crossed the border.
Vluchtelingen in Nederland 1914-1918 (Refugees in the Netherlands 1914-1918), from Wereldoorlog 1914-1918, in Dutch
Martin Kraaijestein : Belgische vluchtelingen in Gouda tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog, from Receiving Refugees in the Netherlands during World War I, text so far only available in Dutch
The Netherlands in World War I, from An Unfortunate Region
Inventaris van het Archief van fet Distributiebedrijf Tilburg, 1914-1921, from RHC Tilburg (RHC = Regionaal Historisch Centrum); in the introduction has a good description of the introduction and management of ration coupons in WW 1 Tilburg; in Dutch
Nederland en de Vrede van Versailles (The Netherlands and the Treaty of Versailles), by W. Klinkert, in Dutch
De internering van Engelse militairen in Groningen tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog (The Internment of English Military Personnel in Groningen during WW I), by Menno Wielinga, in Dutch
Periode 1888-1918 Antithese (Period 1888-1918 - Antithesis), from Parlement en Politiek, in Dutch; official site, on the history of the Netherlands' Parliament
Koningin Wilhelmina tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog (Queen W. during WW I), posted by Menno Wielinga, in Dutch
How Did Women Activists Promote Peace in Their 1915 Tour of Warring European Capitals ?, posted by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Kati Amidon
DOCUMENTS Links to Documents on the History of the Netherlands in the 20th Century, posted by psm-data
Historical Population Statistics : the Netherlands, from Population Statistics at Univ. Utrecht
World Statesmen : the Netherlands, by Ben Cahoon; World Rulers : the Netherlands by Enno Schulz, illustrated, begins 1572
Lists of Dutch Cabinets : Kabinet Mackay (1888-1891), Kabinet van Tienhoven (1891-1894), Kabinet Röell (1894-1897), Kabinet Pierson (1897-1901), Kabinet Kuyper (1901-1905), Kabinet de Meester (1905-1908), Kabinet Heemskerk (1908-1913), Kabinet Cort van der Linden, 1913-1918, from Wikipedia Dutch edition
Overview over the allocation of seats to political parties in the Second Chamber, 1888-1937 : Tweede Kamer : Geschiedenis, from Wikipedia Durch edition
Image : Victim of border fence between NL and B, from The Heritage of the Great War 1914-18
Dutch posters pertaining to the Great War 1914-18, from IISG (internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Gesciedenis, in Dutch)
Images from Chronik 2000 Bilddatenbank : Ex=Emperor Wilhelm II. and his host, Count Godard Bentinck, in the park of Palais Amerongen; Ex-Emperor Wilhelm II. when crossing the border into the Netherlands
Poster Exhibition : Stem, Steun, Staak (Vote, Support, Strike), posters 1870-1997, from IISG
French propaganda postcard featuring neutral Netherlands : Poor little Neighbour, 1915, from WW I Propaganda Postcards, scroll down; Artist Emil Dupuis
Images : War Cartoons by Albert Hahn, from Geschiedeniswebsite by Bonhoeffer College, Enschede; comment in Dutch, 5 cartoons
La Grande Guerre 1914-1918 a travers les Revues d'Epoque, posted by Olivier, in French; click "Les Revues Hollandaises" (should be "Neerlandaises")
Oorlogskookboek 1918 (War Cooking Book 1918), posted by Menno Wielinga
REFERENCE J.C.H. Blom and E. Lamberts, History of the Low Countries, N.Y. : Berghahn 1999, pp.421-423
Mark T. Hooker, The History of Holland, Westport : Greenwood, 1999
M. van der Staal, Januari-Vloed 1916 (Inundation January 1916), Rotterdam : Libertas 1916, in Dutch, illustrated, 96 pages
Article : Netherlands, in : New International Year Book 1914 pp.492-494, 1916 pp.480-482, 1918 pp.447-450 [G]
Entry : Netherlands, in : Statesman's Year Book 1918 pp.1091-1109 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on September 14th 2008

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