Skip to main content

Full text of "The Foreign Policy of the Netherlands"

See other formats








Text of a broadcast by Eelco N. ran Kleffens, 
Netherlands Foreign Minister, pronounced 
via Radio Orange, London, on December 28, 
1943, and directed to occupied Holland 

Published by 




Text of a broadcast by Eelco N. van Kleffens, 
Netherlands Foreign Minister^ pronounced 
via Radio Orange, London, on December 28, 
1943, and directed to occupied Holland 

n^HAT monument of cool courage in the highest 

-L sense of the word, the underground press of the 

Netherlands^ brings confirmation of the fact that in Holland many 

people are devoting their thoughts to the line of conduct which their 

country will have to adopt towards other countries after its liberation. 

It will be for the Netherlands people themselves to decide what 
this foreign policy is going to be. For one day— and it will be in 
the not too distant future — they will be free once more, free to say 
what they like, within the limits of the law, and free to determine 
their own fate. 

Therefore, if I say a few things tonight about our future foreign 
policy, my intention is merely to contribute a few stones to the build- 
ing you are going to erect yourselves. They are stones most of which 
are at this juncture accessible to you, although certain others are 
perhaps not within your reach at the present time. 

I begin with this statement — it is my firm conviction that we are 
agreed, every one of us, that our pre-war policy of aloofness is stone 
dead. But what is to take its place? 

An Englishman— and indeed not a mere nobody — asked me once 
in public, 'Why on earth did not the Netherlands make military 
agreements with us while there was still time before the German 

invasion?' I answered, also in public, 'Even if we had wanted to, 
the question could not arise, were it only because England had gone 
too far in her disarmament at that period/ 

The course of this war has proved this only too clearly. Against 
a Germany that was arming ever more strongly, stood an England 
incapable of sufficient resistance. To make military agreements with 
such a country would have been folly, although it was perfectly true 
that England could at the same time have addressed the same re- 
proach towards us. 

With a view to the future this point should be noted carefully. 
We, Netherlanders, can think of military collaboration only if we 
ourselves possess armed forces commensurate with the circumstances. 
We need not be armed to the teeth all the time if Germany is dis- 
armed, and on the other hand if those with whom it is proposed to 
collaborate possess and keep in being a sufficiently important mili- 
tary apparatus. When, therefore, Marshal Smuts advises us to col- 
laborate with England after the war, my answer is, 'We can only 
consider this provided the British Empire, and Great Britain par- 
ticularly, show, like ourselves, that they have no intentions of once 
more going the way towards large-scale disarmament. This implies, 
in any case, that we cannot tie ourselves once and for all' 

Would it be a good thing, however, to seek future co-operation 
with England under the terms of this great proviso? You must build 
up your own conclusions. My task here is only to provide the stones. 
But there are a few cardinal facts. 

First, I must mention the tendency which Germany has been 
displaying for many years. It is hardly to be expected that it will 
suddenly show a radical change and turn into the gentlest of lambs. 
Germany is going to lose this war, which will breed a spirit of 
revenge. The future masters of Germany may perhaps present them- 
selves as if they were gentle lambs, for the German people has 
reached great heights of chicanery and hypocrisy wherever this 
suited its book. Do not let us be taken in by this. It is conceivable, 
of course, that Germany, having learned how vulnerable it is from 
the air, will keep quiet for a time, but only for that reason and not 
because it has given up its craving for violence. There is little in 
such a change that could provide a solid basis on which to build. 

^Second, we must keep in view the fact that the morality of a 
large proportion of the German people, none too high since the end 
of the previous World War, has been thoroughly vitiated through 
the inculcation of Nazi doctrines. All pretty talk of ^Justice is what 
is useful for the German people,* the nonsense of a Herrenvolk for 
which all others must run errands — all these doctrines have been 
drummed into the present younger generation of Germans and have 
turned them into a nation of savages whose official doctrine of salva- 
tion is nothing but the code of morals of beasts of prey. Let us never 
forget that a wolf in a cage may look tame but that it never really 
will be tame. 

Third, we must clearly visualize the fact that in modern times 
no nation can be militarily strong without having at its disposal an 
enormous industrial organization. In the Netherlands, left to them- 
selves, no such organization will ever exist. If we continue to stand 
by ourselves, we can never make sure that in the hour of peril we 
shall possess the requisite armaments or be able to obtain them. If 
others do not know to what extent they can count on us, they will 
be reluctant to assist us with our armaments. 

We have, therefore, a choice between isolation or joining other 
peoples of goodwill. This is a choice which you will have to make. 
I need not say much more on this occasion regarding this question 
of future isolation. But if the choice were to be collaboration with 
others of goodwill, we should be wise to make clear who are those 
we wish to join. 

Enemy propaganda is trying to make out that we have been 
asked to merge the Netherlands into the British Empire. You may 
put your minds at rest — we have been asked nothing of the sort. 
And if we were ever to be asked anything, it would certainly not be 
to merge ourselves into the British Empire. The British Empire is 
a community that is kept together by the allegiance of all parts to 
the Crown — to the British Crown. 

The State of the Netherlands knows no allegiance except to the 
Crown of the Netherlands, which to the exclusion of all others, is 
hereditary in the House of Orange. There can be no question there- 
fore of absorption of our Kingdom into any other commonwealth, 
not even in an attenuated form of becoming subordinated to it. 

But although any such subordination or absorption is unthink- 
able, collaboration is far from being excluded. What we shall have 
to ask ourselves, therefore, is whether such collaboration will have 
to be restricted to the British Empire. This depends not only on us. 
It depends also on the other partner with whom we have common 
mterests as a result of our position on the fringe of the Pacific 
Ocean. I am referring, of course, to the United States. It is too 
early to say what attitude the United States will adopt at the end 
of the war towards political and military collaboration with other 

It is conceivable that concerning southwest Asia, where China 
occupies such important positions, the attitude of the Americans will 
not be entirely the same as towards Europe. But assuming that 
America is prepared to collaborate with the British Empire and with 
us^an eventuality that would undoubtedly be desirable for us—it 
would still appear to be too early to discuss the form to be given to 
implementation of this readiness. 

The main thing is that we may hope that, instructed by bitter ex- 
perience and a wider understanding, the United States may acquire 
consciousness of the vital interests of America in effective preserva- 
tion of peace in Europe. Twice the people of the United States have 
seen that German aggression against the Netherlands, Belgium and 
France is in fact an attack on England, and I believe it realizes more 
clearly than previously that with the fall of England a dagger would 
be placed at the heart of the United States. 

If things move in this direction we would see a strong formation 
in the West with America, Canada and other British Dominions as 
an arsenal and a vast reservoir of power, with England as a base, 
especially for air power, and the west European mainland^by which 
I mean the Netherlands, Belgium and France— as a bridgehead. 

A development of this nature would indeed compel us to rely 
on the western powers, but conversely they would also need us. It is 
difficult to imagine a stronger position for our country. This for- 
midable western bloc would find its eastern counterpart in Russia 
Once Japan has been defeated, Russia's heart will be protected to 
the North, East and South by natural frontiers. But, like ourselves, 
it will have to devote full and continued attention— and it will wish 

to do so — to the security of its open frontier on the Genu, in side. 
This picture brings, as it were automatically, to the fore the utcd Inr 
preservation of good relations between the Netherlands ami the 
Soviet Union. 

If all this could be achieved, it looks in my view as though a 
long period of peace is guaranteed. In this structure, France must 
resume its still-open place in the circle of the western powers. Let 
us hope it will rise purified and strengthened from the purgatory 
into which it was thrown three years ago. That Belgium will stand 
on our side is not a matter of doubt. 

It would indeed be inconceivable that in an exposition like the 
present one, however objective it tries to remain, the direction taken 
by the thoughts of the man who addresses you, should not appear 
between the lines. Well, you have the fullest right to know this 

The present government will not take binding decisions in the 
sphere of foreign policy or in any other sphere as long as the Ger- 
mans continue to occupy our country — unless this is absolutely un- 
avoidable. For events are not at a standstill and it is therefore not 
always possible to wait for the day of Hitler's defeat. Up to now 
it has not yet been necessary to take such decisions. But I can give 
you the assurance that in this respect, as far as humanly possible, 
everything will be left to the free, considered expression of the will 
of the resurrected Netherlands.