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History of the Netherlands - World War II

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Rotterdam after German air raids in 1940

The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I and intended to do so in World War II. There were, however, contingency plans involving the Belgian and French armies and Great Britain. However, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940 in the Western European campaign of the Second World War. French forces in the south and British ships in the west came to help, but turned around quickly, evacuating many civilians and several thousand German prisoners of war from their elite airborne divisions. In spite of fierce fighting and victory in several local battles the country was overrun in five days, far longer than the German High Command and Hitler had planned for. Only after, but not because of, the bombing of Rotterdam, the army's main force surrendered on 14 May, although a Dutch/French allied force held the western part of Zeeland for some time after the surrender. The German Luftwaffe and Airborne regiments suffered very heavy losses. The Kingdom as such continued the war from the colonial empire; the government in exile resided in London.

During the occupation over 100,000 Dutch Jews were rounded up to be transported to Nazi concentration camps in Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. By the time these camps were liberated, only 876 Dutch Jews survived. Dutch workers were conscripted for forced labour in German factories, civilians were killed in reprisal for attacks on German soldiers, and the countryside was plundered for food for German soldiers in the Netherlands and for shipment to Germany. Although there were many Dutch who risked their lives by hiding Jews from the Germans, as in the diary of Anne Frank, there were also Dutch who collaborated with the occupying force in hunting down hiding Jews. Local fascists and anti-Bolsheviks joined the Waffen-SS in the 4th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Brigade Netherlands, fighting on the Eastern Front as well as other units.

The government-in-exile lost control of its major colonial stronghold, the Netherlands East Indies, to Japanese forces in March 1942. "American-British-Dutch-Australian" forces fought hard in some instances, but were overwhelmed. During the occupation, the Japanese interned Dutch civilians and used Dutch and Indos alike as forced labour, both in the Netherlands East Indies and in neighbouring countries. This included forcing women to work as "comfort women" for Japanese personnel. Some military personnel escaped to Australia and other Allied countries from where they carried on the fight against Japan. The Japanese furthered the cause of independence for the colony, so that after VE day many young Dutchmen found themselves fighting a colonial war against the new republic of Indonesia.

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Netherlands Travel Destination
Amsterdam Netherlands - Arnheim Netherlands - Bodegraven Netherlands - Breda Netherlands - Bussum Netherlands
Eindhoven Netherlands
- Groningen Netherlands - Haarlem Netherlands - Hague Netherlands - Heerlen Netherlands
Hilversum Netherlands
- Leiden Netherlands - Maastricht Netherlands - Nijmegen Netherlands - Purmerend Netherlands
Rotterdam Netherlands
- Shertogen Netherlands - Utrecht Netherlands

Netherlands Travel Informations and Netherlands Travel Guide
History of Netherlands - Dutch Republic 1581–1795 - Under French influence 1795–1815 - Kingdom of the Netherlands
Netherlands World War II - Netherlands Recent History

Rivers of Netherlands - Delta Works of Netherlands - Climate of Netherlands - Nature of Netherlands
Economy of Netherlands - Infrastructure, Agriculture - Government of Netherlands
Political Parties of Netherlands - Administrative Divisions - Demographics of Netherlands
Languages of Netherlands - Religion in Netherlands - Culture of Netherlands - Education in Netherlands

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