Guarded Neutrality

Diplomacy and Internment in the Netherlands during the First World War

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Traditionally isolated from mainstream European affairs, in 1914 the Dutch had no major allegiances that bound them to any one side of the conflict. Geographically and economically caught between two of the major belligerents, Great Britain and Germany, the Netherlands was constantly vulnerable to attack from either side. In adopting a position of neutrality at the beginning of the war, the Dutch took a huge gamble. The internment of approximately 50,000 foreign troops in the Netherlands, some for almost the entire four years of the war, provided an important showcase for the Dutch Government to demonstrate its adherence to international law and its impartiality towards the all of the belligerents.

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Table of contents

Introduction 1
Neutrality in a Time of ‘Total War’ … 2
1 A Neutral Country 13
Internment and the Neutral State … 13
2 The Netherlands in World War One … 21
July 1914 21
3 The First Few Weeks: Applying the Rules in Practice … 35
The First Internment Camp … 39
The Sinking of HMS Cressy, HMS Hogue and HMS Aboukir … 42
The Fall of Antwerp … 47
Information Office of the Dutch Red Cross and the Belgian Information Office … 60
4 Administering Military Internment: The Camps 67
The Belgian Camps … 70
The British Camps … 80
The German Camp … 81
Urk, Wierickerschans and Vlissingen … 82
Conditions in the Camps … 83
Food and Clothing … 84
The Uprising at Internment Camp Zeist … 88
5 The Middle Years of the War; Consolidation … 93
Numbers … 95
Welfare and Education Committees … 98
Officers’ Parole … 104
Employment and Work Groups … 108
Savings Fund … 115
Camp Groningen ~ 1916 … 118
Camp Bergen ~ 1916 … 118
Escapes … 120
6 1917: Deserters, Politics and Religion … 125
Internment Costs … 127
German Deserters … 128
Political Activity … 133
Movement of Families … 137
Religion … 139
7 Internment in a Neutral Country: The Arrival of the Prisoners of War … 143
Background to POW Exchanges … 147
The Hague Treaty of July 1917 … 150
Internment of the POWs … 153
8 Going Home … 165
The Savings and Canteen Funds … 167
Conclusion … 168
Appendix I Dutch Cabinet 1913–1919 … 179
Appendix II Foreign Representatives in the Netherlands 1914–1918 … 181
Appendix III List of Internment Camps … 183

Further Reading … 185
Bibliography … 193
Index … 207

Readership

All those interested in small state neutrality and diplomacy during the First World war, the politics of internment and prisoners of war and the impact of the War on non-belligerants.

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