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Chapter XXVIII:

Piecemeal Liberation of the Netherlands Amid Serious Civilian Distress

Planning for the Netherlands was based on the so-called collapse theory which assumed that German forces would all surrender at one time and that accordingly a complete civil administration for the entire country would be available. As it turned out, only a part of the country, and that a relatively small and politically unimportant part, was liberated initially. In the absence of a central government for the entire country the SHAEF Mission (The Netherlands), with one echelon in Belgium and a forward echelon at Eindhoven, dealt with the Netherlands Military Administration (NMA) and with certain provincial authorities. Its principal difficulties arose from the attempt to restore civil administration piecemeal.

The most serious consequences of the piecemeal occupation were in the sphere of supply. Until May 1 1945 the Germans held the northwestern part of the country, including the important cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague. This area was normally dependent for food upon the surplus-producing areas of eastern Holland. When a general protest strike by the Dutch railway workers tied up rail traffic, the Germans refused to move food into the deficit areas in adequate volume. Flooding and scorching destroyed a considerable part of what production there was in the vicinity of the large cities. But the difficulties in the Netherlands resulted not only from the vengeance wreaked by the Germans but also from the nature of the country itself. Largely dependent on dikes and canals, Holland is a sort of manmade machine that must run as a unit or not at all. Much of the soil is poor and will produce little without fertilizer. The fertilizer cannot be brought in unless the water in the canals is at the right level. The water levels cannot be controlled unless the canal locks and sluices are in operation ; and these in turn are dependent on the mining and transport of coal and on the production and flow of electricity. A large population depends on the operation of this intricate network of machinery. Acting with these considerations in mind, civil affairs officers dealt first with the supply of liberated Holland but also initiated high-level planning for the relief of the enemy-occupied portion of the country and moved in as quickly as they could on final liberation. Large tasks confronted the SHAEF mission not only in immediate civilian relief but also in obtaining coal, in rehabilitating transportation, in solving labor problems, and in repatriating displaced persons. It was not until nearly two months after the German surrender that the head of the mission could convey to the Netherlands Government the decision that the military phase had ended.



[Directive, SHAEF to CinC, 21 AGp, 14 Aug 44, CAD files, 014, Netherlands (8-28-43) (1), sec. 2]

2. Powers. An agreement between the United States, British and Netherlands Governments provides that in areas affected by military operations it is necessary to contemplate a First or Military Phase during which the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, will, to the full extent necessitated by the military situation, de facto possess full authority to take all necessary measures. It is not intended, however, that Military Government will be established in The Netherlands as liberated. During the First Phase, civil administration will normally be operated by the Netherlands Government. . . . During this Phase the Supreme Commander is to make the fullest possible use of the advice and assistance tendered to him through Netherlands Civil Affairs Officers who are included in the personnel of a Netherlands Military Mission appointed by the Netherlands local authorities. Netherlands Civil Affairs Officers are to be employed as intermediaries between the Allied military authorities and the Netherlands local authorities.

Under the Agreement the First Phase is to be as short as possible, and the Netherlands Government will, as soon as practicable, exercise full responsibility for the civil administration. .. .

4. Civil Affairs Staffs and Detachments. Personnel of the SHAEF Mission (Netherlands) and integrated Civil Affairs Detachments will be employed for the discharge of Civil Affairs responsibilities in the field. They will be allotted by this Headquarters....

5. Netherlands Civil Affairs Officers. The Netherlands Government will provide Netherlands officers who will be attached to your command for use and discharge of your Civil Affairs responsibilities and for effecting such policies as the Netherlands Government has agreed or may agree with the Supreme Commander....

7. Provision of Stores/Supplies. During the First Phase and subsequently, in areas affected by military operations, i.e. combat zones and L of C /Com Z, you will be responsible for calling forward stores/supplies to meet such relief and emergency requirements as are required to ensure accomplishment of your mission. You will be given credit authorizing your use of such stores/supplies as may be made available to the Supreme Commander by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. You will utilize military movement or supply agencies to the extent necessary, and will be responsible for completing arrangements to call forward and deliver such stores/supplies to the point where civil agencies can take over. . . .


[Ltr, CofS SHAEF to Maj Gen J. K. Edwards, 15 Sep 44, SHAEF-SGS files, 322.01/7]

1. You are appointed Head of the Supreme Commander's Mission to the Netherlands Government.

2. You will set up your mission close to the Seat of Government when you are ordered to do so. It will be accredited to Her Majesty, the Queen of the Netherlands.

3. You will be the Supreme Commander's representative in dealing with the Netherlands Government, and your object will always be to obtain agreements which conform to the Supreme Commander's policies. ♦ ♦ ♦


[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Hist Notes, G-5 Sec, an. 2 to Monograph entitled: Relief to Holland, Jun 45, SHAEF files, G-5, 60, Hist Reds]

G-5 Section of the SHAEF Mission to the Netherlands started its existence as the "Netherlands Country Unit" in London early in 1944. This unit was charged with the task of planning for Civil Affairs in the Netherlands in conjunction with the Netherlands Military Administration.

The basis of that planning was on the understanding that the Netherlands would be totally evacuated after German collapse and estimates were made of the likely requirements under this heading.

Unfortunately, ... this basis proved to be wrong and this false assumption had its repercussions later in the work of the Netherlands Military Administration, for instead of finding a complete civil administration available in the


country it only found a part, and that not the most important part of it, in a small and comparatively unimportant part of the country.

On 6 September 1944 the unit was mobilised for operations as G-5 Section, SHAEF Mission to the Netherlands....
On 10 September 1944 orders were received from SHAEF for the advance part of the Section to proceed by air to Brussels, together with the Advance Party of the Netherlands Military Administration [NMA], commanded by Lt. Colonel W. Chr. Posthumus Meyjes. ♦ ♦ ♦



[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Hist Notes, G-5 Sec, an. 2]

♦ ♦ ♦  It soon became apparent that the first Army to enter Holland would be the First U.S. Army, who were about to enter Maastricht and the important coal-mining area of South Limburg.

The Mission and the NMA had between them regarded this area as a very vital one for the future of Holland. Not only was the entire mining industry of the country centered in South Limburg but also the main sources of power supply and gas supply for the Southern portion of the country came from this area. . . .

On 14 September 44 Maastricht was entered by the 19th Corps and a fairly rapid advance was made to the Eastern frontier and as far North as inclusive Sittard. In the subsequent days the front was pushed Eastwards to include Heerlen, which is the main mining district. Brigadier [A. de L.] Casenove and Lt. Col. [Lawrence] Bosworth, accompanied by Colonel Cisler of SHAEF, after obtaining permission from the U.S. Army authorities, took an early opportunity to get in touch with the mining and power officials in the Maastricht area. From their reports it appeared that the mines were undamaged but their power plants had been immobilized by the Germans, except in so far that there was sufficient power left to maintain the pumps at the mines. Thus for the time being, although the mines had not been destroyed, no mine operating was possible. Colonel Cisler and Lt Col Bosworth therefore made immediate plans to link up the power lines with Belgium, thus providing sufficient power to work the mines on a modified scale. Immediate plans were also made for the rehabilitation of the power units in order that the mines might operate to capacity and provide power, when the time came, for North Brabant. ♦ ♦ ♦


[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Hist Notes, G-5 Sec, an. 2]

♦ ♦ ♦ The food situation . . . promised to be critical from the start owing to lack of resources in the immediate area. The caloric value of the ration did in fact at one time fall below 900, whereas the caloric value of the ration under German occupation was in the neighborhood of 3500 for miners. The re-attainment of this figure was the subject of constant effort by the First U.S. Army and subsequently by the Ninth U.S. Army for the next three months, and it was a matter of constant anxiety to the G-5 Section of the Mission. ♦ ♦ ♦


[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Hist Notes, G-5 Sec, an. 2 to Monograph]

♦ ♦ ♦ The second part of Holland to fall to Allied troops was the Eastern part of Zeeland Flanders, which was cleared by the Polish Division under command of the First Canadian Army.

The first notification of any problem here was the arrival in Brussels of some Dutch civilians from the area. Since the Headquarters of the First Canadian Army were at that time at St. Omer, contact was at once made by Brigadier Cazenove with the Polish Armoured Division then at St.-Nicholas, when arrangements were made for the Netherlands Military Commissioner for that area to take up his post at Axel. Fortunately very little damage had been done to the countryside during the operation, but the Western part of Zeeland-Flanders had yet to be cleared of the enemy. ♦ ♦ ♦

Meanwhile small advances had been made by the Second [British] Army towards N. Brabant and by the end of September the line ran approxi-


mately from inclusive Neerpelt thence exclusive Turncut to Antwerp.

On 17 September, Second Army, together with parachute formations, made a thrust through Eindhoven to Veghel, Nijmegen, and Arnhem. Dutch liaison Officers had been previously detailed to accompany detachment both of the Second Army and of the Airborne forces. These officers . . . were detailed for certain special areas . . . but since operations did not materialise to the full extent of the plan many of these officers found themselves performing tasks other than those assigned to them.

One of the first duties on entering Dutch territory was to post three proclamations: one from the Queen of the Netherlands; one from the Supreme Commander; and one from the Netherlands Government. This duty was carried out in the neighborhood of Eindhoven by Lt Col Vergeer, U.S. Army and Captain Winkel, NMA, on 17 September 1944.

As soon as Eindhoven was cleared of the enemy, a Netherlands Military Commissioner was established with the CA Detachment, and a reconnaissance party consisting of Major McDowell and Captain Laan, NMA, was sent forward to investigate the position. ♦ ♦ ♦


[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Hist Notes, G-5 Sec, an. 2 to Monograph]

♦ ♦ ♦ The immediate problems to be dealt with at Eindhoven were those of the collaborationists and the Resistance Movement.

The collaborationists were arrested by members of the Resistance Movement immediately after liberation and placed in confinement. Many of these collaborationists, however, were minor offenders and the conditions under which they were confined were far from being good. Early steps had therefore to be taken to arrange improved conditions and organize, through the NMA, reviewing committees to release those who were minor offenders. The arrest of collaborationists continued for the succeeding few months to be a bone of contention between the NMA and the Resistance Movement and promised to be an explosive factor. Subsequently, however, a satisfactory arrangement was made whereby members of the Resistance Movement could only make arrests in the extreme forward areas and then would hand the cases over to the police. In all other cases, the police were to take all necessary action.

The Resistance Movements were found to be numerous. In the first place there was the Orde Dienst (commonly called the OD), which was a body mainly of ex-officers of the Dutch Army, who had organized themselves to take over the administration of the country between the time that the Germans evacuated and the normal Government was established. They were not "resisters" in the fighting sense of the word. Moreover, the arrival of the Military Commissioner from the NMA deprived them of the functions for which they had set themselves up. The NMA had regarded the OD with some suspicion prior to these operations; events, however, proved that they were both loyal and co-operative, so that their services could well have been used to a greater extent by the NMA in the early stages. Even so, it was not long before they were made considerable use of.

The other bodies were Resistance Movements in the proper sense of the word, although it is doubtful whether they were of any particular military value. There were a number of them of varying political outlook. They did not see eye to eye with OD, nor was there much co-operation among themselves. The fact, however, that Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, son-in-law of the Queen, had been proclaimed by the Supreme Commander as Commander of the Resistance Groups tended to unite them, although many difficulties remained to be solved.

The position of the Resistance Movements became somewhat menacing in view of the weakness of the municipal police who were to a large extent disorganised, since many of their senior officers had fled to Germany, and unarmed because the Germans had removed all lethal weapons from them.

Similar difficulties showed themselves at Nijmegen, but in a more intense form, since here fighting raged round about for some days quite close to the town, which was under shell and air bombardment. Here again, however, the situation was brought gradually under control and the civil authorities though hesitant were gradually educated to perform their duties and responsibilities. ♦ ♦ ♦


[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Hist Notes, G-5 Sec, an. 2 to Monograph]

♦ ♦ ♦ Early in October, the clearing of the remainder of North Brabant began and was car-


ried out by the Second Army and the First Canadian Army.

♦ ♦ ♦ The liberation of this area gave us a large number of additional Civil Servants and this applied especially to 's Hertogenbosch and Tilburg, where many of the provincial organisations were established. Thus it was possible to set up the various economic councils, food, industry, transport, etc., which were to act on a national level under the direction of the NMA.

These councils were faced with many very difficult problems. In peace time, and indeed during occupation, Holland had a very centralised administration, based on the Hague. These councils now had to take the place of the Hague administration with comparatively few personnel, no telephones and very few cars. They consequently took a very long time to get going, and this added to the difficulties of the Armies in supplying their needs. Moreover, it led to a good deal of acrimonious talk on both sides. On the one hand the Army complained that the Civil Administration did not move quickly enough or improvise sufficiently; on the other hand, civil administrators complained that the Army was not doing enough to help.

In point of fact the difficulties which arose were purely natural phenomena of an operational area. ♦ ♦ ♦


[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Hist Notes, G-5 Sec, an. 2 to Monograph]

♦ ♦ ♦ On 8 October 44, the liberation of West Zeeland-Flanders, South Beveland and Walcheren was begun. These operations were rapidly carried out, but they caused a considerable amount of material damage in West Zeeland-Flanders and serious flooding by sea water during the bombing of the dykes on the island of Walcheren. Flushing was also to a large extent destroyed.

The First Canadian Army had laid careful plans for the evacuation of the civil population from West to East of Zeeland-Flanders and from Walcheren, to South Beveland. Many people in these areas, however, refused to leave, preferring to remain in their desolated or flooded farmsteads. Matters became serious in this respect in December and January, and especially steps had to be taken on Walcheren, . . . Here, amphibious craft had to be used to evacuate both people and cattle, but all was eventually accomplished and much of the cattle was saved. ♦ ♦ ♦


[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Final Hist Rpt, 1 Mar-14 Jul 45, P. 15, SHAEF files, G-5, 17.07, Hist Reds]

♦ ♦ ♦ Further and more general mention should be made of the Netherlands Military Administration or Militair Gezag.

This body was . . . formed in London with the object of carrying out, under the special State of Siege, the interim Government of the Netherlands between the time of the withdrawal of the Germans and the installation of normal Government.

In London it was but a small body recruited from those Dutchmen who happened to be away in or who subsequently got away to England. After the planning stage was over its anticipated task was to enter Holland with the Allies when ,the Germans collapsed and to act as agent between the Mission and the Civil Administration for the expected few weeks before the arrival of the Government.

As things turned out, Holland was not liberated all at once. Instead only that part of the country South of the Rivers was liberated between September 1944 and May 1945.

This meant that the area South of the Rivers was totally divorced from the national civil administration and so it was that the NMA had to set up a completely new Governmental machine South of the rivers and expand its resources and responsibilities many times over. Economics, Public Safety, Transportation, Administration of Law, P.T.T. [Communications], all came within these responsibilities.

It was not an easy task, especially in view of the often weak backing given to the NMA by the Government in London.

The NMA had to choose the path between dictatorship and laissez-faire and it was frequently criticised on both counts. The press was especially hostile.

The NMA also got much criticised by the Armies, sometimes for inefficiency, frequently for lack of drive and less often for lack of cooperation.

These criticisms were no doubt from time to time justified, yet it was through the NMA that all Civil Affairs in Holland were conducted. They now were the agents for all activities and the least that can be said was that they saved the Armies from having to govern the country directly themselves.

In point of fact the NMA with all its shortcomings served Holland in her hour of disorgani-


zation and need with unmatched devotion and zeal.

Throughout, it worked in the closest contact with the Mission and CA detachments frequently sharing the same Offices and Messes. This close contact served to effect the very close co-operation both in planning and execution. ♦ ♦ ♦


[Cable, SHAEF to Secy, CCS, et al., 20 Oct 44, SHAEF SGS files, 322.01-7, SMC-OUT 2036]

Advance elements of SHAEF Mission (Netherlands) are now established at 18 Avenue Des Gaulois, Brussels. Object is to have an advance echelon of Supreme Headquarters in Belgium to handle Netherlands matters until such time as the Netherlands government moves from London on to Netherlands soil when the Mission will be formally credited to it. ♦ ♦ ♦


[Ltr, Brigadier R. M. H. Lewis, SCAO, 2d Br Army, to Robbins, DCAO, 21 AGp, 25 Nov 44, an. 7 to Monograph]

(f) After four years of servitude the Dutch officials are slow and unwilling to accept responsibility. ♦ ♦ ♦

It is not a military duty nor is it practicable for an Army organization to run the Civil Administration. Our duty is to provide such help as is possible and to encourage the civil authorities to put their house in order. This duty is secondary to assisting the military operations. There need have been no undue delay in raising the ration scale in the Second Army area....



[Msg, SHAEF to WD, CM-IN 14394, 15 Dec 44, MEL371, CCAC files, 400 (9-21-43), sec. 12]

. . . Present indications are that the relief supply program in the Netherlands is and will be serious. More than 500,000 acres are now flooded and this may be increased to 3,000,000 acres. The effect will be to isolate the west coast of the Netherlands from the remainder of the country and make its supply through Army supply lines running through Belgium south and east Netherlands very difficult if not impossible so supply must be through the coast line or through Belgium and then north and through canals, if usable.

To simplify supply problem for planning purposes, the Netherlands has been divided into the following areas:
Areas A, all that portion south of River Waal
Area B, all that portion west of River Ijssel
Area C, all that portion east of River Ijssel

Area B may be subdivided into area B 1 and area B 2 by a line from Hilversum-Utrecht-Tiel, B 1 lying to the east of this line and B 2 to the west. It is Area B 2 that may be isolated from the remainder of the Netherlands.

If this area were isolated, its supply through the normal lines of communication of 21 Army Group would be difficult if not impossible. These supply lines will run cast from Antwerp toward Germany and will not go through or near area B 2. To overcome this difficulty the following plan has been made:

Twenty-one Army Group are to accumulate a 14-day stockpile for this area which it would endeavor to introduce by emergency means as soon as the area falls in. Thereafter there would be a separate programme for this area enabling supplies to be landed, if and when practicable, through the west coast of Netherlands. ♦ ♦ ♦

Arrangements being made for supplies as follows: 21 Army Group are to accumulate the 14day stock pile as mentioned . . . above for this area. Thereafter supplies would be introduced as a separate program and a 60-day program for immediate shipment is being set up. Supplies for this 60-day program are to come to the maximum extent possible from UK sources, in view of shortness of time before which they will be required and because loading in coasters and small ships may be necessary. War Office has been asked to secure release of CIV 308 collapse stocks, where existing credits of supplies of UK origin are not sufficient.


[Copy of Ltr, P. S. Gerbrandy, Netherlands Prime Minister, to Gen Walter Bedell Smith, 16 Dec 44, an. 18, SHAEF files, G-5, Hist Rpt, 60, Relief to Holland]

Your letter of 4th December was handed to me on my return to London....
1. I am reasonably satisfied with the progress that is being made for the improvement of food situation in liberated Holland. Progress has been slow, but, nevertheless, General Edwards had expressed his conviction that when he comes to London (on Friday, 22nd December) he will be able to report that rations per person per day will have been raised to I6oo calories, and that from then on there will be a gradual increase to the 2000 calories essential for health.

2. My trip through the liberated areas has convinced me that a level of I6oo calories is certainly too low. After four years of undernourishment many people are in a very low state. There is, With certain exceptions, order and recognition of authority, but beneath the surface there is, even among this obedient and very manageable people, a current of unrest. This is due not only to the food position but also to causes of a psychological nature. Nevertheless, the truth remains that in the present situation the way to the heart lies through the stomach.

3. Your letter gave me the impression that, in your opinion, sufficient amounts of food had, in fact, been delivered by SHAEF and that, if this food (together with the stores on the spot) had not reached the consumers, it was due to lack of distribution by the Netherlands Military Administration. This is only half the truth. There has been a shortage of transport for many weeks: transport in our case means food, and NMA can only get transport from SHAEF, hardly any vehicles being left in the area concerned. It has taken at least five weeks for the provisions from Allied sources to reach the population. There has only recently been improvement in this direction. The general result is that since the day of liberation our population has, from the material point of view, been far worse off than under the German regime. This makes me the more grateful for the improvement that is now on the way. But this process supplies a severe lesson with regard to relief of that part of my country still to be liberated, and this is the main reason why I must ask you, in whom I have such great confidence, to speed up my promised meeting with General Eisenhower so that I can explain the situation. I am therefore sending by the same post a letter to General Eisenhower asking for a meeting if possible before Christmas but at any rate before the New Year.


[Copy of Ltr, P. S. Gerbrandy, Netherlands Prime Minister, to Eisenhower, 16 Dec 44, an. 41, SHAEF files, G-5, 60, Hist Rpt, Relief to Holland]

During my trip through liberated Holland I found many problems which have to be solved. There are other problems besides those connected with food, and I need not burden you with the details of them. But I reached one frightening conclusion, of which I think you should know. It is this: if the now occupied part of the Netherlands has to go through the same process as the liberated part, we shall witness a calamity as has not been seen in Europe for centuries, if at all. This calamity would be comparable only with those that have sometimes fallen upon the people of China.

In the liberated Netherlands the means of transport have been taken away by the Germans, in many regions few livestock are left, communications have been destroyed, power stations have been demolished, many little towns are nothing but ruin, larger towns like 's Hertogenbosch, Nijmegen, Flushing, are severely damaged, tens of thousands of houses have disappeared, the fuel situation is nearly everywhere heartrendingly bad, clothing is lacking. With the help of your men and of your Mission, and in collaboration With the Netherlands Military Administration, if we all exert our best efforts, these difficulties can be overcome.

The matter is quite different for the occupied Netherlands. There all the disasters mentioned above will be ten times as horrible as in the southern liberated part of the country. I need not enlarge on this matter. You already know something of it. You can imagine the desert that will be left by the Germans in North-Western Holland with its population of over four millions: no stores of food, no livestock. . . . And to this must be added the fact that the population of this part of the Netherlands is less tractable than the people of Brabant, Zeeland, Limburg, and Gelderland.

On 26 October 1943, 2  President Roosevelt decided that the responsibility for the relief of the


liberated populations would be with the military authorities. From that moment we have had to depend on what these authorities think and do. Our stores remain in the United States of America, our ships are still playing their part in the Allied scheme, our skill is unused, and for the most part we remain onlookers. We were obliged to accept that state of affairs, and we have confidence in your management. But at the same time, after my journey, during which I have seen how slowly progress is being made, what difficulties have still to be overcome, what dangers still threaten us, my conviction that everything will come right in the end is gone.

I should like therefore to discuss with you the situation that will arise and the special measures to be taken.
I have in mind three measures:
1. Relief for the occupied Netherlands at the time of the liberation must have priority above everything, even above the slogan: first of all defeat the Germans. The Netherlands Government cannot accept the liberation of corpses.
2. In the preparation of the relief planning of the 21st Army Group we should be consulted....
3. Those things which can best be done by the Netherlands Government itself should be done by me. The military authorities should provide us with the means we need, no matter whether they are owned by us or by our Allies. 3  ♦ ♦ ♦


[Copy of Ltr, Eisenhower to Gerbrandy, 21 Dec 44, an. 42, SHAEF files, G-5, Hist Rpt, 60, Relief to Holland]

Thank you for your letter of 16 December. . . .
I, of course, fully appreciate your desire to be kept in the picture regarding the progress of plans and preparations for the relief of the Netherlands and am issuing the necessary instructions to ensure this. I can assure you, too, that we will gladly avail ourselves, both in planning and operation, of the expert advice and assistance which you and the Dutch people can provide.

You will be aware that I have recently issued a directive to 21 Army Group putting on it the responsibility for providing relief supplies in Western Holland when liberated. This responsibility will continue to be vested in 21 Army Group until direct shipment can be started from the United Kingdom to a Dutch port. 21 Army Group are forming a special Headquarters to undertake the planning and execution of the relief operation, and I have directed the Army Group to make the fullest use of Dutch expert advice and to arrange this through my Mission to your Government.4  The Mission will also be responsible for keeping you fully informed of the details of progress made.

I am shortly issuing a further directive to 21 Army Group making it responsible for the stockpiling and concentration of certain equipment necessary for the de-watering plan. This plan provides that the pumping equipment shall be operated as far as possible by Dutch experts. ♦ ♦ ♦


[Copy of Ltr, Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina to President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, 15 Jan 45, an. 43, SHAEF files, G-5, 60, Hist Rpt, Relief to Holland]

.... The discussions both with General Eisenhower personally and the next day with General Bedell Smith, Chief of Staff to General Eisenhower and Lt. General Grasett, Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Affairs were, to the minds of the Netherlands Cabinet Ministers, quite satisfactory and they received the very definite impression that everything humanly possible would be done by SHAEF, not only in the planning itself but also in view of the timely execution of the relief operation provided there does not result from this action undue prejudice to military operations, a notion which, it was agreed, was to be defined further, if possible.

It is not, therefore, because the Netherlands Government feel disappointed or discouraged in consequence of their latest talks with SHAEF that I have decided to make this personnal appeal to you. It is because the situation in my country has become so critical that I feel that it is no longer sufficient to plan for immediate relief


after liberation, even if the plans devised are the best possible plans and their timely execution assured, but that action of an entirely different nature will have to be taken now. Conditions in the still occupied part of Holland .. . have at present become so desperate, that it is abundantly clear that, if a major catastrophe, the like of which has not been seen in Western Europe since the Middle Ages, is to be avoided in Holland, something drastic has to be done now, that is to say before and not after the liberation of the rest of the country.

The situation is precarious enough in the Northern and Eastern provinces, where the Germans have carried off great quantities of foodstuffs and cattle and where they may be counted upon with certainty to carry off or destroy whatever remains when the time comes for them to retreat. But it is especially in North Western Holland, the section comprising the provinces of North Holland, South Holland and Utrecht where by far the worst conditions prevail. Four and a half million people, or half the total population of the Netherlands, live in this densely populated area....

According to the latest figures available, the average rations in the cities just mentioned had gradually dropped to 630 calories per day (the minimum number of calories a person, doing very light work, can normally live on, is put at 2000 calories per day; the British rations, which admittedly are not luxurious, are calculated to represent 2500-3000 calories per day). Seyss Inquart, German Governor of the Netherlands, in a recent broadcast to the people of Holland (on January 7th, 1945) admitted with cynical frankness that "nobody could or should contend that the present rations were even approximately sufficient." ♦ ♦ ♦

Hunger, cold, darkness, dirt, disease and floods, is it any wonder that Seyss Inquart with unparalleled cynicism ironically wished the people of Netherlands good luck this year, "for otherwise the situation which to-day is characterized by hunger, cold and misery, might unexpectedly grow into a catastrophe . . ." ?

All this is appalling, but to make matters infinitely worse the Germans have officially called up all men between the ages of 17 and 40 (born between the years of 1905 and 1928) to work in Germany. ♦ ♦ ♦

It is, that goes without saying, necessary that this war be won, but I assert that it is not necessary for winning the war that conditions are allowed to spread and develop, whatever duties our ruthless enemy may have to provide for the feeding of the population of the Northwestern part of the Netherlands, which will inevitably result in its total or partial ruin and extinction. On the contrary, it is precisely because there is no need to sacrifice these unfortunate people that help should be brought to them without delay. It is now the duty of the Netherlands Government to ask for urgent military action for the purpose of driving the Germans out of Holland. They feel that this is a reasonable and necessary request, and they would be grateful for an assurance that nothing will be left undone to this end.

Should, contrary to the hopes of the Netherlands Government, immediate military help be out of the question, then immediate relief in the form either of mass evacuation or in that of food, clothing, fuel and medical supplies is an imperative necessity.


[Hist Notes, G5 Sec, SHAEF Mission, Netherlands, 6 Sep 44-28 Feb 45, an. SHAEF files, G-5, 60, Hist Rpt, Relief to Holland]

♦ ♦ ♦ The organization for the production of coal was initially undertaken by G-5 but shortly became the responsibility of the Solid Fuel Section of G-4 SHAEF, which was a branch separate from the Mission and from G-5. Nevertheless, G-5 was ultimately concerned in the matter since lack of coal had untold repercussions on general civilian well being.

In the early stages of liberation it had been arranged to have an Exchange Agreement with Belgium whereby coal from S. Limburg would be taken to Belgium and Belgian coal should be taken to Holland, thereby economizing in transportation. This agreement however, was unsatisfactory from the start, in that for a variety of reasons, political considerations being paramount, the Belgians did not maintain their side of the agreement.

In consequence of this, the coal position in liberated Holland went from bad to worse until in January 1945, the position was so critical that many public utilities were on the point of closing down. By the efforts of 21 Army Group to ensure that there was no pilfering in transit, matters improved slightly towards the end of the month, but it was clear that the Exchange Agreement was completely unsatisfactory so far as the Dutch were concerned. In consequence, the Agreement was abandoned, and it was decided that as from


1 Feb 45, Holland would be supplied with Dutch coal and that it should be transported by canal to Budel, Eysden, Neerpelt and Antwerp and from thence by rail in the case of coal going north and by further barge shipment in case of that going to Zeeland.

Pending the complete movement of the barge traffic it was arranged that coal should be sent under 21 Army Group auspices to Holland by rail. This resulted in a very great improvement in the coal position in Holland in February.  ♦ ♦ ♦



[Transl Report of Dr. W. Pfister, Relief Measures Undertaken by the Don Swiss and the International Red Cross Joint Relief Commission, dtd 27 Mar 45, an. 54, SHAEF files, G-5, Hist Rpt, 6o, Relief to Holland]

6. Food Situation

Since the middle of November 1944, the western provinces have been completely without provisions. ♦ ♦ ♦

The Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as well as the Director General of the Reich Bureau for Feeding in War Zones explained to the IRCC Delegate that the plight of the 4,500,000 inhabitants of the three western provinces will become absolutely catastrophic and desperate from May 15, 1945, if outsiders are not prepared to send, on the one hand, coal to thresh the wheat in reserve, and on the other, send 3,000 to 3,500 tons of flour a month to the Netherlands....

An example, which illustrates the dangerous food situation, is given by statistics according to which the caloric content of a Dutch workingman's rations have scarcely exceeded 500 a day since December 10, 1944. ♦ ♦ ♦


[Analysis Sheet, SCAF-250, SMC-IN 9439, 27 Mar 45, 5  an. 68, SHAEF files, G-5, Hist Rpt, 60, Relief to Holland]

Part I-Appreciation

. . . It is unlikely that the enemy's plan is to withdraw from Holland....
Estimate present enemy strength North of Maas and West Ijssel at over 200,000. It would be a major undertaking to conduct operations in Northwest Holland in the present circumstances. ♦ ♦ ♦

Part III-Recommendations

19. Most rapid means of ensuring liberation and restoration of Holland may well be the rapid completion of our main operations when full priority could be allocated to the task.

20. So long as enemy continues cohesive resistance in Northwest Holland it is militarily inadvisable to undertake operations west of Utrecht. Suggest you should make clear to the Royal Netherlands Government the great cost of Dutch lives and property that any other course would necessitate. ♦ ♦ ♦


[Analysis Sheet of SCAF-300, FS-OUT 2593, 23 Apr 45, Eisenhower to CCS & Br CofS, an. 69, SHAEF files, G-5, 60, Hist Rpt, Relief to Holland]

The question of relief for Holland and the proposals for attempts to save it from further destruction and widespread starvation have been taken up by the Prime Minister. This matter has assumed increasing urgency and for sheer humanitarian reasons something must be done at once. The Dutch Government states supplies in occupied Holland will be used up by 28 April. Our information confirms theirs that deaths through famine will then start on a considerable scale unless supplies are promptly replenished.

Due to present employment of our troops we cannot possibly mount and carry out for some weeks decisive operations in Holland. When this does become possible, determined resistance by the Germans would inevitably result in even more widespread destruction. Entirely aside from the fact that our possible offensive action in Holland would be too late and would materially in-


terfere with essential current operations, it would inevitably impose additional disaster on the peoples of Holland without presenting a solution to the immediate problem.

I am aware that the Seyss Inquart proposals are being discussed on a Governmental level in San Francisco, but it may take some time to arrive at a three-way agreement. In the meantime the situation is so bad that something must be done to arrange for the introduction of food into Holland by free dropping and by every other possible means even though the best we can do may be a small contribution in comparison with the widespread destitution which now exists.

As an additional measure from a purely military standpoint I propose to send a very strongly worded message to the German Commander [Generaloberst Johannes] Blaskowitz pointing out to him that he is undertaking to defend an area which will later be indefensible and which, even if held by him, in no way impedes the operations of the Allied Armies; that the flooding of large areas of Holland with the resulting destitution, starvation and the enormous loss of life to the population will constitute a blot on his military honor and that of the German Army which can never be effaced. He must be told to cease opening the dykes and to take immediate steps to assist in every way possible the distribution of food which we supply to the starving people in Holland for whose welfare he is directly responsible, that he should assist from stocks of food available or made available to him, and that if he fails in this respect to meet his clear obligations and his humanitarian duty, he and each responsible member of his command will be considered by me as violators of the laws of war who must face the certain consequences of their acts.

The tragic situation in Holland does not permit further delay and I would like as free a hand as possible.... 6


[Monograph entitled Relief to the Netherlands, dtd Jun 45, P. 41, SHAEF files, G-5, 60, Hist Rpts, Relief to Holland]

♦ ♦ ♦ 26th April, saw a request from SHAEF to Bomber Command and the U.S. Eighth Air Force asking them to alert 200 aircraft for the Dutch succour mission. The 27th brought word from the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, SHAEF, that food dropped into Holland would be distributed by the Dutch rationing authorities with the assistance of the German Army. The Germans, it was said, had agreed not to fire on the Allied planes. G-4 heard on the same day from the War Office that 8,000,000 rations were packed and waiting to go; four million more would be ready by 14 May, and still another 6,000,000 by 21 May.

SHAEF Air Staff, on April 27th, directed that the free dropping operation commence the following morning. Bad weather intervened, though, and it was not until 29 April that the planes took off. ♦ ♦ ♦

During the period from 29 April through 8 May, 9,866,300 British POW rations, 720,000 U.S. POW rations, and 889,070 CA rations were dropped into B-2. ♦ ♦ ♦


[First Canadian Army Intel Summary No. 308, 4 May 45, app. D, an. 71, SHAEF files, G-5, 60, Hist Rpt, Relief to Holland]

The following is an account of the negotiations undertaken between Allied and German representatives [30 April 19451 for the purpose of relieving the food crisis in Holland. ♦ ♦ ♦

The small village of Achterveld . . . was chosen as the meeting place. The school rooms of the local village school had been turned into a series of conference rooms. . . . Our own arrival coincided with that of the Russian delegation. About five minutes afterwards Lieutenant General W. Bedell Smith, Chief of Staff to General Eisenhower, arrived with his retinue. . . . headed by a jeep and two motorcycles, all flying white flags, a procession of staff cars hove into view and came to a halt outside the school. In the first was the Corps Commander, Lieutenant General [C.] Foulkes, who had gone out to meet Seyss Inquart. In the cars behind were Seyss Inquart's staff, members of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy, his own escort of two SS officers and a varied collection of Dutch civilians whose business was connected with transportation, distribution and final allocation of food supplies so eagerly awaited. All the cars, one by one, disgorged their occupants and the whole


party, headed by Seyss Inquart, moved into the village school. The eyes of every officer, other rank and villager were on the central figures in this drama. Leading the procession, limping along slightly in advance and looking straight in front of him moved the hated Seyss Inquart, Reichskommissar of the Netherlands. . . . With the disappearance of the German party, the Allied representatives made their way into the school from the other side. After some slight rearrangement the first main conference between General Smith on the one hand and Seyss Inquart on the other began. ♦ ♦ ♦

In cold, matter-of-fact language the points connected with this food distribution were discussed. At the same time, the nature of the whole proceedings became more and more obvious. Here were the Allies, forced by a set of circumstances beyond their control, to negotiate with this man, one of the worst war criminals....
This first conference lasted about one and a half hours before the proceedings went into the sub-committee stage.

General Smith held a smaller conference with Seyss Inquart to explore more fruitful possibilities. A dramatic incident occurred when General Smith turned during this discussion to Seyss Inquart and said:-"Well, in any case, you are going to be shot" to which the Reichskommissar replied:-"That leaves me cold." General Smith then retorted:-"It will." ♦ ♦ ♦


[Monograph entitled Relief to The Netherlands, dtd Jun 45, p. 43]

♦ ♦ ♦ After some disagreement, the Allies and the Germans finally reached an accord on the terms under which land and water convoys could pass freely from the Allied to the German side. A North and South demarcation line was set up to demarcate a neutral zone for the supply trucks. Arrangements were made for identifying and escorting Allied ships. Other arrangements were concluded for the flight of relief planes.


[Ltr, CofS, SHAEF to Head, SHAEF Mission Netherlands, 4 Apr 45, SHAEF-SGS files, 322.01-7]

2. Movement of Headquarters, SHAEF Mission (Netherlands), less Naval Component, to Breda, Holland, is approved. However, such move will not take place until 21 Army Group is able to provide the necessary accommodation and communications facilities without prejudice to its current operations. Your proposed target date of 1st May 1945 is approved contingent upon the above proviso.7



[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Final Historical Rpt, 1 Mar-14 Jul 45,p- 12, SHAEF files, G-5, 17.07, Hist Reds]

♦ ♦ ♦ Field Marshal Montgomery received the surrender of the Commander of all German Forces in Holland, Denmark, and North West Germany on 4 May. Acknowledgement of this was formally received by Lt. Gen. Foulkes, GOC, 1st Canadian Corps, at Wageningen on 5 May from General Blaskowitz, Commander of 25 German Army, the force occupying the B-2 Area.

Two days elapsed between the formal receipt of the German surrender and the entry of Allied troops into the Western provinces. During this time the provision of supplies under the truce arrangement continued. Meanwhile plans were made ready for the deployment of the "B2" Civil Affairs detachments, NMA and Red Cross relief personnel under the supervision of 1st Canadian Corps. This was a subordinate part of the operational plan of entry of tactical troops. Advance Civil Affairs elements and NMA Commissioners were to go with the division columns on the first day, and the remainder of the Civil Affairs were to come one or two days later. On 7 May the 49th British Infantry Division entered the province of Utrecht, sending troops to the cities of Utrecht, Hilversum and Amersfoort and to German installations in the area. On 8 May the 1st Canadian Infantry Division passed through the 49 Infantry Division into the provinces of North and South Holland, including the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Princess Irene Brigade which had been formed of Dutch sol-


diers in England and had fought in several engagements during the liberation of The Netherlands was attached to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division as the unit first to arrive in and liberate The Hague.

Major General H. J. Kruls, Chief of Staff of the NMA, the Head of the G-5 Section of the Mission, senior officers of the NMA and three other Officers of the G-5 Section entered The Hague with the Princess Irene Brigade, setting up temporary offices the next day and maintaining representation in The Hague ever since. On the evening of 8 May the Chief of Staff of the NMA and the Head of the G-5 Section met with the Head of the College of Vertrouwens-mannen, the provisional body appointed in the German-occupied Netherlands by the Netherlands Government in England to act as representatives of the Netherlands Government at the moment the German rule should cease. ♦ ♦ ♦


[Monograph entitled Relief to the Netherlands, Jun 45, P. 44]

♦ ♦ ♦ The official capitulation of the German Armed Forces in Holland came at 0800 hours 5 May. The long months of planning for B-2 area relief were at an end, the period for instantaneous action at hand. As developments proved, days and even hours counted.

The First Canadian Corps had local responsibility for the area and met it with a three phased plan. Phase I called for bringing every CA detachment of 7 Group north of the Rhine to the area. By mid-day 6 May, this had been done and detachments were located in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and other major towns.

Phase 2 called for moving 49 Division into Utrecht Province on 7 May and establishing CA control. This phase was completed by noon, 8 May.

Phase 3 provided for moving 1 Canadian Division into Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague on 8 May and establishing CA control in the remainder of the B-2 area. This phase was completed by 1600 hours, 9 May. 8

In all, some 21 CA detachments were deployed, and within 78 hours after the official capitulation, CA representatives were functioning at every main center in Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht Province.


[SHAEF Mission Netherlands, Final Historical Rpt, 1 Mar-14 Jul 45]

♦ ♦ ♦ Representatives of the G-5 Section visited The Hague in increasing numbers after the liberation and for the next three weeks the activities of the Section were concerned with assisting national governmental and Netherlands District officials in the B-2 Area and coordinating the Civil Affairs programmes in the rest of the country from Breda and Zwolle. After the initial relief requirements were met, the problems of obtaining coal and transportation for the needs of the country loomed largest. Other major problems indicating the national scope of the civil rehabilitation programme in the Netherlands were those of labour conditions in Limburg and the repatriation of the Netherlands Displaced Persons from Germany through Southern and Eastern Dutch Reception centres. To coordinate all of these matters it appeared immediately desirable to move all of the national agencies to a central place in the West of the Country, and on the week-end of 2 June all of the elements of the Mission, the Headquarters of the NMA and the Netherlands District were moved to The Hague. ♦ ♦ ♦


[Msg, SHAEF to WD, CM-IN 12808, 13 May 45, MEL765, CCAC files, 400 (9-21-43), sec. 21]

1. The following is an interim report on conditions in the B-2 area of the Netherlands based upon incomplete information and subject to verification ...

2. The food situation is not as serious as had been anticipated. Starvation conditions are not apparent. Malnutrition exists in urban centers but no indications have been found in country districts. Under-nourishment is especially noticeable in Rotterdam. Flour mills in Rotterdam and Amsterdam areas were described as intact immediately prior to liberation. Food was moving into the northern part of the B-2 area at that time. Approximately a half million tons of potatoes are reported available in the C area together with an undetermined surplus of meat, cheese, butter and grain. Movement of this food to the B-2 area has begun.


[Copy of Draft Interim CA Agreement, Presented by Maj Gen John G. W. Clark (Br), Head of SHAEF Mission, Netherlands, to Netherlands Govt, 19 Jul 45, Incl to Memo From BJSM, 14 Aug 45, CCAC files, 054, Netherlands (3-23-44)]

1. In order formally to recognize the situation presently obtaining in respect of the responsibility for and conduct of the civil administration in The Netherlands, I have recommended and I have now been instructed by the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, to declare to you and the Netherlands Government that the first or military phase of the operations in The Netherlands by the Allied Forces is terminated.

2. The Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, wishes to confirm that the military situation is such that, in accordance with paragraph 2 of the Agreement Regarding Civil Administration and Jurisdiction of 16th May 1944, full and complete responsibility for civil administration in The Netherlands will be resumed by you. It is understood that the following arrangements will continue to apply:
(a) That port, lines of communication, transport, airfield and other facilities, services and installations in The Netherlands will continue to be made available as may be necessary for the normal requirements of the British-United States Forces.
(b) That the Netherlands Government in its conduct of civil administration will give consideration to all such requests as may be made to assist the British-United States Forces in carrying out their work.
(c) That in respect to members of the German armed forces in The Netherlands, the British-United States Forces will be permitted to exercise, in co-ordination with The Netherlands Government, complete military jurisdiction....
(d) That the work of Allied Counter Intelligence personnel against enemy nationals be permitted to continue....
(e) That persons who are subject to exclusive jurisdiction of The Netherlands authorities, in the absence of Netherlands authorities, may be arrested by Allied Military Police and detained by them until they can be handed over to competent Netherlands authorities.
(i) That the British-United States and the Netherlands authorities will take the necessary steps to provide machinery for such mutual assistance as may be required in making investigations, collecting evidence, and securing the attendance of witnesses in relation to cases triable under their respective jurisdiction.
(j) That the claims commission now established for the examination and disposal of claims for compensation for damage or injury, preferred by Netherlands civilians against the British United States authorities, be continued.
(k) That members of the British-United States forces . . . and all property belonging to them or to their Governments, shall be exempt from all Netherlands taxation (including customs)....
(l) That the British-United States forces shall have the right to retain use of such lands, accommodations, facilities, equipment and installations as are now in actual use by them. ♦ ♦ ♦


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