A story of Holland part 2, as seen on postage stamps !!
By Rick Aalhuizen
(Place cursor over image for explanation.)
In the first section, I have mentioned how the House of Orange is closely associated with the history of the Netherlands. King Willem did much to make the country prosper again. He encouraged trade and industry and during his reign the first railway was established.. Everything was not wel in the southern provinces however. They felt that they were ignored, as far as the appointment of officials and officers were concerned and in 1830 the southern provinces revolted. In 1839 King Willem agreed to the independance of the new country of Belgium. It was during this struggle that, when the rebels tried to board a Dutch navy vessel in the port of Antwerp, the commander refused to surrender and his famous words, before he blew up the ship, were "I rather go up in the air". The commander's name was Jan van Speyk. Holland also issued a special set of stamps with a surcharge, to help rebuild the churches, that were damaged during the war. Thanks to a great plan to help rebuild things after the war, devised by the U.S General George Marshall and called "The Marshallplan 1947" Europe was quickly helped back on its feet. Marshall's slogan was "Help Europe to help itself" and consisted of a lending and leasing program. 50 years later the Dutch commemorated this by issuing two stamps.
When William the third died without children, Anne, (the protestant daughter of James the second) took over as Queen of England. In Holland it was William's nephew, who became William the fourth and when he died in 1757, his son, who was then only 3 years old, became William 5. When in 1795 the French occupied Holland, William left for England and died in excile.
Under French protection, Holland then became the Batavian Republic. This only lasted for a year as Napoleon made his brother Louis, King of the Netherlands. Once Napoleon had been defeated, three men organised for William to be returned and become King Willem 1. They were van Hogendorp, van Limburg Stirum and van der Duyn van Maasdam.
On the 30th of November 1813, the Prince landed on the beach of Scheveningen, which is near The Hague, the administrative capitol of the Netherlands. The Congress of Vienna, which was run by the countries that defeated Napoleon, decided that the Northern and Southern parts of Holland should be united and form the Kingdom of Holland, ruled by the Prince of Orange as King Willem 1. The coronation took place in 1815 and on the stamp we see King Willem take the oath.
In 1840 King Willem abdicated and his son Willem 2 took over. Now that Belgium had seperated from the Kingdom of Holland, a new constitution was required. Willem 1 had not taken a great deal of notice of parliament and had ruled mainly by Royal Decree. Johan Rudolf Thorbecke was the leader of a group, that wanted more power to the people in State matters and as there was a lot of turmoil in Europe (Revolutions in France and Germany) during that time, King Willem 2 accepted the new constitution and became a "Constitutional Monarch", which meant that he was virtually a figure head and the country was from then on ruled by Parliament, with the Ministers responsible. Thorbecke's famous words were :" There is even more than ever to be done in this world"
Other politicians of those days were: Dr.H Schaepman, leader of the Catholic party and Mr G. Groen van Prinsterer, who was the leader of the conservative party. The place where Parliament meets is in The Hague in the "Knight's Hall" or called the "Ridderzaal" in Dutch. The representatives of the Dutch people have gathered there, since 1464. When Parliament opens in September, the Monarch is driven there in a Golden Carriage and she or he reads out the policy for the coming year. The day is called "Little Prince day". King Willem 2 had taken part in the Battle of Waterloo and was a very popular monarch. When he passed away in 1849, his son Willem 3 became King. It was during his reign, that the first Dutch adhesive postage stamps were issued in 1852, with his portrait on it of course. When Willem 3 died in 1880, his daughter Wilhelmina was only 10 years old, while his three sons had all died earlier. Queen Emma, the mother of Princess Wilhelmina, therefor became Queen-Regent untill 1889, when Wilhelmina was old enough to reign. In 1889 Queen Wilhelmina became Queen of the Netherlands and ruled through some very turbulent years until 1948. In 1913 the country celebrated the centenary of it's independence and a special set of stamps were issued with the heads of the three Kings and the Queen. The following year, the Great War broke out and although Holland remained neutral, it did affect her. As the German Army stormed into Belgium, over a million refugees crossed the border and fled into Holland. Besides the civilian refugees, there were about 40000 Belgian and British troops.The British were the 1st Royal Naval Brigade under commander Henderson and when they were cut off at Antwerpen, they crossed the Dutch border and were interned. A special sticker was issued to enable them to write home twice a month.
When the war was over, the League of Nations was created, the Peace Palace was built and the International Court of Justice was established in The Hague. Apart from these, other good things happened after the war. The aviation industry took off and Dr Albert Plesman founded the KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) and Fokker started the manufacturing of aircraft. It was in 1928, that Holland issued special stamps to honour the pilots, that flew the mail to the Dutch East Indies.They were G.A.Koppen, who had made the return mail flight in 1927 and Thomassen van der Hoop, who had made the first mail flight in 1924; then in 1933 a stamp appeared that was used on special flights. Then came the "depression years" and to lighten the burden two special stamps with the portraits of Queen Wilhelmina and Princess Juliana and a surcharge were issued.
And ironic as it was, in 1933, the year that Hitler came into power in Germany, Holland issued a peace promoting stamp, which incorporated the Star of David.
Then in 1940, the stamps with the portrait of Queen Wilhelmina had been on issue for 12 years, so a new face was called for. When however, the war broke out on the 10th of May 1940, the Royal Family and the Government fled to England, when the Germans occupied the country. All images of the Queen had to disappear from coins and stamps. The stamps, that were then issued, were overprints and straightaway nicknamed "Holland behind bars".
They were soon replaced by a set of stamps about Germanic symbols. Holland usually issued every year stamps for child welfare and a set for Culture funds. The occupation powers soon replaced those, as they did in Germany and other occupied countries, by special Winterhelp stamps with a high surcharge. After Germany had invaded Russia in 1941 and the Eastern Front became a harder nut to crack, than was first thought, special stamps were issued to encourage enlisting in a volunteer Dutch fighting legion.
The Dutch Government-in-exile issued in 1944, for the use on ships of the Dutch Merchant Navy, a special set of stamps and these were also used in Holland after the liberation. They depicted scenes of the Army, Merchant Navy, Airforce and Royal Navy and showed a new portrait of Queen Wilhelmina.
The wartime was not an easy time for the Dutch. Many people were transported to concentration camps; one person that became very wel known after the war, was a jewish girl, that went into hiding at the age of 13, was betrayed at 15 and died in Bergen Belsen concentration camp, two months before Holland was liberated. She was Anne Frank and the other stamp shows, how the deportations affected every one's relations with the victims. It lists Grandfather, Grandmother, Father, Mother, Brother, Sister, Uncle, Aunt, Nephew, Niece, Neighbour, Neighbour's wife, Boy or Girlfriend.
To keep everyone's spirit up, Queen Wilhelmina spoke from England by radio (Radio Orange) and the Dutch, who were supposed to have surrendered their radios, listened to her on their underground and clandistine radios.
After the southern part of Holland was liberated, in September 1944, the Northern part became isolated and virtually starved. As things were running to an end for the Germans, they took as much food and fuel away as they could and the winter of 44-45 became known as "The Hunger Winter" and claimed many lives. And when the fooddroppings of the Swedish Red Cross took place, many people called it "Manna from Heaven", but for many thousands it came too late. Then on May 5 1945 Germany surrendered and Holland was liberated and we can see the Dutch Lion defeating the Dragon. As there was enorm damage done, a special set was issued to aid the war victims' relief and these stamps depict a lady with the symbol of abundance.
Back to Rick's page
King Willem did much to make the country prosper again. He encouraged trade and industry and during his reign the first railway was established.. Everything was not wel in the southern provinces however. They felt that they were ignored, as far as the appointment of officials and officers were concerned and in 1830 the southern provinces revolted. In 1839 King Willem agreed to the independance of the new country of Belgium. It was during this struggle that, when the rebels tried to board a Dutch navy vessel in the port of Antwerp, the commander refused to surrender and his famous words, before he blew up the ship, were "I rather go up in the air". The commander's name was Jan van Speyk.
Holland also issued a special set of stamps with a surcharge, to help rebuild the churches, that were damaged during the war.
Thanks to a great plan to help rebuild things after the war, devised by the U.S General George Marshall and called "The Marshallplan 1947" Europe was quickly helped back on its feet. Marshall's slogan was "Help Europe to help itself" and consisted of a lending and leasing program. 50 years later the Dutch commemorated this by issuing two stamps.In the Dutch East Indies the Japanese had interned all Europeans in camps, which was remembered on a stamp, issued 50 years later. And after the Japanese surrendered, the Nationalists strifed for an independent Indonesia, which was established in 1949 and Dr Sukarno became its first President. During the war, in London, during 1944, Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg formed an economic Union, called the "BENELUX". This Union grew and grew (Every year another Europe stamp) into a United Europe, with its own Parliament, Flag and in the year 2001 its own currency, the"Euro".In 1948, after having reigned for 50 turbulent years, Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in favour of her only daughter Juliana, who reigned for 32 years. In 1980 Juliana abdicated in favour of her eldest daughter Beatrix. And Beatrix is, at the time of writing this story, still the Queen of the Netherlands. Beatrix, out of the four Monarchs, was the only one who had sons as heirs.Her eldest son, Willem Alexander, as the heir to the throne, carries the title "Prince of Orange" and is expected to be the future King of Holland. He will then be known as King William the Fourth. He married his future Queen Maxima on 02-02-2002 and a special miniature sheet was issued for that occasion. This concludes this story of Dutch history on postage stamps.