Dutch Foreign Policy since 1815: A Study in Small Power Politics

By Amry Vandenbosch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII

THE FORTIFICATION OF FLUSHING

The van Heeckeren van Kell affair would not have attracted the attention nor caused the uproar that it did if it had not been for the plan of the Netherlands Government, first announced in the Speech from the Throne in 1909, to strengthen the coast defenses. In Holland, as well as in Belgium, France and England, the plan for improving the coast defenses was linked with the alleged letter of the German Emperor to the Queen. Dr. Kuyper had long advocated improvement of the coast defenses; during his ministry a commission to study the problem had been appointed. The full report of this commission was never published; parts of the report dealing with the political phases were kept secret. French and Belgian papers were very critical of the Dutch plans, especially that part of them which gave priority to the fortification of Flushing. Some of them loudly insinuated that the proposal was the result of pressure from Germany. It was contended that the purpose of strongly fortifying Flushing, which controls the mouth of the Scheldt, was to prevent a British fleet from going up the river to the aid of Antwerp in case of a German invasion of Belgium. The fact that the plan included no provision for strengthening the Eastern defenses, which were said to be "notoriously weak," caused suspicion and distrust. The French were apparently also disturbed by the fact that the Netherlands Government had placed its order for artillery with Krupp instead of with the French firm of Schneider.1

The outcry in the Belgian and French press had varying effects on Dutch public opinion. It caused some people to back away from the bill or oppose it, while in others it developed a stubborn support of the measure, regardless of what they thought of its merits. Troelstra, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, relates

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1
The French chargé d'affaires complained about this to van Swinderen. British documents on the origin of the war. VIII, p. 649.

-101-

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Dutch Foreign Policy since 1815: A Study in Small Power Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 6
  • Chapter III 32
  • Chapter IV 44
  • Chapter V 57
  • Chapter VI 70
  • Chapter VII - THE NORTH SEA DECLARATION 89
  • Chapter VIII 101
  • Chapter IX 108
  • Chapter X 140
  • Chapter XI 149
  • Chapter XII 164
  • Chapter XIII 172
  • Chapter XIV 191
  • Chapter XV 217
  • Chapter XV 241
  • Chapter XVII - RELATIONS WITH GERMANY: FAILURE OF NEUTRALITY 271
  • Chapter XVIII 289
  • Index 313
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