Hendrikus Colijn

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His Excellency
Hendrikus Colijn
Hendrikus Colijn (1913).jpg
Hendrikus Colijn, 1913
25th Prime Ministers of the Netherlands
In office
26 May 1933 – 10 August 1939
Monarch Wilhelmina
Preceded by Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouck
Succeeded by Dirk Jan de Geer
In office
4 August 1925 – 8 March 1926
Monarch Wilhelmina
Preceded by Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouck
Succeeded by Dirk Jan de Geer
Personal details
Born (1869-06-22)22 June 1869
Burgerveen, Netherlands
Died 18 September 1944(1944-09-18) (aged 75)
Ilmenau, Germany
Political party ARP
Spouse(s) Helena Groenenberg (1867–1947)
Children 3
Occupation Military officer
Signature

Hendrikus "Hendrik" Colijn (22 June 1869 – 18 September 1944) was a Dutch military officer, businessman and politician who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1925 to 1926 and again from 1933 to 1939.

Early life[edit]

He was born on 22 June 1869 in the Haarlemmermeer to Antonie Colijn and Anna Verkuijl, who had migrated to the newly created Haarlemmermeer polder from the Land of Heusden and Altena for religious reasons, he was the first of six children, all born in Haarlemmermeer. Colijn grew up in the Land of Altena.

Military service[edit]

Colijn in 1905
Hendrik Colijn's house in Aceh (1890–1920)

At the age of 16, he went to a military academy in Kampen for officer training, where he graduated as a 2nd lieutenant in 1892; in 1893, he married Helena Groenenberg and was sent to the Dutch East Indies. During his 16 years in the Dutch East Indies, he spent ten years in the Colonial Army, serving in the Aceh War as the lieutenant of J. B. van Heutsz, and six further years in the Colonial administration, having the same role towards van Heutsz when the latter became Governor General in 1904.

Colijn's letters to his wife from his period on Lombok reveal his participation in acts of brutality which by modern standards would be considered severe war crimes:

I have seen a mother carrying a child of about 6 months old on her left arm, with a long lance in her right hand, who was running in our direction. One of our bullets killed the mother as well as the child, from now on we couldn't give any mercy, it was over. I did give orders to gather a group of 9 women and 3 children who asked for mercy and they were shot all together, it was not a pleasant job, but something else was impossible. Our soldiers tacked them with pleasure with their bayonets, it was horrible. I will stop reporting now.[1]

Political life[edit]

After his return to the Netherlands in 1909, he was elected as an Anti Revolutionary Party Member of Parliament for the district Sneek (Before 1918, the Dutch voting system was the same as the British).

In 1911, he was appointed Minister of War[2] and revised the Dutch Selective Service System; in May 1918 he acted as an intermediary between the British and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to arrange an armistice, resulting in the Kaiser getting refuge in The Netherlands.

Business life[edit]

In 1910 the Holland Dakota Landbouw Compagnie is established[3] with Hendrikus Colijn and his brother nl:Arie Colijn as the primary share holders.[4]

From 1914 to 1922 he served as CEO for the Bataafse Petroleum Maatschappij (BPM). In 1925, he also became CEO of Royal Dutch Shell.

Prime minister[edit]

In 1922 he accepted the political leadership of the Anti Revolutionary Party (Calvinist) from Dr. Abraham Kuyper. Already one year later he succeeded resigning minister Dirk Jan de Geer as Minister of Finance;[2] in 1925 Colijn also became prime minister,[2] but a year later Colijn had to step down when the House of Representatives accepted a resolution by Gerrit Hendrik Kersten of the Protestant Reformed Political Party which called for diplomatic ties with the Vatican to be broken. This was unacceptable to the Roman-Catholic State Party then in government.[5] Colijn then returned to the Senate, and from 1927 to 1929, he served as head of the Dutch delegation to the League of Nations in Geneva, at the elections of 1929 he was elected for the House of Representatives, and immediately became Parliamentary leader of his party. This proved to be a success: at the elections of 1933 the ARP gained two seats, and Colijn became Prime Minister again,[2] from 1933–1939 he served four more times as prime minister. During the 1930s his government faced the effects of the Great Depression, which took a heavy toll on the Netherlands. Colijn's government responded to the economic crisis with a very strict fiscal policy, which may have further weakened the Dutch economy. Colijn's decision to adhere to the Gold Standard until 1937, long after most of the trading partners of the Netherlands had dropped it, also played a role in lengthening the economic crisis; in 1939, his latest cabinet, with Protestant and liberal ministers but without Catholic ministers, lasted only three days before a government crisis.

World War II and death[edit]

After the Dutch defeat in the Battle of the Netherlands in 1940, he published an essay entitled "On the Border of Two Worlds",[6] in which he called for accepting German leadership in Europe, immediately after the Royal House had fled to England, leaving him behind, his view was influenced by the tremendous show of force the German blitzkrieg had shown and the relative weakness of the Allied forces. Soon thereafter, he tried to organize political resistance but was arrested in June 1941 and taken to Berlin for interrogation, the Germans tried to have him confess that he had conspired with the British to invade the Netherlands to serve as an excuse for the German invasion.

Late in the war after the tide had turned against the Germans, according to a grandson, Himmler wanted to keep Colijn available as a possible intermediary with the British, as he had done earlier for Wilhelm II, the very fact that the Gestapo allowed the visit suggests that Himmler was already making contingency plans in case of a German loss. In March 1943 Colijn was put under house arrest in a remote mountain hotel in Ilmenau, where he died on 18 September 1944.[7][8]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

House of Representatives of the Netherlands
Preceded by
Hendrik Pollema
Member for Sneek
1909–1911
Succeeded by
Jan Gerrit Scheurer
Political offices
Preceded by
Wouter Cool
Minister of War
1911–1913
Succeeded by
Nicolaas Bosboom
Preceded by
Jan Wentholt
Minister of the Navy
Acting

1912–1913
Succeeded by
Jean Jacques Rambonnet
Preceded by
Dirk Jan de Geer
Minister of Finance
1923–1926
Succeeded by
Dirk Jan de Geer
Preceded by
Simon de Graaff
Minister of Colonial Affairs
Acting

1925
Succeeded by
Charles Welter
Preceded by
Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouck
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
1925–1926
Succeeded by
Dirk Jan de Geer
Preceded by
Simon de Graaff
Minister of Colonial Affairs
1933–1937
Succeeded by
Charles Welter
Preceded by
Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouck
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
1933–1937
Succeeded by
Dirk Jan de Geer
Preceded by
Timotheus Verschuur
Minister of Economic Affairs
Acting

1934
Succeeded by
Max Steenberghe
Preceded by
Jacob Adriaan Kalff
Minister of Water Management
Acting

1935
Succeeded by
Otto van Lidth de Jeude
Preceded by
Laurentius Nicolaas Deckers
Minister of Defence
Acting

1935–1937
Succeeded by
Jannes Johannes van Dijk
Preceded by
Andries de Graeff
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Acting

1937
Succeeded by
Jacob Patijn
New title Minister of General Affairs
1937–1939
Succeeded by
Dirk Jan de Geer
Preceded by
Jacob Adriaan de Wilde
Minister of Finance
Acting

1939
Succeeded by
Christiaan Wilhelm Bodenhausen
Preceded by
Max Steenberghe
Minister of Economic Affairs
Acting

1939
Succeeded by
Max Steenberghe