AMERICAN-DUTCH HISTORY (19th and 20th century)

AMERICAN-DUTCH HISTORY (19th and 20th century)

Hans Krabbendam (author), Cornelis A. van Minnen and Giles Scott-Smith (editors), Four Centuries of Dutch-American Relations 1609-2009, (SUNY Press (in the U.S.) and Boom Publishers (in the Netherlands), 2009).

Four Centuries is the most comprehensive overview of 400 years of bilateral Dutch-American relations ever written, with contributions from about one hundred experts in the fields of history, diplomacy, trade & economics, culture, and the arts. Edited by staff members of the Roosevelt Study Center (Middelburg, the Netherlands), Four Centuries is at once highly readable history as well as a treasure trove for professional and amateur historians alike. In the 17th and 18th centuries, US-Dutch relations were, to a large extent, shaped by Dutch-English rivalries; in the 19th century, Dutch immigration and bilateral trade and commerce dominated governmental relations; in the 20th century, Dutch-American relations became embedded within the transatlantic partnership. From the NAF News (Fall 2009): “How can 400 years of the Dutch-U.S. relationship be summarized? How unique was the relationship? Here’s one attempt. Prior to 1900, both countries –each in its own way—embraced and perfected democratic principles and institutions at home. During the 20th century, American and Dutch self-interests led them to promote liberal democratic ideas across their borders. Many trends and government policies in both countries –especially in the areas of trade, commerce and capital flows, human rights and security policy—converged. Dutch self-interest led it to become America’s staunchest ally on the European continent. Being the biggest amongst the smallest gave the Netherlands a voice. But it was Dutch loyality towards the U.S. that made the U.S. take note”. Along with other Dutch and American sponsors, the NAF provided monetary support toward the publication of Four Centuries which was published coincident with the NY400 celebrations in September 2009.

Carl Pegels, Prominent Dutch-American Entrepreneurs-Their Contributions to American Society, Culture and Economy, (Information Age Publishing, 2011).

Carl Pegels (professor emeritus at the University of Buffalo business school) wrote a 200-page volume on entrepreneurs (either Dutch-born or of Dutch descent) who started a number of major American businesses that now are often industry leaders. In the 19th century Cornelius Vanderbilt (shipping & railroads) became America’s richest individual. More recently, Martin Bekins (Bekins Van Lines) and David Neeleman (JetBlue) were true innovators in ground and air transportation. Harry Koch (Koch Industries) founded what is now the largest privately held energy firm. In the Midwest, Gary Vermeer founded Vermeer Corp, a major process technology firm. Hendrick Meijer (Meijer Foodstores) and Jay van Andel & Richard de Vos (Amway) made their mark in retailing/consumer goods. Wayne Huizinga founded no fewer than five companies (including AutoNation and Waste Management) and Hubert Schoemaker (founder of Centocor) was one of America’s bio-technology entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs seized growth opportunities prevalent during their days and often kept ownership within their families. Virtually all of them also left their mark on their communities through significant charitable giving. No single volume can adequately capture the feats of these entrepreneurs. But Professor Pegels’ book is an interesting introduction to the lives and achievements of a remarkable group of Dutch immigrants, their offspring and their families.

Giles Scott-Smith & Valerie Aubourg (eds.), Atlantic, Euratlantic, or Europe-America?, (Editions Soleb, Paris, 2011).

What did the Atlantic Community mean for the nations of North America and Western Europe during the 1960s and early 1970s? The book, spanning the period from Presidents Kennedy to Nixon, offers a wide-ranging set of views on this topic by European and American scholars. National perspectives from the main protagonists–the United States, Britain, France and West-Germany-are complemented by studies on the role of non-state institutions and public diplomacy in maintaining close transatlantic relations. The book moves from the high optimism of the Kennedy years, with the attempt to reframe transatlantic relations around two more equal poles in the United States and a uniting Europe, to the series of disagreements and disputes that energized transatlantic diplomacy during the Nixon years. In doing so, the book provides a unique overview of the main trends and troubles of the transatlantic relationship during a critical period and shows how various channels–both diplomatic and non-diplomatic–were used to overcome them and maintain a strong alliance. Giles Scott-Smith is affiliated with the Roosevelt Study Center, Middelburg, the Netherlands and in 2009 was appointed to the Ernst van der Beugel Chair for Diplomatic History of Atlantic Cooperation for a five-year term at the University of Leiden. Valerie Aubourg is affiliated with the University of Cergy-Pontoise, France.

Hans Krabbendam (author), Harry Boonstra and Gerrit Sheeres (translators), Freedom on the Horizon: Dutch Immigration to America, 1840-1940, (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009).

Krabbendam’s work is the most current and comprehensive study on the Dutch immigrant’s experience in America.

Cornelis van Minnen, American Diplomats in the Netherlands 1815-50, (St Martin’s Press, 1993).

From the flap: “ This book is a case study in American-European relations in the first half of the nineteenth century….Introduced with a sketch of the foundation and organization of U.S. foreign policy and a survey of the first American diplomats in the Netherlands, this book offers a gallery of biographies of their successors stationed at The Hague and Brussels, who viewed the European and Dutch situation more or less through skeptical American lenses and tended to stress and exaggerate the antithesis between the Old and New Worlds”.

Peter Hoekstra, Thirty-Seven Years of Holland-American Relations 1803-1840, 1916, Eerdmans-Sevensma Co, reissued in 2010 by General Books LLC.

Hylke Speerstra, Henry Baron (translator), Cruel Paradise: Life Stories of Dutch Emigrants, (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005).

First-hand stories of men and women who emigrated from the Netherlands to the United States, Canada, South Africa, etc.

Bernard Bailyn, The Barbarous Years —The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675, (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012).

For some 60 years, Bernard Bailyn, Professor Emeritus in History at Harvard, specialized in U.S. Colonial and Revolutionary-era history. In his most influential work, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967), he sketches how distrust of power and government became part of the American culture. Then, in the 1980s, Bailyn gave the study of “Atlantic history” a major impetus and documented how the transfers and exchanges between the US and countries in Europe had evolved into an Atlantic system, transcending borders and nationalities. In his most recent work, Bailyn has gone back to where and how it all began when British, Dutch, Swedes, Walloons, Germans, French Huguenots and other religious minorities ventured across the Atlantic and settled along America’s North-Atlantic coast. The success of the initial commercial ventures in Jamestown and New Amsterdam was limited; suppression of religious freedoms was rampant; and wars with the native Indians were just as, if not more, brutal as the religious wars many settlers had escaped in Europe. “Later generations, reading back into the past the outcomes they knew, often gentrified this passage in the peopling of British North America, but there was nothing genteel about it”. First-rate history!

Robert P. Swierenga, Dutch Chicago-A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City, (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002).

The definitive work on the enterprising, mostly Calvinist immigrants in the Chicago area. Swieringa, now at Hope College, MI, is the foremost authority (and prolific writer) on Dutch immigration to the United States.

John C. McManus, September Hope—The American Side of a Bridge Too Far, New American Library Caliber (Penguin Group, 2012).

“Market Garden” in September 1944 was the Allies’ largest airborne attack in WWII. About 38,000 British, American and Polish paratroopers landed in three locations –east of Arnhem, near Nijmegen and near Eindhoven—with the objective to build a bridgehead over the Rhine near Arnhem for a push into Northern Germany. It was a highly risky endeavor that ultimately failed. Losses (dead and wounded) exceeded 15,000. The British 1st Airborne division was decimated. Cornelius Ryan’s “A Bridge Too Far”, published in 1974, remains the classic account of Market Garden, emphasizing the British command and the terrible fate that befell the British 1st Airborne division. McManus’ book focuses on the two US airborne divisions— the 82nd under General James Gavin and the 101st under General Maxwell Taylor– and the fierce fighting around Nijmegen and Eindhoven. Market Garden failed; towards the end of November, the Allies withdrew. “September hope had turned into November despair”. McManus’ book is particularly good in describing many fierce battles. The heroism at the company, platoon and squad level is particularly riveting (but doesn’t make for easy or pleasant reading). Altogether, superb military history. McManus is a military historian at the University of Tennessee where he directs a project collecting first-hand experiences of WWII veterans.

Cornelius Ryan, A Bridge Too Far, (Simon & Schuster, 1974).

The author of The Longest Day, Ryan describes the nine-day battle in September 1944 for the city of Arnhem. In one of the bloodiest battles of WWII, the U.S. Army’s 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, along with the British 1st Airborne Division and Polish brigade, sustained twice as many casualties as suffered on D-Day. The Allies’ attempt to create a path into Northern Germany through the Netherlands proved to be one of the WWII Allies’ major defeats.

Peter Schrijvers, The Margraten Boys–How a European village kept America’s liberators alive, (Palgrave Macmillan paperback, 2012).

On September 14th, 1944, Maastricht was the first major Dutch city liberated by the U.S. First Army. In November, a temporary American cemetery was established in the small village of Margraten (10 kilometers east of Maastricht). By May 1945, more than 17,000 US soldiers –from the Market Garden, Hurtgen Forest and Bulge battles, and aviators from the air war over Germany— had been buried at Margraten. In a tribute to their liberators, Dutch citizens had assisted the African-American grave diggers when the sheer number of fallen soldiers had overwhelmed them. On Memorial Day 1945, General William Simpson, accompanied by 16 division and corps commanders and surrounded by 30,000 Dutch civilians, spoke at Margraten and laid a wreath on the grave on an unknown soldier. Not long thereafter, Margraten became the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial (Europe’s third largest US military cemetery) and the final resting place for 8,301 soldiers; 1,722 soldiers missing were memorialized by a Wall of the Missing. By the end of 1946, Dutch citizens had adopted each grave and each of the missing. And every year thereafter, Dutch families –nowadays often children and grandchildren of those who were liberated– have tended to and placed flowers on the graves on Memorial Day. They have visited the families of the dead and missing, welcomed them to the Netherlands and continue to search for families of the dead and missing. Some seventy years after the war, the adoption waiting list is growing. For more information www. adoptiegraven-margraten.nl or www.abmc.gov. Dr Schrijvers’ book describes the perseverance of Dutch civilians to honor their American liberators and the gratitude felt by the Americans towards the Dutch to honor the memory of their family members who never came home. Each year, more than 200,000 visit Margraten. Remarkably, it wasn’t until 2005 that an American president (George W. Bush) came to honor 10,000 of his fallen countrymen. Dr Schrijvers teaches history at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Mark Zuehlke, Terrible Victory–First Canadian Army and the Scheldt Estuary Campaign, September 13-November 6, 1944, paperback edition 2008, Douglas & McIntyre.

“Terrible Victory” is a first-rate account of the First Canadian Army’s conquering Dutch Flanders and the southern islands of Zeeland in Fall 1944. At the terrible cost of 13,000 casualties, the Canadians secured access to the harbor of Antwerp, which became a crucial supply route in support of the Allies’ push into Germany.

Mark Zuehlke, On to Victory—The Canadian Liberation of the Netherlands, March 23-May 5, 1945, paperback edition 2011, Douglas & McIntyre.

Areas north of the Meuse river (including Amsterdam and The Hague) and most of the rest of the Netherlands were liberated by almost 7 months of fighting during the “hunger winter” of 1944/45. After first reaching a secret agreement with the Germans to supply millions of starving Dutch citizens, some 117,000 Germans finally surrendered to Canadian General Foulkes on May 5, 1945. A compelling read!

Denis Whitaker & Shelagh Whitaker, Tug of War—The Allied Victory that Opened Antwerp, 2nd edition, (Stoddard Publishing Co., 2000).

Lieutenant-Colonel (later Brigadier-General) Denis Whitaker (1915-2001) participated in liberating the shores along the Scheldt river and the isles of Walcheren and South-Beveland. After the war, he went back and interviewed hundreds of Dutch people before he wrote a moving personal account.

Spencer F. Wurst & Gayle Wurst, Descending from the Clouds, (Casemate, 2004).

From the flap: “[Spencer] Wurst spent most of World War II in the European theater of operations as a squad leader in Company F, 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne. ….In September 1943, Wurst jumped into Italy…On D-Day June 6, 1944 he jumped into Normandy and took part in the bloody fighting and liberation of Ste Mère-Eglise where he was wounded and awarded the Purple Hart…..A third combat jump during Operation Market Garden in Holland, where he and his fellow paratroopers were swept up into the ferocious battle with the SS for the highway bridge at Nijmegen…[it] earned him the coveted Silver Star…More combat followed in the Ardennes, where Wurst served as point man on his twentieth birthday during the long freezing march toward the shoulder of the Bulge”. A compelling account, including three chapters on the battle in the Netherlands, co-authored by a distinguished airborne combat leader, who retired as a colonel in 1975.

Greg Behrman, The Most Noble Adventure—The Marshall Plan and the Time when America helped save Europe, (Free Press, 2007).

From the flap: “Behrman tells the story of the Marshall Plan, the unprecedented and audacious policy through which America helped rebuild World War II-ravaged Western Europe….a unique American enterprise that was at once strategic, altruistic and stunningly effective…The Marshall Plan was a four-year, $13 billion (more than $100 billion in today’s dollars) plan to provide assistance for Europe’s economic recovery…The narrative follows the six extraordinary American statesmen –George Marshall, Will Clayton, Arthur Vandenberg, Richard Bissell, Paul Hoffman and W. Averell Harriman— who devised and implemented the Plan…….[It] was one of the most effective foreign policies in all of American history, in large part, because it was born and executed in a time when American foreign policy was defined by its national interests and the very best of ideals”.

Comments are closed.