Visual History of the World
The Contemporary World
1945 to the present
After World War II, a new
world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United
States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their
ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and
fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also
drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able
to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end
in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent
downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been
driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political
systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations
of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the
developing nations of the Third World.
The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for
possibilities of using space continues.
Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg
see also: United Nations member states -
After the end of World War II, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg decided to cooperate economically, culturally, and
politically under the collective name Benelux. They integrated
themselves into the emerging Western security structures, giving up
their traditional neutrality by joining NATO. The Benelux states were
also founding members of the European Economic Community in 1957. Within
this framework, all three countries rapidly recovered from the war and
became prosperous and stable liberal democracies. The course of
development of each state differed in some important respects, however.
Luxembourg's development has been determined by its relationship to its
neighbors. The steel industry and financial sector are equally dependent
on cooperation with the bordering nations.
As early as the 1920s, 1 Luxembourg, an independent grandduchy,
bordered to the west and north by Belgium, was able to establish a
customs, trade, and currency union through its economic association with
The iron and steel industries were of particular international
significance because of the rich ore deposits in Lorraine. Furthermore,
Luxembourg was of high strategic importance for armies attempting to
move through Belgium into France.
After the end of World
War II, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg began by joining the Benelux
customs union and then became a champion of the
2 European Coal and
Steel Community (ECSC) and was thus involved in the process of European
Appropriately, the ECSC high authority chose Luxembourg as
its seat in 1952; the treaty had a fixed term of 50 years, and the high
authority was abolished in 2002.
Other important European offices are
also located in
Luxembourg, including the 5 European Court of Justice and the European
1 The old town of Luxemburg along the River Alzette, in the Grund
2 Signing of the ECSC treaty, 18 April 1951
The original seat of the European Court of Justice in
the Kirchberg area
where many European institutions
are clustered, Luxembourg
Luxembourg gave up its neutrality in 1949 and joined NATO.
Its foreign policies arc almost exclusively determined by EU policies.
The long terms of office of Luxembourg politicians especially qualify
them for the European stage.
Among them are 3 Jacques Santer, president
of the European Commission from 1995 to 1999, and the current prime
minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, who has made a name for
himself as a negotiator within the European Union.
Being a small nation,
Luxembourg is very intent on not being left out of European committees.
Since 2003, the Benelux states have been demanding a commission that is
smaller and therefore more capable of acting, whose seats would be
equally allocated according to a rotation system.
Luxembourg is one of
the most important 4 finance centers of the world.
is of vital significance to the country. EU efforts to create an
interest tax and the abolishment of bankers' confidentiality are
therefore seen as an economic threat. A related EU law was prevented by
Luxembourg's veto in 1989.
Jaques Santer, president of the EU commission, 1996
4 Building of the DG Bank Luxembourg on the
Kirchberg in Luxemburg, 1997
Charlemagne Prize to the People of Luxembourg
The people of Luxembourg were awarded the Charlemagne Prize by the city
of Aachen in 1986. Since 1950, this award has been presented annually
for services to European unity.
The Luxembourgers were deemed worthy of
the prize because, as founding members of the European Union, they were
among the first committed Europeans, and Luxembourg politicians have
made essential contributions to the unity of Europe.
The medallion was
given to Grand Duke Jean representing the citizens of Luxembourg.
Grand Duke Jean with his wife
After World War II, the Dutch economy was dominated by industry and
services. The social structures also changed.
The Netherlands conducted massive "cleansings" and criminal
prosecutions of collaborators after 1945. It was estimated that
close to two per cent of the Dutch population had collaborated with the
German occupiers. Over 90,000 people were arrested and the Dutch Nazi,
Anton Mussert, was condemned to death.
Unlike neighboring Belgium, the
Netherlands had suffered great 6 destruction in the war, but with
assistance from the Marshall Plan, it achieved a rapid recovery.
6 Ruins of the Dutch city of Rotterdam
following the bombardment, 1940
Netherlands could no longer continue as an agricultural and colonial
power. The Hutch East Indies (modern Indonesia) had been occupied by
Japan and in 1945 proclaimed its independence, which was recognized by
the Netherlands after difficult negotiations and fighting in 1949. In
1963 the territory of Western New Guinea was handed over to Indonesia,
and in 1975 Surinam gained independence.
The process of decolonization contributed to the Netherlands'
transformation to an 9 industry and service-oriented nation after the
The Dutch iron processing, electrical appliance, and
petrochemical industries are among the most successful economic sectors
9 The Erasmus Bridge that spans the River Maas, Rotterdam
Oil tank of the Shell refinery in Rotterdam
The Dutch social structure also changed in the mid-1970s. Up
until then, individual social groups had lived side by side as
"pillars," culturally inclusive communities with their own social
facilities who hardly ever came in contact with one other. There were
Catholic, Protestant, Social Democrat, and Liberal pillars. As religions
lost their significance, these firmly set worlds gradually dissolved.
The student unrest of the 1960s also provided for a more porous social
After 1945, a coalition government of Catholics and the social
democratic Labor party was established; it lasted until 1958 when Labor
withdrew. Thereafter, the Netherlands was governed by a shifting
coalition of centrist parties; Labor has sat on the government benches
only occasionally since then.
The monarchy suffered a crisis in the 1970s.
The husband of 7 Queen
Juliana, Prince Bernhard, was involved in a bribery scandal and in 1976
resigned from his military offices.
8 Princess Beatrix, the heir to the
crown, had married a German diplomat in 1966, triggering heated domestic
Nevertheless, after her mother's abdication in 1980, Beatrix was able to once again win over the people to the idea of
Juliana of the Netherlands
8 The dutch Queen Beatrix, 2004
The Kingdom of The Netherlands (1914–1999)
Queen Wilhelmina and World War I
During the first half of the reign of Queen Wilhelmina
(1890–1948), the political situation remained fundamentally unchanged.
The major parties came to recognize that the school struggle interfered
with the solution of other problems. An agreement in principle was
reached on the eve of World War I, by which the secular parties accepted
state support for religious schools on a basis of equal funds in
exchange for enactment of universal male suffrage. When war broke out in
1914, The Netherlands, which had declared its neutrality, put aside the
proposed reforms in order to concentrate on the immediate problem of
maintaining the country’s livelihood in the face of blockades. The
“Pacification,” as the compromise was called, was adopted in 1917 and
put into effect after the return of peace. The war years saw almost all
political controversies set aside, while the government took
unprecedented action in maintaining trade and guiding economic life.
Although spared the horrors of combat, the Dutch had to maintain a large
standing army, and mutinies broke out among the soldiers in 1918.
The century from the restoration of Dutch independence in 1813 until
World War I saw fundamental transformations of Dutch life. The economic
base was modernized; the role of agriculture diminished, with most Dutch
farmers producing dairy, meat, and horticultural products for the
market; and trade and shipping were revived in the face of fiercely
competitive conditions. But most important was the rise of
industry—first textiles in the eastern provinces, then coal in the
southeast, and finally modern manufactures, notably the great Philips
electrical products factories at Eindhoven. Rotterdam became one of the
world’s busiest ports and the centre of chemical and other industries.
These changes were paralleled in society by the gradual extinction of
pauperism, the domination of middle-class businessmen and professional
men, and the gradual improvement of the conditions of working people and
farmers, especially after the mid-19th century.
Although religious freedom in The Netherlands was generally as great
as anywhere else in Europe, orthodox Calvinists faced major
difficulties, especially during the first half of the 19th century, when
they protested against the modernizing ideas of the mainstream Calvinist
Reformed (Hervormde) Church; their efforts to create independent
religious communities met with sharp resistance from the government.
Some of the Gereformeerden (the older name for “Reformed” used by the
conservatives) emigrated, many of them to the United States; however, in
the second half of the century, this group prospered at home and took
its place at the heart of the pillarized Dutch system.
The cultural life of The Netherlands remained very largely confined
within national boundaries; Dutch thinkers, writers, and artists
responded strongly to influences from Germany, France, and England but
themselves had little impact abroad. Dutch scientists maintained a
respected position for their country; Hugo de Vries was one of the
principal founders of the science of genetics, while the physicist
Hendrik Antoon Lorentz contributed greatly to Einstein’s theories of
relativity. Dutch artists were generally imitative; although The Hague
school of Impressionists displayed great gifts, only Vincent van Gogh,
who spent most of his active life in France, achieved world reputation.
Dutch literature ran parallel to main currents abroad; the Réveil early
in the century was a movement of intensely religious romanticism with
strongly conservative ideas, while Eduard Douwes Dekker (pseudonym
Multatuli) in mid-century expressed the moods of social criticism with
great power; the movement of “Men of the ’Eighties” (Tachtigers) brought
to the fore an emphasis on aesthetic values and spirituality; and early
in the 20th century, a literature of social protest reemerged.
The Netherlands since 1918
The movement of The Netherlands into modernity was accelerated
after 1918. Although the country became a member of the League of
Nations, it reaffirmed its neutrality, which seemed to have obtained the
respect of the powers and which was symbolized by the presence of the
International Court of Justice at The Hague. There was considerable
harshness in relations with Belgium, which not only abandoned its
neutrality for a close alliance with France but demanded territorial
cessions from Holland. The Dutch government, although humiliated by a
demand that it present its case before the peace conference at
Versailles, successfully resisted any amputation of its territory. The
Dutch, for their part, refrained from giving any official support to the
Flemish nationalist movement in Belgium, although a Great Netherlands
movement, principally among intellectuals, emphasized the underlying
unity of the Dutch and Flemings. Domestic politics followed the same
course, with the Protestant political parties continuing to provide
leadership for generally conservative policies, especially after the
onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
World War II
At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the Dutch sedulously
maintained their neutrality, although their sympathies lay
overwhelmingly with the Allied powers. Nonetheless, when Nazi Germany
undertook the campaign against France in the spring of 1940, its forces
struck not only against Belgium in order to outflank the French defenses
but also against The Netherlands. The Dutch land armies were overwhelmed
in less than a week, and the government, accompanied by Queen Wilhelmina
and the royal family, withdrew to England, where they formed a
government in exile.
Much of the work of public administration and civil government under
German military occupation was continued by Dutch organs of state, which
made some effort to buffer German political repression, deportation of
Jews, and forced employment of Dutch labour in Germany. A resistance
movement sprang up, which, with the exception of the Dutch Nazi
collaborators, spanned all groups from the conservatives to the
communists. The Germans retaliated by executing Dutch hostages for such
measures of resistance as the strike of Amsterdam dockworkers against
the seizure and deportation of Dutch Jews to extermination camps in
Germany. Some Jews were able to “go underground” (into hiding) with the
assistance of friends, but the large majority were taken away to their
deaths. In the final phases of the war, particularly after the Allied
failure to capture bridgeheads across the rivers at Nijmegen and Arnhem,
the Dutch suffered from severe food shortages, and, during the last
months before liberation (May 1945), they were near famine (the
so-called Hunger Winter).
The late 20th century
After the war many aspects of Dutch life changed dramatically.
Wilhelmina and her government returned from exile to reestablish a
regime more strongly democratic than ever before. Anticipating the
characteristic difficulties of postwar reconstruction, the government,
industry, and labour agreed upon a plan for industrial and commercial
expansion, with avoidance of the rapid expansion of prices or wages that
would bring a threat of inflation. The plan worked effectively for more
than two decades, and the Dutch were able to avoid drastic inflation
until the breakdown of such corporatist consensus in the 1960s.
Dutch industrialization moved forward with speed and depth, expanding
to include the large-scale production of steel, electronics, and
petrochemicals. Putting aside the policy of neutrality as a failure, The
Netherlands entered vigorously into the postwar Western alliances,
including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the various
organizations of European unity (the Common Market; later the European
Community within the European Union); however, its influence was
limited, even though it joined with Belgium and Luxembourg in a closer
union (Benelux). Indonesia, where Dutch authority was reestablished
after wartime occupation by Japanese forces, soon became the scene of a
nationalist revolution. After some hesitation as well as bitterness, the
Dutch were obliged to grant it full independence. In the Caribbean area,
the Netherlands Antilles remained part of the Dutch kingdom, although no
longer under the authority of the government at The Hague; the island of
Aruba gained an autonomous status within the Antilles in 1986. Surinam
became independent in 1975 and was renamed the Republic of Suriname in
Dutch political alignments since the mid-20th century have evolved
only gradually and until the 1990s were always dependent on the
Christian Democrat parties of the centre. The first postwar governments
were dominated by an alliance of the Labour and Catholic parties, which
continued until the Labour Party went into opposition in 1958.
Thereafter, with the exception of 1973–77, when the country had a
left-led government, and 1981–82 and 1989–91, when it was ruled by a
centre-left coalition, governments were formed by centre-right
coalitions. After the early 1980s the government was faced not only with
recurrent economic problems but also with the emotion-charged issue of
siting U.S. nuclear cruise missiles (as part of the NATO defense
strategy) in the country. It finally reached the decision in 1985,
against widespread popular opposition, that 48 missiles would be sited
by 1988. The issue was dissolved by the subsequent ending of the Cold
War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
During the 1960s the generally peaceful mood of Dutch public life was
broken by rioting of youth and labour groups, especially in Amsterdam.
The most difficult crisis affected the royal family. The marriage (1966)
of Princess Beatrix, the heiress to Queen Juliana (who had
succeeded Wilhelmina on her abdication in 1948), to a German diplomat
aroused acrimonious debate. The unsanctioned marriage of Princess Irene
to a Spanish Carlist prince had already come as a shock even to Roman
Catholics, but it was less difficult politically because she lost her
right of succession. Juliana’s husband and consort, Prince Bernhard, was
involved in a bribery scandal and withdrew from public office. Juliana
abdicated in 1980 and was succeeded as queen by Beatrix.
By the 1970s Dutch politics, like Dutch society in general, had
largely ceased to practice what was strictly defined as pillarization.
Pillarization had received official confirmation in the Pacification of
1917 and removed most of the tinder from Dutch politics, but it also
kept ordinary Dutchmen ideologically separated from each other to a
greater degree than in most other Western countries. Yet, because the
leaders of the pillar organizations worked well with each other and the
right of each pillar to exist and function was unquestioned, public life
generally ran smoothly.
In the 1960s the system began to disintegrate. New radical political
parties were formed, and, in the face of rapid secularization of the
vote, the various Christian parties joined together in the Christian
Democratic Appeal (CDA). However, the religious vote has continued to
decline, and in the 1990s there were “purple” coalitions for the first
time, between the (red) Labour Party and the (blue) Liberals
(conservatives). The Communist Party, once influential beyond its small
numbers, disbanded in 1991. The far-left groups joined with
environmentalists to form an electoral group called Green-Left, which
garnered about 5 percent of the vote beginning in the late 1990s.
Herbert H. Rowen
Michael J. Wintle
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Portrait of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1901;
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1909;
Queen Wilhelmina and her daughter Juliana, circa 1914
queen of The Netherlands
in full Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria
born Aug. 31, 1880, The Hague, Neth.
died Nov. 28, 1962, Het Loo, near Apeldoorn
queen of The Netherlands from 1890 to 1948, who, through her radio
broadcasts from London during World War II, made herself the symbol of
Dutch resistance to German occupation.
The daughter of King William III and his second wife, Emma of
Waldeck-Pyrmont, Wilhelmina became queen on her father’s death (Nov. 23,
1890) under her mother’s regency. She was inaugurated Sept. 6, 1898, at
Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk, and soon gained widespread popular approval. On
Feb. 7, 1901, she married Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and gave
birth to a daughter, Princess Juliana, on April 30, 1909. During World
War I, Wilhelmina was influential in maintaining The Netherlands’
When Germany invaded The Netherlands on May 10, 1940, Wilhelmina
issued a proclamation to her nation of “flaming protest” and a few days
later left for England with her family and members of the Cabinet.
Throughout the war, she exhorted her people over Radio Orange to
maintain their spirit until the nation’s liberation, and she was
welcomed back with enthusiasm when the German occupation was ended in
1945. After abdicating the throne in favour of Juliana on Sept. 4, 1948,
because of poor health, Wilhelmina retired to her palace, Het Loo, near
Apeldoorn. Her memoirs, Eenzaam maar niet alleen (1959; Lonely but Not
Alone, 1960), reveal the deep religious feeling that dominated her life.
Wilhelmina in World War II
On 10 May 1940, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands, and Queen
Wilhelmina and her family were evacuated on HMS Hereward to the United
Kingdom three days later. Queen Wilhelmina had wanted to stay in the
Netherlands: she had planned to go to the southern province of Zeeland
with her troops in order to coordinate further resistance from the town
of Breskens and remain there until help arrived, much as King Albert I
of Belgium had done during World War I. She fled The Hague, and she
boarded HMS Hereward, a British destroyer which was to take her
south;however, after she was aboard, Zeeland came under heavy attack
from the Luftwaffe and it was considered too dangerous to return.
Wilhelmina was then left with no option but to accept George VI's offer
of refuge. She retreated to Britain, planning to return as soon as
The Dutch armed forces in the Netherlands,
apart from those in Zeeland, surrendered on 15 May. In Britain, Queen
Wilhelmina took charge of the Dutch government in exile, setting up a
chain of command and immediately communicating a message to her people.
Relations between the Dutch government and the
Queen were tense, with mutual dislike growing as the war progressed.
Wilhelmina went on to be the most prominent figure, owing to her
experience and knowledge. She was also very popular and respected among
the leaders of the world. The government did not have a parliament to
back them and had few employees to assist them. The Dutch prime minister
Dirk Jan de Geer, believed the Allies would not win and intended to open
negotiations with the Nazis for a separate peace. Therefore Wilhelmina
sought to remove Jan de Geer from power. With the aid of a minister,
Pieter Gerbrandy, she succeeded.
During the war her photograph was a sign of
resistance against the Germans. Like Winston Churchill, Queen Wilhelmina
broadcast messages to the Dutch people over Radio Oranje.
The Queen called Adolf Hitler "the arch-enemy
of mankind". Her late-night broadcasts were eagerly awaited by her
people, who had to hide in order to listen to them illegally. An
anecdote published in her New York Times obituary illustrates how she
was valued by her subjects during this period:
Although celebration of the Queen’s birthday
was forbidden by the Nazis, it was commemorated nevertheless. When
churchgoers in the small fishing town of Huizen rose and sang one verse
of the Dutch national anthem, Wilhelmus van Nassauwe, on the Queen’s
birthday, the town paid a fine of 60,000 guilders.
Queen Wilhelmina visited the USA from 24 June- 11 August 1942 as guest
of the US government. She vacationed in Lee, Massachusetts, visited New
York City, Boston, and Albany, NY. She addressed the US congress on 5
Queen Wilhelmina went to Canada in 1943 to
attend the christening of her grandchild Princess Margriet on 29 June
1943 in Ottawa and stayed a while with her family before returning to
During the war, the Queen was almost killed by
a bomb that took the lives of several of her guards and severely damaged
her country home near South Mimms in England. In 1944 Queen Wilhelmina
became only the second woman to be inducted into the Order of the
Garter. Churchill described her as the only real man among the
governments-in-exile in London.
In England, she developed ideas about a new
political and social life for the Dutch after the liberation. She wanted
a strong cabinet formed by people active in the resistance. She
dismissed De Geer during the war and installed a prime minister with the
approval of other Dutch politicians. The Queen "hated" politicians,
instead stating a love for the people. When the Netherlands was
liberated in 1945 she was disappointed to see the same political
factions taking power as before the war. Prior to the end of the war, in
mid-March 1945, she travelled to the Allied occupied areas of the south
of the Netherlands visiting the region of Walcheren and the city of
Eindhoven where she received a rapturous welcome from the local
Following the end of World War II, Queen
Wilhelmina made the decision not to return to her palace but move into a
mansion in The Hague, where she lived for eight months, and she
travelled through the countryside to motivate people, sometimes using a
bicycle instead of a car. However, in 1947, while the country was still
recovering from World War II, the revolt in the oil-rich Dutch East
Indies saw sharp criticism of the Queen by the Dutch economic elite. Her
loss of popularity and the forced departure from the East Indies under
international pressure led to her abdication soon after.
She was the 896th Dame of the Order of the
Garter in 1944.
Juliana of the Netherlands
Juliana and Prince Bernhard
queen of The Netherlands
in full Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina
born April 30, 1909, The Hague, Netherlands
died March 20, 2004, Baarn
queen of The Netherlands from 1948 to 1980.
Juliana, the only child of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Henry of
Mecklenburg-Schwerin, studied law at the University of Leiden (1927–30)
and in 1931 helped form the Nationaal Crisis Comité to foster measures
by private enterprise to alleviate the economic depression. She married
Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld in 1937 and gave birth to four
daughters: Beatrix (1938), Irene (1939), Margriet (1943), and Christina
(1947). During World War II, Juliana took refuge in Ottawa while her
husband remained with Queen Wilhelmina’s government, which had relocated
After returning to The Netherlands in 1945, Juliana acted as regent
(October–December 1947 and May–August 1948) during Wilhelmina’s illness.
Juliana was inaugurated as queen on September 6, 1948, following her
mother’s abdication two days earlier. In 1949 Juliana oversaw the
granting of independence to Indonesia.
Her employment of a faith healer in the 1950s to tend to Christina,
who had been born almost totally blind, caused public concern, and the
marriages of Princess Irene to a Spanish Carlist prince (1964) and
Princess Beatrix to a German diplomat (1966) aroused political
controversy stemming from Dutch memories of World War II. Another crisis
involved Prince Bernhard’s acceptance of huge sums of money from the
U.S. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in 1976. Juliana withstood these
dissensions, however, owing largely to her great popularity. She
endeared herself to the Dutch public with her modesty—she sent her
children to public schools, shopped at the local supermarket, and
abolished such formalities as the curtsy—and with her efforts to promote
On April 30, 1980, Juliana, by her own wish, abdicated in favour of
Beatrix. She continued, however, to maintain an active public life until
the late 1990s, when her health declined.
Beatrix of the Netherlands
queen of The Netherlands
in full Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard
born January 31, 1938, Soestdijk, Netherlands
queen of The Netherlands from 1980.
The eldest of four daughters born to Princess (later Queen) Juliana and
Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, Beatrix went into exile with her family
when the Germans overran The Netherlands in World War II, and she spent
the war years in Britain and Canada. When Juliana ascended the throne in
1948, Princess Beatrix received the title of heiress presumptive. From
1956 to 1961 she attended the State University of Leiden, studying
mainly social sciences, law, and history.
In 1965 her betrothal to a German diplomat, Claus George Willem Otto
Frederik Geert von Amsberg (b. 1926—d. 2002), caused a national furor
because of his past membership in the Hitler Youth and the German army,
even though he had been cleared by an Allied court. On March 10, 1966,
they were married amid rioting in Amsterdam, but the hostility dimmed
with the births of Willem-Alexander (1967), Johan Friso (1968), and
Constantijn (1969), the first male heirs in the House of Orange since
In 1980 Queen Juliana abdicated, and Beatrix ascended the throne on
April 30. She was noted for her involvement in a number of social causes
and proved a popular monarch. In 2004 Johan Friso married without the
approval of the Dutch government, thus giving up any claim to the
see also: United Nations member states -