Hendrikus Colijn

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Hendrikus (Hendrik) Colijn (22 June 186918 September 1944) was a successful Dutch soldier, businessman and politician. He was born in 1869 in the Haarlemmermeer to Antonie Colijn and Anna Verkuil, who had emigrated to the Haarlemmermeer polder from Heusden en Altena for religious reasons. 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 10 years in the Colonial Army serving in the Aceh war and 6 years in the Colonial Administration as an assistant to the Governor General Van Heutz. After his return to the Netherlands in 1909, he became elected as a 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 and revised the Dutch Selective Service System. From 1914 to 1922 he served as CEO for the Bataafse Petroleum Maatschappij (BPM). In 1925, he also became CEO of Royal Dutch Shell. In May 1918 he acted as an intermediary between the English and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to arrange an armistice, resulting in the Kaiser getting refuge in The Netherlands.

In 1922 he accepted the political leadership of the Anti Revolutionary Party (Calvinist) from Dr. Abraham Kuyper. Between 1925-1926 and 1933-1939 he served five times as Prime Minister. In 1939, his latest cabinet, with protestant and liberal ministers but without catholic ministers, served only three days before a crises. From 1927-1929 he also was head of the Dutch delegation to the League of Nations in Geneva.

After the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, he published an essay entitled “On the Border of Two Worlds” (Op de grens van twee werelden) in which he called for accepting German leadership in Europe. This was immediately after the Royal House had fled to England leaving him behind. In the face of the tremendous show of the German blitzkrieg and the relative weakness of the British, his view of the situation was understandable. Soon thereafter, he tried to organize political resistance but was arrested in June 1941 and brought 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 Germans invasion [1]. Late in the war after the tide had turned against the Germans, Himmler wanted to keep Colijn available as a possible intermediary with the British as he had done earlier for the Kaiser [1]. In March 1943 he was put under house arrest in a remote mountain hotel in Ilmenau (Thuringen), Germany, where he died on September 18, 1944.

[edit] Footnotes

  1.  a  Personal communication from Hendrik Colijn (grandson of Hendrikus). Hendrikus Colijn reported this information during a visit by Hendrik in June 1943. The very fact that the Gestapo allowed the visit in Ilmenau suggests that Himmler was already making contingency plans in case of a Nazi loss.
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Hendrikus Colijn

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