Shipping Lost: Trade Ruined: Colonies Endangered
From Our Own Correspondent
Among official circles in Holland there is a tendency to blame Britain for injuring the prospects of the Dutch East Indies being able to defend themselves in case of a not altogether unforeseen attack.
This complaint arises from the fact that large quantities of material as well as some articles required for the defences of the East Indies, including material for shipbuilding,
are bought by Holland from Germany and shipped from Amsterdam or Rotterdam to Batavia and Surabaya. If Britain insists on confiscating 75 per cent. of the material exported from Germany either directly or indirectly, the necessary building up of these defences, it is said, will be retarded if not entirely stopped.
Rich as the islands are, and inhabited by intelligent and courageous people both native and European, the authorities in Holland itself are under no illusions as to the present strength of their defences, Should a great Eastern Power, or even one in the West, attack them they could not possibly hold out for any length of time without assistance from outside, and in present circumstances there is little chance of Britain or any other first-class Power coming to their assistance. " And seeing the friendly relations between the Netherlands East Indies and Europe," one leading Dutch official told the writer, we cannot but regard Java and Sumatra as a very important bulwark for the West against the ferocity of certain Eastern lands and their anti-European feelings and aims."
Seamen Resent Reprisals This is probably the strongest reason that Holland has for objecting to the new measures taken by the British Government as reprisals against the German methods cf maritime warfare. All the Dutch newspapers are daily repeating the saying Ntrodgare necesnec est, and although they are proud also to repeat the cry " Holland is still sailing the seas" they can only do so with. a wry expression in view of the very severe losses their mercantile marine is suffering. By reason of its position between the two chief belligerent Powers Holland is in a worse way than any other neutral country, and Its L08868 amount, to the time of writing, to no less than twenty per cent. of those of all neutrals.
The delays caused by the holding and examination of their ships by principally Britain and to a less extent by Germany are also causing much loss of business.
Amsterdam, which up to three months ago was almost the busiest distributing centre in Europe for many colonial commodities, has already lost that position, much of its trade going to North or South America or being done by direct deliveries from the East and West Indies.
Rotterdam, the largest pert of Europe, has lost nearly 76 per cent. of the number of its ships and over 68 per cent. of its tonnage. With this, in spite of a general mobilisation of men liable to military service, the amount of unemployment has risen alarmingly in these places. It is, therefore, among sea faring people that the greatest resentment is felt.
Clergy Pro-British More hopeful for our good relations is the fact that the averege Dutchman, slow though he may be in his thought and movement, usually is able to see below the surface, so that be is able to take into account the reason why these reprisals are ultimately for his benefit as well as for that of his British rival and competitor, so although he may disagree with the methods employed he still is able to say, as more than one shipper has said openly. "Thank God Britannia still rules the waves!" They do not deceive themselves into thinking that the 'sae by Britain of her mastery of the seas would be anything but a disadvantage to them Another class which has learned by the events of this war to realise the value of friendship with Britain is that of the clergy. Catholic and Protestant Few of them, up to now, have had much faith in the religious character of the British people, and as a rule they have got most of their learning from Germany. The priest and the Protestant minister who speaks English more fluently than he speaks German is e rare exception, but :n December, 1939. it may be said that the vast majority have more faith in the honesty an-I godly purpose of the British people than they have in that of their Eastern neighbours.