War And Postwar Years

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 renewed the American-Dutch military alliance of the 1780's. Holland, already at war with Germany and Italy, declared war on Japan within a few hours, even before the United States. During the following years, the fate of Holland was more closely linked to that of the U.S. than ever. American troops played a major part in the liberation of Holland from the German occupation, and after the fighting was over, the `European Recovery Program' (usually still called `Marshall Aid' in Europe, after its originator) poured more than a billion dollars into the reconditioning of the Dutch economy. In 1949, Holland, like the United States, for the first time abandoned its traditional peacetime neutrality and joined NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Those years saw the beginning of the heavy investment by U.S. companies in Europe and, in fact, of the enormous growth of the multinational companies and conglomerates which since have intertwined European and U.S. enterprise.

Politically, the relationship between the two countries found expression, in 1942, by Queen Wilhelmina addressing a joint session of Congress, while her daughter and successor Juliana had that same honor ten years later. The Netherlands had by then become such a solid ally of the U.S., that one could hear Dutch politicians occassionally complain that their country was taken too much for granted here.

In 1959, the new flagship of the Holland-America Line, the ms Rotterdam sailed into New York harbor with the heiress to the monarchy, Princess Beatrix, aboard the occasion was in memory of the visit by the Halve Maen, three hundred and fifty years before.