Netherlands, The

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Netherlands, The


(Nederland). The Kingdom of the Netherlands, Koninkrijk der Nederlanden; unofficial name, Holland.

The Netherlands is a state in Western Europe, bounded on the north and the west by the North Sea (for about 1,000 km), on the south by Belgium, and on the east by the Federal Republic of Germany. The Netherlands includes the West Frisian Islands. Its area is 36,900 sq km excluding inland waters and 41,200 sq km including inland waters and seas. At the beginning of 1974 the country had a population of 13.5 million. Its capital is Amsterdam, although the parliament and government are in The Hague. The country is divided into provinces, which are subdivided into municipalities (see Table 1).

Table 1. Administrative divisions of the Netherlands (1970)
ProvincesArea (excluding inland waters, sq km)Population1Administrative center
1 3,600 persons are not registered in any province; they lived primarily in houseboats on the water 2 Reclaimed land from the IJsselmeer administered by special boards
North Brabant4,9001,819,500’s Hertogen-bosch
North Holland2,7002,260,000Haarlem
Southern IJsselmeer Polders21,00017,200
South Holland2,8002,991,700The Hague (’s Gravenhage)

The Netherlands’ possessions in the Americas are Surinam (Dutch Guiana) and the Netherlands Antilles, comprising the islands of Curacaç, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius and the southern part of St. Martin.

The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy. Its present constitution, adopted in 1887, was substantially revised between 1920 and 1965. The head of state is the king (or queen), who has extensive powers. The monarch appoints ministers and judges, has the right to dissolve parliament, and is the supreme commander of the armed forces. The monarch is assisted by an advisory body, the Council of State, which the sovereign appoints. Legislative power is exercised by the monarch and by a bicameral parliament, called the States General. The members of the Second (lower) Chamber (150 deputies) are popularly elected for a four-year term. The members of the First (upper) Chamber are elected for a six-year term by the provincial estates, and the number of deputies allocated to a province depends on its population. Every three years half the deputies in the First Chamber are replaced. Only the Second Chamber has the right to introduce legislation. In the 1972 elections to the Second Chamber 43 seats were won by the Labor Party, 27 by the Catholic People’s Party, 22 by the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (Liberals), 14 by the Anti-Revolutionary Party, seven by the Communist Party, seven by the Christian Historical Union, seven by the Radical Political Party, six by the Democrats 1966, six by the Democratic Socialists 1970, three by the Political Reformed Party, three by the Farmers’ Party, two by the Reformed Political Association, two by the Pacifist Socialist Party, and one by the Roman Catholic Party. In the First Chamber in 1972 the Catholic People’s Party held 22 seats, the Labor Party 18 seats, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (Liberals) eight seats, the Anti-Revolutionary Party seven seats, the Christian Historical Union seven seats, the Democrats 1966 six seats, the Communist Party three seats, the Radical Political Party two seats, the Pacifist Socialist Party one seat, and the Reformed Political Association one seat. All citizens who have reached the age of 18 may vote.

Executive power resides in the government—the Council of Ministers.

In the provinces the organs of local self-government are the provincial estates, popularly elected for a term of four years. The provincial estates are headed by commissioners who are appointed by the monarch and who represent the central government. Urban and rural municipalities are administered by elected municipal councils, which are subordinate to the central authorities and provincial estates. The burgomaster, who presides over the municipal council, is appointed by the monarch for a six-year term.

The judicial system is headed by the Supreme Court, the highest appellate court. It consists of a president, two vice-presidents, and 17 members, appointed by the monarch upon the recommendation of the Second Chamber. There are also appellate courts and district courts. Magistrates’ courts have original jurisdiction in ordinary civil cases and minor criminal cases.

The Netherlands lies in the western part of the Central European Plain. In the north the coastline is idented by the shallow inlets of the North Sea, and in the south, by the funnel-shaped estuaries of the Rhine, Maas, and Scheldt rivers. Dunes up to 56 m high stretch along the coast, and numerous dams and dikes have been built to protect the coastal lowlands from flooding. The West Frisian Islands in the north were formed by the sea breaking through the dunes. They are separated from the mainland by a shallow tidal sea.

Terrain. Most of the country is a low-lying plain. About 40 percent of the area lies below sea level, and only 2 percent has an elevation exceeding 50 m. The highest point, 321 m, is in the southeast, in the foothills of the Ardennes, near the border with Belgium and the Federal Republic of Germany.

The lowlands are in danger of inundation by the North Sea during storms. A catastrophic flood in 1282 created the Zuider Zee. The most recent major flood occurred in 1953. After the construction of a 33-km dike, the southern part of the Zuider Zee (IJsselmeer) was transformed into a freshwater lake, most of which has been drained and converted into polders. In the east are found hilly moraine plains, and moraine ridges rising to 106 m occur in places in the central part of the country, particularly IJsselmeer. In the south ancient river terraces covered with loess are widespread.

Geological structure and minerals. The northern part of the Netherlands is composed chiefly of contemporary and Pleistocene marine and river deposits of sand and clay. The eastern part of the country is covered with glacial and fluvioglacial deposits, and the delta of the Rhine, Maas, and Scheldt consists of alluvial deposits. Limburg Province is composed chiefly of limestones, marls, and chalk of the Late Mesozoic, Paleogene, and Neocene containing coal deposits. Older rocks have been uncovered only in borings and mines. The sedimentary layers dip gently; only in the central part of the country do they form the central Netherlands swell, which extends northwest from the Rhenish Slate Mountains through the Zuider Zee. East and west of the swell are relative depressions with deposits of petroleum and natural gas (Slochtern). Deposits of petroleum and natural gas have also been discovered on the North Sea shelf. Other natural resources are peat, salt, and kaolin.

Climate. The country has a maritime climate, with mild winters and relatively warm summers. Throughout the year the prevailing winds are southwesterly and westerly. Average January temperatures are 1°-3°C, and average July temperatures are 16°-17°C. The annual precipitation totals 650–750 mm. Cloudy, rapidly changing weather with frequent mists is characteristic. Severe frosts are rare, and the IJsselmeer and lower reaches of the Rhine freeze over only when cold air moves in from the east. It rarely snows; even during the winter precipitation usually takes the form of rain.

Rivers and lakes. The largest rivers—the Rhine, Maas, and Scheldt—form an extensive delta in the south, with numerous channels and branches. The average annual discharge here is about 2,500 cu m per sec. The rivers are deep throughout the year. Their courses have been straightened and connected by canals, and their flow is regulated. The deposition of sediments has resulted in the gradual raising of the riverbeds above the surrounding lowlands, so that many rivers have been enclosed by dikes.

Soils and flora. Fertile silty soils occur in the polders of the maritime zone, and alluvial-meadow soils are found along river valleys. Soddy podzolic soils and in places bog soils are prevalent in the northern and eastern parts of the country. About 70 percent of the Netherlands’ territory is occupied by sown meadows, plowed fields, and settled areas. Forests of oak, beech, hornbeam, and ash, with an admixture of yew, have survived only in groves. Including planted forests and roadside belts, 8 percent of the country’s area is wooded. Sandy areas support heaths with scrub. Pines and clumps of sea buckthorn grow on the dunes, and willow groves fringe the branches of the major rivers.

Fauna. Wildlife has been greatly depleted. Wild rabbits live in the dunes, and squirrels, hares, marten, polecats, and roe deer inhabit the forests. There are 180 species of birds. In the delta of the Rhine, Maas, and Scheldt, sanctuaries have been established for wintering water fowl, including geese, barnacle geese, gulls, and snipe. The North Sea abounds in herring, cod, and mackerel.

Preserves. There are three national parks (Kennemeer Dunes, Hoge Veluwe and Veluwezoom) and eight preserves with a total area of 37,700 hectares (ha), of which more than 20,000 ha are shallows offering protection for mussels and seals.

Natural regions. Polders and dunes predominate in the coastal regions. In the east there are plains and hilly forested landscapes. The delta of the Rhine, Maas, and Scheldt has numerous channels and islands. The southern region consists of sandy and clayey plains, and the foothills of the Ardennes have hilly forested landscapes with deep valleys.


Geologiia Niderlandov. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from Dutch.)
Isakov, Iu. A. “Niderlandy.” In Sovremennoe sostoianie prirodnoi sredy (biosfery) na territorii Evropy i puti ee sokhraneniia i uluchsheniia. Vilnius, 1972.
Serebriannyi, L. R. Niderlandy. Moscow, 1974.
Edelman, C. H. Soils of the Netherlands. Amsterdam, 1950.
Vlerk, I. M. van der, and F. Florschiitz. Nederland in het IJstijdvak. Utrecht, 1950.

L. R. SEREBRIANNYI (physical geography) and M. V. MURATOV (geological structure and minerals)

The Netherlands has a relatively homogeneous population. The Dutch, who emerged as an ethnic group during the Middle Ages in the northern and central regions, and the closely related Flemings in the south have essentially merged into a single Dutch nation, constituting more than 96 percent of the population. The some 400,000 Frisians, living primarily in the province of Friesland and on the Frisian Islands, are the largest ethnic minority. Other groups include Germans, Jews, and a small number of Indonesians. About 30 percent of the inhabitants are Protestant, and 39 percent are Catholic. Dutch is the official language, and the official calendar is the Gregorian.

The annual population growth rate between 1963 and 1971 averaged 1.2 percent. Since the mid-1960’s there has been a steady decline in the birth rate, and the population has grown older. The postwar period has been marked by an increase in the economically active population (about 5 million in 1971), particularly in the number of persons employed in the service sector. About 40 percent of the work force is employed in industry (as compared to 37 percent in 1930 and 1947), about 7 percent in agriculture and fishing (21 percent in 1930 and 19 percent in 1947), and more than 53 percent in transportation, commerce, and the service sector (44 percent in 1930 and 43 percent in 1947). Wage earners constitute about 80 percent of the economically active population.

The average population density is 350 per sq km—one of the highest in the world. The urban population comprises 78 percent of the total. There are 21 urban agglomerations with populations of more than 100,000. About half the population lives in the conurbation called Randstad Holland, comprising Amsterdam (with a metropolitan population of more than 1 million in 1973), Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Haarlem.

Measures have been taken to prevent further concentration of the population in the western part of the Netherlands and to stimulate the growth of cities in other areas, particularly in the drained southwestern part of the IJsselmeer.

The period of primitive communal, patriarchal-slaveholding, and feudal relations (prior to the mid-16th century). The territory of the Netherlands was settled as early as the Neolithic period. In the second half of the first millennium B.C., it was inhabited chiefly by Celtic tribes, but at the beginning of the Common Era they were pushed out by Germanic tribes (Batavi, Frisians, Chamavi, and Canninefates). During the first century B.C., part of the area was conquered by the Romans. The Roman conquest accelerated the formation of classes among the native tribes, but slaveholding relations essentially did not extend beyond patriarchal slavery. During the third and fourth centuries A.D., the area was settled by Franks in the south and Saxons in the east; the north was inhabited by the Frisians. In the fifth century the territory became part of a Frankish state, and the feudal system and Christianity were forcibly imposed on the tribes in the area. By the Treaty of Verdun (843) the Netherlands passed to Lothair I, and under the Treaty of Mersen (870) it became part of the East Frankish kingdom. During the tenth and 11th centuries a number of feudal domains arose in the area, notably the counties of Holland and Gelder, nominally vassals of the Holy Roman Empire. Their socioeconomic basis was feudal landowning and feudal exploitation of the peasantry. But the forms of exploitation were comparatively mild, especially in the north, where alongside serfs a sizable free peasantry continued to exist in several areas. In Friesland strong vestiges of the communal-clan system persisted for a long time.

The growth of cities began in the 12th century. Urban guild crafts, fishing, and shipbuilding and navigation developed during the 13th and 14th centuries. In the late 13th century a system of dams and dikes was built in order to reclaim marshlands or lowlands subject to flooding (the Dutch word “Nederland” means “low land”). Labor-intensive but profitable industrial crops were introduced, and this facilitated the spread of commodity-monetary relations into rural areas. However, the growth of cities and commodity-monetary relations did not result in the formation of a unified centralized state. Down to the second quarter of the 15th century the Netherlands remained feudally fragmented, although there was a tendency toward centralization within the feudal principalities. In the struggle for hegemony the chief rivals were the bishopric of Utrecht and the counties of Holland and Gelder. During the 13th century Gelder was the most powerful county, but in the late 13th century predominance passed to Holland, which grew especially strong under Floris V (ruled from 1256 to 1296) and the Avesnes counts of Hainaut (1299–1354). During this period Holland and Hainaut were united, and western Friesland (1287) and much of Zeeland (1323) were annexed. The Avesnes, who were rivals of the Dampierre counts of Flanders (allies of France), sought an alliance with England and thus drew Holland into the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453).

Economic changes were accompanied by an exacerbation of social and political conflicts. The artisans struggled against the ruling patriciate, which relied on the strong rule of the counts. The nobility was divided into those advocating and opposing the strengthening of the counts’ power. The subjugated Frisians and the peasants in other parts of the Netherlands rebelled against attempts to increase their tax burden. In the second half of the 14th and 15th centuries all these conflicts grew into a prolonged civil war, known as the struggle between the “Hooks” and the “Cods”. Social and political conflict merged with a dynastic struggle. Under these circumstances regularly convening representative assemblies, called states, emerged in Holland, Zeeland, and Gelder in the 14th century. In 1433, Holland, weakened by internal turmoil, and later several other feudal principalities of the Netherlands were conquered by the dukes of Burgundy and incorporated into their lands. When the Burgundian state disintegrated, the Netherlands passed to the Hapsburgs (1477, definitively in 1482). Between the 1520’s and the 1540’s the Hapsburg emperor Charles V annexed the hitherto independent regions of Friesland, Utrecht, Overijssel, Drenthe, Groningen, and Gelder. In 1548 he amalgamated these territories into a group of 17 provinces called the Netherlands. After the partition of Charles V’s empire the Netherlands passed to Spain in 1556.

The period of the 16th-century bourgeois revolution. In the late 15th and 16th centuries feudal relations disintegrated in the Netherlands, the primary accumulation of capital occurred, and capitalist relations arose and spread to fishing, seafaring, shipbuilding, and such related crafts as rope- and sail-making. Holland and Zeeland emerged as the chief centers of capitalist production.

The subsequent development of capitalist relations was retarded by Spanish absolutism. The bourgeois revolution that broke out in 1566 and merged with the war of liberation against Spanish rule was fought under the banner of Calvinism. Holland and Zeeland were the centers of the successful antifeudal and anti-Spanish uprising of 1572, which led to the expulsion of the Spanish from almost the entire territory of the northern provinces. A Spanish offensive was smashed by the heroism of the insurgents in the defense of Haarlem, Leiden, and other cities in 1572–75, and the Spanish were expelled from Amsterdam in 1578. The political alliance of the northern provinces, called the Union of Utrecht (1579), laid the legal foundation for an independent republic in the northern Netherlands. In 1581, Holland and Zeeland repudiated the Spanish king, Philip II. The defeat of the revolution in the southern Netherlands by 1585 plunged the republic into another war with Spain. In accordance with the Twelve-year Truce of 1609, Spain recognized the republic’s independence de facto. Thus the Netherlands was the first country to have a victorious bourgeois revolution and to form a bourgeois republic.

The period of premonopolistic capitalism (prior to the last quarter of the 19th century), THE REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED PROVINCES (FROM THE 17 TH CENTURY TO 1795). After the victory of the bourgeois revolution the Netherlands’ economy and culture developed rapidly. The seven northern provinces (Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, Gelder, Utrecht, Groningen, and Overijssel) formed the federated Republic of the United Provinces (sometimes called Holland after its economically most highly developed province), which within a few decades became the most advanced state in Europe. The republic became the “model capitalist country of the 17th century” (K. Marx, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, p. 761). But its development in the 17th and 18th centuries was marked by contradictions. Economic, social, and political changes were of a partial, compromising nature, reflecting the historical limitations of the first successful bourgeois revolution and the immaturity of the newly emerged classes of capitalist society. The production of textiles (wool, silk, and velvet) in manufactories expanded, as did shipbuilding, seafaring, and fishing. Leiden became the center of the wool cloth industry, and Dutch shipbuilding attained international importance. In the mid-17th century the merchant fleet of the United Provinces was almost twice the size of the fleets of England and France together and played a primary role in 17th-century international trade.

The country’s foreign trade within Europe concentrated on the Baltic region, where the Dutch squeezed out the German merchants of the Hanseatic League. Driving out the Portuguese and Spanish, the Dutch undertook colonial expansion in Southeast Asia. They established a network of trading posts and seized territory on Java and other islands of the Malay Archipelago, which became the largest Dutch colony, the Dutch East Indies. Malacca and Ceylon were also seized. In the Americas the Dutch gained control of Guiana, the Lesser Antilles, and other territories, and in Africa they established the Cape Colony and bases on the West African coast. In this way an enormous colonial empire emerged, and the exploitation of these colonies played a major role in the primary accumulation of capital in the Netherlands. Powerful trading companies such as the East India Company, founded in 1602, and the West India Company, organized in 1621, plundered the colonies. The greatest profits from the colonial trade went to the upper-class merchants of Holland. Amsterdam became the country’s most important economic center and the center of the nascent world capitalist market (both commodities and money). The city had commodity and currency exchanges, and a deposit bank was established there in 1609.

By virtue of its dominant position in the world market and of its well-developed finances and sea power, the bourgeois Republic of the United Provinces occupied a prominent place among European nations in the 17th century. But the effects of the excessive growth of commercial capital were already being felt. Protecting their own interests, the merchants expanded trade to the detriment of national industry and agriculture. Feudal relations were not completely eliminated from the agrarian economy, and feudal vestiges, such as guilds, survived in the cities. The progressive members of the bourgeoisie were an opposition group with little influence. The big commercial bourgeoisie established a regime that deprived the people of political rights and cruelly exploited the working masses. The Dutch people “as early as 1648 suffered more from excessive toil, were poorer, and suffered harsher oppression than did the masses of all the rest of Europe” (ibid., p. 763). Numerous strikes and demonstrations by artisans and workers in manufactories and peasant uprisings occurred during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The governmental structure of the Republic of the United Provinces reflected the compromise between the big commercial bourgeoisie and the nobility that had been achieved during the revolution. Supreme power in the republic was vested in the States General, consisting of delegates from the states of the seven provinces, and in the Council of State. The Dutch commercial bourgeoisie dominated these bodies. Alongside republican institutions there remained such vestiges of feudal monarchy as the office of the provincial stadholder. The stadholders of most of the provinces were the princes of the House of Orange-Nassau: William I of Orange (1572–84), Maurice of Orange (1585–1625), and Frederick Henry (1625–47). The stadholder was also commander in chief of the army. Important executive functions were entrusted to the grand pensionary of Holland. The grand pensionary carried out the stadholder’s duties in his absence, and he used his authority to promote the interests of the merchant oligarchy.

There was a protracted struggle between the Orangists, who advocated strengthening the power of the stadholders of the House of Orange, and the merchant oligarchy of Holland. The stadholders took advantage of the dissatisfaction of the popular masses and industrial bourgeoisie to strengthen their own absolute power. The merchant oligarchy sought to ensure its political supremacy in the republic and opposed centralization and the strengthening of the stadholder’s power. During the first half of the 17th century the struggle took the form of a clash between two religious-political factions—the Arminians and the Gomarists—each of which triumphed for a time. The sharp conflict between the stadholder Maurice of Orange and the grand pensionary J. van Oldenbarneveldt ended in the latter’s defeat and execution in 1619. The war with Spain was resumed in 1621 and merged with the general European conflict known as the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48). By the Peace of Westphalia (1648), the independence of the Republic of the United Provinces was finally recognized. In 1650 the big Dutch bourgeoisie, headed by the grand pensioner Jan de Witt, seized power in the country and abolished the office of stadholder, inaugurating the first stadholderless period, lasting from 1650 to 1672.

In the 1650’s England and the United Provinces began a struggle for colonial, commercial, and maritime supremacy. The wars weakened the republic militarily and politically and checked its commercial and colonial expansion. The country was also weakened by wars with France (1672–78, 1688–97, and 1702–13), in which it formed coalitions with other European powers. In 1672, amid military failures and popular uprisings, the Orangists restored the stadholder’s rule. The stadholder William III of Orange, who in 1689 became king of England and created an Anglo-Dutch alliance (1689–1702), subordinated the interests of the Dutch bourgeoisie to those of the English bourgeoisie. After his death the States General again abolished the office of stadholder; The second stadholderless period lasted from 1702 to 1747.

During the 18th century there was a marked decline in Dutch commerce and industry, and capital was increasingly channeled into landed property and international credit. The republic relinquished economic supremacy to Great Britain, which was more highly developed industrially. “The history of Holland’s decline as a commercial nation is the history of the subordination of trading capital to industrial capital” (K. Marx, ibid, vol. 25, part 1, p. 366). Military setbacks in 1747–48 (during the War of the Austrian Succession) and in 1780–84 (during a new war with Great Britain) strengthened the democratic movement, whose growth was not hindered by the restoration of the office of stadholder by the ruling merchant oligarchy in 1747.

Under the influence of the Great French Revolution the democratic movement in the republic demanded the overthrow of the stadholder William V, who ruled from 1766 to 1795 and supported the interests of the trade and financial oligarchy, the nobility, and the Calvinist church. The democratic movement was led by the liberal-bourgeois Patriot Party, which arose in the second half of the 18th century. In 1793, after William V had drawn the republic into the first anti-French coalition, revolutionary France declared war on the country. The invasion by French forces in 1795 put an end to the Republic of the United Provinces.

FRENCH DOMINATION (1795–1813). In 1795 the Republic of the United Provinces became the Batavian Republic, a dependency of France. But in 1806, after the proclamation of the French empire, the Batavian Republic was supplanted by the Kingdom of Holland, ruled by Louis Bonaparte, Napoleon I’s brother. Louis’ attempt to pursue an independent policy and his violation of the continental blockade resulted in the kingdom’s absorption into the French empire in 1810. During the “French period” (1795–1813) various bourgeois reforms were carried out. Almost all feudal privileges and obligations were abolished, the guild system was eliminated, the administration was centralized, uniform taxation and secular schools (1806) were introduced, and civil (1809) and criminal codes (1811) were adopted. Nevertheless, the French occupation, the loss of its colonies during the Anglo-French wars, and the destruction of almost its entire merchant fleet ruined the country. With the establishment of direct ties between producing and consuming countries the Dutch staple (intermediary) market gradually disappeared. In April 1813 conscription into the army provoked anti-French demonstrations, but it was only after the French defeat at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 that French occupation forces left the country.

On Nov. 21, 1813, the Orangists formed a provisional government at The Hague, headed by G. van Hogendorp, and proclaimed William of the House of Orange (the son of William V, who had died in Great Britain) sovereign prince of the Netherlands. Needing British support, William agreed to abandon claim to a number of Dutch colonial possessions that had been seized by the British during the wars with France and its allies: the Cape Colony, Ceylon, and part of Dutch Guiana. Indonesia, however was restored to the Dutch.

THE PERIOD FROM 1814 TO THE MID-1870’S. The Congress of Vienna (1814–15) forcibly united the Netherlands and Belgium into the Kingdom of the Netherlands, formally proclaimed on May 31, 1815. By a personal union in the male line the kings of the Netherlands also became grand dukes of Luxembourg; the union was dissolved in 1890 upon the death of William III. As a result of the revolution of 1830, Belgium separated from the Netherlands, although the Netherlands unsuccessfully attempted to restore the union during a war with Belgium from 1831 to 1833. Only in 1839 were normal relations established between the Netherlands and independent Belgium.

In the first half of the 19th century artisan and manufactory production gave way to factory-plant production (in 1818 the first steam engine was used in the textile industry). In 1839 the first railroad was built. Agriculture, foreign trade, and shipbuilding dominated the economy. The population of the Netherlands in 1849 was 3 million, of whom 38.9 percent lived in cities. The Netherlands Trading Company, created in 1824, acquired the exclusive right to export colonial commodities from Indonesia. A system of mandatory cultivation was introduced in Indonesia in 1830 that intensified colonial exploitation and guaranteed the Dutch market supplies of coffee, sugar, indigo, and spices. Between 1830 and 1880 the Netherlands treasury collected more than 800 million guilders, or more than 20 percent of all its revenues, from the exploitation of Indonesia.

William I ruled the country with the support of the conservatives. The regime of the king’s personal rule was opposed by the Liberal Party—representing the interests of the Dutch bourgeoisie, headed by J. Thorbecke—which had grown stronger economically. In 1839 the Liberals secured the rejection of a proposed state budget, which led William I to abdicate in 1840. In 1844 the Liberals submitted a draft of a new constitution to the States General to replace the constitution adopted in 1815, but it was rejected. Demonstrations in Amsterdam and The Hague in March 1848 compelled William II (ruled 1840–49) to agree to a new constitution. The 1848 constitution established ministerial responsibility to the States General, introduced direct elections to the Second Chamber, and provided for the election of members of the First Chamber by the provincial states. However, the right to vote, which was dependent on strict property and age qualifications, was given to only 13 percent of men over the age of 25. In 1848 the Liberals formed a cabinet for the first time. Throughout most of William Ill’s reign (1849–90) the Liberals were in power, although Conservative-Liberal and Conservative governments were also formed.

The industrial revolution occurred between the 1840’s and the 1870’s. In the principal branches of industry, factory-plant production replaced artisan workshops and manufactories. In order to hasten the development of a capitalist economy the Liberals adopted a policy of free trade in 1862. In the 1860’s and 1870’s the system of mandatory cultivation in Indonesia was abolished for all crops except coffee, opening the way for an influx of private capital in Indonesia. In 1860 the state took control of railroad construction. There were 3,200 steam locomotives in the Netherlands in 1870 and twice as many in 1880. The Amsterdam-North Sea Canal was opened in 1876, and the New Waterway, linking Rotterdam with the North Sea, was completed in 1882. Rotterdam became an important transshipment port and Germany’s outlet to the sea.

The social consequences of the industrial revolution were the formation of the working class and the creation of workers’ organizations. In 1861 the country’s first trade union was formed by the printers of Amsterdam, and in 1866 the printers’ union became a nationwide organization. In 1869 the first organized strike was called by the carpenters of the Amsterdam wharves. Sections of the First International, founded in 1869–70 in Amsterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht, merged to form the Netherlands Labor League in 1871–72. To counter the organizations of the First International, the Liberals founded the General Netherlands Workmen’s Association in 1871, which existed until 1921. In 1877, Calvinist laborers seceded from the General Netherlands Workmen’s Association to form their own union, Patrimonium.

The Netherlands during the transition to imperialism (from the mid-1870’s to the early 20th century),THE NETHERLANDS FROM THE MID-1870’S TO 1914. The industrial revolution was essentially completed in the final quarter of the 19th century. The leading branches of industry—shipbuilding, textiles, and food-processing—were modernized. In some new industries monopolies were formed, such as the Royal Petroleum Company for Exploiting Petroleum Sources in the Dutch Indies (1890), which in 1907 merged with the British Shell Company to form the international concern Royal Dutch Shell, and the Philips firm, producing electric bulbs and other electrical products. As a result of the agrarian crisis between 1873 and 1895, extensive land cultivation and livestock raising was replaced by modern capitalist production aimed at exports. A dairy industry was established. The country’s railroad network expanded from 1,419 km in 1870 to 3,339 km in 1914. Between 1872 and 1913 exports increased 14 times (by weight), imports 9 times, and transit goods 13 times. In 1907, Dutch foreign investments amounted to 3 billion guilders, mostly in Indonesia, South Africa, the USA, and Russia. On the eve of World War I the Netherlands constituted a small European imperialist state. Dutch imperialism was primarily of a colonial and money-lending nature.

During the last quarter of the 19th century Calvinist and Catholic forces united against liberalism and the workers’ movement. The clerical parties’ principal demand was state support for the “confessional” schools run by church organizations. In 1878 the Calvinist Anti-Revolutionary Party was founded, and in 1901, the Roman Catholic State Party. The Conservative Party disbanded in 1891, and from 1901 Liberal and “confessional” governments were alternately in power. The 1887 constitution increased the number of eligible voters from 138,000 to 292,000, primarily by enfranchising members of the petite bourgeoisie. In 1896 the number of voters rose to 539,000 through the inclusion of the rural population.

Former members of the Dutch section of the First International established Social Democratic unions in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Haarlem between 1878 and 1881. In 1881 the unions merged to form the Social Democratic Union of the Netherlands, headed by F. D. Nieuwenhuis. The Social Democratic Union was active in the class struggle during the “heroic years” of the Dutch labor movement from 1886 to 1889. This period was marked by large strikes of textile workers and dockers and by clashes between the Amsterdam poor and the police and troops, such as the “eel revolt” of 1886. The workers of the Netherlands observed May Day for the first time in 1890. The shift of the Social Democratic Union’s leaders to an anarchist position—for example, their refusal to take part in the parliamentary struggle—caused an organizational split and led to the creation in 1894 of the Social Democratic Labor Party (SDLP), headed by P. Troelstra. In 1893 a nationwide trade union association was formed, the National Labor Secretariat, which later became a hotbed of anarcho-syndicalism.

The transition to imperialism was accompanied by an intensification of the class struggle. In January and February 1903 Amsterdam’s dockers and railroad workers went out on strike, demanding recognition of their organizations. Thereafter the workers began to struggle against antistrike laws. The Council of Resistance, established by the workers’ organizations, called for a general strike of railroad workers, dockers, and sailors on Apr. 6, 1903, and for a strike of all workers in the Netherlands on April 8. The strike, however, did not become general because of dissension and weakness within the working-class organizations, and antistrike laws were adopted. In the early 20th century reformist tendencies in the policies of the SDLP leaders, including Troelstra, grew more pronounced. The class conflicts of 1903 and the Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia contributed to the formation of a left wing in the SDLP calling itself the Tribunists.

In 1909 the Tribunists founded the Social Democratic Party (SDP). At this time the various trends in the trade union movement coalesced to form nationwide trade union federations: the Netherlands Association of Trade Unions, which was affiliated with the SDLP (1906); the Christian National Association of Trade Unions (1909); and the Roman Catholic Bureau of Trade Unions (1909). One of the achievements of the working-class struggle was the introduction of pensions for wage earners who had reached the age of 70.

WORLD WAR I (1914–18). In World War I the Netherlands declared its neutrality, but it maintained a 300,000-man army in a state of readiness. Trade with the warring nations, primarily Germany, greatly enriched the Dutch bourgeoisie. The gold reserves of the Netherlands Bank increased from 289 million guilders in 1915 to 635 million guilders in 1920. Dutch financial capital “made enormous profits out of the war” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 30, p. 241). However, between 1913 and 1918 the cost of living rose by 75 percent, according to official figures, and from 1916 to 1918 ration cards were issued for basic necessities. In 1917 the blockade and unrestricted submarine warfare caused a decline in the level of production and trade and severed communications with Indonesia, and in the spring of 1918 maritime shipping ceased altogether.

During the war years the leadership of the SDLP proclaimed a “civil peace.” In 1914 the left-wing forces, led by the SDP and the National Labor Secretariat, formed an association of seven organizations called the Cooperating Workmen’s Organizations, which in 1916 became the Revolutionary-Socialist Committee. The committee, comprising 21 left-wing organizations, began to agitate for demobilization and against high prices and the export of foodstuffs to Germany. As early as 1915 the “civil peace” was broken by strikes in Limburg and Twenthe. In 1917 textile workers, miners, dockers, and sailors struck, and in July 1917 the “potato revolt” broke out in Amsterdam.

The period of the general crisis of capitalism, FROM 1918 TO 1939. Under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, classes were increasingly polarized, and the workers’ movement gained momentum. Dutch progressives ardently welcomed the revolution. In December 1917 the government had to introduce universal suffrage for men 23 years of age and older. In exchange for this concession, however, the confessional schools were to be supported by the government. In 1918 the class struggle escalated, leading to food riots and a workers’ strike at the arsenal at Hoensbroek. In the 1918 elections to the States General the first SDP members were elected (D. Wijnkoop and W. van Ravensteyn), the Liberals were defeated, and the right-wing confessional parties won a majority. In October and November 1918 disturbances broke out in many garrisons. The class struggle culminated in Red Week (Nov. 11–18, 1918), inspired by the November 1918 revolution in Germany. Troelstra, the SDLP leader, demanded that power be transferred to the “organs of the working class.” A workers’ march in Amsterdam, organized by the SDP on Nov. 13, 1918, clashed with troops. The counterrevolutionaries quickly formed armed detachments, called the civic guard, and held monarchist demonstrations in a number of cities. At the SDLP Congress of Nov. 16–17, 1918, reformist leaders condemned revolutionary methods of struggle, and the authorities in turn promised major democratic changes. The revolutionary movement proved abortive. During Red Week, on Nov. 17, 1918, the Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN) was formed out of the SDP, and in 1919 the CPN joined the Communist International.

During the postwar economic revival of 1919–20 the working class continued its militant offensive. The government was obliged to institute an eight-hour workday and a 45-hour workweek, to lower the pension age from 70 to 65, and to grant women the right to vote.

Protesting the anti-Soviet intervention, Dutch workers prevented arms shipments from Rotterdam. The Dutch people assisted Soviet Russia by sending foodstuffs during the famine in the Volga region. Nevertheless, the Dutch government refused to recognize Soviet Russia. In 1934 the Dutch government protested against the admission of the USSR to the League of Nations.

During the economic crisis of 1920–23 and after, many of the workers’ recent gains were wiped out. The workweek was increased to 48 hours, new taxes were introduced, expenditures on pensions and education were reduced, and salaries of civil servants were cut. The working class stubbornly defended its rights: there was a ten-week strike by 14,000 metalworkers in 1921 and a large-scale conflict in the textile industry of Twenthe in 1923–24. In the late 1920’s the SDLP and compromising trade unions adopted a course of “organic work” under capitalist conditions. The Communist Party and the left-wing trade union federation —the National Labor Secretariat—were greatly weakened by factional strife.

Between 1925 and 1929 new branches of industry were established (radios, oil refining), and new monopolistic associations were formed, such as the General Association for the Production of Synthetic Silk (1927) and Unilever (1929), an Anglo-Dutch margarine concern.

During the worldwide economic crisis of 1929–33, which reached the Netherlands in 1930, industrial production, exports, and imports were halved. Protectionist measures were introduced in 1932. In 1936 the Netherlands abandoned the gold standard, introduced in 1925, which resulted in the devaluation of the guilder by 20 percent. Reductions in workers’ wages, unemployment, and the lowering of the living standard produced a wave of strikes and mass demonstrations: the 20-week strike by workers in Twenthe in 1931–32, the two-week strike by sailors in Rotterdam and Amsterdam in 1932, the mutiny of sailors on the cruiser The Seven Provinces in Indonesia in February 1933, the barricade battles with the police and troops on July 4–10, 1934, in Amsterdam, and the strike by Catholic textile workers in Tilburg in 1935. The CPN took an active part in class conflicts, and its influence grew. In the 1937 parliamentary elections it won 137,000 votes and three seats in the Second Chamber. Nevertheless, in December 1931 a fascist party was formed, the National Socialist Movement, led by A. Mussert.

From 1918 through 1939 right-wing coalition cabinets held power, headed by the leader of the Roman Catholic State Party, Ruys de Beerenbrouck (1918–25, 1929–35); the leader of the Anti-Revolutionary Party, H. Colijn (1925–26, 1933–39); and the leader of the Christian Historical Union, D. de Geer (1926–29). In 1939 members of the SDLP entered a bourgeois cabinet for the first time.

WORLD WAR II (1939–45). At the outbreak of World War II the Dutch government declared its neutrality. On May 10, 1940, Nazi Germany treacherously attacked the Netherlands, and on May 14 the country had to surrender. Queen Wilhelmina (ruled 1890–1948) and the cabinet emigrated to Great Britain. The Netherlands was occupied by fascist German forces, and a Nazi administration was established, headed by Reichskomissar A. Seyss-Inquart. The Communist Party went underground, becoming one of the organizers of the resistance movement against the fascist occupation forces and their Dutch agents, the Mussert group. The Communist Party called upon the people to unite “without regard to faith or political affiliation” and formed “military groups.” A major role in the resistance movement was played by the illegal press, including the CPN’s newspaper, De Waarheid (Truth), founded in 1940. One of the forms of resistance was refusal to work in Germany or at defense installations. The strike of Feb. 25–26, 1941, in Amsterdam and a number of other cities was one of the first manifestations in Europe of mass resistance to fascist occupation forces. More than 1 million persons took part in the strike of Apr. 29-May 7, 1943, protesting the deportation to Germany of 300,000 Dutch prisoners of war. Although the strike was harshly suppressed by the occupation forces, it nevertheless prevented the deportation of prisoners of war and gave impetus to the creation of nationwide resistance organizations. The principal resistance groups were the Council of Resistance (including Communist armed groups), the Protestant Fighting Guards, and the confessional National Organization for Aid to Concealed Persons. On Mar. 9, 1942, after Japanese forces had landed, the Dutch armed forces in Indonesia surrendered. On July 10, 1942, the Netherlands (government-in-exile) established diplomatic relations with the USSR for the first time.

Between September 1944 and March 1945, Allied troops liberated the southern Netherlands, and in April 1945, the eastern Netherlands. The remaining Nazi German troops were encircled in the western Netherlands. On Sept. 17, 1944, the government-in-exile called for a general strike of railroad workers, which lasted until the country’s full liberation. In retaliation the occupation forces destroyed dikes, flooded lands, and intensified repressions by conducting roundups in Rotterdam and The Hague. In the winter of 1944–45 some 15,000 persons died of hunger. During the occupation 2,500 Dutch patriots were executed. The story of the Dutch resistance includes the uprising by Soviet prisoners of war on the island of Texel in April 1945. At the beginning of May 1945 the German forces in the Netherlands surrendered.

AFTER WORLD WAR II. Some 199,000 persons lost their lives during the war. Property damage reached 20 billion guilders, the state debt rose from 5.5 billion guilders (1939) to 19.5 billion, and production fell by 50 to 60 percent. After World War II the Dutch colonial empire began to disintegrate. On Aug. 17, 1945, Indonesia declared its independence. Supported by the USA and Great Britain, the Netherlands embarked on a colonial war against the Indonesian people, which ended in the colonialists’ defeat. In accordance with the Linggadjati Agreement of March 1947, the Netherlands recognized the government of the Indonesian Republic. The Netherlands Indonesian Union, established by the Round Table Conference of 1949, was dissolved by Indonesia in 1954. By 1974 the only colonial possessions remaining to the Netherlands were Surinam (Dutch Guiana) and the Netherlands Antilles.

The disintegration of its colonial empire weakened Dutch imperialism, which nevertheless retained considerable economic and political influence. By 1948 the country had regained its prewar level of production. The export of capital to Western Europe increased sharply, and foreign trade was reoriented toward the Western European countries. The concentration of production accelerated, and while the newer branches of industry were growing older branches were declining. As a result, between 1960 and 1972 more than 10,000 small and medium-sized commercial and handicrafts enterprises failed, and the number of persons employed in agriculture declined by more than 25 percent. Economic power has increasingly been concentrated in the hands of a small group of millionaires; in 1970, 5 percent of the large property owners had an income equal to that of 50 percent of the population. The acceleration of capitalist concentration and of the monopolization of the economy has been accompanied by a growth of state monopolistic tendencies, manifesting themselves in state intervention in the country’s economic life and in the increased role of the state capitalist sector in the economy. State agencies have encouraged the development of the newer branches of industry. The ruling circles of the Netherlands support the activity of huge international monopolies—Unilever, Philips, and Royal Dutch Shell—in which Dutch capital participates.

In the second half of the 1940’s and the 1950’s the Socialists dominated the coalition governments of the Netherlands. In 1946 the Labor Party was formed out of the SDLP. The government was headed by the Socialist W. Schermerhorn in 1945–46 and by the Socialist W. Drees from 1948 to 1958. During these years the Netherlands abandoned its traditional policy of neutrality and joined the economic, military, and military-political groups of the capitalist powers. After the war the flow of American capital into the country increased. The Netherlands participated in the Marshall Plan and by 1969 owed the USA 237 million guilders for deliveries received under the plan. The Netherlands joined the aggressive military bloc of NATO in 1949, and since that year American military bases have been established on Dutch territory, including air bases at Soesterberg and Leeu-warden. Atomic and rocket weaponry has been deployed since 1957, and NATO air bases have been established. The Netherlands is a member of Benelux (an economic union formed by Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg), the European Coal and Steel Association (since 1951), and the Brussels Treaty Organization (1948–54). In 1954 the Netherlands signed the Paris Agreements, which made it a participant in the military-political organization of the Western European Union. Since 1957 the Netherlands has been a member of the European Economic Community (Common Market) and Euratom.

During the period in which the Socialists held power in a coalition with other parties, an antidemocratic law was enacted excluding Communists from government posts (1948). Laws were also passed in 1957 aimed at lowering the workers’ living standard by increasing the income tax by 15 percent and raising apartment rents by 25 percent.

In the late 1950’s the Catholic and Protestant parties came to power. Governments were headed by L. Beel (1958–59), J. de Quay (1959–63), V. Marijnen (1963–65), J. Cals (1965–66), J. Zijlstra (1966–67), P. de Jong (1967–71), and B. Biesheuvel (1971–72). In 1960 the Netherlands agreed to the deployment of West German military supply bases on its territory. In accordance with a 1963 treaty with the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands agreed to the stationing of Bundeswehr units on Dutch territory. The ruling circles of the Netherlands stubbornly resisted the demand of the Indonesian Republic for the return West Irian. Only under pressure of world opinion and of progressive forces in the Netherlands—for example, the demonstrations in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s—did the Netherlands sign an agreement with Indonesia on Aug. 15, 1962, providing for the transfer of West Irian. The transfer was completed in 1963, and in 1964 the Netherlands restored diplomatic relations with Indonesia, which had been broken off in 1960. The Netherlands government supported the aggressive policy of the USA and other imperialist states in Indochina and the Near East.

The early 1960’s were marked by major workers’ disturbances: a strike by 230,000 workers in protest against businessmen’s rejection of a 5 percent wage increase; large strikes in the metalworking industries of Amsterdam, Utrecht, and other cities in 1960; and a demonstration by thousands of peasants who assembled at The Hague from all parts of the country in November 1962 to demand a review of the government’s agricultural policy. Strikes caused the loss of 37,750 workdays in 1963, as compared to 9,000 in 1962.

In the early 1960’s the left wing of the Labor Party grew stronger and called for a reduction of international tension and for a halt to the arms race. The Labor Party’s Ninth Congress, held in 1963, advocated a policy of peaceful coexistence. In 1965–66 an exchange of parliamentary groups took place between the Netherlands and the USSR, and in 1976 a Dutch parliamentary delegation visited the USSR for the first time. In 1965 the Netherlands and the USSR signed an agreement for cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy; in 1967 the two countries signed agreements for cultural cooperation and for the settlement of reciprocal financial and property claims.

The democratic forces in the Netherlands have struggled for the country’s withdrawal from NATO and for the removal of foreign stockpiles of nuclear weapons and of foreign military bases. During the second half of the 1960’s there were demonstrations against permitting NATO’s military staff to be stationed on Dutch territory. However, after France left the NATO military organization in 1966 and military bases and other NATO services were removed from French territory, the Dutch ruling circles placed the province of Limburg at the disposal of the Command of the United Armed Forces of NATO in Central Europe, which had been evacuated from Fontainebleau.

Since the late 1960’s there have been increasing commercial contacts between the Netherlands and the USSR, as well as with other socialist countries: a maritime shipping agreement with the USSR in 1969, an agreement on cooperation in agricultural research in 1970; an agreement on international motor-vehicle travel, a treaty on trade, and an agreement on trade and payments in 1972; an agreement on cooperation in economic, industrial, and technical fields; an agreement on the development of economic, industrial, and technical cooperation in 1975; and an agreement on cooperation between sports organizations in 1976.

Growing military expenditures, intensification of labor in industry, and an increase in the price of basic necessities exacerbated social conflict. In June 1966 a demonstration of Amsterdam construction workers demanding wage increases was dispersed by police and military units; the workers of Utrecht, Arnhem, Zaandam, and other cities struck in support of the workers of Amsterdam, and the working class was able to win wage increases. During the spring and summer of 1969 major student disturbances occurred, with students demanding the democratization of education. In 1971 the Netherlands economy showed signs of a crisis. The Biesheuvel government announced that it would “practice moderation” by reducing consumption and increasing taxes, apartment rents, and transportation costs. In 1971–72 there were strikes and demonstrations for wage increases and longer vacations. In February 1972 the peasants of Groningen, Friesland, and other northern provinces called for tax reductions and higher pensions. In 1974 there were mass demonstrations by farmers in support of an increase in the purchase price of agricultural produce. In 1973 the workers’ struggle reached its highest point since the war. Workers in the metallurgical, chemical, and other industries took part in strikes in many parts of the country, as a result of which 590,000 workdays were lost in 1973, as compared to 135,000 in 1972.

The Netherlands signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty in 1968 and in 1971 the treaty prohibiting the deployment of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction on or under the seabed. The governments of P. de Jong, B. Biesheuvel, and J. den Uyl (who formed a government in 1973) declared their wish to develop many-sided relations with the USSR and other socialist states. The Netherlands took part in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which began in 1973. In 1973 the Netherlands established diplomatic relations with the German Democratic Republic and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1, chap. 24. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed. vol. 23.
Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 3, chaps. 20, 36. Ibid., vol. 25, parts 1–2.
Lenin, V. I. “Zasedanie Mezhdunarodnogo sotsialisticheskogo biuro.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 17. Pages 247–49.
Lenin, V. I. “Odininadtsataia sessiia Mezhdunarodnogo sotsialisticheskogo biuro.” Ibid., vol. 19.
Lenin, V. I., “Sotsializm i voina.” Ibid., vol. 26.
Chistozvonov, A. N. Reformatsionnoe dvizhenie i klassovaia bor’ba ν Niderlandakh ν pervoi polovine XVI veka. Moscow, 1964.
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Nadin, K. Vneshniaia politika Gollandii. Moscow, 1963.
Baash, E. Istoriia ekonomicheskogo razvitiia Gollandii ν XVI-XVIII vv. Moscow, 1949. (Translated from German.)
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Jong, Louis de. Nemetskaia piataia kolonna vo vtoroi mirovoi voine. Moscow, 1958. Pages 129–45, 287–305. (Translated from English.)
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A. N. CHISTOZVONOV (prior to the late 18th century), G. G. BAUMAN(from the late 18th century to 1945), and A. D. POPOV (since 1945)

Political parties. The Catholic People’s Party (Katholieke Volkspartij), formed in December 1945 out of the Roman Catholic State Party, is closely linked with the Vatican and had a membership of 60,000 in 1975. It includes members of the monopolistic bourgeoisie, large landowners, Catholic clergy, and working-class Catholics. The Labor Party (Partij van de Arbeid), founded in 1946 to supersede the SDLP, had a membership of 98,000 in 1975. Its members include the workers’ aristocracy, the petite bourgeoisie, the bourgeois intelligentsia, and part of the working class. The party is a member of the Socialist International. The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie) was founded in 1947 through a merger of the right wing of the Labor Party with the Freedom Party, founded in 1945 to replace the Liberal Party. It had a membership of 83,000 in 1975. It represents the interests of large commercial-industrial and finance capital. The Anti-Revolutionary Party (Anti-Revolutionaire Partij), founded in 1878, had a membership of 74,000 in 1975. It draws its support from the Protestant bourgeoisie and landowners and to some extent from the middle class. The Christian Historical Union (Christelijk-Historische Unie), founded in 1908, had 30,000 members in 1975. It represents the interests of the Protestant bourgeoisie, landowners, and officials. The Political Party of Radicals (Politische Partij Radikalen), founded in 1968 by a group of Christian Democrats who left the Catholic People’s Party, has 13,000 members. The party consists of members of the radical petite bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia. The Pacifist Socialist Party (Pacifistisch Socialistische Partij), founded in 1957, had 4,000 members in 1975. Most of its members belong to the petite bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia. The Democratic Socialists 1970 (Democratisch socialisten ’70), a party founded in 1970, had a membership of 6,000 in 1975. It comprises right-wing Social Democrats and businessmen. The Democrats 1966 (Democraten ’66), founded in 1966, had a membership of 6,000 in 1975. It brings together some members of the progressive intelligentsia and businessmen. The Communist Party of the Netherlands (Communistische Partij van Nederland) was founded in 1918.

Trade unions and other social organizations. The Netherlands Association of Trade Unions, founded in 1906, had 675,000 members in 1975. It is loosely affiliated with the Labor Party and belongs to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. The Netherlands Catholic Association of Trade Unions was founded in 1946 to replace the Roman Catholic Labor Union, established in 1898. In 1975 it had a membership of 400,000. It is influenced by the Catholic People’s Party and belongs to the World Federation of Labor. The Netherlands National Association of Christian Trade Unions, founded in 1896, had 230,000 members in 1975. It is influenced by the Anti-Revolutionary Party and the Christian Historical Union and belongs to the World Federation of Labor. In 1976 the Netherlands Association of Trade Unions and the Netherlands Catholic Association formed the Federation of Netherlands Trade Unions. The Netherlands-USSR Society was founded in 1947. The Netherlands-USSR Institute was organized in 1945 by business groups to promote trade and economic relations with the USSR.


General characteristics. The Netherlands is a highly developed, capitalistic, industrialized country with a commercial agriculture and extensive foreign trade. It ranks among the ten leading capitalist countries in industrial production (1.3 percent of the capitalist world’s industrial output) and foreign trade turnover (4.6 percent). The Netherlands also accounts for a large part of the capitalist world’s maritime shipping. The country’s geographic position at the crossroads of the most important European maritime and overland routes has to some extent affected its economic development (see above: Historical survey). The distinctive features of the country’s economy—the great importance of trade and shipping, the emphasis on export in industry and agriculture, and the country’s role as a major exporter of capital—have evolved in the course of the Netherlands’ history and have become traditional.

After World War II (1939–45) the structure of the economy as a whole and of its various parts has undergone major changes. The rebuilding of the economy, which suffered great damage during the war, and the growth of economic potential to meet the demands of technological progress occurred under highly contradictory conditions. The disintegration of the Dutch colonial empire and the partial loss of capital investments through the nationalization of enterprises in the former Dutch East Indies, which became the independent state of Indonesia, necessitated reorientation in foreign trade and stronger economic ties with the industrially developed capitalist countries of Western Europe and the USA.

Between 1946 and 1970 industry’s contribution to the national income increased and that of agriculture declined by half; during that time the proportion of trade, shipping, and a number of service fields remained constant. According to official data for 1971, industry and construction accounted for 40.4 percent of the national income (compared to 34 percent in 1946), agriculture and fishing for 5.7 percent (13.3 percent in 1946), transportation for 7.4 percent, commerce (including hotels and restaurants) for 14.1 percent, and the service sector (including financial operations) for 32.6 percent. Radical changes occurred in the structure of industry: between 1946 and 1970 heavy industry’s share increased, and this strengthened the industrial character of the Netherlands. The capacity of the metallurgical, chemical, oil-refining, and electrical engineering industries increased considerably; industries became more specialized; and modern production complexes were built for such new industries as organic synthesis, electronics, atomic energy, and power engineering. Among the branches of heavy industry, the coal industry encountered difficulties. In the textile industry, which had previously supplied the colonial market, production decreased about 2.5 times in the postwar period. The food-processing industry has not declined because agricultural production is highly intensive.

The Netherlands is noted for the high level of concentration of its production and capital. Strong monopolies occupy the dominant position in the economy as a whole and in various branches. In the early 1970’s the Anglo-Dutch Unilever concern controlled a large part of the production of canned meat, food concentrates, frozen food products, margarine, soap and detergents, and mixed fodder. Royal Dutch Shell and the American company Standard Oil of New Jersey jointly control petroleum extraction, and half the oil-refining and natural gas extraction. The AKZO concern controls the production of synthetic fibers, and the Dutch-West German concern Hoesch-Hoogovens (Estel), the production of ferrous metals. The Philips concern produces a large part of the country’s electronic and electrical equipment. In 1972 the turnover of these monopolies (110 billion guilders) was close to the Netherlands’ annual national income (119 billion guilders). The expansion of the international ties of Dutch monopoly capital after the war enabled the country to remain one of the most important exporters of capital.

Foreign investments, one-third of them American, have been steadily increasing. In late 1971, US investments were valued at $1.6 billion, and those of the Federal Republic of Germany amounted to $400 million.

The role of state and semi-state companies is growing. The state owns DSM (Dutch State Mines), one of the country’s leading chemical companies; approximately one-third of the shares of Hoogovens (Royal Netherlands Blast Furnaces and Steel Works), the country’s largest ferrous metallurgical concern, accounting or more than four-fifths of the ferrous metal output of the Netherlands (since 1973 it has been a part of the Dutch-West German concern Hoesch-Hoogovens, or Estel); 70 percent of the shares of Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM); and half the shares in the Gas Union, which is engaged in the extraction, transport, and marketing of natural gas.

The annual increase in investments has caused high industrial growth rates (an annual average of 6.9 percent between 1958 to 1972). Since the 1960’s the fastest growing industries have been the new branches—chemicals, petrochemicals, and electrical engineering. The modernization of equipment and an ongoing policy of “freezing” wages have enabled Dutch goods to compete successfully in the world markets and have ensured the growth of exports. Membership in the European Economic Community has sharpened the contradictions within the Dutch economy. These include the disproportionate development of various branches, a greater uneveness in the distribution of productive forces, and growing social inequality. Despite overall high growth rates, certain years have been marked by decline or stagnation, for example, 1951, 1952, and 1958. Several branches of the economy—textiles, leather goods, and footwear—underwent long periods of crisis, and overproduction occurred in agriculture. In the early 1970’s the signs of crisis intensified: growth rates fell, and unemployment rose from 46,400 persons in 1970 to 62,000 in 1971 and 117,000 in 1973.

The Netherlands ranks 12th in the capitalist world in terms of per capita gross national income ($2,553 in 1971). The workers’ share of the national income during the postwar years scarcely increased (51.4 percent in 1947 and 52 percent in 1967). The amount of property owned by large proprietors has grown rapidly. The number of persons with more than 100,000 guilders increased from 37,000 to 217,000 between 1951 and 1968, and their total wealth increased from 10 billion to 62 billion guilders; the number of millionaires grew from 940 to 6,700, and their holdings increased 7.5 times to 15.4 billion guilders. Between 1963 and 1973 about 40,000 small and middle entrepreneurs went bankrupt. Workers have persistently demanded improved living standards (see above: Historical survey).

During the postwar years there were changes in the distribution of productive forces. In the maritime region, particularly in the Randstad conurbation, industry (primarily heavy industry) has grown more rapidly than elsewhere. On the outskirts of the conurbation farming has been developing on a large scale. A new industrial region, based on natural gas, chemicals, and other branches, is gradually emerging in the northeast. In the interior regions, food processing and light industry are becoming more important. There still remain poorly developed “problem” regions in the north, where about 10 percent of the country’s industrial workers are employed and where, as in interior regions, the government is promoting new industrial construction. The newly drained lands of the IJsselmeer are being developed.

Industry. The distinctive features of the Netherlands’ industry are a high level of technology, a large percentage of highly skilled workers, and high labor productivity. Compared to the prewar

Table 2. Structure of industry in terms of workers and turnover
 Percent of total number of workers (783,000)Percent of turnover (10.9 billion guilders)Percent of total number of workers (1,078,200)Percent of turnover (82.5 Billion guilders)
Metallurgy, metal-working, and machine building30.322.840.831.0
Chemicals and petroleum refining5.
Building materials5.
Leather and synthetic rubber4.

level of 1938, the volume of industrial production had increased 6.1 times by 1972. Prior to World War II the food industry predominated, and shipbuilding, coal mining, textiles, and jewelry-making, chiefly diamond cutting, were also well developed. (See Table 2 for the changes in the structure of industry after World War II.) In manufacturing, large enterprises with more than 1,000 employees, which in 1970 constituted slightly more than 1 percent of all enterprises, employed about 42 percent of all industrial workers, compared to one-third in 1950).

MINING AND POWER ENGINEERING. The country’s principal natural resource is natural gas. The main deposit is at Slochteren, in Groningen, where 70.8 billion cu m were extracted in 1973, compared to 0.1 billion cu m in 1957. Petroleum (about 2 million tons) is extracted near The Hague and Schoonebeek, and exploration and development of petroleum and natural gas fields are under way on the continental shelf of the North Sea. The Netherlands’ principal coal basin is in Limburg Province. Coal mining has been gradually reduced from 11.7 million tons in 1957 to 1.7 million tons in 1973. In 1973 petroleum products accounted for 45 percent of the country’s energy, natural gas for 50 percent, and coal for 5 percent. In 1971 the capacity of electric power plants, for the most part thermoelectric plants, was 11,400 megawatts (MW). There are atomic power plants at Dodewaard (with a capacity of 50 MW) and near Vlissingen (475 MW) and a nuclear reactor center at Petten.

MANUFACTURING. Metallurgy, metalworking, and machine building are the leading branches of industry. Ferrous metals are produced at an industrial complex in IJmuiden. Nonferrous metallurgy is represented by the production of aluminum (with two main plants at Vlissingen and Delfzijl), zinc (a plant at Budel), and tin (a plant at Arnhem). In 1971 about one-third of the output of the machine-building industry consisted of electronic and electrical equipment, of which three-fourths was produced by enterprises of the Philips concern, chiefly in Eindhoven. General machine building, concentrated primarily at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Haarlem, and Amersfoort, accounted for one-fourth of the output of the machine building industry in 1971; shipbuilding for about one-seventh (Rotterdam, Schiedam, Dordrecht, Amsterdam, and Vlissingen); and the automotive industry for about one-tenth (cars at Borne and trucks at Eindhoven).

About nine-tenths of the oil refining capacity (91.3 million

Table 3. Output of principal industrial products
1 1938 21971 3 1972
Electric power (billion kW-hr)3.513.430.152.6
Cast iron (tons)312,000701,0002,588,0004,707,000
Steel (tons)49,0001,185,0003,402,0005,624,000
Rolled metal products (tons)902,0002,343,0003,955,000
Tin (tons)28,00029,70014,000
Aluminum (tons)32,600166,0003
Ships launched (gross registered tons)249,000536,000263,000897,000
Motor vehicles, including assembly (units)57,000114,000
Petroleum products (million tons)1436.769.4
Sulfuric acid (tons)574,0001,169,0001,546,000
Nitrogen fertilizer (tons)101.0001336,000737,0001,040,000
Plastics (tons)772,0001,305,0002
Synthetic rubber (tons)125,000186,0003
Rayon yarn (tons)9,000132,00033,00037,000
Synthetic fibers (tons)4,00057,000113,0003
Cotton fabrics (tons)57,000166,00044,00043,000
Woolen fabrics (tons)10,00025,20016,90017,5002
Paper and cardboard (tons)290,000887,0001,334,0001,609,000
Cement (tons)441,0001,320,0003,349,0004,077,000
Condensed milk (tons)172,000281,000457,000488,000
Powdered milk (tons)28,00068,000121,000199,000
Margarine (tons)69,000232,000255,000216,000
Sugar (tons)222,000357,000690,000696,0003
Starch (tons)148,000206,000347,000498,0002

tons in 1973) is located near Rotterdam and the remaining capacity at Amsterdam and Vlissingen. Among the branches of the petrochemical industry, centered at Rotterdam and Terneuzen, the production of plastics is well developed, accounting for one-fifth of the turnover of the chemical industry. The production of fertilizers and raw material for synthetic fibers is concentrated in the southern part of Limburg Province. A chemical industry has developed on the basis of the natural gas and salt (3.2 million tons extracted annually) deposits near Delfzijl. The pharmaceutical industry is highly developed, accounting for one-tenth of the chemical industry’s turnover, as is the manufacture of varnish, paint, and dye. There is a large saltworks at Hengelo. Diamond cutting, a traditional Dutch industry, is concentrated primarily in Amsterdam.

The various branches of the food-processing industry are also an important group, second only to the metalworking branches. Meat and dairy products account for more than one-third of the turnover of the food-processing industry. Other important products include canned fruits and vegetables, beer, cocoa, and chocolate. The textile industry is the most important branch of light industry. The production of cotton, centered at Twenthe, and rayon accounts for about one-third of its turnover. Synthetic fibers are produced at Arnhem, Breda, and Emmen. Most of the woolen factories are found near Tilburg and Leiden. (See Table 3 for the output of the principal industrial products.)

Agriculture. Agricultural production is highly intensive and commercial, and farm products account for more than one-fourth of the value of exports. Capitalist farming cooperatives, engaging in the primary processing and marketing of farm produce and the purchase of fertilizers, seed, and farm equipment, occupy an important place in agriculture. In actuality these cooperatives are controlled by banks and large landowners. More than three-fourths of the agricultural land is occupied by medium and large farms of more than 10 hectares (ha), comprising 45 percent of all farms in 1970. Between 1950 and 1970 the total number of peasant farms fell from 410,000 to 185,000 because of the failure of small farms (less than 10 ha). Simultaneously there was an increase in the number of farms of more than 15 ha and especially of farms of more than 100 ha. Tenant farming and the use of hired labor are widespread. Between 1959 and 1970 the number of farms specializing in livestock raising was reduced to 70,000. During this period the number of farms with ten cows or less dropped from 128,000 to 37,000, and the proportion of farms of this size declined from 64 percent of all cattle-raising farms to 28 percent.

Agricultural production has become more intensive during the postwar years, primarily owing to the mechanization of agricultural processes on commercial, medium and large farms. Between 1950 and 1972 the number of tractors increased from 25,000 to 160,000, the number of combines from 1,204 to 7,800, and the number of milking machines from 3,800 to 35,000. Agricultural production doubled during the postwar years, and the number of farmers declined approximately 1.5 times, from 578,000 (1947) to 320,000 (1969).

Some 2.2 million ha of land, including land reclaimed from the sea, are devoted to agriculture. In 1971, 60 percent of the agricultural land consisted of pasture, more than 35 percent of arable land, and more than 3 percent of gardens, orchards, and flower-growing farms. Livestock raising provides more than two-thirds of the value of agricultural products. The Netherlands is a leading exporter of dairy products (cheese, butter, and condensed and powdered milk), as well as eggs, poultry, canned meat, and pork. In crop cultivation, fruits, vegetables, and flowers (chiefly bulbs) accounted for 60 percent of the value of the output in 1970. Haarlem, a flower-growing center, exports large quantities of tulips, narcissuses, and hyacinths, both flowers and bulbs. The Netherlands is also a leading exporter of vegetables. It occupies first place in the world in the area of its hothouses (9,000 ha) and in the export of hothouse vegetables, berries, and grapes. The Netherlands is a major exporter of potatoes. The area under flax has been sharply reduced from 34,000 ha in 1952 to 6,000 ha in 1972. Wheat, barley, and oats are partially grown for feeding livestock; most of the grain for human consumption is imported. (For the number of livestock and sown area and yield of various crops see Tables 4 and 5.)

Table 4. Number of livestock and poultry
1 Total milk yield is more than 8.8 million tons; the annual yield per cow averages 4,520 kg (1972)

FORESTRY. Some 60 percent of the forested area is private property. From 0.8 million to 1 million cu m of lumber, or about one-tenth of the country’s needs, are produced annually.

FISHING. Traditionally, fishing has been an important industry. Herring and other marine fish are caught primarily in the North Atlantic. The fish catch was 256,000 tons in 1938, 314,000 tons in 1958, and 334,000 tons in 1972.

Transportation. In 1974 the merchant fleet totaled about 4.9 million gross registered tons. Actually the Dutch fleet’s tonnage was greater, since some ships are registered by Dutch shipowners in several African and Latin American countries. Rotterdam, the world’s largest port, had a cargo turnover of 300 million tons in 1973. The country’s second largest port, Amsterdam, has a cargo turnover of more than 20 million tons. Some three-fourths of the domestic freight is hauled by automotive transport. As of Jan. 1, 1972, the country had 3,540,000 vehicles, including 3,135,000 passenger cars. The rivers and the most important canals (the North Sea, New Waterway, and North Holland canals) are heavily used in shipping. There are more than 5,000 km of navigable canals. The country has 3,100 km of railroad track, of which one-half have been electrified. The principal international airport is Schiphol, at Amsterdam.

Foreign trade. The Netherlands’ annual foreign trade turnover approximately equals the country’s national income; in 1973 exports amounted to 65.1 billion guilders and imports to 64.5 billion guilders. Grain and plant raw materials for industry account for more than one-fifth of imports, petroleum and petroleum products for one tenth, and machinery and equipment for one-fourth; ferrous metals are also imported. The chief exports are foodstuffs (more than one-fifth of all exports in 1972), petroleum products and gas (more than one-tenth), chemical products (one-seventh), and machinery and equipment, primarily electronic and electrical equipment (more than one-fifth).

In 1971, the Western European countries accounted for 71 percent of the Netherlands’ imports compared to 62 percent in 1937) and 82 percent of its exports (71 percent in 1937). The Netherlands’ principal trading partner is the Federal Republic of Germany (more than one-third of exports and more than

Table 5. Sown area and yield of selected crops
  sown areaYield1
1 Average yield in centers from 1 ha in 1972 (1938 figures given in parentheses): wheat 43 (34), barley 41 (33), oats 42 (30), potatoes 375 (250), sugar beets 440 (350)
Sugar beets44,00081,000113,0001,520,0003,878,0004,957,000

one-fourth of imports). The socialist countries account for 2 percent of the Netherlands’ foreign trade turnover, including 0.4 percent with the USSR (1971). Dutch foreign trade with the USSR is governed by the trade agreement between the USSR and the Benelux countries concluded July 15, 1971, and by the agreement of July 1972 on industrial, economic, and technical cooperation between the USSR and the Netherlands.

There is a flourishing tourist industry. In 1971 the Netherlands was visited by 2.4 million foreign tourists, most of them from the Federal Republic of Germany and the USA. The monetary unit is the guilder (florin); by the exchange of Gosbank (State Bank of the USSR) in August 1974, 100 Dutch guilders equaled 28.5 rubles.

Economic regions. The western economic region is an industrial and commercial area encompassing the provinces of North and South Holland, Utrecht, and part of Gelderland. Its principal centers are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. A large part of the country’s industry and two-fifths of all those employed in industry are concentrated in this region. Trade, shipping, and the service fields are also important. Agriculture supplies the major cities, and hothouse gardening and bulb-growing are well developed.

Northern Brabant is an industrial region, with Tilburg and Eindhoven as its major centers. A large part of the country’s electrical engineering, woolen, and footwear industries are found here, and the automotive industry is expanding.

Limburg is an industrial region, with its center at Maastricht. It has a chemical industry based on coal, natural gas, and petroleum. Other products include building materials and fine porcelain, and automobile industry has also developed.

Twenthe is an industrial region encompassing the provinces of Overijssel and most of Gelderland; its principal centers are Enschede and Arnhem. It has traditionally been a center of the cotton industry, producing three-fourths of the Netherlands’ cotton textiles.

The northern economic region is an agricultural and industrial area consisting of two subregions. The northeastern industrial subregion in the province of Groningen has its centers at Groningen and Delfzijl. The new industrial complex being established here includes a chemical industry, based on natural gas, and metalworking and aluminum industries. The agricultural subregion, comprising the provinces of Friesland and Drenthe, has a flourishing dairy industry.

The southwestern economic region, in Zeeland, is an agricultural and industrial region, with livestock raising and crop cultivation predominating. The industries at Vlissingen and Terneuzen produce ships, aluminum, and chemicals, including plastics.


Statistisch zakboek. The Hague, 1972.
Maandschrift van het CBS (yearbook). Utrecht, 1906—.
Atlas van Nederland. The Hague, 1970.


The armed forces of the Netherlands consist of an army, air force, and navy. In 1973 the total strength of the armed forces was 117,000. The supreme commander is the monarch, and direct control is exercised by the commanders of the various branches of the armed forces. The army is recruited on the basis of universal military service and the enlistment of volunteers. The draft age is 20, and the length of active service ranges from 18 to 21 months.

The army of more than 75,000 men has two motorized infantry divisions and various other units, including two battalions of unguided Honest John missiles. The air force of some 22,000 men consists of a tactical aviation command. It has about 150 combat aircraft and some 72 antiaircraft installations with Nike-Hercules and Hawk guided missiles. The navy of about 20,000 men consists of a fleet, an air branch, and marines. It has more than 100 warships, including six torpedo-carrying submarines, one cruiser, six frigates, 11 destroyers, and six patrol vessels. The naval air branch has about 90 aircraft and helicopters, and the marines comprise four battalions totaling 3,000 men. Naval bases are located in Den Helder (the main base), Vlissingen, and Rotterdam and on the island of Curaçao. The Netherlands is a member of NATO.

Medicine and public health. In 1972 the birth rate was 16.1 per 1,000 inhabitants, the mortality rate was 8.5 per 1,000 inhabitants, and the infant mortality rate was 12.2 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy was 71.1 years for men and 76.5 for women. The principal causes of death are malignant tumors, ischemic heart disease, strokes, accidents, chronic nonspecific lung diseases, and diabetes. Infectious diseases include bacillary dysentery, typhoid fever, and paratyphoid fever. There is a high incidence of asthma in the southwestern and northern provinces.

In 1969 there were 270 hospitals with 67,500 beds, or 5.2 per 1,000 inhabitants. Outpatient care is rendered in the offices of private physicians and in 268 outpatient divisions of hospitals, 35 medical centers, and 54 dispensaries. There are also 189 maternity centers, although more than 60 percent of deliveries occur at home, and 3,000 dispensaries for nursing infants and 2,500 for children from one to five years of age. In 1970, the country had 15,600 physicians (one per 830 inhabitants), 3,200 dentists, 1,300 pharmacists, and more than 58,000 medical assistants. Physicians receive their training at the medical faculties of universities. There is an international seaside health resort at Scheveningen, near The Hague, and smaller resorts are found in the vicinity of Hoek van Holland and other areas.

In 1969 some 70 percent of the population was covered by social insurance. The Netherlands’ social security system is one of the most inadequate in the capitalist world. Working people must make high payments to the insurance fund. Every month workers and office employees lose more than one-fifth of their wages in the form of insurance deduction: 12.7 percent to the pension fund, 4.75 percent to the temporary disability fund, and up to 4 percent to the unemployment fund. To obtain old-age pensions, all citizens between the ages of 16 and 65 must make insurance payments amounting to about 80 percent of the total expenditures on pensions. For each year that payments are not made, for whatever reason, the pension is reduced by 2 percent.

The pension age is 65 for both men and women. The pension is a fixed sum and does not depend on a worker’s wages. The amount of the pension is computed on the basis of the living standard of low-paid workers and equals about one-fourth of a wage earner’s pay. Every month the pensioner must contribute approximately 10 percent of his pension to a sickness fund, so that if he falls ill he can receive state medical care. There are pensions for invalids, but a full pension is paid only to those who have lost at least 80 percent of capacity to work. In 1969 expenditures on health care amounted to 7.5 percent of the state budget.


Veterinary services. A number of diseases have been eradicated, including rabies (1965), glanders (1927), brucellosis (1969), and tuberculosis of cattle (1956). Cases of leukosis of cattle, trichophytosis, sheep ecthyma, Marek’s disease, poultry coccidiosis, and canine distemper have been recorded among domestic animals. In 1972, there were seven local outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, 15 of malignant anthrax, 164 of hog cholera, 158 of Newcastle disease, and 229 of swine atrophic rhinitis. Metabolic disorders are a serious problem. The veterinary service supervises agriculture and the processing industry throughout the country. Specialists are trained at the National Veterinary Institute. In 1972 the Netherlands had 1,978 veterinarians. Research centers include the State Serological Institute in Rotterdam and the National Institute of Veterinary Research in Amsterdam.

Laws providing for universal compulsory education were adopted in the late 19th century. In 1900 six-year compulsory primary education was established for children between the ages of six and 12. Seven years of schooling became mandatory in 1933, and eight years of compulsory free education (from the ages of seven to 15) was instituted in 1950. The first stage of the educational system is the kindergarten. In 1971 kindergartens, most of them private, had an enrollment of about 492,000 children between three and six years of age. Primary education lasts for six years. Secondary instruction is given in six-year Gymnasiums and atheneums. In order to be admitted to a secondary general school, a pupil must have studied a foreign language as an elective for two years at a primary school and must have passed competitive entrance examinations. Vocational training is provided by lower and intermediate secondary specialized schools with courses of study ranging from a few months to five years. In 1970–71 primary schools had an enrollment of about 1.5 million pupils, and secondary schools enrolled more than 1.2 million, of whom some 604,000 were in general schools and more than 500,000 attended specialized schools.

The system of higher education comprises 15 institutions of higher learning, including six universities: the state universities at Leiden (founded in 1575), Utrecht (1636), and Groningen (1614); the municipal university at Amsterdam (1877); and the “free universities”—the Protestant university at Amsterdam (1880) and the Catholic university at Nijmegen (1923). Other higher educational institutions include the higher technical schools at Delft, Eindhoven, and Twenthe; the Netherlands School of Economics at Rotterdam; and the Agricultural University at Wageningen. In 1970–71 more than 211,500 students were enrolled at institutions of higher learning.

The largest libraries are the University Library in Amsterdam (founded in 1578; 2 million volumes), the University Library in Leiden (founded in 1575; 1.8 million volumes), and the Royal Library in The Hague (founded in 1798; 950,000 volumes and 2,000 incunabula). Major museums in Amsterdam include the State Museum (founded in 1808), the Vincent van Gogh National Museum (1972), the Rembrandt House Museum (1907), and the Museum of the Royal Tropical Institute (1910). In The Hague are the Municipal Museum (1862), the Royal Picture Gallery (Mauritshuis, 1820), and the Postal Museum (1929). The National Museum of Ethnology (1837) and the National Museum of Geology and Minerology (1820) are located in Leiden.


Natural sciences and technology. Knowledge about natural science developed chiefly in connection with the reclamation of marshlands and periodically inundated lowlands. From the 13th century canals, locks, dikes, and dams were built, stimulating the improvement of such mechanisms as sluice gates, pumps, and windmills. Universities were founded in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, later than in other European countries, as a result of the Netherlands bourgeois revolution. The first and most important university was that of Leiden, founded in 1575. Many scholars had to seek influential patrons or become tutors in wealthy families. For example, the mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen, who computed the Ludolphian number, taught gymnastics and fencing.

During the 16th and 17th centuries the growth of commercial capital gave impetus to navigation, which facilitated the improvement of maritime charts and precision instruments. Distant voyages furnished a vast body of material on exotic flora and fauna and made possible the gathering of scientific knowledge in botany and zoology. In the late 16th and the first half of the 17th centuries, W. Barents navigated the Arctic Ocean (1594–97), and the Australian coast was explored by W. Janszoon (1605–07) and A. Tasman (1642–44). As a result of these voyages important geographical discoveries were made. In the late 16th century the European center of cartography began to shift from Antwerp to Amsterdam, where W. Blaeu and his sons in 1631 published the atlas Appendix Theatri Ortelii et Atlantis Mercatoris, which replaced the atlases of A. Ortelius and G. Mercator. B. Varenius’ important General Geography was published in 1650. N. Witsen, who visited Russia in 1664–65, published a map of Russia in 1687 and a detailed description of Siberia in 1692.

At the turn of the 17th century many important men of science worked in the Netherlands, notably the mathematician and engineer S. Stevin, the mathematician A. Girard, the astronomer and mathematician W. Snellius, and the naturalist C. Clusius. Knowledge of medicine grew. From 1629 to 1649, Descartes lived in the Netherlands, where he wrote his principal works. The most important scientist of the 17th century, C. Huygens, worked in mechanics, physics, and astronomy. The development of lens grinding led to the invention of an optic tube and the microscope, attributed to H. Lippershey (c. 1608) and Z. Jansen (1590), respectively. The naturalists A. Leeuwenhoek and J. Swammerdam were the first to use the microscope systematically in biological research. R. de Graaf and F. Ruysch were famous anatomists, and the collections of the latter were acquired by Peter I for the St. Petersburg Kunstkamera. The physician and chemist Sylvius (F. de la Boë), a follower of J. B. van Helmont, organized a chemistry laboratory at the University of Leiden.

Among outstanding experimental scientists of the mid-18th century were the physicist P. van Musschenbroek and the physician, botanist, and chemist H. Boerhaave. Electrical phenomena were studied by A. van Marum, A. P. van Troostwijk, and J. R. Deiman, and P. Camper and E. Sandifort conducted anatomical research. Several learned societies were founded in the mid-18th century, including the Netherlands Society of Sciences at Haarlem (1772), the Utrecht Association of Arts and Sciences (1773), and the Amsterdam Mathematical Society (1778). The Royal Institute of Sciences, Literature, and Art, founded in 1808, later became the Royal Academy of Sciences. A museum of natural science was opened in 1820, the National Herbarium was founded in Leiden in 1829, a zoological society was formed in 1838, botanical and entomological societies were established in 1845, and a geographical society was founded in Amsterdam in 1873. In 1849 the making of regular meteorological observations was begun at the University of Utrecht. The Meteorological Institute, organized at Utrecht in 1854, was transferred to De Bilt in 1897; subsequently branches were opened at Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The prominent meteorologist C. D. Buys Ballot helped establish the institute.

A number of eminent scientists worked in the Netherlands in the last quater of the 19th and the early 20th centuries. Mathematical research was conducted by T. J. Stieltjes, whose work on the theory of functional continued fractions and on the “problem of moments” led to a generalized concept of the integral, the Stieltjes integral. J. D. van der Waals proposed the idea of the continuous nature of gaseous and liquid states and in 1910 won the Nobel Prize for his general equation of state. P. Zeeman discovered the phenomenon of the splitting of spectral lines under the influence of a magnetic field, for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1902. H. Kamerlingh Onnes, who pioneered in low-temperature physics, discovered superconductivity (Nobel Prize, 1913), and his cryogenics laboratory became the world’s leading center of research in low-temperature physics. H. A. Lorentz, who received the Nobel Prize for his theory of the electron, played an important role in perfecting 19th-century classical physics and laying the groundwork for the theory of relativity.

Among outstanding chemists of this period were J. H. Van’t Hoff (Nobel Prize, 1901), one of the founders of modern physical chemistry and stereochemistry, and H. W. B. Roozeboom and F. A. H. Schreinemakers, who studied heterogeneous equilibria in two- and multi-component systems. The astronomer J. C. Kapteyn proposed the theory of star streams and methods for the statistical study of the Milky Way Galaxy. The microbiologist M. Beijerinck studied the physiology of nodule bacteria; the botanist M. Treub investigated the physiology, morphology, and embryology of tropical plants; and the botanist H. de Vries rediscovered Mendel’s laws and advanced the mutation theory of heredity. The anthropologist E. Dubois discovered the remains of Pithecanthropus erectus on Java.

Between the world wars Dutch scientists made important contributions in various fields: W. H. Keesom, W. J. de Haas, and H. W. Kasemir in low-temperature physics; P. Ehrenfest in thermodynamics and quantum mechanics; F. Zernike in phase-contrast microscopy (Nobel Prize, 1953); W. de Sitter in astronomy; and E. J. Cohen in physical chemistry. Significant work was also done by the astrophysicist M. G. J. Minnaert, the astronomer A. Pannekoek, the geologist R. W. van Bemmelen, the geophysicist F. Meinesz, the botanist J. P. Lotsy, the physiologist and pharmacologist R. Magnus, the physiologist G. J. Jordan, the plant physiologist F. A. Went, and C. Eijkman, who studied vitamins (Nobel Prize, 1929). In medical science W. Einthoven laid the foundation for electrocardiography (Nobel Prize, 1924).

After World War II major research was done in both traditional and new fields. B. L. van der Waerden received international recognition for his work in algebra, mathematical statistics, and the history of mathematics, and J. A. Schouten’s work in tensor analysis was widely acclaimed. Important results have been achieved by S. R. de Groot in the thermodynamics of irreversible processes and by researchers at the cryogenics laboratory of the University of Leiden, working under the direction of C. J. Gorter. J. H. Oort (a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR) and his colleagues studied the spectra of un-ionized hydrogen, the spiral structure of the Milky Way Galaxy, and polarization measurements. The achievements of Dutch specialists in radio astronomy also owe much to Oort. Work on microbiology is being done in the university laboratories at Amsterdam and at Delft, which has a collection of some 3,000 yeast cultures (A. J. Kluyver). H. F. Linskens has published on the physiology and biochemistry of the sexual process in plants, and P. Kuenen has written on marine geology. Basic research important for applied work has been undertaken by the scientific organizations of large industrial firms.

The technical sciences have been influenced by the restructuring of the national economy and the technological revolution. Specialization in Dutch industry and the attempts of firms to improve the competitiveness of their products on the world market have stimulated research in the technology of smelting alloy steels, metalworking, machine building, and the food industry. The electronic and electrical equipment of the Philips concern is known throughout the world, as are the synthetic fibers and other polymer materials produced by the AKZO concern. There is great demand in Western Europe for synthetic medications and pharmaceuticals produced in the Netherlands, including vitamins, hormonal preparations, and antibiotics. Much attention is being given to the use of nuclear energy.

Research in agriculture encompasses a broad range of problems relating to the cultivation of field, vegetable, and meadow crops, flax, and flowers (especially bulbs). Important research is being done on livestock raising. Significant contributions have been made by F. A. van Baren (a foreign member of the V. I. Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences since 1970) in pedology, by H. T. Wiersema on the protection of plants, by H. I. Toxopeus and I. G. Hermsen on plant breeding, by M. L. Hart on meadowland cultivation, and by J. Bouw on the genetics of farm animals and immunology.

State agencies support and finance integrated research on the rational utilization of the country’s territory, on the drainage and use of new polders, and on the construction of irrigation and hydraulic engineering facilities. Geological and hydrological prospecting is being conducted in the provinces of Zeeland and South Holland, and exploration for petroleum and natural gas has begun in the North Sea. Studies are also under way on problems of protecting the environment.


Social sciences.PHILOSOPHY. Prior to the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when the area now known as the Netherlands became an independent state (see above: Historical survey), Dutch philosophy, like all Dutch learning and culture, developed within the philosophical traditions of the Low Countries. Prominent representatives of philosophical thought in the Low Countries during the 14th and 15th centuries were Geert Groote and Thomas à Kempis, who attacked Scholasticism from the standpoint of pantheistic mysticism. Scholasticism was also sharply criticized by R. Agricola, who played a prominent role in the development of humanism. The most important representative of Renaissance humanism was Erasmus of Rotterdam, who integrated the achievements of classical learning and art with Christian ethics. The followers of Erasmus attempted to combine his ideas with Stoicism (Justus Lipsius) and Epicureanism (Puteanus). After the United Provinces gained independence, the first philosophical work in the Dutch language appeared, D. Coornhert’s Ethics (1586), defending religious toleration and expounding the doctrine of free will.

The revival of Dutch philosophy during the 17th century was linked with the country’s political and economic upsurge after the Dutch bourgeois revolution of the 16th century and with the prevailing religious freedom, which attracted many thinkers from other European countries, where they had been persecuted for their political or religious views (U. Acosta, P. Bayle, J. Locke, R. Descartes). Descartes’s philosophy, Cartesianism, gained many adherents, notably C. Huygens and H. de Roy. A. Geulincx, the founder of occasionalism, interpreted Cartesianism in terms of the concept of preestablished harmony, which was developed by Leibniz. B. Bekker, another disciple of Descartes, struggled against superstition and strove to emancipate philosophy from theology. The materialistic and rationalistic system of B. Spinoza (17th century) had an enormous influence on the development of European thought. J. Althusius was among the first to advance the concept of natural law, which had been developed by Hugo Grotius, one of the founders of international law.

Prominent representatives of the Dutch Enlightenment during the 18th century were J. Lulofs and F. Hemsterhuis; the latter proposed a theory of direct knowledge and an original system of ethical views that influenced German romanticism. The first Dutch Kantians were P. van Hemert, J. Kinker, J. Bakker, and L. Schroder. The growing interest in classical philosophy at the turn of the 19th century was reflected in the historicophilosophical and logical works of D. Wijttenbach and P. van Heusde, who made “common sense” the basic philosophical principle in his Socratic School (1834–39).

During the mid-19th century Dutch philosophy was dominated by positivism, with a tendency toward the natural sciences (C. Opzoomer and his school). Hegelianism spread, represented by P. van Hert and J. Korff. J. van Vloten, J. Land, and K. Meinsma, who wrote on the history of philosophy, and J. Bierens de Haan attempted to revive Spinozism. A. Pierson sought to fuse Spinoza’s philosophy with Darwinism, W. van der Tak interpreted it in a rationalistic sense, and J. Carp approached it from a mystical and idealist point of view. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries an important place in Dutch philosophy was occupied by the empiricopsychological school of G. Heymans, who in 1893 founded the first laboratory of experimental psychology in the Netherlands at the University of Groningen. The studies conducted at the laboratory influenced scientific thought in Germany and France. The work of Heymans’ students—L. Polak, H. Brugmans, and J. Aortmann—strongly influenced 20th-century Dutch philosophy. Many positivists, notably van der Wyck, turned to neo-Kantianism, first the Baden school and later the Marburg school, which dominated Dutch philosophy from 1900 to 1910. Among the followers of neo-Kantianism were P. van der Gulden, Sopper, and B. Ovink and his disciples, who in 1923 founded the Society of Critical Philosophy, the largest philosophical society in the Netherlands. The most prominent neo-Hegelian was G. Bolland; his students J. Hessing, H. ten Bruggenkate, and P. van Schalfgarde founded the Hegelian Bolland Society in 1922. In 1928 the Spinozists formed their own philosophical society, Spinoza House.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s many exponents of the Marburg school embraced phenomenology (H. Pos), the dialectical theology of K. Barth (J. Franken), or the ontology of N. Hart-mann (R. Kortmuelder, A. Hartog). Neo-Thomism was developed by J. de Groot, J. Beysens, A. Doodkorte, and P. Hunen and the religious philosophy of Calvinism by H. Dooyeweerd. Existentialism, whose leading exponents were W. Lenderts and R. Beerling, exerted a strong influence in the postwar period. In psychology and psychiatry existentialism was represented by F. Bujtendijk, A. Janse de Jonge, D. van Lennep, J. Linschoten, and H. Wyngaarden. The Protestant version of personalism was expounded by P. Kohnstamm and D. H. Vollenhoven, and L. de Raeymaeker propounded Catholic neo-Thomism. The most important historian of philosophy and culture was J. Huizinga, who developed the idea of the Burgundian Netherlands as the intermediary between Central and Western Europe and between Germanic and Romance culture. F. Sassen wrote on the history of Dutch philosophy.

Marxist philosophy, first introduced in the late 19th century, developed more intensively after the founding of the Communist Party of the Netherlands in 1918. Among the leading, although not always consistent, exponents of historical materialism were H. Gorter, A. Pannekoek, D. Wijnkoop, and H. Roland-Hoist, all of whom were critical of bourgeois ideology.

The principal philosophical journals are Acta psychologica (since 1935), Algemeen Nederlands tijdschrift voor wijsbegeerte en psychologie (since 1907), Behavior: An International Journal of Comparative Ethology (from 1947), Nederlandsch tijdschrift voor de psychologie en haar grensgebieden (since 1946), Philosophia reformata (since 1936), Synthese (since 1936), Tijdschrift voor philosophie (since 1939), and Wijsgerig perspectief op maatshappij en wetenschap (since 1960).


HISTORICAL SCHOLARSHIP. The decisive event in the emergence of a national historiography in the Netherlands was the victory of the 16th-century bourgeois revolution. During the 16th and 17th centuries Calvinist-burgher chronicles of the revolution and liberation war, imbued with a democratic and patriotic spirit, were written by P. Bor, E. Meteren, L. van Aitzema, and to some extent P. Hooft. In the 18th century the chronicle by J. Wagenaar, also written in this tradition, shows the influence of the French Enlightenment. In the early 19th century, W. Bilderdijk criticized Wagenaar’s work from the standpoint of reactionary romanticism. The most reactionary-clerical (Calvinist) and antiliberal view of Dutch history was that of G. Groen van Prinsterer, who nevertheless made a major contribution by publishing source material.

During the second half of the 19th century the broadening of historical knowledge derived from the study of sources, and the spread of positivism raised historical research to a higher level. The most important historian of the moderate-liberal, positivist trend was R. Fruin who rejected the idealist monism of his chief opponent, Groen van Prinsterer, in favor of a comprehensive—including economic—study of Dutch history. In practice Fruin was inconsistent and eclectic, sharing all the weaknesses of the positivist methodology. Fruin’s student P. Blok, the author of the multivolume History of the People of the Netherlands (1892–1907), subscribed to vulgar economism and opposed Marxism, which had taken hold in the late 19th century.

In bourgeois Dutch historiography reactionary tendencies grew stronger in the early 20th century. Its methodology was strongly influenced by German historical scholarship. There began a reexamination of the 19th-century “classical heritage” as historians sought to eliminate materialist elements (inherent in Fruin’s methodology), returned to Groen van Prinsterer’s interpretations, and reexamined the revolutionary importance of Calvinism in history (A. van Schelven). One of the most important Dutch historians of the 20th century was P. Geyl, who interpreted Dutch history from the reactionary “Great Netherlands” standpoint and created his own school. Greater attention was given to problems of economic history, for example, N. Posthumus’ work on the history of Leiden’s woolen industry and on the history of prices and the works of H. Brugmans and J. G. van Dillen.

After World War II a greater influence was exerted by Marxist methodology, which is reflected in the work of J. Romein, the leader of the Amsterdam school of “theoretical history”. The development of economic and historical research in the first half of the 20th century enabled Dutch and Belgian historians to write multivolume collaborative works covering the entire history of the Netherlands. Two important works are A History of the Netherlands, edited by H. Brugmans (vols. 1–9, 1935–38), and A General History of the Netherlands (vols. 1–12, 1949–58).

Historical scholarship in the Netherlands transcends purely Dutch history. Dutch scholars, notably R. Dozy and M. J. Goeje, made important contributions to Arabic studies, one of the leading centers of which is the University of Leiden. A number of economic historians have worked in general European economic history; B. H. Slicher van Bath is noted for his studies in agrarian history.

The principal historical journals are Tijdschrift voor geschiedenis (since 1886) and Bijdragen voor de geschiedenis der Nederlanden (since 1946).


ECONOMICS. Dutch economic scholarship long borrowed its theoretical tenets from the economic thought of other countries. In 1851, J. de Bosch Kemper published a study of poverty in the Netherlands. In 1897 the National Statistics Board was established, whose material proved to be of great importance for economic research. In 1915 the Netherlands Archive of Economic History began to publish the annual Economisch-Historisch Jaarboek. Significant work in economic history was done by H. Kernkamp, N. Posthumus, J. G. van Dillen, and Z. Sneller.

Economic scholarship developed rapidly in the Netherlands after World War I. A national school of economic thought emerged in the late 1930’s. Its representatives (J. Tinbergen, H. Theil), employing extensive statistical data and the most recent economic-mathematical techniques (econometrics), sought to discover the basic principles of structural change in capitalist economics. They also attempted to determine the basic tendencies of economic growth, drawing up economic forecasts and development programs in conjunction with the government’s policy of regulating the national economy. Economic forecasting was based on the study of world market conditions and on the demand for products in which the Netherlands could specialize. Specialization consisted in singling out the several branches of industry and agriculture that in the future would assure Dutch goods a competitive place on the world market.

During the 1940’s and 1950’s Keynesianism gained many adherents in the Netherlands. Popularized by J. Pen, Keynes’ ideas played a major role in the development of the Dutch system of state regulation of a capitalist economy, chiefly through financial measures. J. Andriessen, H. Witteveen, and M. Holtrop were the leading theoreticians of the Dutch system of state regulation of a capitalist economy. Their approach to economic phenomena was based on pragmatism and a close following of market conditions.

The works of Dutch Marxist economists provide an accurate analysis of the country’s economic position and its dependence on large international monopolies, for example, F. Baruch’s book An Empire of Magnates in a Small Country (1963).

The leading economics journals are the Economic Abstracts (since 1953), Economie (since 1935), De Economist (since 1852), and Netherlands, Centraal Bureau voor de statistiek: Maandschrift (since 1906).


LINGUISTICS. Interest in the study of Dutch and other European languages arose in the 16th century. In the northern provinces philological societies were founded, modeled on those earlier established in the southern provinces, which urged the use of Dutch instead of Latin in literature. The first Dutch dictionaries were compiled; J. Lambrecht’s dictionary appeared in 1562, and C. Kiliaan’s etymological dictionary was published in 1599. In the 17th century the grammarians J. van der Schuere, A. de Hubert, S. Ampzing, C. van Heule, and P. Montanus sought to standardize the literary language, and Montanus was the first to systematically describe Dutch phonetics. In the mid-18th century B. ten Kate developed a theory of general and Germanic linguistics that foreshadowed the comparative-historical study of the Germanic languages. In the early 19th century M. Siegenbeek, P. Weiland, and W. Bilderdijk attempted to standardize orthography and grammar. The first philological journals were founded: Taalkundig magazijn (1835–41) and De taalgids (1859–67).

The first scholars to study Dutch scientifically and use the comparative-historical method were M. de Vries and L. A. te Winkel, the authors of The Basic Principles of Dutch Orthography (1863). In 1882 they began compiling the multivolume Dutch Dictionary. M. de Vries’ school included such notable philologists, lexicographers, and historians of language as E. Verwijs, J. Verdam, J. W. Muller, and J. Heinsius. At the turn of the 20th century J. te Winkel wrote his History of the Dutch Language, which became part of H. Paul’s Grundriss, a collection of works on Germanic philology. I. B. Kolthoff, H. K. van Halteren, and A. E. Lubach studied 16th-century Dutch, and G. S. Overdiep and A. Weijnen, 17th-century Dutch. Journals devoted to philology appeared: Taal-en letterbode (1870–75), Taalkundige bijdragen (1877–79), and Taal-en letteren (1891–1906).

During the 1930’s and 1940’s problems of general linguistics were studied by J. van Ginneken (1877–1945), a representative of the psychological school and a dialectologist, and important work on historical and modern syntax and stylistics was done by G. S. Overdiep and G. A. van Es. A major contribution to Germanic studies was M. Schönfeld’s A Historical Grammar of Dutch (7th ed., 1964). H. Eykman, C. Ebeling, B. van den Berg, and L. Kaiser have worked on phonetics and phonology, and A. W. de Groot and P. Paardekooper on structural linguistics. G. G. Kloeke, K. Heeroma, and A. Weijnen have made an important contribution to dialectology, and J. Mansion, M. Schönfeld, and H. Kern, to onomastics and toponymy. N. van Wijk and C. Ebeling are noted for their work on the Slavic languages, and I. Schrijnen for his comparative-historical study of Indo-European languages. An excellent dictionary of modern Dutch has been compiled by van Dale (9th ed., 1970), and J. Franck has written an etymological dictionary.

The most important periodicals are Tijdschrift voor Neder-landsche taalen letterkunde (since 1881), De nieuwe taalgids (since 1907), Mededelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen (since 1885), and Levende talen (since 1914). The major linguistic centers are the Universities of Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht, Groningen, and Nijmegen.


Scientific institutions. The development of a system of scientific institutions and agencies for directing research, begun in the late 19th century, was completed after World War II. Research and experimental work in the natural sciences and technology are conducted by both government and private institutions. The state sector includes institutes at the state universities, where about one-fourth of all scientific research is done; the institutes of the Central Organization for Applied Research (TNO), founded in 1930; the institutes of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Sciences, founded in 1808; and the institutes under the ministries. In the private sector are the institutes run by private firms and universities.

The Ministry of Education is the main organization supervising research at the state-run institutes. The ministry also finances 95 percent of the research at private universities. The country’s scientific policy is developed by the Netherlands Academy of Sciences, the TNO, the Netherlands Organization for the Advancement of Pure Research (founded in 1950), the Central Council for Nuclear Energy (1963), the Scientific Council for Nuclear Energy (1963), and the Interdepartmental Committee on Nuclear Energy (1964).

In 1973 the TNO comprised 17 research institutes, departments, and committees, including two councils on agriculture and medicine and four special organizations for research in industrial technology (founded in 1934, 27 institutes), nutrition and food (1940, five institutes), national defense (1946, one institute and four laboratories), and health care (1949, seven institutes and ten departments and committees). The Netherlands Organization for the Advancement of Pure Research, operating under the Ministry of Education, finances and coordinates scientific work at universities and other institutions of higher learning. Research projects, mostly of an applied nature, are also organized by ministries. Some 60 percent of applied research is conducted by private firms in collaboration with state organizations.

Scientific institutions in agriculture include those run by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and several other government departments, the TNO, universities and other institutions of higher learning, and private farms, companies, and cooperative associations. The centers of agricultural research are Wageningen, which has a higher agricultural school and some 100 other scientific institutions, and Utrecht, where there is a veterinary faculty at the university with 15 institutes and clinics. The centers of research on vegetable raising are Naaldwijk (hothouse) and Alkmaar. The cultivation of flowers is studied at Aalsmeer and Lisse.

Research in the social sciences is conducted at the universities and at several research institutes: the Institute of Social Studies (founded in 1952), the Netherlands Institute of International Affairs (1945), the Netherlands School of Economics, and other institutions of higher learning. Learned societies devoted to the social sciences include the Historical Association at Utrecht (founded in 1845) and the Royal Antiquarian Society at Amsterdam (1858). Also located in the Netherlands is the Social Democratic International Institute of Social History, which concentrates on the history of the labor movement.

The Netherlands has 123 private foundations, of which 20 are administered by the Royal Academy of Sciences. The most important are the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter, the Foundation for the Netherlands Nuclear Reactor, the Foundation for Radio Astronomy, and foundations for chemical and medical research.

In 1973 expenditures on research and experimental projects reached 3.1 billion guilders, or 2.2 percent of the country’s gross national product. Of this amount, 57 percent was allocated to private firms (two-thirds of them major ones), 23 percent to state organizations, and 20 percent to universities. More than 50,000 persons are employed in scientific organizations, of whom about 16,000 hold advanced degrees. The Netherlands maintains scientific contacts with many countries. In 1967 an agreement was concluded providing for cooperation between the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the Netherlands Royal Academy of Sciences.



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In 1975 the Netherlands had 99 daily newspapers with a total circulation of 4.2 million copies. One of the largest dailies is De Telegraaf, founded in 1893 and published in Amsterdam. Together with its evening edition, De Courant, Nieuws van de Dag, the newspaper had a circulation of 650,000 in 1975. It is the mouthpiece of Dutch reactionaries and the largest monopolies. Another major daily, Algemeen Dagblad, published since 1946 in Rotterdam, reflects the interests of the extreme right-wing political groups affiliated with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (Liberal). The newspaper’s circulation, including its six provincial editions, was about 500,000 in 1975. The NRC—Handelsblad, a daily published in Rotterdam since 1970 (1975 circulation, 100,000), reflects the views of monopolistic and governmental circles. The daily Het Parool, published in Amsterdam since 1940 (1975 circulation, 200,000) is oriented toward right-wing socialists. The Catholic daily De Volkskrant, published in Amsterdam since 1920, had a circulation of more than 206,000 in 1975. The daily Trouw, published in Amsterdam since 1943 (circulation, 110,000), is the semiofficial organ of the Anti-Revolutionary Party. The daily Het Vrije Volk, founded in 1931 in Rotterdam (1975 circulation, 246,000), is affiliated with the Labor Party.

Other large dailies are Haagsche Courant, published in The Hague since 1883 (1975 circulation, 170,000); De Gelderlander (founded in Nijmegen in 1848; 1975 circulation, 97,000), one of the most influential provincial newspapers; De Nieuwe Limburger (published in Maastricht since 1845; 1975 circulation, 70,000), one of the most influential Catholic newspapers; and De Waarheid, the organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, published in Amsterdam since 1940.

The Dutch news service (Algemeen Nederlands Presburo), an association of newspaper publishers, was founded in 1934 and is located at The Hague. The Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation, a semiofficial organization of radio and television broadcasting, was founded in 1969. The first radio broadcasting corporation was founded in 1923. Programs are transmitted abroad in seven languages. Television was inaugurated in 1951, and color television in 1967.

The earliest literary text written in Dutch is the “Carolingian Psalms” (ninth century). The first major Dutch writer was Hendrik van Veldeke (born between 1140 and 1150; died c. 1200 or 1210), the originator of the courtly style in Dutch and German literature. The works of G. Groote (1340–87) and J. Brugman (1400–73) contain mystical ideas, which were a form of protest against the Catholic Church. Other notable works were A Rhymed Chronicle (1305) by Melis Stoke and the short stories of Dirk Potter (c. 1370–1428), which show the influence of the Italian Renaissance.

Between the 14th and 16th centuries an important role in literary and theatrical life was played by the “chambers of rhetoric” (rederijkers kamers), organized in Amsterdam and other cities. W. van Hildegaersberch (c. 1350–1408) was a famous reciter of sproken and boerde (fabliaux). Renaissance ideas found their fullest expression in the works of Erasmus of Rotterdam, whose satire The Praise of Folly (1509, published 1511) was read throughout Europe. Also within the humanist tradition were the poems of J. van der Noot (1540 to c. 1595), the satires of P. van Marnix van St. Aldegonde (1540–98), and the prose of D. V. Coornhert (1522–90), K. van Mander (1548–1606), and H. Spiegel (1549–1612). From the 12th through the 16th centuries Dutch literature developed within the mainstream of the literature of the Low Countries.

The 17th century was a cultural Golden Age. Neoclassicism dominated literature, although there were many other schools, and literary works tended to stress social and moral problems. The poems of A. Valerius (1575–1625), whose collection Memorable Sounds of the Netherlands was published in 1626, show the influence of folk poetry and the songs of the gueux. The writer P. C. Hooft (1581–1647) founded the Muyden Circle, which played an important role in the history of 17th-century humanist literature. The plays of S. Coster (1579–1665) occupied an important place in the development of a national drama. Democratic ideas infused the works of G. A. Bredero (1585–1618) and J. Starter (1594–1626). The poems of J. Cats (1577–1660) reflect Calvinist burgher morality. The lyrical and didactic poetry of C. Huygens (1596–1687) is somewhat marred by its complicated poetic style. The bombastic baroque plays of J. Vos (c. 1610–67) contrasted sharply with neoclassical drama. The novels of J. van Heemskerk (1597–1656) and N. Heinsius (1656–1718) were widely read. The poetry of J. Luiken (1649–1712) shows the influence of B. Spinoza’s pantheistic philosophy. The works of the poet and playwright J. van den Vondel (1587–1679), blending neoclassical and baroque elements, occupy a central place in 17th-century literature. His tragedy Lucifer (1654) is a masterpiece of world literature.

The literature of the 18th century saw a weakening of national democratic traditions. The new bourgeois-patrician ideals created a taste for imitations of foreign literary models, particularly French neoclassical works. The plays of P. Langendijk (1683–1756), who was influenced by Moliere, are important from an artistic and ideological standpoint. The poetry of H. Poot (1689–1733) developed popular-democratic traditions. J. van Effen (1684–1735) published the journal De Hollandsche Spectator (1731–35), in which, like the British men of the Enlightenment, he criticized burgher mores. The brothers W. van Haren (1710–68) and O. Z. van Haren (1713–79), who were influenced by Voltaire, propagated democratic ideas. In his tragedy Agon (1769) O. Z. van Haren condemned the crimes of the Dutch colonial authorities, and in the historical epic The Gueux (1771) he glorified the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain. Sentimentalism developed in the second half of the 18th century. Its outstanding representative was the poet R. Feith (1753–1824), the author of the novels Julia (1783) and Ferdinand and Constantia (1785). The family chronicles Sara Burgerhart (1782) and Willem Leevend (1784–85) by Elizabeth Wolff-Bekker (1738–1804) and Agatha Deken (1741–1804) are modeled on S. Richardson’s works. They have a clearly didactic aim and contain social criticism. J. Bellamy (1757–86) is noted for his collection of patriotic poems A Zeelander’s Songs About His Homeland (1785). The works on aesthetics by H. van Alphen (1746–1803) and J. Kinker (1764–1845) paved the way for preromanticism.


The growth of national self-consciousness was reflected in the civic poetry of J. F. Helmers (1767–1813), whose views were shared by several other poets, including C. Loots (1765–1834) and W. Messchert (1790–1844). Their views were not radical, and their art gradually evolved into descriptions of daily life (H. Tollens, 1780–1856). The works of the romantic poet and historian W. Bilderdijk (1756–1831) were highly subjective, foreshadowing the Awakening, a romantic movement from 1823 to the 1860’s, as well as antirationalist and antidemocratic trends. I. da Costa (1798–1860) initiated these trends with his manifesto Objections to the Spirit of the Age (1823).

The writers Kinker, A. Staring (1767–1840), and J. Geel (1789–1862) adhered to the principles of didactic realism, preparing the way for the appearance of the realistic school in the 1840’s. However, the writers of the realistic school achieved only a superficial description of reality. The school’s best work was a collection of stories about Dutch life entitled Camera Obscura (1839) by N. Beets (1814–1903). A. Drost (1810–34) wrote the first Dutch historical novel, Hermingard of the Oak Hills, published in 1832. Noteworthy historical novels were written J. van Lennep (1802–68), H. Schimmel (1823–1906), and J. Oltmans (1806–54). The novels of Anna Bosboom-Toussaint (1812–86) contain realistic elements.

An important event in the history of Dutch literature was the founding of the liberal magazine De Gids (1837). Among its contributors were the writers E. J. Potgieter (1808–75), C. Busken Huet (1826–86), and R. C. Bakhuizen van den Brink (1810–65), whose works attacked philistinism and laid the foundation for a realistic aesthetics. The most important writer of the 19th century was E. D. Dekker (1820–87), better known by his pseudonym Multatuli. After making his literary debut as a revolutionary romantic (Max Havelaar, 1860; Love Letters, 1861), he shifted to critical realism (the play School of Princes, 1872; the novel Woutertje Pieterse, 1862–77). His works denounced Dutch colonialism and the inhumanity of bourgeois society.

During the 1880’s the leading role in Dutch literature was played by the “men of the eighties,” who published the journal De Nieuwe Gids (1885–1943). Their leader, W. Kloos (1859–1938), in 1882 published the movement’s manifesto—a collection of sonnets entitled Mathilde by J. Perk (1859–81). The works of the “men of the eighties” were notable for their close attention to man’s inner world and their concern with social problems. The group included F. van Eeden (1860–1932), A. Verwey (1865–1937), and L. van Deyssel (1864–1952). Deyssel’s works blended naturalism and impressionism, and Eeden criticized bourgeois society (Little John, 1887–1906). During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the labor movement grew and a Dutch Social Democratic group emerged, a split occurred among the “men of the eighties.” Kloos, Verwey, and L. Couperus (1863–1923) continued to adhere to their belief in individualism and “pure art,” and Eeden, F. van der Goes (1859–1939), and H. Gorter (1864–1927) embraced socialist ideas. The reaction to the extremes of naturalism took the form of neoromanticism, represented by A. de Wit (1864–1939), A. van Schendel (1874–1946), and A. van der Leeuw (1876–1931).

Socialist ideas dominated Dutch literature in the early 20th century. H. Heijermans (1864–1924) depicted the life of factory workers in his novel City of Diamonds, published in 1904. In such plays as The Good Hope (1901) and In Toil and Prayer (1903) he denounced capitalist exploitation. Gorter and Henrietta Roland Hoist-Van der Schalk (1869–1952) portrayed the working class’ struggle for liberation. Outstanding works include Gorter’s narrative poems Mei (1889) and Pan (1912) and Roland Hoist’s poetry collections The New Birth (1903), Upward Ways (1907), and Holiday of Memory (1915) and her plays Thomas More (1912) and Children (1922). Under the influence of the Great October Revolution in Russia, A. van Collem (1858–1933) wrote Songs of Rebellion (1919) and Songs of Solidarity (1918–22).

World War I (1914–18) undermined faith in bourgeois progress. The poetry of M. Nijhoff (1894–1953), A. Roland Hoist (born 1888), J. Slauerhoff (1898–1936), and G. Achterberg (1905–62) deals with man’s loneliness and the inexorable laws of fate. Expressionism, represented by H. van den Bergh (born 1897), H. Marsman (1899–1940), and H. de Vries (born 1896), dominated poetry. The most important prose works were novels of social criticism. The novel Bread (1933) by M. Dekker (1896–1962) is filled with revolutionary ardor, and the novel The Zuider Zee (1934) by J. Last (1898–1971) denounces capitalistic exploitation. The novels of T. de Vries (born 1907) Stepmother Earth(1936) and Wheel of Fortune (1938) present a broad panorama of the life of the common people. A group of writers associated with the journal Forum condemned fascism, among them the journalists E. du Perron (1899–1940) and M. ter Braak (1902–40) and S. Vestdijk (1898–1971), a poet and the author of the novels Else Böhler, the German Maidservant (1935) and Mr. Visser’s Descent Into Hell (1936).

During the Nazi occupation (1940–45), S. Vestdijk, T. de Vries, J. Greshoff (1888–1971), and A. van Duinkerken (1903–68) were active in the illegal press. The three-volume collection New Songs of the Gueux (1944) was published illegally. The resistance was also portrayed in such postwar works as the novel The Defeat (1950) by A. Kossmann (b. 1922), Pastoral of 1943 (1949) by S. Vestdijk, Boot on the Neck (1945) by M. Dekker, and the three-volume epic February (1961) by T. de Vries.

During the 1950’s a group of “experimental” poets emerged, led by Lusebert (born 1924), J. Elburg (born 1919), G. Kouwenaar (born 1923), S. Vinkenoog (born 1928), and R. Campert (born 1929). In the 1960’s experimental techniques were adopted by the novelists S. Polet (born 1924) and J. Bernlef (born 1937). Rejecting bourgeois society, the experimental writers clothed their frequently anarchistic views in modernist forms. Among the most popular contemporary prose works are the novels Tears of the Acacias (1949), The Dark Room of Damocles (1959), and No More Sleep (1966) by W. Hermans (born 1921) and the works of H. Haasse (born 1918), G. van het Reve (born 1923), J. Wolkers (born 1925), and H. Mulisch (born 1927). During the 1960’s the “new style,” blending art and science, was cultivated by such “post-experimentalists” as G. Sleutelaar (born 1935) and H. Verhagen (born 1939). Calling themselves the “group of the 1970’s” in their Manifesto for the 1970’s, a number of young poets and prose writers oppose the prevailing preoccupation with form and seek to create a literature accessible to the masses. The leading representatives of this trend are P. Andriesse (born 1941) and H. Plomp (born 1944).

Literary theory and criticism. Literary scholarship emerged as an independent discipline in the mid-19th century. W. J. A. Jonckbloet wrote the first scholarly history of Dutch literature, and C. Busken Huet was a professional critic. In the 20th century literary scholarship has been dominated by the “academic school” of J. te Winkel, C. G. N. de Vooys, J. van Mierlo, G. Knuvelder, and G. Stuiveling. An important contribution has also been made by G. Kalff, H. van den Bergh, M. ter Braak, K. Fens, J. I. Verstegen, and H. Kaleis, who represent various aesthetic trends and theories.


Korsakov, P. A. “Gollandskaia literatura.” Biblioteka dlia chteniia, 1838, vol. 27, nos. 3–4.
Korsakov, P. A. Opyt niderlandskoi antologii. St. Petersburg, 1844.
Boldakov, I. M. “Niderlandskaia literatura ν srednie veka.” In Vseobshchaia istoriia literatury, vol. 2. Edited by V. F. Korsh. St. Petersburg, 1885.
Kirpichnikov, A. I. “Ocherk istorii niderlandskoi literatry.” Ibid., vol. 4. St. Petersburg, 1889.
Volevich, I. V. Sovremennaia literatura Niderlandov. Moscow, 1962.
Knuvelder, G. Handboek tot de geschiedenis der Nederlandse letter-kunde. 4th ed., vols. 1–4. ’s Hertogenbosch, 1967.
Geschiedenis van de letterkunde der Nederlanden, vols. 1–9. Edited by F. Baur, et al. Brussels-’s Hertogenbosch-Antwerp, 1939–52.
Brandt-Corstius, J. C. Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse literatuur. Utrecht-Antwerp, 1959.
Vooys, C. G. N., and G. Stuiveling. Schets van de Nederlandse letterkunde. Groningen, 1966.
Sivirsky, A. Het beeld der nederlandse literatuur, 3rd ed. [Groningen] 1970.
Kuypers, J. and T. de Ronde. Beknopte geschiedenis van de Nederlandse letterkunde. 11th ed. Antwerp, 1972.
Stuiveling, G. Een eeuw Nederlandse letteren. Amsterdam, 1958.
Simons, W. J. Hakken en spaanders. Amsterdam, 1971.
Een overzicht van vijf jaar Nederlandse literatuur, 1961–66. Amsterdam, 1967.
Een overzicht van vijf jaar Nederlandse literatuur. 1967–71. Amsterdam, 1972.


Among the oldest relics of man’s presence in the Netherlands are Neolithic pottery and megalithic structures, a Celtic settlement dating from the first millennium B.C. in Ezing, remains of ancient Roman buildings from the first through third centuries A.D. in Valkenburg and Elst, and metal articles made by Germanic tribes in the first millennium A.D. The Carolingian period (eighth to tenth centuries) is represented by the round chapel of the Valkhof Palace at Nijmegen and two large basilicas with westworks at Maastricht—the Church of St. Servatius and the Basilica of Our Lady.

Examples of medieval architecture include city walls and towers in Kampen, Zwolle, and Amsterdam; narrow urban houses with pediments; castles at The Hague (the Inner Court with the Hall of Knights c. 1280), Wijk-bij-Duurstede, Doornenburg, and Muiden; a Romanesque church in Susteren; and Gothic cathedrals at Utrecht, Haarlem, Leiden, Delft, and ’s Hertogenbosch. Swampy soil and a dearth of stone in the Netherlands necessitated the construction of small brick buildings (Gothic churches of the 13th and 14th centuries) and the use of wooden vaulted ceilings in churches (Old Church in Amsterdam).

Imposing public buildings were constructed in the 16th century, notably the Gothic Town Hall in Middelburg and Weigh House in Deventer and the Renaissance Town Hall at The Hague (1564–65) and weigh houses at Haarlem and Alkmaar, with their rich stone ornamentation. Masters from the northern provinces, the present-day Netherlands, made an important contribution to Renaissance painting in the Low Countries: Geertgen tot Sint Jans and Bosch in the 15th century and Jan van Scorel, Lucas van Leyden, Pieter Aertsen, Jan van Amstel, Dirk Jacobsz, and Dirk Barendsz in the 16th century. Artists showed a predilection for democratic scenes from everyday life and still lifes, for lyricism and satire, and for the depiction of light and atmosphere; group portraits of guildsmen were painted. All these elements foreshadowed the characteristic features of 17th-century Dutch painting.

With the emergence of a bourgeois Dutch state after the 16th-century revolution, a national artistic school, the most democratic of the 17th-century national schools, developed rapidly. Noteworthy architecture of the period included structures connected with navigation and maritime trade, such as the huge multipurpose buildings of the Admiralty and the East India Company in Amsterdam (which have not survived) and high, massive warehouses. Much attention was given to various public and commercial buildings and to workshops—town halls, market arcades, exchanges, manufactories, artisans’ shops, counting houses, and guild houses. A rectangular or concentric network of canals generally determined a city’s layout. Houses were narrow, with pediments; they were usually built of brick, often combined with stone.

Typical of early 17th-century architecture were brick buildings decorated with white stone (architect L. de Key) and unpretentious Protestant churches (architect H. de Keyser). A Dutch variant of classicism flourished in the mid-17th century, marked by practicality, simplicity, clarity of composition, restrained sculptural ornamentation, and a quiet overall appearance. Its leading representatives were the architects J. van Campen, P. Post, D. Stalpaert, and the brothers P. and J. Vingboons. The traditional, rather small, houses and austere public buildings continued to be built until the early 19th century. However, in the second half of the 17th century the more ornate palace and park architecture of French classicism spread to the Netherlands.

Sculpture was neglected in the 17th century because the Calvinist Church forbade statues, and there was little demand for sculptural decoration of buildings and tombs or for busts (sculptors H. de Keyser, A. Quellin, and R. Verhulst). Painting, primarily informal pictures, and the graphic arts (drawings, etchings, and engravings) became popular and were eagerly bought. Academism, centered at Haarlem in the early 17th century, and the baroque, whose sporadic influence was particularly strong in the late 17th century, played a comparatively minor role in Dutch painting.

The dominant force in art was the national school of realistic painting, which had an enormous influence on European art. The art of the Dutch realists was characterized by an unassuming, loving depiction of the country, by lively, natural images, by an ability to show beauty and inner significance in modest, everyday phenomena, and by a profound interest in ordinary people, daily life, the surrounding milieu, the natural beauty of the homeland, and the world of objects. Typical of Dutch painting are fine gradations of color and a masterly rendering of the physical quality of objects, space, the transparency and humidity of air, and the nuances of light. Dutch painters usually specialized in particular genres, which they perfected: portraiture, including group portraits (F. Hals), scenes from peasant life (A. van Ostade) or urban life (J. Steen, G. Metsu, G. Terborch, and P. de Hooch), landscapes (J. Porcellis, J. van Goyen, H. Seghers, A. Cuyp, S. van Ruisdael, J. van Ruisdael, M. Hobbema), animal pictures (P. Potter), still lifes (P. Claesz, W. Heda, A. Beyeren, W. Kalf), and the depiction of interiors (P. Saenredam, H. van Vliet).

During the 1620’s and 1630’s Dutch painting was marked by a particularly strong democratism and bold innovation. The psychological accuracy, simplicity, and integrity of the images were reinforced by strict spatial (often diagonal) composition and a restricted color spectrum, based on nuances of closely related tones. By the mid-17th century Dutch painting evinced a tranquility, a bourgeois narrowness, and a penchant for depicting overly refined everyday settings and a smoothly flowing life. Nevertheless, a sense of dissatisfaction and democratic protest against bourgeois life were expressed very early in the works of the greatest Dutch realists—Hals and especially Rembrandt, whose mythological and historical compositions, portraits, and landscapes reveal profound psychological insight and a humanitarian outlook. The work of Rembrandt’s most important pupil, C. Fabritius, strongly influenced the style of a group of masters in Delft (J. Vermeer, E. de Witte), whose pictures depicted all facets of contemporary life. During the second half of the 17th century Dutch art gradually lapsed into superficial prettiness or arid descriptiveness and showed a desire to flatter the self-satisfied rich men who commissioned the paintings. The last progressive realists—Rembrandt, R. van Ruisdael, E. de Witte, and A. de Gelder—opposed bourgeois society.

During the 18th century Dutch art declined and became imitative. An exception were the pastels of C. Troost, an acute observer of bourgeois mores. Applied art objects of high quality were made in the 17th and 18th centuries—richly decorated silverware (P. van Vianen, A. van Vianen, J. Lutma), Delft faience, inspired by the forms and ornamentation of Chinese porcelain, painted tiles, and massive carved furniture.

During the 19th century the rapid growth of cities produced densely populated quarters and slums. From the 1830’s classicism gradually gave way to eclecticism. Many architects turned to the architecture of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but only a few, such as P. Cuypers and E. Gugel, used these styles creatively and showed an interest in rational architectural forms linked with national traditions. In the first half of the 19th century academic compositions and portraits were executed by J. W. Pieneman and J. A. Kruseman, and A. Scheffer, H. ten Kate, D. J. Bles, and A. H. Bakker-Korff excelled in romantic genre painting and historical scenes. Landscapes employing traditional motifs were painted by A. Schelfhaut and B. C. Koekkoek.

In the second half of the 19th century Dutch realistic painters were strongly influenced by 17th-century realism, viewing it as an example of the profound artistic transformation of reality. A lyrical mood and a striving for free, emotional painting characterized The Hague school—J. Israels’ touching scenes from the lives of simple, poor people; the informal landscapes of J. H. Weissenbruch, the brothers J. Maris and W. Maris, and H. W. Mesdag; and J. Bosboom’s interiors. J. B. Jongkind’s subtle lyrical landscapes show a sense of the dynamics of light and atmosphere, anticipating impressionism. The achievements of impressionism were reflected in G. H. Breitner’s expressive views of Amsterdam streets and in I. Israëls’ vivid portraits. The pictures and sketches executed by V. van Gogh in his homeland between 1881 and 1885 are distinguished by realistic, socially significant images, bold expression, and contrasts of light and dark.

In the 20th century Dutch architects, relying on age-old solutions to practical functional problems, attempted to deal with overcrowding in the cities and to develop areas recovered from the sea. In city planning, efficient, economical, and compact architectural designs (chiefly large buildings) were used in reconstructing large sections of old cities; much of Amsterdam was renovated according to plans prepared by the architects H. P. Berlage (1902, 1915–17) and C. van Eesteren (1935) and The Hague was modernized according to plans drawn up by Berlage (1908–09) and W. M. Dudok (1935). The same architectural principles were used in building new cities, such as the garden city of Hilversum (architect Dudok, from 1915), and in completely rebuilding cities, for example, Rotterdam (architect C. van Tra, 1946, 1955–60). On the polders around new cities (Emmeloord, founded 1948) settlements of low houses (Nagele, 1954–57) and farms with standardized buildings were constructed.

The transition to functionalism began at the turn of the 20th century with the appearance of H. P. Berlage’s buildings, reflecting national romantic tendencies. The romantic and expressive tendency was subsequently continued by K. P. C. de Bazel, M. de Klerk, and P. L. Kramer. Among the founders of European functionalism were J. J. P. Oud, who designed low buildings for working-class districts; G. Rietveld, who created complex architectural compositions with contrasting planes and light and shadow; and W. M. Dudok, who strove for a dynamic juxtaposition of volumes and sculptural enrichment of architectural compositions.

The quest for new architectural forms, especially characteristic of the group associated with the journal De Stijl (1917–28), including architects, designers, and painters, gradually gave way to a purely rationalistic conception of the functional purpose of architecture (J. Duiker, J. A. Brinkman, and L. C. van der Vlugt). This trend dominated architecture after World War II, manifesting itself in designs for high and low apartment houses (including multistory, gallery houses) and diverse, often innovative public buildings. These buildings include the Lijnbaan shopping center with streets for pedestrians in Rotterdam (1949–53, architects J. H. van den Broek and J. B. Bakema), the railroad station in Rotterdam (1956–57, architect S. van Ravensteyn), the railroad post office in Rotterdam (1959, architects E. H. Kraaijvanger and H. M. Kraaijvanger), a multipurpose commercial building in Rotterdam (1948–1952, architects W. van Tijen and H. A. Maaskant), and the Burgerveeshuis municipal orphanage in Amsterdam, consisting of modules of equal size (1958–1960, architect A. van Eyck). A close cooperation between architects and designers may be seen in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport (1963–67, architect M. F. Duintjer). Conservative, stylized designs have been adopted by the architects of the Delft school, who built churches and settlements of low buildings (M. J. Granpré Molierè).

An independent Dutch school of sculpture emerged in the 20th century. Expressive small sculptures were executed by Mendes da Costa, monuments by L. Zijl and H. M. Wezelaar, and portraits by L. H. Sondaar and L. O. Wenckebach. Humanitarian ideas are reflected in the multifaceted works of the sculptors M. Andriessen, H. Krop, J. Raedecker, and F. Sieger.

At the turn of the 20th century painting and the graphic arts showed strong tendencies toward mystical symbolism and stylization in the art nouveau manner (J. Toorop and J. Torn Prikker). Between 1910 and 1920 “neoplasticism” emerged, a type of abstract painting consisting of precise geometric figures painted in pure colors (P. Mondrian, T. van Doesburg, and B. van der Leck). The foremost Dutch expressionist, J. Sluyters, was sensitive to life’s contradictions and to the misfortunes of the common people. Democratic and humanitarian strivings predominate in the works of Charley Toorop and H. Chabot and especially in P. Alma’s paintings and graphics on social and political subjects. Nevertheless, contemporary Dutch art includes many forms of abstract art, whose leading representatives are the sculptor A. Volten and the painter K. Appel, surrealism, “pop art,” and other modernist trends.


Vipper, B. R. Stanovlenie realizma ν gollandskoi zhivopisi XVII veka. Moscow, 1957.
Vipper, B. R. Ocherki gollandskoi zhivopisi epokhi rastsveta (1640–1670). Moscow, 1962.
Fromentin, E. Starye mastera. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from French.)
Egorova, K. S. Khudozhestvennye muzei Gollandii. [Moscow, 1969.]
Krasheninnikova, N. L. Sovremennaia arkhitektura Niderlandov (Gollandiia). Moscow, 1971.
Rotenberg, E. I. Zapadnoevropeiskoe iskusstvo XVII veka. [Moscow, 1971.]
Kunstgeschiedenis der Nederlanden, vols. 1–3, 3rd ed. Edited by H. E. van Gelder and J. Duverger. Utrecht-Antwerp, 1954–56.
Broek, J. H. van den. Gids voor nederlandse architectuur, 2nd ed. Rotterdam, 1959.

The oldest evidence of musical culture in the Netherlands dates from the early Middle Ages. Beginning in the 12th century chivalric lyric songs were composed, and minstrels playing wind instruments performed in the towns and at courts. Minstrel schools were founded in the 13th century, and various guilds formed choral groups in the 14th century. Music became an important part of life in the Netherlands. Municipal musicians, called stadpijpers, took part in church and court ceremonies. Ecclesiastical music societies were established, and Europe’s first professional singing schools, maîtrises, were founded at the country’s main cathedrals, where choristers were trained by masters.

From the 15th century the cities of the Netherlands were famous for their melodic bell ringing, controlled by clockwork mechanisms. Celebrations, fairs (kermissen), and archery and other competitions included performances on musical instruments and singing and dancing. Songs and choral music were especially popular. An example of the folk music of this period are the songs of the flagellants, a 15th-century religious sect. Developing out of the rich heritage of folk music, French and English polyphony, and sophisticated professional music, the Netherlands school of counterpoint flourished and spread to other countries in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Netherlands school marked the classical period in the country’s music and the culmination of European vocal and choral polyphony. The school developed the basic principles of counterpoint, and its leading representatives influenced the entire subsequent development of Western European music.

In the 16th century, during the bourgeois revolution, the songs of the gueux (insurgents) protesting Spanish tyranny became popular among the people. Their melodies incorporated elements of the national song style. The national art of carillon playing, in which a set of bells was skillfully rung, was perfected in Amsterdam and other cities in the 16th century. The Dutch were famous for their skill in casting bells, and their techniques were later borrowed by other countries. Among renowned carillon players, who were also organists, were S. Kerbeeck (17th century), J. Potholt and H. Focking (18th century), and J. Vincent (20th century).

During the 17th century, as instrumental music developed, musical instruments of high quality were produced. The harpsichords of the Flemish masters of the 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries were the best in Europe, and Dutch organs were also famous. With the establishment of Calvinism in the independent northern Netherlands, the richly ornamental Catholic choral polyphony was replaced by the Protestant style of singing. Organ music reached a high level. J. P. Sweelinck, the most important Dutch composer of the late 16th and early 17th centuries and a virtuoso organist and harpsichordist, influenced the development of German organ music. On the whole, however, Dutch music declined from the 17th century. Harpsichord, lute, and ensemble playing, polyphonic singing, and playing the portative organ became popular in the burgher milieu, as shown by the canvases by Dutch painters. Music lovers formed groups called collegia musica, and instrumental music for organ, harpsichord, and string and other ensembles flourished. In Amsterdam free concerts by church organists were organized for the city’s inhabitants until 1727, later becoming public organ concerts.

During the 17th and 18th centuries Amsterdam was the chief center of European music publishing. From the late 17th century, when the Netherlands was briefly united with England, English, French, and Italian music predominated in the country, and vocal and instrumental groups were created to perform this music, for example, the ensemble formed at The Hague in 1732. In addition to domestic music-making and church concerts, Dutch music life in the 18th century included concerts by touring performers to which admission was charged. Among those who appeared were A. Vivaldi (1738) and the young W. A. Mozart and his sister, who performed in Amsterdam and The Hague in 1765–66. Productions of Italian and French comic operas were occasionally staged in drama theaters, primarily by foreign artists. The first Dutch opera, composed in the classical style, was Love Triumphant (1678) by C. Hacquart, and similar operas were written by B. Ruloffs, the composer of Zemire and Azor (1783), Richard the Lion-hearted (1792), and Two Statues (1798). The musical collegia in The Hague and Amsterdam became concert societies. The learned and cultural society Rich in Merit, organized in Amsterdam in 1777 and existing until 1889, maintained an orchestra and its own concert hall, where such famous composers as B. Ruloffs and J. Verhulst conducted. Sunday concerts were organized by the Musical Education Society from 1796. The Harmonica Society, founded in The Hague in 1815 and renamed the Diligentia Society in 1921, gave concerts of symphonic music for many years.

During the first half of the 19th century a national democratic musical culture developed, initially influenced by German romanticism because many Dutch composers had studied in Germany. Among the leading composers were J. B. van Bree, J. Verhulst (orchestral, chamber, and religious music), R. Hol (national songs and choral works), and W. Nicolai (national children’s songs). The Royal Music School was active in The Hague from 1826 to 1846. The Society for the Advancement of Music, founded in 1829, supported Dutch composers by awarding prizes and publishing their works. The society opened its own music school in 1853 and helped organize the Amsterdam Conservatory in 1884, as well as choral groups in several Dutch cities. In 1841 the Cecilia Society was established to aid musicians. Public open-air concerts were given by the Royal Military Band, organized at The Hague in 1829, and by the Park Orchestra in Amsterdam.

The Royal Netherlands Association of Musicians, founded in Amsterdam in 1875, comprises several professional associations and has numerous branches throughout the country. The largest and most important concert society, the Concertgebouw, was organized in 1883. It has its own concert hall, chorus, and symphony orchestra, conducted by W. Kes between 1888 and 1895 and later by the outstanding Dutch conductors W. Mengelberg (1895–1941), E. van Beinum (1945–59), and E. Jochum (from 1961). P. Monteux and B. Walter also worked with the orchestra, and more recently it has been led by W. van Otterloo.

The development of opera in the Netherlands was stimulated by the organization in 1884 of the Wagner Society, headed by H. Viotta until 1919. The society staged Wagner’s operas from 1894 to 1912, after which the works of other composers, including contemporary ones, were added to the repertoire. National opera companies were formed: the Holland Opera (1886–94, organized by J. G. de Groot), which presented operas in Dutch by S. van Milligen, J. Brandts-Buys, W. Landré, and other composers; the Netherlands Opera (1894–1901), whose principal conductor was C. van der Linden; and the National Opera (1916–23), directed by G. H. Koopman. Among famous Dutch operatic singers were J. Urlus, A. van Rooy, and C. Engelen-Sewing.

Prominent composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were B. Zweers, A. Diepenbrock, and J. Wagenaar, who was also a conductor, organist, and from 1919 to 1937 director of the Royal Conservatory, founded at The Hague in 1908. They composed national programmatic symphonic music, vocal and instrumental pieces, and works for the musical theater, laying the foundation for the contemporary national music of the Netherlands. C. Dopper, who wrote programmatic national symphonies, and the musical folklorist J. Röntgen also made an important contribution to Dutch music. Other noteworthy composers of the early 20th century were J. van Gilse and the impressionists A. Voormolen and B. van den Sigtenhorst Meyer. The Society of Dutch Composers was established in 1911. After World War I the Netherlands Society of Contemporary Music arose, headed by the experimental composers H. Zagwijn, M. Vermeulen, D. Ruyneman, and S. Dresden, who wrote the choral work Madrigal (1914). The leading Dutch composer of the first half of the 20th century was W. Pijper, who taught many contemporary Dutch composers and was also a music critic. Major musicians of the mid-20th century include the composers H. Badings, R. G. Escher, M. Flothuis, H. Andriessen, M. Monnikendam, S. Bessem, R. de Roos, G. Landré, and K. van Baaren; the conductors P. Hupperts and B. Haitink; the pianists C. de Groot, L. Ponse, and H. Henkemans; the harpsichordist G. Leonhardt; the violinists T. Olof and H. Krebbers; and the singers T. Bayle, F. Vrons, M. Aarden, and G. Brouwenstijn.

The Nazi German occupation hindered the development of musical life, but there was a rapid revival after the war. In the late 1940’s various avant-garde trends appeared, represented by the composers J. Geraedts, J. Andriessen, T. de Leeuw, H. Kox, O. Retting, P. Schat, M. Mengelberg, M. Flothuis, and J. van Vlijmen. The Netherlands Opera, revived in 1946 by the municipalities of The Hague and Amsterdam, also performs in Rotterdam and Utrecht. Other well-known opera companies include the South Netherlands Opera, founded in 1848 in Maastricht, and the Forum, founded in 1955 and now based in Enschede. Among the country’s many music societies are The Hague Arts Club (since 1945), Donemus (since 1947, Amsterdam, founded to support contemporary music), the Youth and Music Society (since 1948, Amsterdam), and the New Music Society (The Hague). In addition there are societies of organists and conductors, and an association of musicologists has existed since 1965. The workers’ musical movement has flourished, and workers’ music societies include the choral group The Voice of the People, founded in The Hague in 1907. Famous Dutch choral groups include the Apollo male choir (1897–1954, Amsterdam) and The Hague Singers (since 1917). Summer music festivals have been held in Amsterdam since 1948.

Today there are 20 symphony orchestras in the Netherlands, of which the most important (besides the Concertgebouw) are the Residentie at The Hague, founded in 1899 by the conductor H. Viotta, and the Amsterdam Philharmonic, established in 1951 on the initiative of the pianist J. Huckriede. Under the conductor A. Kersjes, the Amsterdam Philharmonic toured Leningrad and Tallinn in 1971 and performed in Moscow in 1972. Musical training is given at conservatories in Amsterdam, Groningen, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Maastricht, and Tilburg; three musical lycées; the Netherlands Institute for Catholic Church Music; and a special school training church musicians, including carillon players. The Universities of Amsterdam, Leiden, and Utrecht have faculties of music history and theory.


Gruber, R. I. Istoriia muzykal’noi kul’tury, vol. 1, part 2. Moscow, 1941. Pages 305–468. Vol. 2, part 2. Moscow, 1959. Pages 73–138.
Kuznetsov, K. A. Muzykal’no-istoricheskie portrety. Moscow, 1937.
Burney, C. Muzykal’nye puteshestviia 1772 g. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from English.)
Straeten, E. van der. La Musique aux Pays-Bas avant le XIX siècle, vols. 1–8. Brussels, 1867–88.
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Since the Middle Ages local festivals and carnivals have included dancing. Ballet originated in the 17th century, with the staging of allegorical productions closely resembling French court ballet and dance performances based on the life of peasants and artisans.

The Dutch ballet master A. V. van Hamme, whose productions enjoyed great popularity, became famous in the first half of the 19th century. In the late 19th century interest in ballet waned, reviving only in the 1930’s, when modern dance (F. Rodrigo and Y. Georgi) and later classical ballet (S. Gaskell) attracted attention. The Amsterdam Ballet was founded in 1959. In 1961 it merged with the company organized by S. Gaskell in 1954 to form the Dutch National Ballet, headed by Gaskell until 1968 and thereafter by R. van Dantzig (assisted by R. Kaesen until 1970 and later by B. Harkarvy). In 1971 the National Ballet toured the USSR. Its repertoire includes classical ballets, in some of which Soviet dancers and choreographers have participated, productions by such foreign choreographers as G. Balanchine, and national works, notably van Dantzig’s stagings of H. Badings’ Jungle (1961) and J. Boerman’s Monument for a Dead Boy (1968). Another large company is the Netherlands Dance Theater, founded in 1959 by B. Harkarvy, which has been performing at The Hague since 1961. Its repertoire includes ballets by both contemporary foreign choreographers (G. Balanchine, A. Sokolow) and Dutch choreographers, for example, Mutations (music by K. Stockhausen, composed in 1970, and choreography by H. van Manen and Tetley). The Scapino Ballet, founded in 1945 by H. Snoek, stages children’s productions. The best-known ballet dancers are O. de Haas, J. Flier, and J. Sanders.


Rebling, E. Een eeuw danskunst in Nederland. Amsterdam, 1950.


Since the late 12th century religious plays, as well as secular dramatic works, have been staged in the Netherlands. Societies of lovers of literature and the theater, called chambers of rhetoric (rederijkers), arose in the 14th century and reached their peak in the 16th century. Their repertoire consisted for the most part of farces and morality plays. During the 17th and 18th centuries the center of theatrical life was the Municipal Theater in Amsterdam, founded in 1638. The theater staged the works of J. van den Vondel, one of the greatest Dutch playwrights, and the plays of G. A. Bredero and P. C. Hooft. There were also numerous traveling companies. Among famous professional actors in the 17th century were A. K. van Germez and A. Noozeman and, in the 18th century, W. van der Hoeven, J. C. Wattier-Ziesenis, J. Punt, and M. Corver.

The School of Declamation was opened in Amsterdam in 1874. The formation of the Netherlands Theatrical Association, founded in 1870, gave impetus to the development of a Dutch national theater. The Netherlands Stage Theater was founded in 1875. In 1892 a new company was formed, also called the Netherlands Theatrical Association, which presented plays on social themes by H. Heijermans (The Ghetto, 1898) and by M. Emants and F. van Eeden. In 1912, Heijermans reorganized the company, leading it until 1917. The company’s repertoire included plays by A. Strindberg and H. von Hofmannsthal, and its leading performers were L. Bouwmeester, J. Musch, and R. Hopper. During the 1920’s many amateur, particularly student, drama groups were formed. From 1910 through the 1930’s private companies were established by prominent actors and directors, notably W. Royaards, E. Verkade, the brothers F. and L. Bouwmeester, and L. Saalborn.

During the Nazi German occupation the playwrights and theatrical figures A. Defresne and A. van Dalsum staged works affirming humanitarian values and justice, including plays by Shakespeare, F. Schiller, R. Rolland, K. Čapek, and G. Haupt-mann. The leading theaters between the late 1940’s and the 1960’s were The Hague Comedie, headed by C. Laseur and P. Steenbergen, and The Netherlands Comedie in Amsterdam, under the direction of H. B. van den Berg and J. de Meester. Arnhem and Rotterdam also have permanent companies. Much attention has been given to the classics of world drama. There were frequent performances, especially in the 1950’s, of plays by A. P. Chekhov, staged by P. Sharov, and of works by N. V. Gogol, F. M. Dostoevsky, and M. Gorky.

In the 1960’s and early 1970’s there were excellent productions of works by the Dutch playwrights H. Heijermans, J. Staal, C. Nooteboom, A. J. Herzberg, J. van der Merwe, C. Huygens, D. Frenkel Frank, and L. de Boer. The country’s numerous cabarets present skits, often on political subjects. Also noteworthy are the Studio, an experimental group, and the Arena, which specializes in children’s plays.

Among outstanding Dutch actors, actresses, and directors are A. van Dalsum, J. Royaards-Sandberg, K. van Dijk, G. Hermus, E. van Lingen, I. van Fassen, F. Carelsen, C. Köhler, and L. de Boer. Amsterdam has a theatrical museum.


Hunningher, B. The Origin of the Theater. New York [1961].
Kindermann, H. Theatergeschichte Europas, vols. 2–7. Salzburg, 1959–65.

The first documentary films were made in 1898, and the first feature films were released in 1910. A motion-picture club, called the Cinema League, was organized in Amsterdam in 1927 to promote progressive cinematic art (the first motion picture shown by the club was the Soviet film Mother). The club’s members included film-makers producing motion pictures with progressive social views, such as Dead Water (1934, directed by G. Rutten) and The Zuider Zee (1934, directed by J. Ivens). Several films of high artistic quality were produced during the 1930’s, including Pygmalion (1937), based on B. Shaw’s play and directed by L. Berger.

During the fascist German occupation most of the films shown were made in Germany, and the Dutch film industry stagnated. After the country’s liberation, important documentary films about the resistance movement were made by the directors R. Hornecker, J. Ferno, and O. van Neijenhoff, and the production of feature films was resumed. Among the best postwar documentary and popular-science films are From Leeuwenhoek to the Electron Microscope (1951, directed by J. Mol), Glass (1958, directed by B. Haanstra), Amsterdam, City of Water (1958, directed by M. de Haas), Fiery Love (1960, directed by M. van der Horst), and Report From Biafra (1969, directed by L. van Gasteren, J. van der Keuken, and R. Kerbosch). Outstanding feature films include Fanfare (1958, directed by Haanstra), Monsieur Hawarden (1969, directed by H. Kümmel), Come, Friends, Stop That Awful Noise (1960, directed by F. Rademakers), Mira (1971, made jointly with Belgian filmmakers, directed by F. Rademakers), Frank and Eva (1973, directed by P. de La Parra), and Turkish Delight (1973, directed by P. Verhoeven).

Popular motion-picture actors include W. van Ammelrooy, R. de Gooyer, and K. Brusse. Nine feature films were released in 1973, and more than 380 motion-picture theaters were in operation.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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