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Violent communities in a peaceful society - The Netherlands 1918–1934

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Violent communities in a peaceful society - The Netherlands 1918–1934

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Samenvatting

The Netherlands is generally regarded as a bürgerliche Gesellschaft disinclined to violent behaviour. A society that, moreover, had escaped the Urkatastrophe of 1914–1918, which had shocked and shaped Europe so profoundly. To explain the relatively peaceful nature of the Dutch society and its non-military character, historians pointed out that since the late 16th century, when the Dutch successfully had rebelled against their legal monarch, they had gone on to build a republican society based on trade, and maritime commercial-ism, in particular. In the absence of a strong central authority, a powerful nobility and territorial ambitions, the Dutch society subsequently became based on consensus, tolerance, law and the predominance of commercial interests. Through the centuries, these characteristics have become part and parcel of the Dutch national character and self-image. However, we must be careful not to oversimplify history and lose sight of its many nuances. The Dutch state itself was the product of an eighty-year war against the Spanish monarchy, and from the 16th well into the 20th century the Dutch showed themselves more than willing to use even extreme violence, both to safeguard their commercial interests worldwide and to rule and exploit their extensive colonial empire. Moreover, the neutral Netherlands was not immune to transnational phenomena such as the rise of socialism, anarchism or bolshevism, or any other ideology or development aimed at radically changing the existing order. And despite neutrality the Dutch government tried to find an answer to the multifaceted challenges of total war. The credibility of its neutrality was at stake. Furthermore, the Dutch army had the task of both preventing and even, if needed, forcefully suppressing internal unrest, strikes and riots.4During the stressful years 1914–1918 the threat of an internal revolution lent even more urgency to this task. The dramatic and violent events that had swept away the German and Russian imperial regimes were not only closely watched, they also led to a rigorous reinforcement of the Dutch security apparatus. The effects of the dramatic developments, especially of 1917–1918, did not stop at the Dutch border; in fact, Gewalt gemeinschaften, violent communities of various kinds and signature, did develop within the Dutch context, inspired on foreign examples. Three examples of outbreaks of violence between 1920 and 1935 bear this out: first, the bomb attack in The Hague in November 1921 by a small anarchist group, second, the massive mob revolt in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities in early July 1934, and, finally, the street fights provoked by national socialist militias (weerkorpsen) in October-November 1934 and early 1935. In all three cases, the violence was closely connected to transnational phenomena and the way it was repressed showed the power of the ruling Dutch elite, based on a close cooperation between the leading Protestants, Catholics and liberals. Looking more closely at these Dutch examples can give us a better insight into the impact of the European war experience, especially dif-ferent kinds of violence, on non-belligerent states. To be able to analyse this in greater depth, it is necessary to look at the repression of violence by the state, on the one hand, and at the development of violent behavior by different groups within society, on the other. When did they resort to violence, for what purposes and with what means? Additionally, the volatility or robustness of their organization and the kind of victims that resulted from their violent behaviour must be considered. How were offender and victim connected?

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Trefwoorden
OrganisatieMinisterie van Defensie - NLDA
AfdelingFaculteit Militaire Wetenschappen
LectoraatKrijgswetenschappen
Gepubliceerd inGewaltgemeinschaften? : Studien zur Gewaltgeschichte im und nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg Pagina's: 147-167
Jaar2021
TypeBoekdeel
ISBN9783593513447
TaalEngels

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