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Dutch government in exile

Prior to 1940 the Netherlands were a neutral country, generally on good terms with Germany. In May 1940 the Dutch government under Prime Minister de Geer[?] and Queen Wilhelmina fled to London after the German invasion. Initially their hope was that France would regroup and liberate the country. Although there was an attempt in this direction, it soon failed, because the Allied forces were surrounded and forced to evacuate at Dunkirk.

The government in exile was soon faced with a dilemma, because France had collapsed and the Vichy France government decided to collaborate with Hitler. This led to a conflict between de Geer and the Queen. De Geer wanted to return to the Netherlands and collaborate as well. The government in exile was still in control of the Dutch East Indies with all its resources: it was the 3rd largest oil producer at the time (after the US and the USSR). Wilhelmina realized that this would be surrendered to Japan, as French Indochina was surrendered later by orders of the Vichy government. As the Netherlands' only hope on liberation was now the entry of the US into the war, the Queen fired her PM and appointed a new one (Sybrandy) who conspired with Churchill and Roosevelt on ways to even the path for an American entry. An oil boycott was imposed on Japan, resulting in the Pearl Harbor attack. Eventually it led to the liberation of the Netherlands, but also to the end of the country's colonial empire.

The Queen's unusual action was later ratified by the Dutch parliament in 1946. Churchill called her 'the only man in the Dutch government', although she was actually the only woman.

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