To the American People

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Description

Dutch manifesto of the Holland section of the League of Neutral States directed at American citizens in December 1916.

Context

The League of Neutral States was an international organisation which protested against the misuse of power by the belligerent countries. The organisation assembled individuals from neutral countries and was divided into national sections.
The Holland Section of the League of Neutral States issued a manifesto, addressed to the citizens of the United States, to stop war crimes by taking political leadership. The manifesto did not directly encouraged Americans to join the Allies but clearly named German war crimes and urged to counteract them.
The Dutch manifesto was investigated by the British Foreign Office. Propaganda officials at Wellington House considered this manifesto to be an excellent piece of propaganda to be re-used in South Africa. The manifesto should have been sent to the South African, Afrikaans-speaking community, to convince the Boers of the wickedness of the Germans. South African citizens, including the Boer community, were ordered to fight for the British Empire. Yet, many of them recalled the Anglo-Boer Wars and were reluctant in their support for the British. The Dutch pamphlet should serve to convince them about the justness of the British and of German cruelties.
Despite the fact that the names of all 147 Dutchmen who signed the manifesto were identified (with the help of the pro-Allied Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs John Loudon), William Philipp Schreiner, the High Commissioner of South Africa, had some concerns about the authenticity of the manifesto and suspected that German conspiracy could stand behind it. As a result, it is likely that the pamphlet was not sent to South Africa.
Nevertheless, it remains proof of British attempts to manipulate Dutch neutrality and a readiness to misuse a document issued by a pacifist organisation for military purposes.