'The State of War', Frederik van Eeden to the Belgians

Frederik van Eeden aan de Belgen, De Telegraaf, 14-09-1914, 5.jpg
Frederik van Eeden, Lettre d'un Hollandais aux Flamands, Le Figaro, 28-12-1914, 2.jpg
VE Letter to Belgians.jpg

Description

An open letter addressed to 'the Belgians' from the Dutch writer Frederik van Eeden. He supported the Belgian nation and considered Belgium as possessing a far higher moral standard than Germany. To read the original open letter and the English translation, please click on the sources above.

Context

In this letter, written on 5 September 1914 and published in the anti-German, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the famous internationalist Dutch writer Frederik van Eeden tried to give 'some solace' to the Belgians, in their 'overly difficult ordeals'. He considered the reasons that Germany gave for their invasion of Belgium to be completely false and dishonourable, while 'little Belgium' upholds 'law and justice in ultimate distress'. For van Eeden, the Belgians were already the moral winners of this war. This open letter is an example of a ‘neutral voice’ that supported the Allied cause. The letter was picked up by the Allied propaganda services. In cooperation with van Eeden, the letter was translated and published in the Belgian newspaper Handelsblad van Antwerpen in September 1914, in the French newspaper Le Figaro on 28 December 1914, and, among others, in the Scottish newspaper The Scotsman on 5 January 1915. Van Eeden’s letter reflects the general abhorrence of many Dutch intellectuals when confronted with the news of the German invasion of their neutral neighbor Belgium. This situation and the consequent arrival of around one million Belgian refugees to the Netherlands in October 1914 was the main reason why ‘personal neutrality’ became unacceptable for many Dutch intellectuals. Van Eeden decided to publicly take a stand against ‘Prussian militarism’ and he secretly offered his services to the French embassy in The Hague. The medium of the open letter, just like the manifesto, was frequently used by intellectuals to express their concerns about the war.