Timeline: The Netherlands

A chronology of key events:

1914-1918 – The Netherlands maintains its neutrality during World War I. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany goes into exile in the Netherlands at the end of the war.

1922 – Dutch women get the vote.

1932 – A 31-km dam is completed across the Zuider Zee forming a freshwater lake known as the IJsselmeer. Part of the lake has since been drained and the reclaimed land used to grow crops.

1939 – At the outbreak of World War II, the Netherlands declares its neutrality.

1940 – Nazi Germany invades on 10 May. The Dutch Royal Family flees to England, accompanied by the Dutch cabinet. The Germans bombard Rotterdam from the air, destroying tens of thousands of buildings in a few hours. The Dutch army is overwhelmed and the Netherlands surrenders.

1940 onwards – The Netherlands suffers greatly under German occupation. There is political repression, Dutch workers are forced to labour in German factories, Dutch Jews are deported to the death camps. Some go into hiding, including Anne Frank, whose posthumous diaries make her world-famous. The Dutch resistance movement draws its members from all social groupings. The Germans execute Dutch hostages in retaliation for acts of resistance.

1944-5 – As the Allied forces advance towards Germany, the Netherlands becomes the site of bitter fighting. There is further destruction through bombardment of German positions. The food supply is severely disrupted with many Dutch civilians suffering near-starvation.

1945 – The occupation ends with the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May.

1945 – The Netherlands becomes a charter member of the United Nations. The leader of the Dutch Nazis is sentenced to death in December.

1949 – The Dutch East Indies, which had been occupied by Japan during World War II, receives its independence as Indonesia.

1949 – The Netherlands abandons its policy of neutrality and joins Nato.

1952 – The Netherlands is a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community, which is to become the European Economic Community five years later.

1953 – Nearly 2,000 people die when dykes are breached by storms.

1963 – Colony of Netherlands New Guinea is ceded to Indonesia.

1965 – Princess Beatrix, the heiress to the throne, arouses controversy when she announces her engagement to a German diplomat. Former Dutch resistance fighters protest. The Dutch parliament eventually approves the marriage, which takes place in 1966.

1975 – Dutch colony of Surinam achieves independence. Hundreds of thousands of Surinamese emigrate to the Netherlands.

1980 – Queen Juliana abdicates; Beatrix becomes queen.

1985 – Government decides, despite widespread opposition, to site nearly 50 US cruise missiles in the country within three years. The controversy is subsequently dissolved by the ending of the Cold War.

1993 – Netherlands regulates euthanasia by doctors. Official estimates suggest that 2% of all deaths in the Netherlands each year are assisted.

1994 – Labour party leader Wim Kok becomes prime minister at the head of a three-party coalition.

1995 – Serious flooding leads to a state of emergency, with a quarter-of-a-million people evacuated from their homes.

1998 – Wim Kok re-elected as prime minister.

2000 – Parliament legalises euthanasia, setting strict conditions for doctors.

2001 April – In the first official ceremony of its kind, four homosexual couples are married in Amsterdam under new legislation. The new laws also allow homosexual couples to adopt children.

2002 January – Euro replaces the Dutch guilder.

2002 April – Wim Kok’s government resigns following official report criticising its role in the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 when just over 100 lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers failed to stop Bosnian Serb forces from murdering thousands of Muslims.

2002 May – Widespread shock as anti-immigration party leader Pim Fortuyn is killed by gunman. His party, formed three months earlier, comes second in elections. Moderately conservative Christian Democrats led by Jan Peter Balkenende top poll.

2002 July – Balkenende becomes prime minister in centre-right coalition with List Pim Fortuyn Party and liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

2002 October – Balkenende’s government collapses, brought down by infighting in List Pim Fortuyn Party.

2003 January – Narrow win in general election for Christian Democrats. Coalition talks begin.

2003 April – Animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf sentenced to 18 years for Fortuyn killing. He said he saw Fortuyn as a threat to democracy. His subsequent appeal is rejected.

2003 May – Centre-right coalition sworn in with Balkenende as premier for second term. New coalition involves Balkenende’s Christian Democrats, People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Democrats-66.

2004 March – Queen mother Juliana dies, aged 94. Juliana reigned for 32 years from 1948.

2004 October – More than 200,000 people turn out in Amsterdam to protest against public spending cuts and welfare reforms.

2004 November – Film-maker Theo Van Gogh is murdered. He was reported to have received death threats after his controversial film about the position of women in Islamic society. A radical Islamist is jailed for life for the murder in July 2005.

2005 June – Dutch voters reject a proposed EU constitution, days after a French referendum goes against the treaty.

2005 October – At least 11 detainees die in a fire at an Amsterdam centre housing illegal immigrants and drug smugglers awaiting deportation.

2006 February – Parliament agrees to send an additional 1,400 Dutch troops to join Nato-led forces in southern Afghanistan. The decision comes after weeks of wrangling and international pressure.

2006 June-July – Prime Minister Balkenende forms a temporary, minority government after his coalition collapses in a row over immigration, precipitating early elections in November.

2006 November – Government orders an inquiry into reports that its troops tortured prisoners in Iraq.

2007 February – Jan Peter Balkenende is sworn in as head of a three-party centrist coalition, three months after general elections.

2009 January – Court orders right-wing politician Geert Wilders should stand trial for inciting hatred against Muslims for a film linking radical Islamists’ actions to the Koran.

Source: BBC

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