Axis Occupation of Holland
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Apr 1942, p. 371-379
Fung, K.S., Speaker
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Item Type
The speaker's experiences in Holland, being there for a year and a half during the German occupation. Things heard, seen, and learned, personally. The German invasion of Holland. Reasons and circumstances for surrender. The German government in Holland. Reduction of bicycle tax. Confiscation of goods, food, and vehicles. Rationing food and materials. The way in which the Germans took these things: by printing Dutch money and paying for it. German concentration camps. Curfew. The cruelty of the Germans. Acts of sabotage by the Dutch. The mental, physical, and spiritual suffering of the Dutch. Pinning their hopes on England, and the United Nations. What the Germans are doing in Holland similar to what the Japanese are doing in China. The Japanese invasion of China. Confidence that the Chinese will win the war against Japan.
Date of Original
9 Apr 1942
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Full Text
Chairman: The President, Mr. C. R. Sanderson.
Thursday, April 9, 1942

MR. C. R. SANDERSON: Your Worship and Gentlemen: There are a great many lessons that we have already learned from this war. I mention just two. One is illustrated by the cartoon that, doubtless, you all saw in the New York Times last week, where a small boy and an elderly gentleman with a beard represented "Too Little and Too Late." It is only too true that we did too little and too late to save our outposts in the Pacific, and now it is taking precious time for us to consolidate our forces and our material in order adequately to strike back.

The second big lesson, I think, is that of under-estimation. We underestimated the strength and the brutality of Japan, and I think it is true to say that her atrocities have aroused a hatred that has not been called up by any previous episode in an already bitter war. We also underestimated (and again thank God that we did) the force, the vitality, and the bravery of China. (Applause.) Until quite recently we had a very inadequate idea of what China had been enduring and had been doing in the cause of democracy long before we entered the war ourselves.

Therefore, it is a pleasure today to present to this audience Mr. Fung, the Chinese Consul at Toronto. His presence with us, so soon after his arrival in Canada, enables us to extend to him our most cordial welcome, and gives us an opportunity of hearing his story of what China is doing, side by side with the Allied Nations, in this fight for the freedom of the world. I present to you Mr. Fung. (Applause.)

MR K. S. FUNG: Mr. President, Your Worship, and Gentlemen: May I say what a great honour and privilege I consider it to be here as the guest of this distinguished gathering. I arrived in Toronto only a week ago, and at present have not found even a Consulate or living quarters. When your distinguished President extended the cordial invitation to me to be your guest here, I intended, therefore, to plead with him to delay it for a few weeks, but he did it so kindly, I had not the heart to decline. I accepted with the greatest pleasure.

I have read your announcement, and you pay me the great compliment to say I have a perfect command of English. I wish it were true, but, as you see, it is not. As a matter of fact, I have not been speaking much English for nearly nine years, and it was not until six months ago that I returned to an English-speaking country.

Now, I have not prepared an address, a formal address, but I have thought out some of my ideas to present to you. I believe a written speech is not interesting, be cause, then, you are hearing not the person who is addressing you, while, I suppose, your cordial interest is in the speaker as well as in what he has to say.

I would like to tell you a few experiences I had in Holland. I was in that country when the War started, and left only six months ago, being there for a year and a half during the German occupation. There are many reports and many despatches from the country in the newspapers, but I will tell of things I saw, heard, and learned, personally.

When the Germans came to Holland, they came without warning, and none was aware of it. Holland was well prepared, and the people were determined to fight the Germans. They thought they could prevent invasion, but found that they could not. They then became discouraged, and it was a tragedy, because the Dutch are a most brave and patriotic people. I cannot relate all the things that happened in the invasion. However, the Germans came first to Rotterdam, being a half hour's journey from The Hague. They said to the Dutch, "Surrender", and, of course, the Dutch, who were so well prepared, did not surrender. The Germans wiped out the whole business section of Rotterdam. When I went back the next day, I could not recognize the place because everything in that section of activity was entirely wiped out.

People say that that was a warning Germany was giving to France, that, unless the latter surrendered, it would suffer the same fate as did Rotterdam. When the Germans completed this job, they forwarded a message to the Commanding General at The Hague, something like: "Well, will you surrender? If you don't, other cities such as The Hague and Utrecht will suffer the same fate as did Rotterdam." The Commanding General had absolute power to say whether or not they would surrender. The reply was that Holland would surrender. But, please bear in mind, it was not because the Dutch wanted to surrender, but because the enemy's power was so overwhelming.

When the Germans completed the occupation, they set up two branches of government to rule Holland. One was the Military Branch, and the other, the Civil. The former took charge of policing, and the latter, of administration. Now, here was the clever thing that the Germans did. They branched out all the Quisling Associations, that is, all the Dutch National Socialist Party. They branched them out, and they were like drug stores--one at every corner. The other thing they did was to attempt to appease the people, with the least advantage to the government, so they abolished all taxes on the bicycle. As you know, the majority of Dutch people ride bicycles, and the Germans, therefore, were trying to please the masses, without any cost to themselves. Next, they took possession, without compensation, of goods and food. I actually saw miles and miles of vehicles filled with goods and food which the Germans took from individuals, organizations, or shops. Of course, no one knew what they were going to do with these things, but one theory was that they would exchange them for oil or other articles. The vehicles, too, did not stay very long in Holland. They also disappeared, and only a very few were left.

Another thing the Germans did was to ration food and all goods and materials. When the Germans took away food, they did not take it away by robbery. No! They had a cleverer way of doing it--they bought it. And where did the money come from? From the Dutch Treasury which they had cleaned up. The people said they even took the government printing press and turned out paper money. So, when the Germans bought anything, they paid for it with money. The Dutch couldn't say they were robbed of the foods or of their goods. That is the way the Germans are doing things in Holland. By this method, they were able to buy four million pounds of cheese, and also, in this way, to take so many things that very soon there was little left for the Dutch. Even six months before I left, the egg -ration was only one per person, per month. Therefore, when you had two eggs and a piece of bacon, you would have had two months' rations. The whole food question was like that.

Did the Germans suffer from this? No! Only the Dutch suffered.

Beside German soldiers, there were also German civilians, and almost all of these men and women belonged to war work sections. Their ration cards were not issued by the Civil branch, but by Military headquarters, so how much the Germans got, no one knew.

The Germans had many privileges I will recount one to you. I happened at that time to know a German girl who came from Berlin on a visit, and she wanted to buy many things. I asked her whether or not she had any coupons, and her reply was that she hadn't-as a matter of fact, that she didn't need any. So I went with her to the store, and was very much surprised. She got everything she asked for by only showing her German passport. I saw her buy sixteen pairs of stockings and four pairs of shoes. That would last a Dutch woman between four and six years. In actual fact, no Dutch woman could buy a pair of shoes without applying for them six months ahead of time, or without having three personal examinations, a personal search, and a personal affidavit,--but this German girl could buy, by simply showing her German passport. Because I knew her, I said, "Why, these things belong to the Dutch!" The Dutch couldn't get these things, but the enemy received everything they wanted. This is only one incident, but there were many even more significant than this.

Talking of incidents, you have naturally heard of the concentration camps in Germany. They are surrounded by barbed wire, and there is a rule that no inmate can go near a fence without his name being called. So, when a guard in one of these camps felt lonely or dull, and wanted to amuse himself, he would call the names of the newcomers, who, because of their ignorance of the rule, would naturally walk towards the fence. When they did so, the German guard, for sheer amusement, would shoot them dead on the spot. I have not seen it myself, but have read of this German amusement in confidential reports.

Germans, generally, do not allow people to be in the street after midnight, and sometimes they made the curfew at 6.00 p.m. If men or women were caught in the street after midnight, they were arrested and turned over to the Gestapo. What did they do with them? They simply lined them up, standing at attention, and ordered them to hold up both hands. From that time, from the time of their arrest 'till sunrise, they had to stand with their arms up. As you know, in the double summertime, the sun doesn't rise in Holland until 9.00 or 9.30. Think of any Dutchman, or of anyone, having to stand that way for twelve or more hours, just for being found in the street without a permit after curfew.

The Dutchman couldn't fight because of the strength of the occupying force, but the former didn't sit quietly and do nothing. What did they do? They had their ingenious way of sabotage. This sabotage was not limited only to skilled agents. Sometimes a little schoolboy would do sabotage work; sometimes a gentleman of sixty or even eighty. I cannot say too much about this, because I do not want the Germans to get the benefit of it, but I can mention some things that are known to a great number of people.

The chief act of sabotage, of course, was to cut the cables, or in any way to interfere with German communication. In Holland there are many canals. Sometimes they would lure German soldiers to a quiet spot and push them into the water.

There is also the telephone. Patriotic Dutchmen found out the 'phone numbers of Quislings, and many would call them. One loyal Dutchman would say to another, "When you have time, just call this number and say, How do you do?" Having called the number, he would add, "Why don't you go to the moon?" In Holland, perhaps you don't know, to "go to the moon" means to "go to the devil."

Yet another method, and one that interferes with German communication, is for people to write many letters, each giving a wrong address, so that there would be a great waste of time in the postal service.

Some of the newspapers, too, helped a great deal, but not openly. When the Germans issued an order, an editor would write it up in his paper for the people to read, but would twist it so cleverly that the public wouldn't know what was meant by it.

The Dutch did even cleverer things, too. As you know, they make a lot of canned goods, especially canned milk and canned beef. When the Germans ordered a quantity of canned goods, the factories said, "Alright. We are glad to have your order, and it will be ready at your disposal at the exact time." But, when the stuff got to the German frontier, it was found to be rotten. The Dutch did not put poison into the cans, which would be inconvenient for the producer. What did they do? They put a tiny hole in each can.

The Dutch are suffering mentally, physically, and spiritually, and, before I left Holland, their hope was pinned on England. Now, of course, they pin their hope on the United Nations. I wish you could see how the people rejoice when they hear English planes over Holland. They say, "Z-z-z-z-z- there is an English plane." At one time at Rotterdam, a British bomber came so low that the crew could almost shake hands with the population. How anxious they were to seethe British bombers come, either to bomb Holland or to go on their way to Germany

What the Germans are doing in Holland is, more or less, what the Japanese are doing in China and all lands they occupy. Under such despotism, cruelty, inhumanity, barbarism, there is no joy in living, and we have to clean up this Naziism and this Nipponese despotism.

China has lived thousands of years, and we have suffered brutality and cruelty, not just once, but many times, and we could cite historical instances parallel to Naziism and what Japan is practising. Our race has suffered these things before, but, in every instance, we have had the victory, the last being the 1911 revolution, when we gained our present system of government, our liberty, and our independence.

When the Japanese invaded China again, this time, they were quite confident that they would conquer China in six months. It has gone on for five years, ten times the Japanese estimate, and, today, they find China stronger, every day, every month, and every year. Yes, we are still going strong, and I am sure that China will lick Japan. (Applause.)

Is there any secret here? Gentlemen, there is no secret at all. The reasons for which China has fought Japan so well are: first, the people are determined to maintain their absolute liberty and independence; secondly, they have absolute confidence in, obedience to, and respect for, our Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek; thirdly, there is absolute unity in China.

China fought Japan alone for five years, and now she has allies. So the confidence of China is greater today than ever, for there is no combination of powers so strong as the United Nations, in resources, in manpower, and in determination to win this War.

So, gentlemen, a toast to our Victory! (Applause--prolonged.)

MR. C. R. SANDERSON: Your Worship and Gentlemen: I think this audience would be particularly interested to know--if I am not impertinent in calling attention to it--that Mr. Fung has spoken to us from a very few brief notes written in Chinese characters. Reading his notes written in his own language he has spoken to us so successfully in ours. May we compliment you, Mr. Fung, on your faculty and facility.

We are glad to share his experiences in Holland, to know the resistance that is being maintained by that overrun and devastated country, and to learn of the sabotage which they are so successfully accomplishing under incredibly difficult conditions. We have one more illustration of the duplicity of Germany, when she goes through the motions of paying for what she commandeers from the occupied countries, but pays in a manufactured paper currency which she knows from her own experience of inflation in the last war can be worth little more than the paper on which it is printed.

As you talked to us, Mr. Fung, about the conditions which are being faced in Holland, and as you describe to us again the destruction of Rotterdam as a threatened foretaste of total obliteration that was Holland's alternative to capitulation, it not only adds to our admiration of the Dutch people, but also drives home a recognition of what the Chinese have been enduring and suffering, a large portion of their land over-run, but fighting on, outside as well as inside their own borders, and, as you say, growing stronger day by day because of that determination to win which your race and our race now hold in common.

In saying Thank You for your address, Mr. Fung, may I once more express our cordial welcome to you, a newcomer to our city, as the official representative of your nation, and may we offer you all our wishes for happiness and for success in your new position. (Applause.)

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Axis Occupation of Holland

The speaker's experiences in Holland, being there for a year and a half during the German occupation. Things heard, seen, and learned, personally. The German invasion of Holland. Reasons and circumstances for surrender. The German government in Holland. Reduction of bicycle tax. Confiscation of goods, food, and vehicles. Rationing food and materials. The way in which the Germans took these things: by printing Dutch money and paying for it. German concentration camps. Curfew. The cruelty of the Germans. Acts of sabotage by the Dutch. The mental, physical, and spiritual suffering of the Dutch. Pinning their hopes on England, and the United Nations. What the Germans are doing in Holland similar to what the Japanese are doing in China. The Japanese invasion of China. Confidence that the Chinese will win the war against Japan.