Directly to the main navigation Go to the main content Directly to the main navigation Go directly to search

World War in the West

The only free Dutch territories

During World War II, the Netherlands is occupied by Nazi Germany. Japan, Germany’s ally, occupies the Dutch colony the Dutch East Indies. Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba remain the only free Dutch territories. Yet these colonies in ‘the West’ are also affected by the war. Contact with the Netherlands is made impossible.

Bauxite mines and oil refineries

The bauxite mines in Suriname and the oil refineries on Curacao and Aruba become very important to the war effort. US soldiers arrive to protect these industries.

Suriname, the Antilles and Aruba become more important in world politics. Prosperity increases and with it the desire for independence.

Oil refinery from above.
Oil refinery from above.
Arrival boat with soldiers.
Arrival boat with soldiers.

US troops

When World War II breaks out Suriname, the Antilles and Aruba are virtually defenceless. The colonial executive calls for reinforcement of the territories’ own troops with soldiers from the Netherlands in 1939.

Immediately after the German invasion of the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, British troops arrive on the Antilles and Aruba to protect the oil refineries. A year later, US troops are stationed in Suriname.

US soldiers also replace the British troops on the Antilles and Aruba in 1942.

More articles in this dossier

There is much more to tell about this topic. Read more on the pages below.