RESOLVED—that the Underground Movement in Occupied Countries is Revolutionary.


Allow me to state that it is a pleasure for me to debate this subject with so worthy an opponent as the Rev. H. Hoeksema. I appreciate the fact that he has a marked ability to clearly state the issue in question, which is particularly advantageous in this case where the whole argument is so definitely on the side of the affirmative. I also appreciate that he expresses agreement with my contention that we must be subject to those in authority, regardless of how they come into power, and also that any individual attempt to overthrow the government, or any personal act of rebellion against the higher powers must be condemned as revolutionary. The issue has been simmered down considerably by the fact that we can agree on that score.

There remains but one point of difference. The negative produces the argument that the government of Holland still exists and has the power to issue commands to its subjects. Therefore the negative concludes that the organized underground movement, as far as it is organized under the direction of its legal government, is not revolutionary.

Of course, the reference to Holland in distinction from other occupied countries, might be considered an appeal to public sentiment, since Holland carries a warm spot in the hearts of all of us. In that case the argument would lose much of its weight. But in as far as this reference to Holland can serve to clarify the point at issue I have no objection.

The Rev. Hoeksema states his position in six contentions, which we can follow step by step.

1. He states that “the government of Holland was not destroyed, or did it abdicate …. but it still exists.” Thus he concludes that this “is the only rightful authority to whom the Dutch subjects owe allegiance and subjection as far as possible.”

Evidently he ignores my former contention that, “even though a former government surrenders under protest, declares itself in exile and surreptitiously orders its former subjects to acts of sabotage, the fact remains that this former government has by the very act of surrender lost all authority over its subjects.” He does not deny that this is true. He merely states that the government still exists as the rightful authority to whom the Dutch subjects owe allegiance and subjection as far as possible.

This the affirmative positively denies. There is at present no legally existing body that has the right to be called the government of Holland outside of the German government. The fact cannot be ignored that the house of Orange has surrendered to the Nazi invaders, and this surrender has been accepted. The queen and, her retinue fled the country, it is true, deserting her subjects in the hour of dire need, but a surrender followed. The people were not merely subdued before the onslaught of the enemy, but the Army and Navy both officially capitulated to the invading forces through the remaining representatives of the former government. They felt that all further resistance was, futile, so they surrendered to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. And the invading powers took over the seat of government and the control of the nation. If this surrender means anything at all, it certainly means that the former government of Holland has ceased to exist. The very act of surrender has made “a government in exile” a nonentity.

2. For that reason the second argument of the negative also falls away. A government that does not exist is not “in a position to function to a certain extent.” Does this mean that it is the responsibility of the German government to feed and clothe the hungry and destitute, while the House of Orange looks on? Are there supposed to be two existing authorities in Netherlands, the one in control and the other acting out of exile? How is this possible, the more so because these two powers are directly opposing each other, the one having capitulated, and the other having assumed the power? In how far would the Dutch subjects be obligated to submit to the controlling power, and in how far would they have to oppose this controlling power by submitting to the government in exile, that has actually been overthrown. Such a situation is not only inconceivable, but even impossible.

The former Dutch government lost all her authority when she surrendered to the invading forces. Though it be true, that the house of Orange is able to contact the people of Netherlands by means of the radio, it has forfeited all right to issue commands and to direct the people “as to what they ought to do in their peculiar circumstances with a view to the ultimate destruction of the usurper, and their own liberation in the end.” This is nothing less than a surreptitious act of rebellion on the part of the house of Orange against the powers that be. The house of Orange, as well as the people in Holland, is obligated to abide by the terms of their surrender. Even though the queen and her retinue fled to England before the surrender, she has no more right to issue orders to the people of Holland than the king of England himself. She may not ignore the existing government which she recognized when they surrendered. She may not ignore that government any more than the people who were forced to stay in the country and face the consequences under German domination. To influence her people to acts of sabotage by means of the radio is also revolutionary.

3. Therefore, the Dutch subjects have no right to organize an underground movement, even though it is under the direction of their former government. This former government has ceased to exist. It has no right to give instructions to its former subjects, nor have these subjects the right to receive them; especially not when these instructions design to destroy the existing government and bring the former government back into power. Why should an organized movement under a revolutionary party be less revolutionary than individual acts of rebellion and sabotage? The people of Netherlands may recognize but one authority, and that is the Nazi government. To them they must submit for God’s sake, whether they like it or not. If any individual attempts of sabotage are wrong, as the negative readily agrees, then also all organized movements under non-existing government must also be wrong.

4. And if it is a matter of conscience, and not of sentiment, then there can be no question but that the entire underground movement, even as organized and directed by the former Dutch government, must be strongly condemned as revolutionary. There can be no doubt but that many of the people of Holland would gladly receive instructions from the house of Orange, aid them in smuggling arms into the country, do everything they can to oppose the existing government, and thus await the moment when they can meet and help the invading forces, in order to hail the house of Orange back into their own country. But the fact remains, that they must be subject, not to the powers that were, but to the existing powers, “the powers that be”. My opponent agrees that, “it makes no difference in what way those that are in authority come into power, whether by election, by hereditary succession, or by usurpation; always we must be in subjection.” But then it must also be agreed, that the Nazi power is the rightful authority in Netherlands. This is the higher power which the people are now conscience bound to obey, come what may!

5. Nor does the appeal to the example of Absalom’s rebellion against David hold in the case before us. David fled from Jerusalem, but he took his army with him, AND HE DID NOT SURRENDER. He did not capitulate to Absalom, but rather withdrew his forces to prepare for battle. It is evident from the whole account in Scripture that David had no intention whatever to surrender to Absalom, but gathered his forces so that he might maintain his throne over against his son. David was still the king of Israel, and Absalom well knew, even after he took occupation of Jerusalem, that he would still have to fight in order to take the kingdom from his father. Therefore Absalom sought counsel of Ahithophel and could be misled by the counsel of Hushai. And it was exactly in the battle that ensued that Absalom was killed and the rebellion quelled.

The point at issue is exactly that David “was still in authority, and could rally his forces to quell the rebellion, destroy the usurper, and be restored to the throne.” But this is not the case in Holland. We do better to compare Holland to Israel in Babylon, and thus go back to the example of Nebuchadnezzar.

6. Therefore our conclusion must be that not only the individual acts of rebellion and sabotage must be condemned, but also the underground movement as it is organized under a revolutionary party, not in control, must be branded as revolutionary.