What, for a long time we feared, what, according to the reports in the last papers we received from the old country, the Dutch more and more feared, especially since the “protective” possession by the Germans of Denmark and Norway, has now become history: old Holland was invaded and overcome by the German war-machine!
And we, no doubt, were all shocked and filled with indignation because of this brutal and wholly unjustified attack upon the lowlands.
Without provocation on the part of the Dutch, though the German government concocted several reasons and excuses for this wanton disregard of international relations and Holland’s neutrality, the Germans drove their smashing hordes into the Netherlands.
Without warning, without an ultimatum, without a declaration of war, they attacked the old country.
And although the Dutch made an heroic attempt to defend themselves and to throw back the invaders, the outcome, considered from a human viewpoint, could not very long be doubtful, was, in fact, inevitable. The royal family was threatened and sought refuge in England. And only a few days after the invasion was started, general Winkelman announced to the world that he had no alternative but destruction or surrender, and that he had chosen the latter. As usual the British failed to stand by. And alone the Dutch could not hope to stand against the mechanized forces of the German army.
In the meantime, there was fierce fighting. Holland was the scene of a terrible combat, so that according to official estimates one out of every four of Dutch soldiers was killed in action. One hundred thousand young men were slaughtered in a conflict that lasted no longer than five days. And who can say how many are the wounded, and those that are maimed for the rest of their life?
And now the Germans have occupied Holland.
I shall not attempt to draw a picture of the suffering and agony, the sorrow and grief, that is endured at present by the Dutch as a result of this brief and impossible conflict.
We can all readily understand that there is dire need. The hospitals must be more than crowded. Many are homeless. ‘Immediately after the war in Holland it was reported that Rotterdam was already in want of meat and milk. Everything is in confusion. Dutch industry must be practically at a standstill. What becomes of schools and churches we know not. But it requires no strong imagination to realize that the need is great.
And we feel for Holland.
Many of our people of Dutch descent still have close relatives in the old country. Not a few of them had dear ones in the Dutch army. We ask ourselves: are they killed, wounded, in need and want, homeless? And especially as a Reformed people we are thinking of God’s people over there, of the future of the Reformed Churches. And our hearts are bleeding for them.
No doubt, we also have asked ourselves, whether we can do anything at all to alleviate their suffering and to help them in their need. Individual help is impossible. Who can be sure that what we would send to them will ever reach them.
There must be concerted and centralized action. Relief must be brought to war-torn Holland through some agency that knows through what channels our gifts can be sent to the Dutch, so that we may be reasonably sure it will not fall into wrong hands.
For this purpose a relief committee was organized in Grand Rapids under the leadership of Mr. J. Steketee, consul for the Netherlands, to collect funds for the destitute and needy over there. And they will put forth every effort in their power to see to it, that the relief-money or materials will reach the Dutch people.
The Standard Bearer appeals to all our people to help in this cause!
Not only on our people in Michigan, but everywhere.
It is the least we can do.
Perhaps, also in other states similar committees have been organized and are now functioning. If so, you will most likely send your aid through those committees.
But if this is not the case, we may all help through the committee here in Grand Rapids.
You may send your contributions to Mr. S. G. Schaafsma, 933 Watkins St., S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan.
He has been appointed member of the above named committee, is well known in our churches, and has the confidence of all our people.
Send your gifts early!