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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, May 10, 1940, Image 7

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Belgium's Defenses
Better Than in '14,
Envoy Here Says
Conquest of Netherlands
Would Give Nazis Claim
On Colonies Near U. S.
By BLAIR BOLLES.
Count Robert van der Straten
Ponthoz, the Belgian Ambassador,
told the press today after a visit
to the State Department that his
country is far more prepared for
resistance today than she was In
1014, when the Germans invaded
the little kingdom in their drive
toward Paris.
The night's attack on the Low
Countries, besides arousing fervid
memories of the invasion of Bel
gium in 1014, brought the war closer
to the neutral United States.
The reduction of the Netherlands
would give the Germans a theo
retical claim to the Dutch colonial
empire, spread around the world.
Latin American Parleys Planned.
Secretary of State Hull indicated
today that consultations would be
held with the Latin American re
publics concerning the status of
Dutch possessions in the Western
Hemisphere. The matter has not
quite reached the stage of dlscus
siflfc.
Naturally, he continued, the
United States Government will dis
cuss with the American republics
any and all questions that may arise
In which they are concerned.
On the northern coast of South
America the Dutch own Surinam,
64,291 square miles of jungle land
ceded by the British, who now are
the Dutch allies, almost 275 years
ago in trade for New Netherlands,
now New York. Later the French
got it under Napoleon, but the
Dutch have had undisputed title
Since 1815.
In the West Indies the Dutch
own two groups of islands lumped
together for colonial administrative
purposes under the name of Cura
'cao. These are the islands of Cu
racao, Arabia, Bonaire, St. Martin
(shared by the French), St. Eusta
tius and Saba.
St. Martin is only 200 miles east of
the United States possession, the
Virgin Islands.
East Indies Status in Doubt.
The status of the great Dutch East
Indies, rich archipelago stretching
for 2,000 miles eastward from the
southeastern tip of Asia, is in doubt.
Dr. Alexander Loudon, the Dutch
Minister, said this morning there is
no change in the Indies’ status. The
Japanese, this government fears,
have designs on the East Indies.
In Washington itself, the Dutch,
It has been reported, own a piece of
real estate—the Westchester Apart
ments, Thirty-ninth street and Ca
thedral avenue N.W., said to be the
possession of Queen Wilhelmina.
So far as the United States Is
concerned, officials regard the inva
sion of the Netherlands as a major
economic development. The Neth
erlands and their possessions were
the U. S. A.’s sixth best customer
last year, buying $98,809,000 worth
of goods.
"Belgium has a greater army and
she has stronger fortifications today.
thari then/’ the Belgian Ambassador,
said at his press conference, held
at the Embassy. He has a son
Charles, 22, at the front in a motor
ized cavalry regiment. Charles
van der Straton-Ponthoz was in the
United States until he was called to
the colors a year ago.
“And you will find,” the Ambas
sador said, “that King Leopold is
truly the son of King Albert.”
King Albert was the Belgian
SECRETARY HULL AFTER NIGHT IN OFFICE—Almost at
dawn Secretary of State Hull left the State Department today
for his home, four blocks away, after a conference with his aides
to discuss the implications of the news from Holland, Belgium
and Luxembourg. A. P. Photo.
monarch in 1914, and he nevei
ceased his defiance of the Invaders
The army then, the Ambassadoi
pointed out, amounted to only 130,
000 men. Today it has 850,000, mon
than 10 per cent of the country’)
population.
Air Strength Insufficient
In the air, the Ambassador re
ported, his country has “not suf
ficient strength.” But the series oi
fortifications across the kingdom’)
borders, he feels, speaking as a non
military man who has a deep interesl
in the situation, are strong enough
to thwart as swift an advance as the
Germans made toward the North
Sea in 1914. The line of forts is less
a Maginot Line, he said, than a sort
of Mannerheim Line, a connected
link of pill-boxes and earthen works
Count Ponthoz arrived at the State
Department shortly after his dip
lomatic colleague. Dr. Loudon, paid
a visit to State Department officials
Dr. Loudon arrived at 8:30 am. by
plane from New York City, from
where he spoke early this morning
by telephone with his government
in The Hague. The Belgian Am
bassador said that though he had
been trying since 3 am. he has been
unable to make contact with his
government in Brussels.
Loudon Sees Hull, Welles.
Dr. Loudon saw both Secretary of
State Hull and Undersecretary
Welles and he had an appointment
! to talk with President Roosevelt. He
said he hoped later in the day he
would be able to get some sleep.
Word of the German stroke came to
him at midnight, and he had no
sleep except a cat nap on the plane
that brought him to Washington
with his wife.
The Belgian Ambassador had an
appointment with the British Am
bassador, Lord Lothian, for noon,
and he was hopeful of a discussion
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Next to Columbia Theatre
with his Dutch colleague for the
day’s end.
“We have been attacked," Count
Ponthoz said, "and, of course, we
have asked the support of France
and Great Britain, in the light of
the agreement of April 24, 1937.”
Under that agreement France and
Great Britain were pledged to de
fend the integrity of Belgium.
Neither the Dutch Minister nor
the Belgium Ambassador would
give credence to the German claim
that the Nazi invasion was predi
cated on reports that the British
and French planned a similar move
ment across the two Low Countries.
"It is an absolute lie." Dr. Lou
don said.
“That’s the usual thing lor Berlin
to say when she goes to war, Isn’t
It?” the Belgian asked.
"We Stick to Oar Word.”
Asserting that the Netherlands
was determined to fight and resist
the German invasion to the utmost'
to preserve its independence, the
Dutch Minister said a distinct
German propaganda has done its
utmost to convince the world that
the Dutch would not fight.
"We stick to our word,” he said.
The government, he said, has
stated consistently that it intends
to fight If the country should be In
vaded.
Count W. van Rechteren Limpurg,
counsellor of the Dutch Legation,
said at the airport, as he waited to
greet his chief this morning, that
the invasion was no surprise to him
or other Hollanders. When he last
departed from the Netherlands, in
August, 1839, before the war began,
he found his countrymen expecting
both the outbreak of a German war
and an invasion.
Loudon Become* Paymaster.
Dr. Loudon was In New York
making provisional arrangements for
the assumption of his duties as pay
master general for the Netherlands—
a post which he was notified a few
days ago he would assume if Am
sterdam were invaded.
Count Ponthos said he has re
ceived no similar instructions from
his government. The Belgian’s first
word of the invasion came in a
radio news broadcast about mid
night. At once he telephoned to
his colleague in London. Ambassador
Baron de Cartier, who formerly was
Ambassador to this country.
Baron de Cartier confirmed the
bad news.
Dr. Loudon heard of the invasion
in a telephone call from Count
Rechteren Limpurg, who had heard
the same radio report that reached
Count Ponthos. Dr. Loudon thefl
talked first with London and then
with The Hague, the Dutch capital.
After his conversation with his gov
ernment, he went on the air in New
York with a statement for the
United States of the Dutch position.
Count Ponthos made a radio talk
from here this morning over the
National Broadcasting Co. network,
saying: “From 1914 to 1918 her
(Belgium’s) small army fought with
out interruption until her enemy was
crushed. She is determined to do
it again.”
Monroe Doctrine Involved.
Count Ponthos during the World
War was secretary of the Belgian
Embassy in Paris.
Aside from whatever emotional
reaction may meet the invasion of
Holland and Belgium, this country
has a real interest in the move.
Two aspects of the United 8tates'
foreign policy come into question—
the Monroe Doctrine and the sup
port of the “neutral safety belt”
around the Western Hemisphere set
up at the Panama Ministers’ Confer
ence last October in order to in
sulate the New World from the war.
. The Monroe Doctrine puts this
country in the position of being un
willing to have transfers of lands
made to new ownership in the Amer
ican Continents and their regions
and to have countries not now hold
in colonies in those regions to take
colonies.
Valuable Harbors in Curacao Isles.
80, for consistency sake, this Gov
ernment could be expected to make
at least vigorous representations to
Germany if she should assert claims
over Surinam and the Curacao
Islands.
The Curacao Islands, too, offer
harbors usable as submarine bases.
On April 17 Secretary of State
Hull verbally committed this coun
lory to a position with regard to
the Netherlands Indies which could,
if followed to its logical conclusion,
involve us in war—although it is
questionable whether Mr. Hull and
the President would seek support for
the Secretary’s words in action. This
Government often in recent years
has stated its views but done noth
ing when those views were disre
garded—for example, the Japanese
operations in Asia.
Hull Warned Japan.
Mr. Hull gave a warning about
the Netherlands Indies when the
Japanese Foreign Minister, Alta,
expressed concern about the Indies
status quo in words Indicating a
Japanese desire to intervene in the
islands. The State Department felt
that the Alta statement had a Ger
man inspiration. Mr. Hull said:
“Intervention in the domestic af
fairs of the Netherlands Indies or
any alteration of their status quo
by other than peaceful processes
would be prejudicial to the cause
of stability, peace and security not
only In the region of the Nether
lands but in the entire Pacific area.”
The Indies are a large source of
raw materials for the United SUtes.
Jackson's Son Honored
William E. Jackson, son of Attor
ney General Robert H. Jackson, was
Upped yesterday by Skull and
Bones, oldest of the secret societies
at Yale.
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