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Hendrikus Colijn

(b. 1869)


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(b. Burgerveen, 22 June 1869; d. Ilmenau, Germany, 18 Sept. 1944)

Netherlandish; Prime Minister 1933–9 After a six-year military training Colijn joined the Royal Netherlands Indian Army (KNIL) in 1893, covering colonial administration. Upon his return to the Netherlands he was elected a member of the Lower House for the orthodox-Protestant Anti-revolutionary Party. Two years later he was appointed Minister of War, serving in 1912 also as interim Minister for the Navy. During his two years in office he carried through a successful army reorganization.

In order to acquire financial independence (which he considered to be a prerequisite for successful politicians) Colijn temporarily changed national politics in 1914 for an appointment as a managing director of the oil company Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij (from 1919 Royal Dutch Shell). He served as a member of the Upper House (1914–20). In 1922 he voluntarily left Shell to devote the rest of his life to national politics, becoming the undisputed leader of the Anti-revolutionary Party and the dominant political figure nationally. After one year in the Lower House he became Minister of Finance (1923–5). In 1925 and again from 1933 to 1939 he led five governments, occupying either the Ministry of Finance or of the Colonies. The backbone of his coalition consisted of his own ARP and two other religious parties, the Protestant CHU and the Catholic RKSP. This coalition was expanded by two Liberal parties from 1933 to 1937. When not a minister Colijn was a member of the Upper House (1926–9) or of the Lower House (1929–33). As Prime Minister during the depression he emphasized the need for a rigid cutting of government expenditures and balanced budgets. For a long time he remained convinced of the need to retain the gold standard (only left in 1936). Colijn was prominent in League of Nations committees. He presided over the Economic Commission of the World Economic Conference in 1933. His fifth Cabinet, formed without Catholic support, was dismissed by a parliamentary vote in 1939, paving the way to a realignment of Dutch politics by the first-time inclusion of Socialist ministers in the ensuing Cabinet.

Colijn was interned by the German occupying authorities in 1941.

Subjects: Politics.


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