Eisenhower visits The Hague

Most schoolchildren are happy to be given an extra day off from classes. On October 6, 1945 the mayor of The Hague gave this treat to the city’s schoolchildren. The reason was the visit of an important man: General Dwight Eisenhower, commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in Europe during the recently-concluded Second World War.

Eisenhower – the Exterminator

General Eisenhower’s visit was widely advertised in the newspapers, which praised him as ‘the exterminator of the German war machine’ and ‘the victor of the West’.

Opdrachtgever Militair Gezag - drukker Drukkerij Henri Bergmans N.V Tilburg
Commissioned by the Dutch Military Authorities - printed by Drukkerij Henri Bergmans N.V Tilburg

Train

Eisenhower came to The Hague by rail from Frankfurt via Utrecht on a train that clearly proclaimed victory, as it  was composed of the salon cars of Hitler, Goering and Goebbels. Not all Nazi symbols had been removed yet. The flowers were in vases decorated with the swastika and the coffee cups also carried this image.

The train’s engineer had a special gift for the general: a pair of cufflinks made of old silver quarters and dimes. During the war, making and wearing these objects was a form of passive resistance. This reuse of coins taken out of circulation by the Germans was also a sign of support for the Dutch royal family.

Cufflinks made of 2 dimes and two quarters with the image of Queen Wilhelmina. Coll Beeldbank 40-45

On the train, Eisenhower had a conversation with Dutch journalists. He expressed great admiration for the Resistance, especially when he spoke about the battle of Arnhem. He promised that he would do everything in his power to ensure that what the Germans had stolen from the Dutch people would be returned to the Netherlands as soon as possible.

He also said that, when all this was over, he would prefer to live in a house in the woods. He wanted peace and no political career at all (!). He bid goodbye to the journalists with ‘Good luck to you all’.

Route

Prince Bernhard was on time at the former State Railway Station (now The Hague Central Station) to receive the general and his party. Unfortunately the train was delayed, but at 10.50 am the general set foot on The Hague soil. At the station exit the Haags Matrozenkoor sang the Wilhelmus, the national anthem of The Netherlands.

Arrival of general Eisenhower at Staatsspoor station - 6 Oct 1945 - Maker Fotopersbureau Van den Heuvel - Coll HGA

The general went by car to  the U.S. Ambassador’s official residence which in those days was at Buitenrustweg (now Tobias Asserlaan). After a short break the company set off again, this time to the Lange Voorhout Palace.

Both auto routes had been described in detail in the newspapers. As a result, residents of The Hague were ready with flags, mostly the Dutch flag, but also here and there the Stars and Stripes. Along the route Hagenaars cheered and threw flowers, many of them orange, and serpentine streamers.

Eisenhower in The Hague Plein 1813 6 October 1945 - Anefoto - Coll Nationaal Archief

Lange Voorhout

The immediate area of the Paleis Lange Voorhout had been meticulously cleaned by workmen from the Municipal Cleaning Department. Since it was early autumn, leaves were already turning colour and the workmen swept away the newly fallen ones. At the palace, Queen Wilhelmina received the general and the company had lunch. Also present: Prime Minister Schermerhorn; the mayor of The Hague, De Monchy; and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Van Kleffens.

Aankomst van generaal Eisenhower bij het paleis Lange Voorhout
Arrival of general Eisenhower Lange Voorhout Palace - 6 Oct 1945 - Maker Fotopersbureau Van den Heuvel - Coll HGA
Eisenhower met koningin Wilhelmina
Eisenhower with Queen Wilhelmina at Lange Voorhout Palace - 6 October 1945 - Anefoto - Coll Nationaal Archief

To Amsterdam

The general must have been a fast eater, because at 12.45 he was already leaving The Hague via the Benoordenhoutseweg for Amsterdam.

Eisenhower verlaat Paleis Lange Voorhout
Eisenhower leaves Lange Voorhout Palace - 6 October 1945 - Anefoto - Coll Nationaal Archief

There is much to tell about The Hague during and shortly after the Second World War. I do that during my  World War II City Walk and my World War II Cycling Tour.

2 thoughts on “Eisenhower visits The Hague”

  1. Thank you for sharing this interesting piece of postwar Dutch/American history! Incidentally, it’s interesting to see General Eisenhower wearing the standard American “Pinks & Greens” Officer uniform, and not the waist-length blouse affectingly known as “Ike Jackets”.

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