415 Hood to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram N29 LONDON, 25 November 1945, 7.26 p.m.

SECRET

The following are early impressions derived from my first visit to the Hague.

1. Morale is higher than in Brussels and much higher than in Paris. Losses and hardships during the occupation were severe but the general attitude is not to dwell on the past but to work hard for earliest possible reconstruction. Collaborationists have been put away and are hardly referred to.

2. The food situation has improved in the past two months and in many respects is now better than in England. Transport is an overriding problem.

3. The present Government is handling internal controls well and the Prime Minister Schermerhorn is respected and competent. A large proportion of the Ministers, however, are well advanced in years and the Government as a whole, not knowing how far it represents the Country, tends to caution. It is said that a strong swing to Communists will be revealed at elections early next year.

4. The above considerations are relevant to Indonesian question.

Dutch I discussed this with, who all spoke freely, were confident that Holland could handle the situation itself. They took it for granted that Dutch sovereignty would be restored very shortly. One or two contemplated a 'partnership' with the Indonesians but the majority did not think it would be necessary to go beyond the terms of the Queen's broadcast of 1942. A general staff officer told me that 30,000-40,000 troops were ready for despatch to the Indies. He claimed that they were adequately equipped and trained, but this I doubt.

5. These first impressions corroborated the view I had heard in London, that the Metropolitan Dutch were uninformed on developments in Java since 1942. Their determination and confidence, however, is clearly a very real political factor in the situation and has got to be taken account of. The feeling towards Australia, so far as I have been able to judge, is, on the personal level, most friendly and cordial, but beyond this puzzled and resentful. The Dutch view is that they saved Australia from invasion in 1942, that they recognise the good treatment which their officials and evacuees have received in Australia, and that they therefore entirely fail to understand how Australia can now apparently be questioning their right to go back to the East Indies. There is obviously much to be done in putting these matters in their right perspective.

6. Since drafting the above I have seen your telegram 532 [1], repeat of message from Macmahon Ball. I learnt at the Hague that an emissary has recently been sent out to Batavia but his mission was described as investigatory. [2] I have at present no knowledge which would confirm offer reported from Batavia.

1 Dispatched 25 November, on file AA : A1838/2, 403/2/2/2,i. It conatained the text of Ball's cablegram 18 to the External Affairs Dept, dispatched 24 November, reporting private discussions with an official from The Hague, suggesting a fundamental difference of approach between Batavia and The Hague, and the probable replacement of local officials by those from the Netherlands who would offer Indonesians full self government. On file AA :

A1838/2, 401/1/2/1.

2 In a cablegram 22, dispatched 30 November, (on the file cited in note 1) Ball identified the emissary as Lt Col Frozut, a personal envoy of the Netherlands Prime Minister.

[AA : A1838/2, 403/2/2/2, i]