Drs. G.C. van Hengel

  • Posted on: 20 January 2015
  • By: nicolaas
About the participant: 

Guido van Hengel is a historian. He has studied in Groningen, Jena and Belgrade and has worked as an editor, researcher and translator. He is currently a lecturer-researcher at the Department of Contemporary History at the University of Groningen.

Title of lecture: 
Dutch newspapers and the Eastern front

The Netherlands did not participate in the battles of the Great War, but that does not mean that ‘all was quiet on the Western Front’. The Netherlands were in the eye of the tornado, sandwiched between the UK and Germany, France, and Belgium. The Dutch could hear the shelling of Dicke Bertha’s across the border.

Not much was heard from the Eastern Fronts, but - thanks to international press agencies - Dutch newspapers reported extensively about the battles in Poland, Italy, on the Balkans, and in the Middle East. Although the government kept a close eye on the neutrality of the daily newspapers, still many ‘colored’ or ‘biased’ stories managed to reach the Dutch audience.

These Dutch Great War newspapers form the basic research material for those trying to answer the question about the Dutch view on the future of Europe in general, and Eastern Europe in particular. In this presentation I will also discuss to what extent warring parties influenced media in the neutral Netherlands. In a case-study I will focus on the relation between Austro-Hungarian interest groups and the editors and journalists of Dutch dailies. Recent publications revealed that journalists working for serious Dutch news media (including the NRC and Algemeen Handelsblad), were not entirely immune to the lure of propaganda agents from Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.