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The Dutch government in exile was the government of the Netherlandsmarker, headed by Queen Wilhelmina, that evacuated to Londonmarker after the Germanmarker invasion of the country at the outset of World War II.

Prior to 1940, the Netherlands was a neutral country, generally on good terms with Germany. In May 1940 Queen Wilhelmina escaped to London; the Dutch government under Prime Minister De Geer would follow a day later, after the German invasion. Initially their hope was that Francemarker would regroup and liberate the country. Although there was an attempt in this direction, it soon failed, because the Allied forces were surrounded and forced to evacuate at Dunkirk.

The government in exile was soon faced with a dilemma, after France had been defeated and the Germans had installed the puppet Vichy French government, which collaborated with Hitler. This led to a conflict between De Geer and the Queen. De Geer wanted to return to the Netherlands and collaborate as well. The government in exile was still in control of the Dutch East Indiesmarker with all its resources: it was the third largest oil producer at the time (after the US and the USSR). Wilhelmina realized that if the Dutch collaborated with Germany, the Dutch East Indies would be surrendered to Japanmarker, as French Indochina was surrendered later by orders of the Vichy government. Because the Netherlands' only hope for liberation was now the entry of the USmarker into the war, the Queen fired her PM and replaced him with Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy, who conspired with Churchill and Roosevelt on ways to smooth the path for an American entry. An oil boycott was imposed on Japan, which helped to spark the Pearl Harbor attackmarker.

The Queen's unusual action was later ratified by the Dutch parliament in 1946. Churchill called her 'the only man in the Dutch government', although she was actually the only woman.


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