Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Brandon Marsh

Degree Award Date



World War Two, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Leopold, Wilhelmina, Charlotte, Benelux, Low Countries, Occupation, Monarchy


European History


In May of 1940, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg were quickly overrun by Nazi forces. While the Low Countries had each promised neutrality should a wider European war break out, Hitler and his generals dismissed these declarations due to their avaricious demand for territory and wider plans towards invasion of France. As such, the Low Countries were invaded in a surprise attack that saw them each capitulate within days despite resistance by their own militaries. In this chaos the monarchies of Belgium (King Leopold III), the Netherlands (Queen Wilhelmina), and Luxembourg (Grand Duchess Charlotte) were each left with a difficult choice. On one hand, they had the opportunity to remain in their occupied countries alongside their subjects and soldiers, which was similar to the circumstances of the French government based in Vichy. On the other, the monarchs could have fled to the relative safety of Britain to manage their governments-in-exile more effectively and to encourage their countrymen to resist Axis aggression whenever possible through propaganda broadcasts. This project examines each of the Benelux monarch's responses to the occupation of their respective realms as well as their activities in exile or captivity.

Recommended Citation

Chatterton, Benjamin. "The Low Countries at War: Responses of the Benelux Monarchs to Nazi Occupation." Senior Honors Projects, Bridgewater College, 2022.