ROTTERDAM – SDAP leader Pieter Jelles Troelstra has a meeting in the Local Sales in Rotterdam existing workers called for revolution. "We come here to speak for the moment, dat ook ons, de arbeidersklasse, de macht in handen zal geven!”

Troelstra's speech was received with cheers. “this great time taints not unworthy deeds; let it be said once: the Dutch proletariat showed themselves to their task, the Dutch proletarian revolution has been the glory point in the history of the Netherlands!”, Thus, the Socialist.

The call of SDAP leader can be seen as a result of the recent national and international developments. The misery of the World which took the last four years, Europe, seems an outburst of popular anger have led. Everywhere people take to the streets. It is restless at Centralen, Germany and Austria-Hungary. But the Allies (Agreement) powers such as Belgium and England there are riots.

Despite the neutrality of the Netherlands, the war not been without consequences in our country. There is high unemployment and a shortage of food there is hunger. The unrest also increases here.

Op 25 October was a clear example could be seen in Harskamp mobilized soldiers in protest against the withdrawal of passes and against malnutrition. They boycotted the army and eventually went a few barracks and a canteen in flames.

When SDAP these are all signs of the impending world revolution predicted by the great ideologist Karl Marx.


Last week Troelstra came into the party leadership with a manifesto aimed at the revolution. it was not everyone in the party board chairman once.

the Netherlands is considered unlikely by those social democrats such a development in a democratic country. A few days later Troelstra also warned in parliament for the tension in the country.

"Do you feel out gradually, by the events from the last time, that you stand on a volcano?”

(Troelstra, Second room, 05-11-1918)


The message that has only increased unrest two days ago has resigned, the German Emperor Wilhelm II.

Several drivers have taken steps to run as orderly as possible a possible takeover in the Netherlands by the working class.

Rotterdam Mayor Zimmerman has SDAP leader Heijkoop Brautigam and invited to discuss a possible change of power.

“He then spoke at length about the difficult state of affairs, if there was a revolutionary movement, and thought it necessary to give us plenty of hints, if it came far. We were especially careful to occupy stations. We mainly had to worry, that link continued to rural, food supply. We mainly had the wild passions of the masses, (hunger – sex) curb and we were then and needed especially for order and routine care ".


Employers and managers followed the example of the Rotterdam mayor and went to talk with representatives of the labor movement.

That was a sign that correct Rotterdam was ready for revolution for the Socialists. The main points of the socialists:

– immediate demobilization

– Immediate introduction of universal suffrage

– Abolition of the Senate

– Socialization of all companies eligible

– Timely and sufficient supply in the housing crisis

– Introduction of state retirement at age 60

– Immediate implementation of the statutory eight-hour day

– Full unemployed care

The situation is also discussed in the Council of Ministers. Prime Minister Ruijs the Beerenbrouck told the ministers that discussed the maintenance of public order.

All these developments reinforce the opinion of Troelstra he expressed in Rotterdam: the social democrats must seize the line.

Political parties are very curious about what Troelstra will speak tomorrow will say in parliament.

Hoe ging het verder?

Troelstra was indeed the next day his speech in Rotterdam 12 November thinly on doing in the House. The ministers and MPs he holds for:

"Your system, gentlemen, your bourgeois system, has slowly decayed and rotten!’ (…) We feel we now not only to seize our own class required to state power, but we also Meenen, the Dutch people can be no greater disservice to the present and the future than when exercise enables us doorslaanden that affect the development of our people, untempered necessary for the achievement of our main demands. herewith, Mr President, I think I have sufficiently explained in more detail what I said in my first speech uttered here. I think I have shown, the reasons and legal basis we, When we call the modern organized workers to accept work eener political revolution in the Netherlands. "

The enthusiasm of his audience was a day earlier in stark contrast to the reaction in the House. There prevailed surprise and even anger. Not only with the other parties but also within his own SDAP. The late Prime Minister Willem Drees, currently a neutral stenographer, found that SDAP MP Schaper his faction "had to calm them down".

The Government nevertheless considers the worst. extra troops are being sent to Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam. Yet only seemed to give workers in Amsterdam and Rotterdam answered the call of Troelstra. In the capital was for example listened to a rally to speeches from i.a.. Henriette Roland Holst and "us redeemer" Ferdinand Domela.

A subsequent tour ended after by Amsterdam Mauritskade where soldiers opened fire. The result is four dead and dozens injured.


The backlash seems that regard successful. With from denominational angle is mobilized against a left takeover. Thousands sign up for the Special Voluntary Landstorm initiated by politicians from the CHU and ARP. Op 17 November come around 40.000 people off organized by Catholics at an event in Amsterdam. The topper is the national honor of Queen Wilhelmina in The Hague a day later (picture below). A large crowd of orange and decorated with the national colors cheering for the queen and her young daughter Juliana to.

read more: Tens of thousands of state aid Wilhelmina after call to revolution

Troelstra's revolution seems to be going out like a candle. The cry is even: "The proven impact of Troelstra's words that the Netherlands Revolution no need to fear" as can be read on special commemorative plates that were made.

Even Troelstra made soon then he might have made a mistake. All on 13 November, he was in the House to defend himself by reporting the day before that he really had not talked about a revolution or coup. He later said in his memoirs that the enthusiasm of the crowd in Rotterdam 11 November might have influenced him.

“Unforgettable is me the sight of this room elated and purposeful men and women; behind only a few rows of seats, the crowd stood shoulder to shoulder with unprecedented fire rang our battle songs from the waiting crowd. Impressed by the reports from Germany, where Ebert became Chancellor and waved the red flag of the Imperial Palace, Troelstra's revolution seems to be going out like a candle. The cry is even. "And tomorrow the International will reign on earth." (…) When I got the word and kept the speech, who expected these people to me and came right from my heart, without being checked by the common sense. I missed, as I said before, In those days a brake and let me – something that, I admit, should not happen to the politician – by the greatness of the moment and get carried away by the enthusiasm of my comrades before me. But I found a unit with my hearers, if I had not known, and I must continue to think this evening, as one of the most beautiful moments of my life. My words undoubtedly deserved criticism of taktischen and organizational nature chen, but they expressed it best, what survived of the socialist workers in the hearts.

Troelstra's appeal would have major political implications. Social reforms were introduced in order to eliminate the breeding ground of discontent among the workers. The SDAP should pay the bill for the slip their leader, who still might remain.

The party that had fought so hard for universal suffrage in order to make the voice of the workers in the parliament and possible hearing to rule on that road, was now by the other parties no longer taken seriously as a coalition partner. It would be the confessionals which benefited especially from the new electoral system. The SDAP is off.

The speech of Troelstra in parliament would be remembered as "the mistake of Troelstra". But without the enthusiasm of his audience Rotterdam was a day earlier that mistake may never commit.


Other times – Mistake's tragedy

Pieter Jelles Troelstra – commemorative writings

historical Newspaper – 10 oktober 2010 – Troelstra's mistake

Author: Drs. Allard Schellens

published: 01-10-2018

story number: 223

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