Atlantic World > A country in Motion 1945 - 1955

By the end of the Second World War, large areas of the Netherlands were reduced to ruins. Hundreds of thousands of inhabitants had lost their lives and the infrastructure was largely destroyed. The stream of Dutch people returning home from every corner of the country and the rest of the world, could hardly be received because of the shortage of homes. In the Dutch East Indies, the most important Dutch colony, a war of independence had broken out. In Europe, the Cold War caused a lot of anxiety.

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Partly thanks to the American Marshall Aid, the government was able to deal with the abundant problems. Even more important was the attitude of the Dutch population who were prepared, during this period of reconstruction, to 'set their shoulders to the wheel'. Nevertheless, not everybody envisioned a future for themselves in the Netherlands. In the period from 1945 until 1955 more than two hundred thousand people emigrated to destinations all over the world.

In spite of all the problems in those first post-war years, the Dutch economy recovered fast. During this period the social laws were introduced that were to form the foundation of the welfare state. By the end of the nineteen fifties there were almost one million television sets in the Netherlands. Via radio, television and film the Dutch became familiar with American culture. It would not take long before Dutch Rock 'n' Roll bands started to compete with their American models.

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