THE ANTILLEAN ISLANDS IN WORLD WAR 2
Aruba Bonaire Curaçao Saba Statia St. Martin
During World War 2 a large part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was occupied by the enemy. Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and Japan forced the Netherlands East Indies to surrender. But one part of the Kingdom remained free and would become vital to the war effort and the ultimate Allied victory. The Netherlands West Indies, then consisting of Suriname and the six Antillean islands Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Martin, seemed like a safe haven from all the violent warfare, but nothing was further from the truth.
Suriname delivered most of the world supply of bauxite, main element for the production of aluminium, from which the entire Allied airfleet was constructed. Curaçao and Aruba were home to the main oil refineries still in Allied hands, and the Venezolan crude oil that was refined there was vital to keep the Allied forces flying, rolling and sailing.
German submarines attacked both islands with heavy grenades, fired from their deck guns, and launched an intense hunt on all shipping around the islands and in the Caribbean Sea. Thousands of young Antillean men and women were called to serve and protect the islands, others served in the Army and Navy worldwide and hundreds risked their lives every day on merchant ships which were sailing on all oceans.
After the end of the war, a committee led by Shon Cai Winkel presented a list of 129 Antillean warvictims. Later research increased this number to 166.
This website is dedicated to all victims of World War 2 on and around the Antillean islands, both our own and our Allied partners.
Also the names of the Schutters and Merchant Seamen are mentioned here, so that their contribution to our freedom is not forgotten.
Every year on 4 May, we honour all victims of World War 2 on Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Martin, as has become our tradition since 1945. But 1957 was a special year, because on all the islands WW2 monuments were unveiled. The names of the warvictims were engraved on the monuments.
When the war monument in Willemstad was presented to the population, His Excellency Dr. E. Jonckheer, the first Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, spoke these words about the ones we lost:
“For we all realise that so many were charged by the ideal of saving their fellow men for the destruction of civilisation. Civilisation of countries overseas, our civilisation and your civilisation, they exist and flourish because of our victory in a war in which they had such a great part. The monument that has just been unveiled has been erected on Curaçao, part of the Netherlands Antilles, quietly reflected in the waters of the Waaigat. Every year we will gather here, but we can not restrict ourselves to the victims of Curaçao alone. My thoughts go out to all our victims in the Netherlands Antilles, who fell during WW2, to our victims in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and to the victims of other nations, who fought this war shoulder to shoulder with us. Every year we will remember those who fell as soldiers, as sailors or as civilians in other circumstances. We spend only a few moments here, but their deeds will last eternally, as they are immortal”
The content of this website is organised as follows:
- HOME page provides general information and guides the visitor through the subjects.
- NAME INDEX page is designed to allow for a specified search for a certain person.
- NEWS page shares related newsitems and announces new developments on the website contents.
- WAR VICTIMS page is dedicated to the officially recognised Antillean warvictims.
- OTHER VICTIMS page gives the details of our own and Allied persons, both military and civilian, who lost their lives in non-combat circumstances.
- WAR CHARTS page gives an overview of significant acts of war that took place on and around the islands between 1940 and 1945.
- SUBMARINE ATTACKS page is a testimony to the Allied personnel on ships who lost their lives in U-boat attacks.
- AIRCRAFT ACCIDENTS page lists the US aircraft and their crews that were lost on and around the islands.
- SURVIVORS page shows information on survivors of enemy attacks.
- CSM STRIKE page relates the tragic events that ended a strike of Chinese crewmembers of CSM tankers.
- USS ERIE page tells the story of the attack on this ship and the fate of her crew.
- SCHUTTERS page display the names of the many young Antillean men who were called to serve and protect
- SAILORS page lists Antillean sailors who received a medal for serving on Allied ships during wartime, for a period of at least six months.
- THE BOOK page provides information on the book about the history of the Antillean islands during WW2.
This site is supported by the National Archives of Curaçao and Aruba.