How did the Dutch and Belgian governments-in-exile run their colonies?

It’s my understanding that during the war, the Dutch colonies in the Americas and Belgian Congo (and the Dutch East Indes prior to the Japanese occupation) remained loyal to their countries’ respective governments-in-exile in London and supported the Allied war effort. My question is, how? How did a handful of people in an office building claiming to be a legitimate government but with no effective control whatsoever of their own country maintain the loyalty and support of their colonial administrations? Why didn’t the people use this opportunity to declare independence, as happened in most of Latin America when Napoleon occupied Spain? Did the British and Americans help maintain order in these colonies?


I think for the Dutch colonies, it was always a matter of “a handful of people in an office building.” It was only after leaders among the colonized emerged with the education and the sophistication to be able to sway the people to throw off the ‘home country’s’ control.

For the Belgian Congo, it also had no local leaders to bring the people to rebellion until after WWII. Even so, despotic oppression by the Belgians kept an independence from appearing until the late 1950s. (That is to say, whenever a local leader appeared, the Belgians killed him.)

For both, a significant part of the sophistication came via the Soviet Union, eager to destabilize the West.

Do not discount the support for South American independence by the Brits. When Napoleon took Spain, the Brits armed and supported (often with actual troops) to pry these countries away from Spain - since it was part of the French Empire, and could significantly assist France with trade. (These countries then promptly threw the British out.). It was again a matter of political sophistication in South America, allowing local governments to be effective and popular.

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A book to learn more about the Belgian and Unbelgian Congo: