It’s among the most recognizable images in Holland. The poster below was drawn by Opland, the pseudonym of Rob Wout, one of Holland’s most popular political cartoonists in the second-half of the twentieth century. For 53 years, from age 19 until his death in 2001, Opland drew caricatures and political cartoons for De Volkskrant and De Groene Amsterdammer. In 1981, at a high point in his career, Opland contributed this cartoon to the anti-nuclear movement. The slogan reads ‘No new nuclear weapons in Europe.’ It became one of his most famous images in the peace movement outside the Netherlands, as well. The image is a nice mix of humor and outrage, clarity and simplicity, with a dash of familiarity. How could you say no to her?
The anti-nuclear movement in Holland had been active through the late-1970’s and in 1978 an unexpected coalition of Communists, leftists, and religious groups organized nation-wide protests and petitions that successfully pressured the center-right government to disallow U.S. neutron warheads in the Netherlands. However, a year later Prime Minister van Agt endorsed NATO plans to deploy additional U.S. nuclear warheads to Holland, though in deference to domestic pressure, postponed a final decision. Citizens were outraged and took to the streets, holding one of Amsterdam’s largest protests ever in November 1981. American pundit Walter Laqueur coined the term Hollanditis to describe the movement and its influence on other European countries, particularly West Germany. Around a quarter of the population of the Netherlands signed a petition against the deployment and the movement culminated in a record-breaking one million strong demonstration in The Hague in 1983. In May 1984, a nation-wide week of protest was held and 900,000 people participated in a 15-minute general strike.
Still, on November 1, 1985, after the Soviet Union failed to comply with a Dutch ultimatum and in a period of escalating cold war tensions, the Dutch parliament voted to allow 48 American missiles on Dutch soil, to deploy by 1988. In the end, the new warheads never arrived. In 1987 the Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to eliminate intermediate range missiles.