World War II: The Netherlands--Collaborators and War Criminals

Figure 1.-- This Swedish press photograph shows the younger children of Dutch war criminals, collaborators, and war profiteers being tried or already convicted by Dutch courts. This is a nursery school group. Notice the modern furniture and supplies for the obviously well cared for children. What we do not fully understand is the status of their mothers. The chief war criminals and collaborators were their fathers. The fact that the children were taken into care would suggest that their mothers were also arrested. Or we think more likely the children were not separated from their mothers and are in a detention camp. We are not sure to what extent their mothers were culpable and actually guilty of serious collaboration, meaning actions that seriously affected other people. Hopefully Dutch readers will know more about what happened. The photograph was taken in Amsterdam during September 1946. Put your cursor on the image to see the Swedish-language caption.

With the arrival of the Allies, brutalized Dutch people wanted retribution. The result was extra-judicial actions in the immediate liberation period targeting collaborators. Some men were shot or lynched or otherwise punished without trial, often by the armed Resistance. The girlfriends of German soldiers were rouhghly treated and had their heads shaved. After the immediate period of liberation, collaborators were ostracized by their neigbors. One of the issues faced by the Provisional Government once organized was how to deal with collaborators, war criminals, and war profiteers. It is important to note that collaboration includes a wide range of activities and only a small number were war criminals. Dutch women with German boy friends were collaborators, but certainly not war criminals. The Germans structured their occupation regimes so that it was virtully not possible to avoid collaboration. The critical issue was if your collaboration affected others such as reporting someone violting German regulations. The Allies tried the major war crininal swhose cries transscened international borders. NAZI Reichskommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart (1940-45) was the individual most responsible for German war crimes in the Netherlands. He was arrested by the Allies and tried by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. His war crimes were not limited to the Netherlands. He was found guilty and executed (1946). Individual countries were free to organize their own judicial process for crimes committed in their nations. Dutch authorities arrested the NAZI-collaborationist Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (NSB) founder and leader Anton Mussert. He was found guilty and executed in Den Haag (1946). Rost van Tonningen, another NSB leader, had wisely fled to Germany and tried to hide there. He was arrested in Germany and extradited to the Netherlands. He died in prison. Dutch authorities in the immediate post-War period held special tribunals to try accused war criminals and collaborators. The Dutch eventually executed about 30 persons for war crimes, a relatively small number given the enormity of the war crimes committed. Most of those foundguilty were sentenced to prison terms. Some Dutchmen volunteered to serve with the Wehrmacht or Waffen-SS. Almost all were sent to the Eastern Front to fight the Soviet Red Army. (They were not trusted to fight in the West.) Most were NSB members or the sons of NSB members. Serving in the military or sending their sons to fight was a way for NSB members to embelish their credetials with the Germans. Many died in the horrific fighting thst occurred there. Those who survived and managed to get back to the Netherlands were used to clear the minefields laid by the Germans. Before the War, a number of Germans lived in the Netherlands. Many had collaborated with the German occupation authorities. The Dutch Government intoituted Operation Black Tulip, the deporttion of German passport holders.



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Created: 4:36 AM 6/21/2016
Last updated: 2:11 PM 6/21/2016