One subject the Dutch and other Western Europeans do not like to discuss is the level of collaboration with the NAZIs. It is a subject for which we do not yet have much information. We do know that while the Queen and Government officials fled to England to form a Government-in-exile, the Dutch beaureacracy largely colaborated with the NAZI occupation authorities. As the War went on conditions in the Netherlands deteriorated. Food in particular became increasingly difficult to obtain. Thus connections with the occupation authorities had a range of advantages. Also after the Germans began concripting young Dutch men for war work in Germany, there were increasingly fewer youth for the young men to associate with. There were, however, large numbers of youthful German soldier. Not only were there Weheremacht soldiers, but also a substantial Luftwaffe presence in the Netherlands. The aerial pathway from Allied bases in England to targets in the Reich went over the Netherlands and Belgium. As a result, HGerman air defenses in the Netherlands and Belgiium were an important part of the defense of the Reich. Here I am unsure just what the German policies about franternization were. There were liasons between the occupation soldiers and Dutch women. The extent of the liasons I am unsure about. Nor am I unsure about the number of children fahered by German soldiers.
Many Dutch like many around the world assumed at first, especially the fall of France, that the Germans had won the War and decided to collaboate with the Germans. One of the most famous was actor and singer Johannes Heesters. He became successful in Nazi-Germany, befriending high-ranking officials, especially Joseph Goebbels who took a great interest in film making. He liived in houses stolen from wealthy Jews, most of whom who remained in Germany were then deported to the death camps.
The NAZIs occupied the Netherlands for 4 year s. The Dutch for racial reasons were not one of the occupied countries targeted by the NAZIs for destruction. Children were still affected. Dutch Jews were arrested as were Dutch politicans that were anti-NAZI as well as Ressiastance members. Jewish children were the least likely to survive. Many children had fathers or brothers interned as POWs. Some parents and relatives were drafted for slave labor in Germany. Many Dutch government and cultural institutions, however, were allowed to function as long as they did not interfere with occupation policies. Unlike countries in the east, the schools, for example, were allowed to continue opoerating. A Dutch reader who was a schoolboy at the time tells us that during the occupation, "We were not bothered by their propaganda at school, but the teachers learned to keep their mouths shut in regards to the occupying forces. The general atmosphere was very anti-German and more anti-Nazi, but the Germans did not try to 'educate' Dutch children like they did in their own country." Of course if the War had gone differently, the NAZIs would have made major changes in Dutch schools along the lines of their own education ststem. I was a boy during the German occupation of the Netherlands (1940-45). Despite the German attitudes toward the Dutch racially, the Netherlands and Dutch children still endured severe privations during the War.
One subject the Dutch and other Western Europeans do not like to discuss is the level of collaboration with the NAZIs. It is a subject for which we do not yet have much information. We do know that while the Queen and Government officials fled to England to form a Government-in-exile, the Dutch beaureacracy largely colaborated with the NAZI occupation authorities. The Dutch were shattered by the speed and force of the NAZI Blitzkrieg. The Dutch had been synpathetic toward the Germans in World war I and believed that in World War II that the Germans would again respect Dutch neutrality. Within a matter of days their country was in NAZI hands. The fall of France a few weeks later convinced many Dutch people that the NAZIs had essebntially won the War and cooperation with the occupation authorities was the only realistic option. And the NAZI occupation authorities at first behaved relatively correctly. Only gradually did the occupation regime become gradually more onerous.
A Dutch reader writes, "Dutch girls fratenizing with the Germans actually was kind of harmless compared to the assistance many Dutch people gave to the Germans in several fields like the railroads, police, and what was left of city and provincial administration."
The most serious collaborators were Dutch Fascists--Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (National Socialist Movement--NSB). Membership reached 100,000 people. Many Dutch Fascists reported people leading their arrest and execution. Others had participated inn police actions against Jews and the Resistance. Many others who were not NSB members aided in the German oppressio of the population. The NSB reported on members of the Resistance and Jews. Theyb provided auxilieries to assist the Germans in police actions. A Dutch reader writes, "I always was amazed how many Dutch citizens dared to express themselves with anti-German rhetoric. Many times there were fights in the streets between Dutch NAZIs (in their black uniforms) and Dutch citizens. I never saw any German military help the NAZIs and break up the fights." HBC has read that the German occupation authorities did intervene when Jews attempted to protect themselves from attacks by Dutch NAZIs. Our Dutch reader also writes, "During the battle of Arnhem (September 1944), many Dutch NAZIs and collaborators left for Germany. This happened mainly on "Dolle Dinsdag" ("Crazy Tuesday"). I still see them fleeing in their cars with all kind of stuff on the roof, some of them even on horse cariages and bicycles."
The Henneicke Column was working in the investigative division of the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central Bureau for Jewish Emigration in Amsterdam was especially helpful to the Germans.
As the War went on conditions in the Netherlands deteriorated. Food in particular became increasingly difficult to obtain. Thus connections with the occupation authorities had a range of advantages. Also after the Germans began concripting young Dutch men for war work in Germany, there were increasingly fewer youth for the young men to associate with.
There were, however, large numbers of youthful German soldier. Not only were there Weheremacht soldiers, but also a substantial Luftwaffe presence in the Netherlands. The aerial pathway from Allied bases in England to targets in the Reich went over the Netherlands and Belgium. As a result, HGerman air defenses in the Netherlands and Belgiium were an important part of the defense of the Reich.
A Dutch reader writes, "I have never seen a photograph like this one. But of course a Dutch girl or woman going with a German soldier was an every-day occurence in occupied Holland."
Here I am unsure just what the German policies about franternization were. Nor are we sure how struingrntly they were enforced. There were liasons between the occupation soldiers and Dutch women. The extent of the liasons I am unsure about. Nor am I unsure about the number of children fahered by German soldiers. And after the War many of these children were austorcized in the Netherlands.
The NAZis conducted a propaganda campaign in 1940 early in the occupation to get Dutch men to volunteer for military service. Dutch NAZIs were able to get their sons and daughters off the consription list for war service in the Reich. They were, however, pressured to volunteer for military service. The Dutch Army was disbanded. The volunteers served in German Wafen-SS formations. There were units formed with men from various occupied countries (Denmark, the Ntherlands, and Norway). These units were deploued in the East, primarily because the Germans were not sure they could be depended on to fight the Western Allies attempting to liberate the Netherlands. The first Dutch formation was the Standarte 'Westland', one of the infantry regiments of the Wafen-SS 'Wiking' division. 'Westland' was composed primarily of Dutch volunteers. (There were also a small number of Flemish and German volunteers. The Flemis since they spoke Dutch were obviously compatable.
There was also a Walloon Waffen SS battalion. The leader was Obersturmbannführer Leon Degrelle, a charismatic French-speaking Belgian, who did not want to serve with his Flemish speaking compatriots. Degrelle was not Germanic by race and culture, but in this respect the Germans took everybody who wanted to fight the Bolshevists.) After Barbarosa, the Estonian SS-Freiwilligen-Panzer-Grenadier-Batallion 'Narwa' was added to 'Westland'. While the men were mostly Dutch, the officers and NCOs were largely German. The German officers assigned to train the newly recruited Dutch tended to look down on them. In addition the volunteers had mixed political alegences. They included 'moderate NSB, radical NSB, NSNAP, and others and there were at first fights among the volunteers. In addition there was resentment among the volunteers in that the German recruiters often lied about the units for which they were volunteering. Many only found that had volunteered for the Wafen-SS when they arrived at SS training baracks. The training was harsher than many had anticipated and promises like sports training were completely fictious. The Dutch volunteers were allowed to return in the first nonths of training. This probably reflects NAZI optimism about the outcome of the War after the vicory in France. Quite a number did so, but I do not know if actual statistics exist. There were a range of reasons given. Some were concerned about losing their Dutch citzenship. Other expressed a reluctance to persue a military career. There may well have been political reasons that the volunteers did not want to use. One sticking point for many Dutch volunteers was a reluctance to swear the required personal oath to Adolf Hitler. ("Ich schwöre dir, Adolf Hitler, als Führer aller Germanen, Treue und Tapferkeit. Ich folge Dir und den von Dir bestimmten Vorgesetzten Gehorsam bis in den Tod, so war mir Gott helfe.") Not all the Dutch volunteers who returned to the Netherlands stayed out of NAZI or pro-NAZI formations. Some Dutch men subsequently joined the Nederlandsche SS (later: Germanischen SS in die Niederlande). Others served as special policemen. Others volunteered for the Waffen-SS again a year later when the NAZIs launched Barbarossa, the mamouth invasion of the Soviet Union.
The SS had more difficuly setting up Lebensborn homes in the Netherlands than in Norway. As in Norway, the NAZIs saw the Dutch as potentially valuable genetic stock. Reich Commissioner Seyss Inquart was not favorably disposed toward the program. As a result there were no operational Lebensborn homes in the Nertherlands. Dutch women who wanted to participate in the program had to apply to enter the German facilities.
With liberation, the Dutch led by the Resistance, began rounding up collaborators. This included both Dutch Fascists and women who had been sleeping with the Germans. We also see youths who had joined the Fascist youth group (the Jeugdstorm) being rounded up. There was of course a huge difference. The women mostly were just trying to get on withtheir lives ahnd survive in the occupied Netherlands.
A Dutch reader writes, "The photograph of the Parisian collaborators reminds me of scenes I witnessed during the liberation of the Netherlands. Women who fraternized with the Germans--the moffenmeiden, They were despised by the Dutch who had to suffer through the occupation. Girls and women who had been seen with German soldiers were dragged from their homes and were made to stand on platforms where they were shaven bald. Then they had to stand in open trucks that slowly drove through the neigborhood under loud geering and twanting from the crowd. While on display they were insulted by the liberated population. I have seen it with my own eyes. It actually was awful and I am sure that many citizens regretted later what took place. But somehow it was understandable after 5 years of German occupation." [Stueck]
Collaborators were arrested and put in camps until they were sentenced to prison or sent home. That all depended on the seriousness of the collaboration. This was not always possible to dertermine. The Resistance did not get their hands on the thousands of Dutch volunteers who joined Waffen-SS formations which fought on the Eastern Front. They suffered grevious losses and many who survived the War perished in Soviet Gulag.
Diederichs, Monika. "Stigma and Silence: Dutch Women, German Soldiers and their Children," ( Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie--NIOD, Amsterdam).
Hirschfeld, Gerhard. Nazi Rule and Dutch Collaboration: The Netherlands Under German Occupation, 1940-1945.
Stueck, Rudi. E-mail message, November 2, 2006.
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