National Youth Groups: The Netherlands

Figure 1.--This photograph of Dutch Jeugdstorm Meewen show the boys on parade to honor the inaguration of a new mayor in April 1944.

The Netherlands borders Germany. The Dutch are related to the Germany linguistically and ethnically. Many Germans lived in the Netherlands. The Germans in World War I respected Dutch neutrality and even gave scantuary to the Kaisser after he abdicated. Quite a number of right-wing Fascist parties were formed in the inter-war era, many had youth wings. Strangely for susposedly natinalist parties, several advocated union with Germany. There was some support for these groups even before the German invasion in 1940. The Germans did not respect Dutch neutrality in World War II. Interest in the NAZI-approved party increased markedly in the early years of the War when many thought that the Germans would win. Participation in the principal Fascist youth movement, the Jeugdstrom, also increased.


The Netherlands borders Germany. The Dutch are related to the Germany linguistically and ethnically. Many Germans lived in the Netherlands. I am not sure just what the relation betweem the Dutch and Germans were. Except for the Scouts, many of the small mationalist youth groups that developed were adjunts of poltical parties. As a result, to understand the individual youth groups and their evolution, some basic information on Dutch political trends is needed.


World War I Neutrality

The Germans in World War I respected Dutch neutrality. While they invaded neutral Belgium to the south, they respected Dutch neutrality. The Dutch for their part viewed their country in much the same way as Switzerland--a country committed to neurtalism and avoiding war. At the end of the War, the Dutch Government gave scantuary to Kaisser Wilhelm II after he abdicated. They refused requests from the Allies to hand him over for trial. Within their limited means, the Dutch offerd humanitarian aid to Germans and Austrians, both before and after the War.

Inter-war Era

Large numbers of Germans lived in the Netherlands in the inter-war years. The two countries share a common border and are related linguistically making it easier for citizens of each country to do business in the other country. Some of the major Dutch dep[artment stores, for example, were established by Catholic German merchants. Some German companies set up business in the Netherlands to avoid linmitations of the Versaillers Peace Treaty. One estimate suugests over 50,000 Germans lived in the Netherlands--a substantial number for such a small country. After Hitlers assesnt, the Germans probably included refugees. Thus there were probably both pro and anti-NAZI groups. Quite a number of right-wing Fascist parties were formed in the inter-war era, many had youth wings. Strangely for susposedly natinalist parties, several advocated union with Germany. There was some support for these groups even before the German invasion in 1940.

There were quite a number of youth groups in the Netherlands duruing the inter-war era. The most important was the Boy Scouts. Tgere was als a variety of Fasscist groups which developed during the interwar period. Many were sponsored by Fascist-oriented political parties. There were also grioups sposored by left-wing parties.
Arbeiders Jeugd Centrale (AJC): The Arbeiders Jeugd Centrale (AJC) was a socialist movement for boys and girls from the labor classes. They did not wear a uniform as such, but were nearly alsways seen with a red neckerchief.
Fascistische Jongerenbond (FJB): The Fascistenbond (Fascist Union or Broom) was formed in 1932. The following year the group changed its title to the (Algemeene Nederlandsche Fascisten Bond--ANFB (General Dutch Fascist Union). It had its own German-styled black-shirted storm troopers. It also had a youth group, the Fascistische Jongerenbond--FJB (Fascist Youth Union).
(De) Jonge Wacht: Another highly-nationalistic youth organization in the Netherlands before and during World War II (until the Germans banned it) was De Jonge Wacht (The Young Guards), a Roman-Catholic boys group that resembled the Boy Scouts somewhat, but actually had more in common with the Italian Fascist youths during Mussolini's dictatorship. They wore black corduroy shorts like the Hitler Jugend in Germany and green khaki shirts and black and green caps like the Italians. They always were supervised by a young priest or seminarist. A Dutch reader reports, "In my school there were two boys who belonged to De Jonge Wacht and sometimes they would show up in their uniforms, but, of course, the Catholic Scouts had their own separate troops within the Dutch Boy Scout movement."
Nationale Jeugdstorm (NJS): The Nationale Jeugdstorm (NJS) was founded on May 1st 1934 by the deputy leader of the NSB, C. van Geelkerken. On February 1, 1936 the organisation was dissolved after being declared unlawful by the (Dutch) Supreme Court and changed into a "democratic" association: the Vereniging Nationale Jeugdstorm. One month after the German invasion the organisation took back its old name again. Membership of the Jeugdstorm was voluntary, and all "aryan" boys and girls between 10 and 18 years of age could join.
Nationaal-Socialistische Holland Jeugd (NSHJ): The NSNAP (National Socialist Dutch Worker's Party) was a faithful imitation of Hitler's National Scocialist Worker's (NAZI) Party in Germany. It was originally conceived in 1931 by a triumverate of three. They soon fell out over the issue of who would be the Fehurer and quickly formed formed their own parties, each claiming to be the true NSNAP. This situation was further complicated when Major C.J.A. Kruyt defected from one of the NSNAP led by E.H. Ridder van Rappard three to form the Nationaal-Socialistische Part (NSP), later renamed the NSNAP. Two of the original triumverate withdrew and the issue of who led the "true" Dutch National Socialist Party was between van Rappard and Kruyt. Both slavishly copied the NAZIs,using the swastica as a party symbol and the slogan "Nedeland ontwaak" (Netherlands awake). (The NAZI Party slogan was "Deutchland erwache" (Germany awake). The NSNAP has its own youth wing based on the Hitler Youth model--the Nationaal-Socialistische Holland Jeugd--NSHJ (National Socialist Holland Youth). At this time I have few details about the NSHJ or the uniforms the children wore.
Nederlandse Padvinders: The Nederlandse Padvinders or Boy Scoutscwere the largest youth group in the Netherlands in the inter-war era. The Catholics had a special section within the movement. Scouting in Holland started in 1910. That year the first Scout troops were formed in a few cities. In the next decades Scouting organisations were established for boys and two for girls. Scouting quickly became the most popular activity for Dutch boys. The movement was, however, disrupted during the World War II German occupation when the NAZIs at first discouraged and then outlawed Scouting. Some Scouting was continued clandestinely, but Scouts could not wear their uniforms. The Scouting movement was quickly restablished after liberation in 1945.
Troelstra Beweging: The Troelstra Beweging (Troelstra Movement) was a short-lived party founded by Paul Kies, a retired army officer. The party was named in honor of P.J. Troelstra, the respected leader of the Dutch Spcial Democratic Party. The Party adopted the swastica showing where it standed. Kies eventually tired of trying to launch a party and joined with the NSNAP. I do not know of any associated youth movement.
Zwart Front: The Swart (Black) Front, led by Arnold Meyer, broke off from the ANFB in 1933. This was the most anti-semetic and slavishly pro-NAZI group. In elections during 1937 the Swart Front did poorly and Meyer changed the name to the Nationaal Feont. The party uniform was all black. I have no information on an associated youth movement.

The principal Dutch right-wing nationalist pary was the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging--NSB (Nationalist Scocialist Movement). Like the smaller groups, the NSB which was founded in 1931 by civil engineer Anton Adriaan Mussert, was inspired by the NAZI example across the border in Germany. Unlike the other groups, however, the NSB did not advocate union with Germany and did not adopt the swastika. These policies probably explain the NSB's broader appeal. The Party stressed Dutch patriotism and won a few parliamentary seats in 1935, but achieved weak results in the 1939 elections. Many saw the Party's fortunes waning. The NSB Nationale Jeugdstorm--NJ (Youth Branch) was created in 1934 by Cornelis van Geelkeerken was to remain its Hoofdstormer (National Leader) througout its existence. Until the German invasion, it was a very small group with no more than 1,200 members.

Figure 2.--This 1943 photograph shows a public event designed to interest boys in joining the Jeugendstorm. Notice the older boys wearing their uniforms in the background.

World War II Occupation

The Germans did not respect Dutch neutrality in World War II. German troops crossed the border on May 10, 1940. After only 4 days the Dutch capitulated and Queen Wilhemina fleed to form a Government in exhile. The Germans declared that the Netherlands a Reichskommissariat andappointed Arthur Seyss-Imquart to lead it. When France fell in June, many in the Netherlands were convinced that the Germans would win the war. Mussert's NSB was seen as the most important proponent of collaboration. His authority was briefly challenged because of a nationalist movement which apparently appeared spontaneously, the Nederlandse Unie-NU (the Netherlands Union). It was created in 1940 and urged the Dutch to adopt a "loyal" attitude toward the occupying Germans. It favored authoritarian government and patriotism, but on the orders of the Germans did not address the issue of the royal family. Interest in the NU was metioric in the early months of the occupation when many thought that the Germans would win. The NU soon had many more members than the NSB. But it soon faltered. The Dutch saw it as a patriotic (but non-collaborationist, anti-NSB movement) the Germans as a collaborantist moveement. When neither proved to be the case, the Dutch deserted it and the Germans supressed it. The flash point was the NU's refusal to endorse the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. The German's closed the party newspaper and party voluntarily disbanded. This left the political field open to the NSB. The Dutch branch of Dinasso (described in the Flemsish section of nationalist Belgian youth groups) joined the NSB as did units of the NSNAP. The party's political supremacy was guaranteed on December 14, 1941 when the Germans declared the NSB to be the exclusive Dutch political party. Smaller oarties were absorbed into the NSB or disbanded. In fact the strength of NSB and the smaller fascist parties was weakened as commited members joined the German war effort in Russia. Most did not survive the War. The NSB was a higly organized and fully uniformed party. Participation expanded in 1941 as it still looked like the Germans would win the War. The youth organization was the Nationale Jeugdstorm--NJS (Youth Branch) which was greatly expanded after the German occupation.

Post-war Era

De Jonge Wacht was a Catholic group for boys in the Netherlands before the Germn World War II occupation. They wore green khaki shirts and black corduroy shorts an looked like boy scouts. After the War they merged with many Catholic Boy Scouts and called themselves Jong Nederland. I don't know if they still exist. Nor do I know of any nationalist youth group in the Netherlands today.


Cotati, Rudi. E-mail message, August 17, 2001.


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Created: April 25, 1998
Last updated: February 18, 2004