Until his death, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands denied being a member of Hitler’s party. And now the proof has been found: he lied.
“I can put my hand on the Bible and swear that I was never a Nazi,” said German-Dutch Prince Bernhard shortly before his death in 2004.
Bernhard was the father of the former Queen Beatrix and the maternal grandfather of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander.
In a candid interview in De Volkskrant Just before his death, he faced rumors that he had been a member of the German Nazi Party, before moving to the Netherlands. He flatly rejected them, as he had for decades. Later, journalist Jean Tromp says the prince may have suppressed reality and believed his lie.
Prince Bernhard admitted that he was an aspirant in the Nazi organizations Sturmabteilung (SA) and Schutzstaffel (SS). He justified this with pure opportunism, which helped him in his career. He denied being a member of Hitler’s party.
Historian Gerard Alders has worked extensively on Bernhard’s life. In the United States, a copy of a document was found indicating that the prince was a Nazi.
– I was accused of everything possible. Alders says: A week before his death, Bernhard called me from his deathbed to deny everything NRC Handelsblad.
But the archive card from the National Socialist Party was still in the prince’s private archive.
Controversial in all years
German Prince Bernhard van Lippe Besterveld married Dutch Crown Princess Juliana in 1937. A week before the wedding, he was officially removed from the Nazi Party membership lists. It’s been a few years since he paid his dues.
NSDAP is an acronym for Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, Hitler’s party that took power in Germany in 1933.
In the Netherlands, many people did not like that the Crown Princess married a German. During the wedding, the musicians refused to play Horst Wessel’s German song, the Nazi national anthem. A more compliant military orchestra had to be brought in.
After Germany attacked the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, the prince threw himself into the war against his old motherland. He had the Queen’s full confidence. He was promoted several times throughout the war and eventually became commander of the Dutch Home Forces.
It was not torn
After the war, American General Lucius Clay became commander of the occupation forces in Germany. In 1949 he wrote to the prince: “Dear Prince Bernhard.” The general said that he obtained the membership card while he was in Germany, and placed it in his private archive.
“When I was going to tear it up, I thought you might deserve to do the tearing yourself.”
But the prince kept the card and hid it in his private archive.
Clay must have gotten the file card from CIA.
He must know the history
Recently, the Dutch royal family opened its archives up to 1948. Researchers do not need special permission to investigate what Queen Wilhelmina and her brother-in-law Bernhard did while in exile in London.
We now know that they worked, among other things, on plans to put parliamentarism aside after the war. Wilhelmina believed that she understood the Dutch people better than the politicians seeking re-election did.
King Willem-Alexander says it’s good for everything to come to light. He realizes that his grandfather’s membership in the Nazi Party provokes reactions:
– I understand very well that this news raises many feelings, especially among Jews, he told the Broadcasting Corporation number.
-I’ve had the opportunity to remove things from the archive. But I decided not to do that. He said: I believe that the archive should be open and accessible to researchers as much as possible.
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