The Dutch SS volunteers

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Not everyone in the Netherlands were against the Nazi occupation of the country. Although most of the Dutch hated the German occupiers, there were some who saw it as an opportunity to pursue their own agenda.

In a meeting on June 9, 1940 between A.A. Mussert( the leader of the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands ,NSB). and Gottlob Berger of the German SS-Amt, Mussert was ordered by Hitler to recruit Dutch men for the Wiking division of the Waffen-SS. The Dutch volunteers would get their own regiment, the Standarte ‘Westland’.

The Dutch volunteers who fought with the Germans were initially two apart groups: those who served with the Waffen-SS and those who registered for the Dutch Vrijwilligerslegion (Volunteer Legion).

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It became possible at the end of May 1940 for somebody Dutch to join the Waffen-SS. About 1,400 men, primarily those who had enlisted with the SS, followed a rigorous training in Munich. When the German army invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Germans launched a propaganda campaign to recruit a large number of volunteers from different European countries to take part in the ‘crusade against Bolshevism’.

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The Volunteer Legion was established in the Netherlands for this purpose. More than 20,000 men signed up.

The purpose of the Dutch-Germanic SS was to enforce Nazi racial doctrine, especially anti-Semitic ideals.

They expected to serve in a more or less Dutch unit, under Dutch command and to fight in a Dutch uniform.

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But reality proved otherwise. The volunteers were assigned to a unit that was actually part of the German Waffen-SS. The group was a diverse lot: thirty percent, at the very most, were members of the NSB. Many religious individuals, in their strive to protect the ‘Christian Netherlands’ against ‘godless Bolshevism’, also joined the legion. In addition, a large group of adventurers found the idea of volunteering appealing. More than 7,000 Dutchmen met their deaths during the war wearing German uniforms.

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It was often claimed that the Dutch SS were just ordinary soldiers who did not take part in any atrocities but that is not true. They were just as vicious and sometimes even more brutal then their German counterparts.

From several diaries it became clear that the Dutch SS were actively involved in the killings of Jews.

An excerpt from the volunteer Wessels says

“”It was clear to everyone that we as SS men would act ruthlessly against the Jews, Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth”

Another volunteer ,Wiersma, wrote:

“The jews had to dig their own graves and subsequently they were executed”

 

Source: Dutch National Military Museum

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