A German in the Dutch Army in World War II

The picture above was taken on 30 October 1941. It is clear to me that it was taken for propaganda purposes. It is Prince Bernhard, who was the husband of the Dutch Crown Princess, handing Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands a check for the purchase of torpedo boats.

Prince Bernhard married Princess Juliana in The Hague on 7 January 1937. Earlier, Bernhard had been granted Dutch citizenship. He was a German-born nobleman.He was the elder son of Prince Bernhard von Lippe and Baroness Armgard von Sierstorpff-Cramm

He had been a member of the “Reiter-SS,” a mounted unit of the SS and had joined the Nazi party before the war. He later also joined the National Socialist Motor Corps.

Various members of his family and friends were aligned with the Nazis before the second world war, and a number of them attended the royal wedding. Protocol demanded that the prospective Prince-Consort be invited to an audience with his head of state, who at the time was Adolf Hitler. Hitler gave an account of the conversation he had with Bernhard in his Tischgespräche (Table Conversations). This book was a collection of monologues, remarks, and speeches Hitler gave during lunch or dinner to those he had invited.

Bernard cut off relations with those members of his family who were enthusiastic Nazis. As a sign of his “Dutchness”, near the end of the war, he spoke only Dutch when negotiating the surrender of German forces in the Netherlands.

After taking his family to safety in England (May 12, 1940), he immediately returned to lead Dutch troops in battle against the Germans; after the Dutch Army surrendered on May 14, 1940, he fled to England with the remnants of his troops.

According to Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, Soldier of Orange, “For Bernhard, the Prince of the Netherlands, the war was a frustrating business. Born a German, he had married Queen Wilhelmina’s only child, Princess Juliana. In due time made a conscious and meaningful transition of loyalties to his new homeland, because of the doubts about his background, initially invoked among some Britons, he longed more than anyone for a chance to get at Holland’s aggressors.”

After being appointed, in August 1940, a captain in the Dutch navy and a colonel in the army, Prince Bernhard assumed increased responsibilities and, by 1944, as commander of the Netherlands Forces of the Interior, he directed all Dutch armed forces. Also serving as a Dutch liaison officer with the British armed forces, Bernhard became a pilot and flew with the Royal Air Force (1942–44).

In 1944 Queen Wilhelmina appointed him Supreme Commander of the Netherlands Armed Forces and the Netherlands Forces of the Interior (the military resistance). In September 1945 the Prince was honourably discharged from these posts and, at the same time, appointed Inspector-General of the Royal Netherlands Army. For his services during the Second World War, Prince Bernhard was awarded the highest military decoration – the Cross of Commander of the Military Order of William – in 1946. For his achievements as a pilot on active service, he received the Flying Cross. In 1984 he was awarded the Resistance Cross.

The role of his mother-in-law during the war was to say at least questionable. On May 4 2020, the current Dutch King Willem Alexander acknowledged that his grandmother could and should have done more for the Dutch citizens, although he did not say it directly he was clearly implying the treatment of the Dutch Jews.

“Fellow people felt abandoned, insufficiently heard, insufficiently supported, if only with words. Also from London, also by my great-grandmother, still steadfast and fierce in her resistance. It is something that will not let me go.”

sources

https://www.royal-house.nl/members-royal-house/in-memoriam/prince-bernhard/public-appointments

https://www.trouw.nl/binnenland/over-het-zwijgen-van-wilhelmina-wat-de-koning-bedoelde-met-de-uitspraak-over-zijn-overgrootmoeder~be544078/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ie%2F

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bernhard-prince-of-the-Netherlands-prince-of-Lippe-Biesterfeld

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2 Comments

  1. Jan Brouwer says:

    The Dutch Army surrendered on May 125, 1940. There were no negotiations and no surrender of German Forces in The Netherlands. Those forces signed the unconditional surrender on May 4, 1945 on Luneburg Heath. Into effect May 5, 1945 08.00 hrs. The German commander signed at 16.30 hrs. Orders to give military information followed bij disarmament and captivity.

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  2. Jan Brouwer says:

    Sorry … on May 15, 1940

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