The one thing I always fear when I do these blogs about World War II, and the Holocaust is what I will find out about my family. Thus far, there is no indication that any of them collaborated with the Nazis, but I have a big family, and even now, in 2023, there is still new information surfacing from World War II.
The most extensive and yet, at the same time, most kept hidden archive of the Netherlands is the Central Archive for Special Judicial Safety (CABR).
The most extensive and yet at the same time, the most kept hidden archive of the Netherlands is the Central Archive for Special Judicial Safety (CABR).
This archive covers four linear kilometres and holds 540,000+ files from Dutch people who were wrong during the Second World War. The estimate is that one in three Dutch citizens had a family member who worked for or collaborated with the Nazis.
The perpetrators usually kept silent after the war against their children about what they – exactly – had done. The children and grandchildren often only heard from other sources that their parents or grandparents had collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation. Today, we can shatter ignorance, because we can now consult the National Archive. There are four kilometres of archive material about the many thousands arrested after the war because of their questionable role in the war.
I want to focus on one of the half a million wrong Dutch citizens, mainly because there is a link with Ireland, where I now live.
Born in 1899, Pieter Menten was a wealthy Dutch businessman and prominent art collector who bought the secluded Comeragh House in Waterford in 1964.
He was well known among the local community, but he held a secret.
Menten built up much of his business empire trading between his native Netherlands and Poland, he was a significant importer of lumber for example. He lived in Eastern Poland from 1923 until 1939 when the Soviet Union invaded.
Two years later, he returned to Poland after the Nazi counter-occupation, this time as a member of the SS.
Menten was involved in the massacre of Polish professors in Lviv and the robbery of their property. According to witnesses, he helped shoot as many members of the offending family in Galicia as he could find, then turned on other Jews in the area. It is believed Menten personally oversaw the execution of as many as 200 Jews.
While travelling on his personal train with his prized art collection, Menten was recognized by Dutch Resistance fighters and arrested. They brought him to trial. His chief defence lawyer was Rad Kortenhorst, President of the Dutch House of Representatives. The controversial trial concluded in 1949, with the prosecution unable to prove most allegations and sentenced to an eight-month term for having worked in uniform as a Nazi interpreter. In 1951, the Dutch government refused a Polish request for his extradition.
Menten would go on to become a successful art collector and businessman. His 20-room mansion contained valuable artwork (Nicolaes Maes, Francisco Goya, Jan Sluyters, etc.), and he held vast areas of real estate.
Menten’s background was kept hidden while he lived much of his time in Ireland. It all became public in 1976 when they arrested him for his crimes in Holland. He claimed a case of mistaken identity but was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail.
A 2011 article about the Comeragh House property in the Irish Times claims that the estate was damaged by arson attacks during his imprisonment, which some believe were orchestrated by Mossad, the Israeli security service. The property was known to have been raided by hopeful art thieves. They had gambled on the truth to the rumours that the art collection was still somewhere in the house.
In 1976, they reopened the Menten case. During the trial, his mansion was set ablaze after a survivor of Dachau Concentration Camp threw a petrol bomb onto its thatched roof. The building suffered extensive damage, including part of the art collection. In 1980 Menten was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was fined 100,000 guilders for war crimes, including being an accessory to the murder of 20 Jewish villagers in 1941 Poland.
Upon his release in 1985, he believed he would settle in his County Waterford mansion in Ireland, only to find out Garret FitzGerald, Taoiseach (prime minister) at the time, had barred him from the country. The exclusion order was later signed by Justice Minister Michael Noonan, from Limerick. Menten died at a seniors‘ home in Loosdrecht, Netherlands. He was 88 years old.
Finding Comeragh House isn’t easy. The house, as claimed, is indeed “hidden from all eyes and cannot be seen from any of the surrounding roads.” The approach is along a private 1km-long tarmac drive flanked by mature rhododendrons and laurels, which passes a lake with an island. It continues via a tree-lined avenue facing sloping parkland with cedars, oak and horse chestnut trees before reaching the gravelled front entrance to the main house. This secluded location presumably appealed to the previous owner, Pieter Menten, who bought the estate in 1964.
I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.
One can only hope it was Mossad