The Netherlands has produced some of the greatest football players in the world. The Dutch are proud of their footballing history. My hometown of Geleen is where Dutch professional football originated.
However, there are some football stars we are not proud of.
Gejus van der Meulen was a goalkeeper of HFC and the Dutch national team. In 1940 he became a member of the NSB and joined the SS-Feldlazarett Freiwilligen (Medical Volunteers) Legion Niederlande, after which he went to the Eastern Front in 1942.
Van der Meulen played 54 matches for the Netherlands national football team, which was the Dutch record for goalkeepers from 3 March 1928 (when he equalled the total of Just Göbel) until 21 June 1990 (when his total was surpassed by Hans van Breukelen). He made his debut on 27 April 1924 against Belgium. He played in the 1934 FIFA World Cup, where the Netherlands was eliminated in the first round against Switzerland. He also took part in two Olympic Games, in 1924 and 1928. He was a club player of HFC in Haarlem, the oldest club in the Netherlands.
Van der Meulen’s popularity in the Netherlands was such that his wedding made the Polygoon newsreel. Footage also exists of a celebration ceremony for Van der Meulen on 5 March 1933, the day he gained his 50th cap.
In 1935, Van der Meulen retired from competitions and opened a pediatric clinic in Haarlem. He joined the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands and openly supported Hitler’s compulsory sterilization laws. His views were strongly opposed by the parents of the children he treated, forcing him to close his clinic.
A friend of Gejus said that the once-Dutch goalkeeper had proclaimed the beauty of the Nazis’ sterilization laws. “We, doctors, are fighting for a healthy human race. Now Hitler says we have to intervene in the risk of unhealthy children.”
Gejus, however, wanted more than just being a member of the NSB, and in 1941 he joined the SS Vrijwilligers Legioen Nederland (Dutch Volunteer Legion). The SS oath read as follows:
“I vow to you Adolf Hitler, as Fuhrer and Chancellor of the German Reich, loyalty and bravery. I vow to you and to the leaders you set me, absolute allegiance until death. So help me God.”
He was arrested four days after the liberation of the Netherlands and tried in June 1947. He showed no remorse and stated that he did not know that the Netherlands was at war with Germany when he joined the SS. Van der Meulen was sentenced to eight years in prison. He was pardoned in August 1949. He tried to get his medical practice back off the ground, but no patients wanted to be treated by a known Nazi collaborator. In the end, he ended up exclusively treating former members of the NSB. Later he contacted his former club HFC to see if he could get a place for his son in the academy. His request was ignored.
I know some people will say “He wasn’t the worst of them. he was only a medic” and they might be from the opinion that he was treated harshly. But, he was an educated man who had pledged a vow and allegiance—not only to the enemy—but, also to the most evil man on the planet. Technically he committed treason which was punishable by death.
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