The Weerbaarheidsafdeling (WA; “Resilience Department”) was the paramilitary arm of the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands (NSB), the fascist political party that collaborated with the Nazi ocupiers of the Netherlands during World War II. The organization, roughly equivalent to the German SA, was founded in 1932 by Anton Mussert, co-founder of the NSB in 1931 and its leader until the end of the war. Members wore and marched in black uniforms and were thus called “blackshirts”. In 1933 the Dutch government banned the wearing of uniforms (by civilians), and the WA was disbanded in 1935 in order to forestall the Dutch government’s banning it. In 1940, after the German invasion, the WA became openly active again, and more ruthless than before. They specialized in violent attacks, particularly on the Dutch Jewish population.
On Saturday afternoon, September 7, 1940, about 200 members of the National Youth Storm, accompanied by a number of WA men, marched through The Hague. A cyclist, intentionally or unintentionally, collided with a girl from the Youth Storm and was then beaten up by the gunmen. The public got involved, after which passing German soldiers also came to the aid of the WA soldiers. Police officers from The Hague fired warning shots to restore order. A number of WA’ers were hit by bullets. It is not unlikely that it was fired by the German military. One of the WA officers was 28-year-old Petrus Nicolaas (Peter) Ton(seen in the picture above), who was shot in the head and died later that evening.
For the NSB there was no doubt: Ton had been murdered. The young WA was considered a martyr. Thousands of NSB members from all over the country were present at his funeral on September 11 at Nieuw Eykenduinen cemetery, and the entire leadership of the movement, led by Mussert, and the general commander of WA, mr. A.J. without.
Mussert used the ‘murder of Peter Ton’ to demand that the Nazi occupiers finally intervene in the system of justice and police.
He got his way: Hanns Albin Rauter (supreme boss of the SS and the police in the Netherlands) immediately fired the Hague police chief N.G. van der Mei. The police officers involved in the incident had Rauter arrested. Arthur Seyss-Inquart (the German ‘Reich Commissioner’ and Hitler’s deputy in the Netherlands) and Rauter took the opportunity to centralize the leadership of the Dutch police. Two attorneys general were also fired.
It could not be established from the Dutch side whether a police bullet from The Hague actually caused Ton’s death, because the autopsy on the remains was only performed by the Germans. It is possible that Ton was hit by a stray German bullet. His death brought the NSB into great excitement: Ton was the first NSB member to die ‘in office’ and for his National Socialist ideals. In the NSB jargon of the time, Ton was the first ‘blood sacrifice of the Movement’. The WA company to which Ton had belonged was given its name as a reminder. While waiting for the NSB mausoleum to be built on the Goudsberg in Lunteren, Ton was buried in The Hague. His funeral ceremony became a manifestation of the NSB, in which many thousands of comrades and comrades were present from all over the country.