Anton Mussert

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Anton Mussert
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-S61074, Adrian Anton Mussert.jpg
Leader of the Dutch People
In office
13 December 1942 (1942-12-13) – 7 May 1945 (1945-05-07)
Serving with Reichskommissar Artur Seyss-Inquart
Member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands
In office
May 1937 – December 1942
Personal details
Born Anton Adriaan Mussert
(1894-05-11)11 May 1894
Werkendam, Netherlands
Died 7 May 1946(1946-05-07) (aged 51)
The Hague, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party National Socialist Movement (NSB)
Spouse(s) Maria Witlam
Alma mater Delft University of Technology (M.Eng)
Occupation Politician
Civil engineer

Anton Adriaan Mussert (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑntɔm ˈmʏsərt]) (11 May 1894, Werkendam, North Brabant – 7 May 1946) was one of the founders of the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands (NSB) and its formal leader. As such, he was the most prominent national socialist in the Netherlands before and during World War II. During the war, he was able to keep this position, due to the support he received from the Germans. After the war, he was convicted and executed for high treason.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

He was born in 1894 in Werkendam, in the northern part of the province of Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands. He showed from an early age talent for technical matters and he chose to study civil engineering in the Delft University of Technology. In the 1920s, he became active in several extreme right organizations such as the Dietsche Bond which advocated a Greater Netherlands including Flanders (Dutch-speaking Belgium).

Foundation of the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging[edit]

Mussert's membership card in the NSB

On 14 December 1931, he, Cornelis van Geelkerken, and ten others founded the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (NSB) (literally, the National Socialist Movement), a Dutch counterpart to the German National Socialists, the Nazis. In its early years, the NSB boasted that its membership included several hundred Jews,[1] until the German party directed a more anti-Semitic course.

A 1933 demonstration at Utrecht attracted only 600 protestors. A year later, the NSB rallied 25,000 demonstrators in Amsterdam. The NSB received 300,000 votes in the 1935 parliamentary elections, enough to alert the Netherlands to the Fascist threat.[2] In the 1937 voting, the Fascists polled a little more than half as much. Thereafter, Mussert worked toward preventing resistance to a German invasion. A state of siege was declared by the Dutch government in April 1940 after the foreign correspondent for the New York Times, Vladimir Poliakov, broke the news that Mussert's followers were preparing to kidnap Queen Wilhelmina as part of a coup. On 10 May, German troops invaded the Netherlands and Mussert was permitted to suppress all political parties other than the NSB.

Role during the war[edit]

1940[edit]

Mussert giving a speech to NSB volunteers in Den Haag, October 1941. To the rear are Rijkscommissaris Hendrik Seyffardt and SS Obergruppenführer Hanns Albin Rauter

Mussert was not appointed prime minister of the occupied nation. Instead, Austrian Nazi Artur Seyss-Inquart was appointed as the Reichskommissar, while Berlin summoned Mussert to control his uncooperative countrymen. Mussert responded by working with the Gestapo in stopping resistance to the Nazi occupation. On 21 June 1940 Mussert agreed to have NSB members train with the SS-Standarte 'Westland'. On 11 September, Mussert instructed Henk Feldmeijer, to organize the Nederlandsche SS (Dutch SS) as a division of the NSB. Mussert had nothing to do with the raising of an all-Dutch volunteer SS unit, the SS-Freiwilligen-Legion Niederlande.[3] Regardless, thousands of Dutch citizens were arrested.

Following years[edit]

During the subsequent occupation, over 100,000 Dutch Jews[4] were rounded up and transported to concentration camps in Germany, German-occupied Poland and German-occupied Czechoslovakia. By the time these camps were liberated, few Dutch Jews survived.

In February 1941, Mussert agreed and oversaw the formation of the 23rd SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division Nederland, which trained in Hamburg. In November 1941, the legion was ordered to the Eastern front near Leningrad, under the overall command of Army Group North. The division served with honour alongside their Nazi allies, but suffered large losses.

On 8 December 1941, the independent Dutch administration in the Dutch East Indies declared war on Japan, the ally of Nazi Germany.[5] After the Japanese invasion and occupation and the subsequent internment of 100,000 Dutch civilians and 50,000 military personnel, Mussert requested a meeting with Hitler. On 13 December 1942, Hitler declared Mussert to be "'Leider van het Nederlandse Volk" (Leader of the Dutch People). To Hitler's amusement, although "Leider" means "Leader" in the Dutch language, in the German language it translates as "unfortunately".[6]

Having lost control of the Dutch SS and the military units that were serving in the Wehrmacht to his Nazi masters, Mussert had his last meeting with Hitler in May 1943, where he was told that he would never have political control. Following the unsuccessful Operation Market Garden in September 1944, that included a supporting strike by Dutch railway workers, the German authorities forbade food transport by rail, resulting in the Hongerwinter of 1944/5, during which 20,000 died. Throughout the crisis, Mussert stayed silent, for fear of losing what little power he had left.

By the end of the war, 205,901 Dutch men and women had died. The Netherlands had the highest per capita death rate of all Nazi-occupied countries in Western Europe, 2.36%.[7] Another 30,000 died in the Dutch East Indies, either while fighting the Japanese or in camps as Japanese POWs. Dutch civilians were held in those camps as well.[8]

Death[edit]

Upon the surrender of Germany, Mussert was arrested at the NSB office in The Hague on 7 May 1945. He was convicted of high treason on 28 November after a two-day trial, and was sentenced to death on 12 December. He appealed to Queen Wilhelmina for clemency. She refused. On 7 May 1946, exactly one year after his arrest and 4 days before his 52nd birthday, Mussert was executed by a firing squad on the Waalsdorpervlakte, a site near The Hague, where hundreds of Dutch citizens had been put to death by the Nazi regime.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Current Biography 1941, p620-23
  2. ^ Id. at 622
  3. ^ Meyers, Jan; Mussert, een politiek leven, Amsterdam, 1984, ISBN 90-295-3113-4 (Dutch language)
  4. ^ 93 trains at the Wayback Machine (archived December 7, 2004). kampwesterbork.nl
  5. ^ "The Kingdom of the Netherlands Declares War with Japan". ibiblio. 15 December 1941. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  6. ^ L.A. Times, Dec. 14, 1942: Hitler Elevates Dutch Quisling Retrieved 4 April 2013
  7. ^ See World War II casualties
  8. ^ See World War II casualties#endnote Indonesia
  9. ^ "Dutch Nazi Executed," Amarillo Globe, 7 May 1946, p1

External links[edit]