Dirk Jan de Geer
|Dirk Jan de Geer|
|30th and 33rd Prime Minister of the Netherlands|
10 August 1939 – 3 September 1940
|Preceded by||Hendrikus Colijn|
|Succeeded by||Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy|
8 March 1926 – 10 August 1929
|Preceded by||Hendrik Colijn|
|Succeeded by||Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouck|
14 December 1870|
|Died||28 November 1960
|Religion||Dutch Reformed Church|
Jonkheer Dirk Jan de Geer (14 December 1870 – 28 November 1960) was a Dutch nobleman, lawyer, conservative statesman and prime minister of the Netherlands (1926–1929, 1939–1940). He was disgraced for advocating a peace settlement between the Kingdom and Nazi Germany in 1940.
Born in Groningen, he was a descendant of the de Geer family painted by Rembrandt. After receiving his doctorate in law in 1895, De Geer worked as a journalist and acted as town councillor of Rotterdam (1901–1907). He served from 1907 as a Christian Historical (CHU) member of Parliament.
De Geer was a stable and respected politician before the war. From 1920 to 1921 de Geer served as mayor of Arnhem. Between 1921 and 1923 de Geer served as Minister of Finance. He resigned in 1923 because of his disagreement with the Naval Law of 1924. From 1925-1926 he served as minister of the interior and minister of agriculture. He was Prime Minister from 8 March 1926 to 10 August 1929. He also served as Minister of Finances from 1926 to 1933.
World War II
After the end of the fifth cabinet of Colijn he was again asked to form a government in August 1939, concurrently holding the office of Minister of Finance and of General Affairs. However, he was not suited for the role of prime minister of a nation at war as he knew himself. When the Germans attacked the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, the situation soon became very serious. Because of this the government decided to flee to London.
When in London, De Geer advocated negotiating a separate peace between the Netherlands and the Third Reich. He damaged the Dutch government and the Dutch morale by openly stating that the war could never be won. He was finally removed from office on the instigation of the iron-willed Queen Wilhelmina, and replaced by Gerbrandy.
Later on, he was sent with a diplomatic package to the Dutch East Indies, present day Indonesia. He never arrived there: on a stop-over in Portugal he left, and returned to his family in the Netherlands with the permission of the Germans. This greatly angered Queen Wilhelmina, who called him a traitor and deserter to the Dutch cause. He later wrote a controversial leaflet with "instructions" for the people on how to cooperate with the Germans. Wilhelmina warned him that if he went on to publish this, he would be put on trial after the liberation.
Nonetheless, he went through with the publication; after the war he was duly accused and brought to trial. He was found guilty and stripped of all of his honorary titles. The Appeal Court confirmed the sentence of a year's imprisonment for high treason in time of war, with 3 years' probation, but waived the fine of 20,000 guilders and his deprivation of the title “Minister of State.”
He died some 15 years later in Soest, embittered and still believing in his innocence.
- Keesing's Contemporary Archives, Volume IV, (February, 1941) p. 4479
- Keesing's Contemporary Archives Volume VI, (November, 1947) p. 8944