Louis Beel

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Louis Beel
Beel, L.J.M. - SFA008007058.jpg
36th and 38th Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
December 22, 1958 – May 19, 1959
Monarch Juliana
Preceded by Willem Drees
Succeeded by Jan de Quay
In office
July 3, 1946 – August 7, 1948
Monarch Wilhelmina
Preceded by Wim Schermerhorn
Succeeded by Willem Drees
Member of the Dutch Council of State
In office
June 1, 1959 – August 1, 1959
Monarch Juliana
Vice President of the Dutch Council of State
In office
August 1, 1959 – July 1, 1972
Monarch Juliana
Preceded by Bram Rutgers
Succeeded by Marinus Ruppert
Member of the Dutch Council of State
In office
April 1, 1958 – December 22, 1958
Monarch Juliana
Deputy Prime Minister
In office
September 2, 1952 – July 7, 1956
Prime Minister Willem Drees
Preceded by Josef van Schaik
Succeeded by Teun Struycken
Minister of Social Work
In office
September 2, 1952 – September 8, 1952
Prime Minister Willem Drees
Preceded by First
Succeeded by Frans-Jozef van Thiel
Minister of the Interior
In office
December 6, 1951 – July 7, 1956
Prime Minister Willem Drees
Preceded by Frans Teulings
Succeeded by Julius van Oven
Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies
In office
October 29, 1948 – May 18, 1949
Monarch Juliana
Preceded by Hubertus van Mook
Succeeded by Tony Lovink
Minister of the Interior
In office
February 23, 1945 – September 15, 1947
Prime Minister Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy
(1945)
Wim Schermerhorn
(1945-1946)
Louis Beel
(1946-1947)
Preceded by Hendrik van Boeijen
Succeeded by Petrus Witteman
Personal details
Born Louis Joseph Maria Beel
(1902-04-12)April 12, 1902
Roermond, Netherlands
Died February 11, 1977(1977-02-11) (aged 74)
Utrecht, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Roman-Catholic State Party (1933-1945)
Catholic People's Party (from 1945)
Spouse(s) Jet Beel-van der Meulen (1895-1971)
Alma mater Radboud University Nijmegen (PhD)
Occupation Politician
civil servant
professor
Religion Roman Catholic
Nickname(s) The Sphinx

Louis Joseph Maria Beel (April 12, 1902 – February 11, 1977) was a Dutch politician of the defunct Catholic People's Party (KVP) now merged into the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). He served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from July 3, 1946 until August 7, 1948 and again from December 22, 1958 until May 19, 1959. Because of his long service record he was considered by some as having the status of a statesman.[1]

On November 22, 1956, he was granted the honorary title of Minister of State.[2]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Louis Joseph Maria Beel was born on April 12, 1902 in Roermond, a town with a Bishop's see in the province of Limburg, in the very south of the Netherlands. He grew up in a predominantly Roman Catholic community and went to school at the famous Bisschoppelijk College (Diocesan College) of Roermond. He graduated in 1920 and found work as clerk-volunteer at the municipality of Roermond. Two years later he became secretary to the Educational Religious Inspector of the Roermond diocese, Monsignor Petrus van Gils. When in 1923 the Roman Catholic University was founded in Nijmegen (presently known als the Radboud University Nijmegen), Monsignor van Gils insisted on his secretary becoming a part-time law-student in Nijmegen. In 1924 Beel began commuting between Roermond and Nijmegen. After obtaining his bachelor's degree in 1925 he found a new job as an administrative assistant in the government of the eastern province of Overijssel. He moved to its capital, the town of Zwolle, and left his place of birth Roermond. During the time he lived in Zwolle Beel got married and his first child, a son, was born. In addition to being a provincial civil servant Beel accepted a part-time lectureship at an institute for professional training, Katholieke Leergangen, and he wrote his first articles on legal subjects.

In 1928 Beel obtained his master's degree in law at Radboud University Nijmegen. Subsequently he applied for a better job, and managed to find one as a clerk in the municipality of Eindhoven, also in the South of The Netherlands at that time a booming city as a result of the establishment of the Philips group. With his wife, his son and his mother-in-law he moved to Eindhoven in 1929 and lived there for more than fifteen years. Three daughters were born there. Beel's professional career progressed rapidly and in less than one year he became a principal clerk. As he had in Zwolle, Beel proved to be an industrious man. He continued his part-time lecturing at the Katholieke Leergangen, he published regularly in the legal press and in 1935 he obtained his doctorate in law at the Radboud University Nijmegen.

World War II[edit]

At the time of his resignation as a municipal Civil servant in 1942, Beel was Director of Social Affairs and Deputy Town Clerk. Beel resigned because he opposed the German Occupation of The Netherlands. To avoid being taken prisoner by the German occupational forces he frequently had to go in hiding. Eindhoven was liberated on September 18, 1944 at the time of the World War II military offensive known as Operation Market Garden. Dutch resistance fighters, massively manifesting themselves immediately after the Germans had gone, saw Beel as one of them. He became the spokesman of a group of prominent citizens in Eindhoven, who had resisted the Germans during the war. The group was not in favour of a continuation of the pre-war political party-lines, with the ever-dominant Anti Revolutionary Party. In this vein they sent an Address, drafted by Beel, to Queen Wilhelmina, who still resided in London. Beel was urged to accept the function of adviser to the Military Administration (Militair Gezag), the temporary government in the liberated southern part of The Netherlands under Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. In this capacity Beel was invited by the Dutch government in exile to travel to London and to advise on dealing with the war victims. He arrived in London on January 1, 1945. On 10 January he visited at her request Queen Wilhelmina in her English mansion Mortimer. This visit gave a decisive turn to Beel's life.

Politics[edit]

The Queen intuitively saw in Beel, a Roman Catholic from the South who ostentatiously had rejected Nazism, the prototype of the patriot and of the sort of "renewed" person she was looking for to replace the members of her war-cabinet, of whom she no longer wholeheartedly approved. Beel was promptly appointed Minister of the Interior in the Cabinet Gerbrandy III. This cabinet resigned immediately after the end of the war, in May 1945, to free the path for a new one to be formed by two a liberal, Wim Schermerhorn, and social democrat, Willem Drees. They invited Beel to remain as Minister of the Interior in their cabinet (the Cabinet Schermerhorn/Drees). According to his own words, Beel reluctantly agreed. He moved with his family from Eindhoven in the South to Wassenaar in the West, a villadom close to The Hague, the government's residence.

Post-war parliamentary elections could finally be held in May 1946. In the election campaign Beel voiced the political resistance from the religious and liberal parties against the economic planning and socialism favoured by Prime Minister Schermerhorn and his political supporters. Unlike the British elections of the previous year where the Labour Party gained a decisive victory, in the Netherlands the 'Socialist breakthrough' which had been expected did not materialise in these first post-war elections. The Catholic People's Party) was the big winner, though no party had an overall majority. Queen Wilhelmina requested Beel to form a new cabinet. He became Prime Minister of a 'red-Roman coalition', which he called the 'New Truce', since it was the first cabinet in Dutch history of socialists and Roman Catholics. This Beel-cabinet set the course for the political and economic development of the post war Netherlands.

In social policy, temporary measures were introduced in December 1946 entitling wage-earners to an allowance for the first and second child under the age of 18. The Old Age Pensions Emergency Provisions Act of May 1947 provided means-tested pensions for all persons over the age of 65 regardless of the previous employment record, and the Pensioners’ Family Allowances Act of July 1948 introduced family allowance for those in receipt of invalidity, old age, or survivors’ benefits “according to the Invalidity Insurance Act 1919.”[3]

In 1948 parliamentary elections were again required for a constitutional renewal, which was thought necessary to solve the problems emerging in the Dutch East Indies, where the nationalists Sukarno and Hatta had proclaimed the independence of their country immediately after the Japanese surrender. The KVP won again and Beel was asked to form a new cabinet. He might again have become Prime Minister, but he failed to form the broad based cabinet of socialists, Catholic parties and liberals, which he deemed necessary to secure the corrections in the Constitution. Josef van Schaik, a fellow KVP politician, took over and succeeded in forming a broad based cabinet by offering the socialist Willem Drees the function of Prime Minister, Josef van Schaik himself being satisfied with the function of Deputy Prime Minister. Drees appointed Beel High Commissioner of the Crown in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), as a successor to Lieutenant Governor General Hubertus van Mook, a man of proven managerial abilities, who had to resign unwillingly.

The Dutch government in The Hague made several attempts to reach an agreement with the Republic of Indonesia. Beel, stationed in Batavia (now named Jakarta), was not in favour of such an agreement because of his suspicions - later proven to be right - that the new Republic did not want the establishment of a Federal State of Indonesia, as was planned in the Dutch decolonisation policy. Under the auspices of the Security Council of the United Nations an agreement was achieved in May 1949 to hold a Round Table Conference in The Hague in order to prepare the transfer of sovereignty. Beel made efforts to thwart the agreement. However he was unsuccessful and he resigned from his Office of High Commissioner of the Crown.

Beel returned to his home at the end of May 1949 and a few months later he accepted a professorate in administrative law at his Alma Mater in Nijmegen, one of his early ambitions.

On 7 November 1951, Johannes Henricus van Maarseveen, Minister of the Interior, suddenly died. Prime Minister Drees appealed to Beel to return to office. Again reluctantly, Beel accepted Prime Minister Drees' offer. He also held the function of Minister of the Interior in the next Drees-cabinet after the elections of 1952. In July 1956 Beel asked that he be allowed to resign from government to become, as a private citizen, chairman of a committee of three wise men that was requested by Queen Juliana and the Consort Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld to help solve problems pertaining to the Royal Family. The problems were related to faith healer Greet Hofmans, whom the Queen had invited to the royal palace in order to cure her youngest daughter, who had been born half blind in 1947. The renowned German magazine Der Spiegel had accused Mrs. Hofmans of playing a 'Rasputin' role in the Royal Family. Within a month the committee had fulfilled its task by writing a secret report, which banished the sensitive affair from publicity. Three months later Beel was appointed Minister of State, a prestigious title of honour.

In 1958 after an interlude of eighteen months without a public office, Beel was appointed member of the Council of State. Soon afterwards however he was called upon to form his second cabinet - a rump cabinet from December 1958 until May 1959, that had to dissolve parliament and call new elections. After these elections Beel assisted the Roman Catholic politician Jan de Quay in forming a Catholic-liberal cabinet, ending for the time being the 'red-Roman coalition', which had been Beel's own initiative in 1946. The Cabinet de Quay appointed Beel as Vice President of the Dutch Council of State, the most prestigious office in the Dutch administration, the head of state being the honorary President of the Dutch Council of State

Whereas other political leaders, who had come forward after the war, one by one left the political scene and the 'participation-democracy' of the New Left movement created a new type of politician, Beel retained in the authority of the Council of State a great influence on government. He owed his role to the way he performed his high office as well to his position of confidence with the Royal Family. In various affairs the royals faced, Beel's taciturn way of acting on behalf of the monarchy and his prudent pulling the strings behind the scene as Vice President of the Dutch Council of State gave him the nickname 'The Sphinx'. The power he derived from both positions christened him "Viceroy of Holland". The authority of Beel and his controlling influence in political circles became manifest when new cabinets had to be formed or cabinet crises had to be warded off. Through the thirteen years of his vice-presidency Beel had a steering hand in nearly every cabinet-formation - including the dramatic formation of the cabinet of the social democrat Joop den Uyl in 1973.

Later life[edit]

As from 1 July 1972, at the age of seventy, Beel resigned (prematurely) from his office of Vice President of the Dutch Council of State. Some years before his wife had died. He retired with his mentally handicapped eldest daughter and her attendant to the quiet village of Doorn. On 11 February 1977 Beel died in the University Hospital of Utrecht.

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Dutch) Dr. L.J.M. (Louis) Beel - Geschiedenis VPRO[dead link]
  2. ^ (Dutch) Dr. L.J.M. (Louis) Beel
  3. ^ Growth to Limits: The Western European Welfare States Since World War II, Volume 2 edited by Peter Flora

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Hendrik van Boeijen
Minister of the Interior
1945-1947
Succeeded by
Petrus Witteman
Preceded by
First
Minister of Social Work
1952
Succeeded by
Frans-Jozef van Thiel
Preceded by
Frans Teulings
Minister of the Interior
1951-1956
Succeeded by
Julius van Oven
Political offices
Preceded by
Wim Schermerhorn
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1946-1948
Succeeded by
Willem Drees
Preceded by
Hubertus van Mook
Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies
1948-1949
Succeeded by
Tony Lovink
Preceded by
Willem Drees
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1958-1959
Succeeded by
Jan de Quay
Preceded by
Bram Rutgers
Vice President of the Dutch Council of State
1959-1972
Succeeded by
Marinus Ruppert