Dutch Prince Bernhard’s Nazi Party Membership Card Confirmed by Dutch Government
The Dutch government has confirmed the authenticity of a Nazi party membership card belonging to Prince Bernhard, the prince consort of the Netherlands for several decades after World War Two. The card was discovered by Flip Maarschalkerweerd, a former head of the palace archives, while going through the prince’s belongings after his death. Despite repeatedly denying his membership in Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP political party, historians have long doubted Bernhard’s claims.
Prince Bernhard, a German aristocrat, married Dutch Princess Juliana in 1937 and accompanied the Dutch royal family during their exile when World War Two broke out in 1940. However, British security services never fully trusted him, despite his involvement in a Dutch royal broadcast via the BBC in 1943 and his appointment as head of the unified Dutch resistance forces in 1944. He was even decorated for his role as a wartime RAF pilot.
Prince Bernhard’s Denials and Admission:
While Bernhard admitted to being part of two Nazi organizations after 1933, namely the Sturmabteilung security service and the Schutzstaffel (SS), he argued in 1971 that his involvement was necessary to pass exams and not indicative of his support for Hitler’s party. However, the recent discovery of his NSDAP membership card from 1933 to 1936 contradicts his claims and raises questions about his true allegiance.
In 1996, a researcher at the Dutch Institute for War Studies found a copy of the card in a US university archive, but his revelation was met with criticism at the time. In 2010, historian Annejet van der Zijl discovered another membership card in a German archive, which stated that Bernhard had been a party member since April 27, 1933. These findings further support the authenticity of the recently discovered card.
Reactions and Impact:
The revelation of Prince Bernhard’s Nazi party membership has shocked and betrayed those who took part in the Dutch resistance and commemorated the liberation alongside him. Several political parties and Jewish groups have called for an investigation into the matter, while the Israel Information and Documentation Centre (Cidi) described it as another “black page” in Dutch history. Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte acknowledged the significance of the discovery but noted that previous research had already strongly suggested Bernhard’s involvement with the Nazi party.
The confirmation of Prince Bernhard’s Nazi party membership card by the Dutch government adds a new dimension to his controversial past. While he had previously admitted to being part of other Nazi organizations, the discovery of his NSDAP membership card challenges his claims and raises questions about his true beliefs. The revelation has sparked calls for further investigation and has deeply affected those who had trusted and commemorated the prince for his wartime role.