Repeatedly we have heard the thought expressed that since the German Reich established its “protectorate” in old Holland, the Nazi party gained considerably in influence. It is even suggested occasionally that the National Socialist Party is now in the majority. And somewhere I read that even one of the professors of the Free University of Amsterdam had joined the Nazi Party.
The facts in the case, however, appear to be, that the original N. S. B. in the Netherlands (Nationaal Socialisten Bond), which at the outbreak of the war numbered approximately forty thousand members, is still a small minority party, that some of the adherents of pre-war times have even withdrawn after they saw the actual operation of the German Nazis, and that the party as it still exists is rather generally and bitterly hated and despised.
Yet, this does not explain fully the entire situation in the old country.
The Germans, when they saw that the Hollanders were not at all ready to hail the Nazis and join the party, permitted them “an apparently free but in fact controlled discussion of political issues in connection with the so-called new order.” (The Knickerbocker, Dec. 1940). And the result was the organization of a “Netherlands Community,” whose aim it was to unite all the various parties of the Netherlands, the Antirevolutionary Party, the Christian Historical Party, the Socialist Democrat Party and the Free Democrat Bond, into one national party.
The attempts of this “Netherland Community,” however, utterly failed.
It appears from what we have been able to gather, that this Netherland Community and its attempt at unification of the Dutch under one party, inspired distrust rather than confidence, and left the impression of being a camouflaged attempt to Nazify the Dutch after all, and to make them adopt the “new order” of German origin. No solution of any problems was really offered by the “Community.” Never was mention made of freedom, the future of the house of Orange, restoration of independence after the war, etc. In fact, this was strictly forbidden from the outset by the occupying Germans. The result was complete failure.
But still another attempt at unification was made, and what is known as the “Netherlands Union” was organized. It is not impossible that the professor of the free University to which we referred above, joined this party. And for this he was rather severely censured by the Reformed people of the Netherlands. For even this “Netherlands Union,” which is really a continuation of the original “Netherlands Community” though under a different name and in a different form, does not meet with the favor of the other parties, and is especially opposed by the Anti-revolutionary Party under the leadership of Colijn. It is suspected of being very similar in principles and aims to the older N. S. B. And although some of the Dutch were deceived into thinking that the Netherlands Union was opposed to the Dutch National Socialist Party, most of them stand aloof in distrust.
All these various movements appear to be sponsored by and under the control of the occupying Germans.
Dr. Colijn advises his party to assume the attitude of watchful waiting, and takes the position that the present is not the proper time to discuss matters of a political or economic nature. He prefers to wait until after the war. In the same number of “The Knickerbocker” appears a news item quoted from the “Manchester Tribune”, which we here repeat:
“There is strong evidence that Nazi influence is losing rather than gaining ground in Western and Northern Europe. Dr. Colijn, the former Prime Minister of Holland, has made a speech at Scheveningen which shows how completely he has thrown over his earlier ideas of collaboration with the semi-Fascist Netherlands community organization. We might wish that Marshal Petain would study his speech. For all that he says of Holland applies very well to France. He contends that State reforms cannot be discussed during the time of occupation and that a new government can only be established after the complete restoration of Netherlands independence.”
Dr. Colijn is supposed to have said in his speech:
“The future of the Netherlands can only be decided after the war, and nobody knows how. We have shown the occupying Power that we cannot shed our characteristics in following the political way we wish to follow.”
Of course, we all understand that it is rather difficult to form a clear picture of the real condition of the Netherlands at present from a political, social and economic viewpoint, and of the attitude of the people in general to the “new order.” All the news is censored by the Germans, and colored, perhaps, in as far as it passes through English channels.
The general impression, however, which we receive from whatever news items do leak through, and from what we may and, undoubtedly, must read between the lines, is that the Dutch are by no means reconciled to the German “Protectorate,” but are looking forward to the restoration of their own independent government and the return of the House of Orange. Nor do they appear to be enthusiastic about the new economic order, which the Germans seek to impose upon all Europe.
But what we wrote above about the formation of the “Netherlands Union” may probably explain the source of the rumors afloat here that the original National Socialist Party of the Netherlands is a strong majority party. This rumor is, evidently, without basis in fact.