Dutch Prince Who Fought the Nazis Was a Nazi Himself

Prince Bernhard's original Nazi party membership card surfaces
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2023 1:19 PM CDT
Updated Oct 8, 2023 4:20 PM CDT
Dutch Prince Who Fought the Nazis Was a Nazi Himself
Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands arrive at the Anderson House in Washington, DC, for a reception in their honor, on April 2, 1952.   (Wikimedia/US State Department)

The Dutch government has confirmed that the grandfather of King Willem Alexander was a Nazi. Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, a German nobleman, married the future Queen Juliana in 1937, three years before he would escort the Dutch royal family to exile in England as the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, reports the BBC. He repeatedly denied that he'd joined Adolf Hitler's National Socialist German Workers' Party, and though some may have bought the story, historians didn't. Gerard Aalders of the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) uncovered a copy of the prince's Nazi party card in a US university archive in 1991. The government has now confirmed the original card was found among Bernhard's possessions after his death in 2004.

This verifies a claim made in a new book by historian Flip Maarschalkerweerd, per Deutsche Welle. He claimed to have discovered the card while perusing the late prince's archives. Bernhard—who flew combat missions for the British Royal Air Force against Germany during World War II and, as commander of the Dutch Armed Forces, was present as the surrender of the German troops in the Netherlands was negotiated—didn't deny all affiliation with the Nazi party. He claimed he was a prospective member of the Schutzstaffel and Sturmabteilung security service as a student, but was effectively forced to take part or be considered an opponent of the regime. He denied that he was a card-carrying member of the Nazi party and claimed Aalders' find was a forgery, per DW.

The original card reveals he was indeed a member from the year of the party's founding, 1933, until 1936, the year he became engaged to Juliana. The party had passed the Nuremberg Laws, providing the legal framework for the persecution of Jews, in 1935. The find, though not surprising, represents "a new part of a painful chapter in Dutch history," particularly given Bernhard's repeated denials, the Center for Information and Documentation Israel said Friday, per Reuters, calling on the NIOD to investigate. Maarschalkerweerd has questioned why the prince kept the document he denied existed. But "he was a collector, and palaces have enormous attics and basements," he says, per Reuters. "Perhaps he forgot he had it." (More Dutch royal family stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.