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A scandal within the Dutch royal family, overtaken by the Nazi past of one of its members

The popularity of the Dutch royal family has declined and is unlikely to improve in the short term. Recent revelations about the Nazi past of the grandfather of current Dutch King Willem-Alexander have sparked outrage.

The royal house confirmed on Thursday the existence of a membership card for the NSDAP, Germany’s National Socialist Party, attributed to Prince Bernhard, the husband of former Queen Juliana, and dated 1933. The day before, historian Flip Maarschalkerwerth, also a former director of the royal household archives, published a book in which he explains that he discovered this map while inventorying Prince Bernhard’s personal archives at Soestdijk Palace.

After similar initial revelations about his NSDAP membership in the media in 1996 and until his death in 2004 at the age of 93, Prince Bernhard always denied that he was ever a member of Adolf Hitler’s party. Germany from 1933 to 1945. “I can say this with my hand on the Bible: I was never a Nazi,” he said in an interview published days after his death in the national newspaper De Volkskrant, swearing that he “never paid a party membership fee and never had a membership card.” Bernhard von Biesterfeld was born in 1911 in Jena in the German Empire and lived in Berlin at the time of joining the party.

Since 2020, popularity has fallen from 80% to 38%.

“I was surprised by the fact that Prince Bernhard kept this document and that it is still in the royal archives,” said Rick Evers, a journalist who specializes in the royal family. But, in his opinion, if these revelations could take place, it was also because King Willem-Alexander himself allowed it. “These are private archives, not national archives. He decides what can be done about it. »

In the Netherlands there are now voices demanding to know even more. Part of the lower house of parliament is demanding that the government launch an investigation into Prince Bernhard’s Nazi past, a request that has so far been rejected by outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. CIDI, a Dutch Jewish organization, is also calling for an investigation, citing “a new revelation that adds a new dark page to a painful part of the Netherlands’ recent history.” “I can imagine this news has a lot of impact and a lot of emotions, especially in the Jewish community,” Willem-Alexander said Thursday.

The revelations surrounding Prince Bernhard come as the royal family’s popularity has fallen for several years. Only 38% of Dutch people still “really trust” the king, down from nearly 80% in 2020, according to an Ipsos poll published in September by public television. 26% of respondents want the Netherlands to become a republic.

In the fall of 2020, when the government asked the Dutch to avoid traveling due to the Covid-19 health crisis, the royal family tried to escape to Greece on vacation, causing outrage across the country. On September 19, on the sidelines of a day of political ceremonies in The Hague, the royal family was booed by dozens of demonstrators. On the same day, authorities announced a 600,000 euro increase in the salaries and expenses of King Willem-Alexander, his wife Maxima and Princess Beatrix, the queen until her abdication in 2013.

Source: Le Parisien

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