History of the Second World War, Volume 2

Many NSB officials tried conscientiously to carryout their duties to the Dutch public to the best of their ability but they were severely hampered by the silent opposition they encountered everywhere, as well as by the hooliganism and trouble-stirring of the WA —the more militant faction of the NSB. M usserts own speeches more­ overdid little to win Dutch support and sympathy. ‘It is a great privilege to live in these times he announced in March 1941, 'especially for those of m iddle-age who have experience of the First World War. Now we can compare how things were before the last war when large masses of the people lived in miserable cir­cumstances. We are sure that a happier time for the whole popula­tion is arriving. We Nazis will govern over the whole population and see that they get social justice. The Dutch remained sceptical. At the same time that these changes in the distribution of authority were taking place the Dutch people were suffering an increasing number of prohibitions shortages irritations and restrictions. The largest of the trade unions —the Socialist Trade U nion—was overtaken by Nazi leaders although the smaller Catholic and Protestant unions went unmolested. Non-commercial organisations came under the surveillance of a special German commissar and one by one the Freemasons the National Youth Organisation and other similar bodies were banned. Dutch industries including shipbuilding steel cement am­munition and textiles were utilised by the Germans until one- third of all industry was working directly for them and the Dutch Secretary of Defence sent in his resignation when he found himself forced to order Dutch army workshops to produce arms for the conqueror. Less scrupulous private industrialists justified their collaboration by outpointing that refusal to co-operate would entail a take-over of their enterprises by Germans and possibly deportation of their entire staffs. 1941: the Dutch Nazi leaders review Dutch SS units There were several restrictions on the freedom of workers to take whatever jobs they wished. Shortly after the capitulation the Germans had as a sign of goodwill released all Dutch prisoners of w a r-b u t with the warning that they must take employment in Ger­many. No unemployment benefit was thus paid to those who re­fused and other workers lured to Germany by promises or by necessity and then audacious enough to return home were de­prived not only of benefit but also of ration cards. In February Seyss-lnquart empowered the labour exchanges to command Dutchmen to take any job in Holland to which they were ordered although in practice men in regular work in 1941 remained free from such interference. Then a m uch-hated measure was introduced in May 1941 when every boy and girl between 18 and 25 was forced to spend a year in the Labour Service which generally meant agricultural work for boys and domestic work for girls. The press of course came under severe restrictions and was held in contempt by most Dutchmen as a German mouthpiece. Some daily newspapers were edited by Dutch Nazis installed as replacements for former editors who had resigned or been forced to leave but others remained under their pre-war direction. The General Dutch Press Bureau was run by a German W illi Hanke, and all its news came through the official German news agency. Directives issued by the Press Bureau forbade the printing of any criticism against the Germans news of Jewish persecutions re­ports about the Dutch royal family or mention of British or A m eri­ can art. Any German setback in the war had to be printed in small type and flanked by big headlines proclaiming German victories. Other forms of communication were rigorously controlled. The sale of all English American —and some Dutch —magazines was forbidden the Dutch broadcasting organisations were abolished and replaced by one run by the notorious Max Blokzeil. Cinemas were limited to German film sand books by authors whose views were deemed hostile to Nazidom were banned. Schoolbooks were purged of passages about the Dutch royal family of adverse refer­ences to Germany in connection with the First World War and even of such remote matters as the assertion that Europe owed its civilisation to the Romans. As however the offending passages were obliterated by pasting them over with sticky paper —school­children being what they are -th e forbidden items were more often read and better retained than the permitted parts. During 1941 the food situation in Holland as in other warring countries became worse. Farmers were ordered to handover one- seventh of their produce to the Germans and to grow more potatoes corn and rapeseed. Needless to say the farmers managed to keep back considerable amounts of food which then found its way onto Dutch tables through the black market but nevertheless it often seemed to the Dutch that the Germans were leaving them one-seventh not taking it from them. The Germans were in fact selective in their impost the greatest demands being on vegetables and fruit of which 50% was exported to Germany 25% eaten by the occupation troops and only 25% left for the Dutch. But at least the Germans paid for their exports. Almost all food of course was rationed -c o ffe e tea bread fats, „meat cereals eggs milk —but most people managed to supple- s ment their meagre portions by excursions to the farms or visits to the black market dealer in coupons and the lucky ones would occasionally enjoy the bonus of a few extra rations from the German o soldier billeted in their home. ‘Eating out entailed handing in the relevant coupons most people chose to supplement a 457452 Ullstein
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