In the years leading up to the Second World War, the government and cultural elites of the Netherlands gradually turned into pliant — or at least passive — accomplices of the Nazi regime in Germany. Some of their submissive behavior can be attributed to German pressure, but much of it was pre-emptive, anticipating the dire consequences of not appeasing the Third Reich.
The parallels with today’s dhimmification of Holland are striking. Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated two articles on the topic and supplemented them with his own notes.
First, from De Volkskrant:
“An offense deserving punishment”
In the thirties the Nazis agitated strongly against critical coverage of the Third Reich. Dutch media and government did not keep their backs straight, and engaged in censorship.
by Peter Giesen
In 1936 Peter van Reen in the Social Democrat newspaper “Het Volk” published a cartoon which depicted Adolf Hitler as a murderer. Not too bold a stance, as it seems. Still, chief editor Johan Frederik Ankersmit had to appear in court. “Defamation of a befriended head of state,” Justice ruled. Only in the last instance did the Supreme Court set Ankersmit free.
“The authorities did not lie awake over the revolting caricatures of Jews in the NSB press, parroted from the Stürmer-artist Julius Streicher. On May 5, 1938, the court sentenced the writer Maurits Dekker to a fine of 100 guilders, subsidiary to 50 days in jail. He had called the befriended head of state ‘hysterical’ in a brochure entitled: ‘Hitler, an attempt at an explanation’, Lisette Lewin added about this affair in “The clandestine book”.
As radical Muslims today put Western media under pressure, Nazi Germany continued to urge for a “balanced” coverage of the Third Reich. The Dutch government in those days was [also] sensitive to such pressure. Journalists and publishers were sued; the radio was heavily censored.
Curiously enough, the neutrality policy meant that Adolf Hitler was a “befriended head of state,” and had to be treated with all courtesy and respect. The Germans themselves also took pains to see to that. They followed the Dutch media closely and protested severely when the reporting was critical or “non-neutral”. As result, in the thirties an anxious attitude prevailed concerning the Nazis. On the radio especially expressions and statements that were regarded hostile towards Germany were heavily censored. But the media also employed self-censorship. […] Thus the Netherlands in the thirties evolved into a frightened country where the subject of Hitler (and National Socialism) was approached with great caution. For the Germans above all must not be provoked. 
The Nazis could also make use of domestic supporters. On December 1, 1935, the Dutch National Socialist party (NSB) disrupted the performance of the play “The Executioner” of the Swedish author Pär Lagerkvist, which they regarded as a dissolute defamation of the Third Reich. In the Amsterdam City Theater fighting broke out between police, NSB members and other visitors. Startled, the mayors of the Hague, Utrecht, Haarlem and Enschede decided to ban the theatre play in their municipality. The minister of Internal Affairs De Wilde, said: “wise decision demands that the play no longer is allowed to be performed”. However, the mayor of Amsterdam did not want to yield to political violence. Director August Defresne and leading actor Albert Dalsum though, threw in the towel.
Sometimes the German authorities put the Dutch press directly under pressure. In 1935 Germany began an action against the Dutch journalist of Jewish descent Marcus Blankenstein, who in newspaper the NRC wrote authoritative and fierce anti-Nazi foreign critique. First the paper was hit by an advertising boycott of the German-spa and holiday resorts that cost the paper tens of thousands of dollars in the middle of the economic crisis. Subsequently two important Rotterdam businessmen, the SHV CEO Van Beunigen and the banker Van de Mandele, complained at the chief editors that the articles of Van Blankenstein threatened to disrupt good trade relations with Germany. Not long after, Van Blankenstein was dismissed. […] Following the resignation of Van Blankenstein, the NRC tightened down to a less fierce tone, as Van Vree concludes.
As international tensions increased, the Dutch authorities became more and more cautious. In September 1938 the Munich Conference convened, where England and France allowed Hitler to annex the Czech Sudetenland, hoping this would satisfy his insatiable appetite for territorial expansion. Two radio talks about Czechoslovakia were banned, although they contained not a word of criticism of Germany. The Czechs, however, were abundantly praised, which by Germany might be regarded as criticism.
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In October, W. Vos-Vrijman wanted to give a lecture on racial hatred, in which she did not mention Germany, but talked only of a “nation” that “is guided by principles based on these inferior motives”. This lecture was also banned. In November followed the Kristallnacht, in which eight thousand Jewish shops were destroyed, hundreds of synagogues set on fire, and thirty-five Jews were killed. In the Netherlands there was great outrage, but the government simply increased censorship.
Germany was in no way to be provoked, especially now that it was in such an so irritable mood. Therefore the reports about Kristallnacht were largely confined to the matter-of-fact news reports of the ANP. Only the workers’ radio broadcaster had a radio report from the eyewitness Piet Bakker, but he also had to moderate his tone. In his report, “old people that in the neighboring country are now persecuted until bleeding”, was changed to “old people that now have to flee their homes”.
Many of these censorship measures came about under pressure of Eelco van Kleffens, who was in the Radio Broadcasting Control Commission (ROCC) on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some interventions even went too far for the chairman of the committee, the future PM Gerbrandy: “Should indeed every word be weighed now on a golden scale because Germany is simply hyper-delicate?” The answer was yes, Van Kleffens found. In 1934 he himself had witnessed with horror in Germany how fast the country had become subject to a brutal dictatorship. As a member of the ROCC, however, he demanded extreme prudence.
Moreover, the broadcasting associations generally responded with understanding to the instructions from the ROCC. The security of the Netherlands was considered more important than freedom of expression. “To say what you think” was not worth a war. […] In the Netherlands, most media were affiliated with political and philosophical organizations. Journalists sought a higher purpose than making a good newspaper or radio broadcast. Out of idealism and loyalty to the to the respected pillar, they swallowed the orders from above. “In subordination lies in our courage,” as the Social Democratic journalist Winkler once said.
Befriended head of State
Also curious was the action against the publisher Rob Leopold, who was brought to court in March 1940 (two months before the invasion of the Netherlands). His offense: he had published the Dutch translation of “Gespräche mit Hitler,” (“Conversations with Hitler”), translated by the Dutch writer Menno ter Braak. Germany held the Dutch government accountable for it and on March 8, 1940 the police in The Hague and Leiden confiscated all books of this writer. In the book, the German ex-Nazi Hermann Rauschning sketched a damaging picture of the German dictator. The prosecutor in The Hague however, considered a number of passages of the book “intentionally insulting, at the very least insulting, to the head of a befriended state, the German Reich, Adolf Hitler”.
In the contemporary view it is surprising that the Dutch authorities acted so harshly against writers, journalists, radio producers, theater producers, and comedians who strongly criticized Hitler. But freedom of expression was in those days still far from being sacred. In 1934 the Dutch government tightened censorship, especially with regard to the radio, then a new medium to which a dangerous influence was ascribed. The VARA [the Social Democrats’ broadcaster] was taken on especially vociferously. In 1934 the broadcaster had to give up one day of airtime after it had held five minutes of silence after the execution of Marinus van der Lubbe, the Dutchman who was convicted of setting fire to the Reichstag in Berlin. “It would not have taken much for the government to ban the broadcaster all together,” Huub Wijfjes says, a historian who did a graduate study of the radio in the thirties, “Radio under Restriction”.
The thirties were a period of great economic crisis and international tension. Unlike other countries, democracy in the Netherlands was never really seriously in danger. Yet many thought that the Netherlands needed an authoritarian hand. The “Anti-Revolutionary” (Christian Democrat) leader Colijn was the strong man; his government did not refrain from intervening in the media.
The Government was particularly sensitive in terms of religion. Even quotations of Spinoza, the 17th century philosopher who was critical about religion, were not allowed to be broadcast. In 1937 the radio license of the anarchist “Freethinkers Radio Association” was withdrawn due to “blasphemy,” to the satisfaction of Parliament. A spokesman of the small Christian-Socialist CDU said that “an association whose action is directed at the destruction of religion does not deserve the right to be heard on the radio”.
Criticism Nazi Germany also had to be handled carefully. Thus, the recitation of poems by the famous German anti-Nazis Tucholsky and von Ossietzky was prohibited. “The Dutch government was afraid,” says historian Wijfjes. “In Germany many were killed in fights between Socialist, Communist, and National Socialist fighting squads. PM Colijn was afraid the violence might spread to the Netherlands. “
The Netherlands was also afraid of economic damage, but the biggest fear was about the preservation of neutrality. The militarily impotent Netherlands escaped the First World War by remaining neutral. When in the late thirties the tension was continuously increasing, it seemed to be the best option to remain neutral again to stay out of sight. “Germany was also a real military threat, right at the eastern border. In this situation the Dutch government did not want to do anything that might offend Germany, or would even provide them with an excuse to invade,” says Wijfjes.
Although many critical stories about Nazi Germany appeared in the Dutch press, it regularly gave in to the threat from the east. Is there anything to learn from this rather sad history? “The circumstances obviously differ greatly. But what you always see is that media content still gives in. With the VARA (Workers’ Radio Association) Socialist battle songs gave way to Louis Davids, who sang the song “De Kleine Man” [“The Petit Bourgeois”] in a much more subtle way.”
While toning-down does not immediately have to be disastrous, the thirties do show how dangerous it is to yield to intimidation. Through a combination of threats, censorship, and self censorship, the Dutch public was insufficiently informed, according to Wijfjes: “In the thirties, the existence of concentration camps was generally known. Still, you read and heard relatively little about it. The Berlin correspondent of the newspaper NRC, Noorderwier, also wrote confidential analyses for the Dutch government. Those were much sharper and much more critical.”
Lucas Hartong wrote on a similar subject in July 2008 on HetVrijeVolk.com (quotes):
History seems to repeat itself
What interests me in this point is that history seems to repeat itself. I welcome the statement by the prosecution that Geert Wilders will not be prosecuted for his statements [this was written halfway through 2008], but the rustle around it I don’t like in any way. It too much sounds as “Formally … but …” and that’s a very scary development. Moreover, neither a state nor the law can be neutral in this particular matter, as shown from history. A government must by all possible means oppose a totalitarian system that threatens the security and sovereignty of a country and its citizens. The OM should have gone much further in its statement and not only acquitted Wilders, but also should have punished those who had filed the complaints.
The analogy between the resistance to the Nazi ideology and the current resistance against the Islamic ideology is clear. Both are totalitarian thought-systems and both clearly indicate that there are only two options for dissent: “conversion or death”. Any form of analysis, criticism, or attack on Islam is punished with the instantly familiar word “discrimination” and “phobia”; it is same as “insulting a befriended system”.
Meanwhile, according to CDA (Christian Democrats), an imam may comfortably open its next party congress. The PvdA (Socialists) lets dissident deputies who oppose the ventilated position on Islam and the abolition of the separation of mosque and state, quietly leave. Do not dare to comment on that “befriended system”. Lawyers know how to find you, imams know to declare a fatwa on you, and action-committees know how to boycott your company. Don’t comment on the befriended head of state Allah and his prophet. Who has ears to hear the signs of the times, let him hear.
Quotes: Peter Giesen, “Land of Cowards? A history of fear in the Netherlands” (“Land van lafaards?”; Inmerc B.V., 2007):  p.92;  p.94;  p.94;  pp.95, 96
 The pre-WWII prime minister (1933-39) Hendrik Colijn (ARP /now CDA) had after the occupation of the Rhineland in March 1936 spoke on the radio: “I therefore urge listeners, when they later find their resting places (beds), to just quietly go to sleep, as they would do on other nights. There is no reason at all to be worried.” In the beginning of the occupation in 1940 he indicated he sooner would choose the (Fascist and anti-Semitic) National Front than the (Socialist/Christian Democrat and later also anti-Semitic) Nederlandsche Unie. He further stated that according to him democracy had just about ended and (thus) “something should be done”.
Quote from “The Clandestine Book”: Lydia Winkel: “Het clandestiene boek 1940-1945”; Amsterdam, Van Gennip, 1983.