German Birthday Gift
From the collection of the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD), Amsterdam
h 67 cm x w 50 cm
On 11 May 1942, in his headquarters at #35 Maliebaan in Utrecht, the leader of the Dutch Nazi Party (NSB), Anton Mussert, was congratulated by his personnel on the occasion of his forty-eighth birthday. Then two members of his staff carried in a large present. They opened the package to reveal a huge book, almost 70 cm high and weighing at least 15 kilos.
The name of this giant book was: Die Niederlande und das Reich. Dokumente aus vier Jahrhunderten (Lit. The Netherlands and the Empire, Four Centuries of Documents). When Mussert opened the book, he saw that it was a gift from Reichskommissar (Nazi Governor) Arthur Seyss-Inquart, since May 1940 Hitler’s highest representative in the Netherlands. With this book, according to the inscription, Seyss-Inquart wanted to promote the traditionally close historical ties between both their Germanic peoples. The gift, compiled in the German city of Munster, was the idea of the German Commissioner-General for Political Affairs and Propaganda in the occupied Netherlands, Fritz Schmidt. The work was richly illustrated with facsimiles from numerous German archives. Anton Mussert, who still harboured hopes of becoming the leader of the government in the Netherlands, must have felt encouraged by this unique present with its heartfelt words.