A scan of Prince Bernhard’s Nazi party membership cardInternationalIndiaAfricaDutch Prince Bernhard, who served as prince consort for decades after World War Two, has been confirmed as a member of Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP political party, thanks to the discovery of an authentic Nazi party membership card. The revelation has shocked the nation and stirred calls for further investigation into his Nazi past.The Dutch government has officially acknowledged the authenticity of a Nazi party membership card belonging to Prince Bernhard von Lippe-Biesterfeld, the consort of Dutch Princess Juliana. Despite his repeated denials of Nazi affiliation, historians have long questioned his claims.The card’s existence first came to light in 1996, when a researcher at the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies found a copy of the document in a US university archive. Gerard Aalders, the researcher, faced criticism at the time for his revelation but maintained Prince Bernhard “lied to the bitter end about his Nazi past.”
Prince Bernhard married Princess Juliana in 1937 and played a role in the Dutch royal family's exile during World War II. He even led the unified Dutch resistance forces in 1944 and received decorations for his service as an RAF pilot.
Throughout his life, the prince vehemently denied being a member of Hitler’s party, claiming only to have been a prospective member of two Nazi organizations during his student years. He argued such affiliations were necessary to avoid suspicion and pass university exams.However, new evidence has emerged, including the recently discovered authentic NSDAP membership card by Flip Maarschalkerweerd, the former head of the palace archives, following the prince’s death.© AP PhotoPrince Bernhard of the Netherlands, husband of Princess Juliana, celebrates his birthday, on June 29, 1937.Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, husband of Princess Juliana, celebrates his birthday, on June 29, 1937.Maarschalkerweerd further stated he uncovered that the card was nearly destroyed in 1949 by Lucius Clay, a US military administrator in Germany who revealed in a note that he had been on the verge of trashing the document. However, Clay instead stated in the message that the prince “earned the right to destroy it” himself.The revelation has shocked many, particularly those who had participated in the Dutch resistance and commemorated the liberation with Prince Bernhard in the years following World War II.In response to the discovery, the Dutch royal house confirmed the card’s existence and published a picture of it.”I can very well imagine that this news has a great impact, that it calls up a lot of emotions. In particular among the Jewish community. We have to see the past as it is, including the less nice parts,” King Willem Alexander told reporters.Several political parties and Jewish groups have called for an investigation into the matter, adding another layer to the complex history of the Dutch royal family during World War II.