Expatica news

Tributes do not escape life’s controversy

2 December 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch political elite has expressed sorrow at the death of Prince Bernhard, but amid the tributes, the controversial aspects of the 93-year-old’s life are being recalled.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende described Prince Bernhard as a person who was in love with life, while at the same time accepting his impending death with a peaceful mind. He also said Bernhard was a “person to love” and praised his military service during World War II.

The chairman of the Lower House of Parliament, Frans Weisglas, asserted that Bernhard “would live on in our thoughts because of his great involvement in Dutch society and his efforts for our land”.
Government coalition party Christian Democrat CDA said its thoughts and prayers were with Queen Beatrix, Bernhard’s other children and the rest of the royal family. Parliamentary leader Maxime Verhagen  said Bernhard was the prince of wartime veterans.

Government party Liberal VVD said Bernhard was a man with “flair and charm”. Leader Jozias van Aartsen said Bernhard’s iron will in rising above setbacks and the frankness with which his expressed his opinions also appealed to the nation’s youth.
Main opposition party Labour PvdA said Bernhard would remain the Dutch symbol of resistance against the Nazis. It also noted he was “an outspoken personality”, who threw his efforts into reconstruction of the Netherlands and environmental protection.

Green-left GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema remembered the rich and full life of Bernhard. “He was a striking personality. Striking because he was a symbol in the war years of the German occupation and thereafter, but also controversial because of his part in the Lockheed affair,” she said.

Halsema was referring to Bernhard’s implication in a bribery case involving US aircraft maker Lockheed in the 1970s.

The leader of the Socialist Party, Jan Marijnissen, also said the prince was controversial. He said rumours of the prince’s membership of the NSDAP (Nazi party) continually resurfaced, noting also that Bernhard always denied the allegations.

His biography, however, does concede he joined the Reiter SS Corps to allow him to continue his studies in the early years of the Nazi regime. Bernhard said he never accepted the Nazi ideology.

His younger brother, Aschwin, openly declared support for Hitler’s regime.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news