A beautifully decorated photo album remembers the 1941 visit of the Dutch NSB (National
Socialist Bond - Dutch collaborators with the Germans) leader Mussert, accompanied
by three of his aides. This album was discovered by the Dutch Institute for War Documentation
and is now in the collection of Gedenkstatte Dachau.
The most important item on the agenda during this two day visit to Germany was a
visit to the Waffen-SS school in Munich. Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuher SS, hoped
to make Mussert more positive towards allowing NSB-ers to join the Waffen-SS.
In June 1940, Hitler had given orders to establish the “Standarte Westland”, a regiment
that would be comprised of Dutch and Flemish men. Although Mussert initially was
not very happy with the idea, he capitulated several weeks later, under heavy pressure.
But it was not wholeheartedly. The establishment off the new regiment would have
to happen without his personal support. In large part, that is the reason why the
number of NSB-ers going to Munich for an SS education was scant.
On January 20, 1941, Mussert arrived in Munich by train, accompanied by such NSB
notables as Rost van Tonningen, Feldmeyer and Van Geelkerken. State Commissioner
Seyss-Inquart and Chief of Police Rauter were also part of the entourage.
The day started with a visit to the Braune Haus, headquarters of the NSDAP. Afterwards,
a wreath was laid by “Die Einige Wache” (the eternal watch), the monument for fallen
members of the Nazi party.
After lunch the entire party went to Konzentrationslager Dachau. The reason for the
visit was not entirely clear. It is possible that Mussert had heard about the conditions
in the German camps. His German hosts may have wanted him to see the “real situation”.
Led by an enthusiastic Himmler, and camp Commander Piorkowski, the Dutch guests were
shown a fresh and clean concentration camp where well-cared-for prisoners were performing
useful tasks in pleasant surroundings.
Mussert was enthusiastic about his visit to Dachau. After the war, in his prison
cell in Scheveningen, he remarked: “Himmler showed me Dachau. It was beautiful there.
The people were in the fresh air. They baked, painted, gardened. I said then, in
Holland I will do the same. As soon as I get to be in charge, I will break down all
those stone cages and prisons and I will build concentration camps here too. Of course,
as I found out later, I was only shown the exhibition part.”