AMSTERDAM (Nov. 8)
The disclosure that William Aanties, a leader of the Christian Democrats, Holland’s largest political party, has a Nazi past, has created a furore in Dutch political circles and stunned the rest of the nation. Aantjes, 55, promptly resigned from Parliament where he had a distinguished career of nearly 20 years and resigned as Parliamentary Secretary of the Christian Democrats, one of the party’s highest posts.
A special 23-member Parliamentary committee has been enpaneled to investigate various aspects of the affair. The political bombshell was touched off Monday when the State Institute for War Documentation announced that, as a result of confidential information obtained two weeks ago, it found that Aantjes had volunteered to join the “Landstorm Nederland” in 1944, a section of the Waffen SS established to defend Nazi-occupied Holland from advancing Allied armies. Aantjes did not perform active military service but held an administrative post in a forced labor camp in Holland. Surviving inmates of the camp said he behaved correctly.
The revelation was all the more ironic in that as a member of Parliament, Aantjes was consistently pro-Israel and was often a speaker at pro-Israel rallies in The Netherlands. Aantjes was a member of the Calvinist Anti-Revolutionist Party (ARP) which merged with the Christian Democrats several years ago.
It was known in Holland after the war that Aantjes, at the age of 19, had volunteered to work in Germany during the Nazi occupation of his homeland and served there as a postal clerk. No action was taken against him because of his youth. But that association, it is believed, deprived him of a Cabinet post for which he was slated on two occasions. It was not known, however, that he was a member of an SS unit, something that he never mentioned in interviews in the past.
According to Aantjes, he volunteered to work in Germany in place of a married friend. He has said he worked in the forced labor camp from October, 1944 until its liberation by the Allies in April, 1945 because he had hoped to escape. At a press conference in The Hague yesterday, Aantjes denied that he joined the SS. He said he had tried, through the SS, to be sent back to Holland. In announcing his resignation from Parliament and the Christian Democratic Party, he said one of the aspects of the affair he regretted most was that “it may discredit my deep-rooted love for the people of the Old Testament.”