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Willem "Wim" Aantjes (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋɪləm ˈʋɪm ˈaːɲcəs]; 16 January 1923 – 22 October 2015) was a Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).

Willem Aantjes
Wim Aantjes (1974).jpg
Willem Aantjes in 1974
Leader of the
Anti-Revolutionary Party
In office
7 March 1973 – 25 May 1977
Preceded byBarend Biesheuvel
Succeeded byOffice discontinued
Parliamentary leader in the
House of Representatives
In office
19 December 1977 – 7 November 1978
Preceded byDries van Agt
Succeeded byRuud Lubbers
Parliamentary groupChristian Democratic Appeal
In office
7 March 1973 – 8 June 1977
Preceded byBarend Biesheuvel
Succeeded byOffice discontinued
In office
6 July 1971 – 7 December 1972
Preceded byBarend Biesheuvel
Succeeded byBarend Biesheuvel
Parliamentary groupAnti-Revolutionary Party
Deputy Leader of the
Anti-Revolutionary Party
In office
23 February 1967 – 7 March 1973
LeaderBarend Biesheuvel
Preceded byBauke Roolvink
Succeeded byGerrit van Dam
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
26 May 1959 – 7 November 1978
Parliamentary groupChristian Democratic Appeal
(1977–1978)
Anti-Revolutionary Party
(1959–1977)
Personal details
Born
Willem Aantjes

(1923-01-16)16 January 1923
Bleskensgraaf, Netherlands
Died22 October 2015(2015-10-22) (aged 92)
Utrecht, Netherlands
NationalityDutch
Political partyChristian Democratic Appeal
(from 1980)
Other political
affiliations
Anti-Revolutionary Party
(until 1980)
Spouse(s)
Gisela Braun
(m. 1953; div. 1995)

Ineke Ludikhuize
(m. 2000; his death 2015)
Children2 sons and 1 daughter
Alma materUtrecht University
(Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws)
OccupationPolitician · Jurist · Nonprofit director

Aantjes a jurist by occupation, was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives on 26 May 1959 after the general election of 1959. He served as the Parliamentary leader of the Anti-Revolutionary Party in the House of Representatives from 22 June 1971 until 30 November 1972, during the period when Barend Biesheuvel the Leader of the Anti-Revolutionary Party served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Aantjes became Leader of the Anti-Revolutionary Party and Parliamentary leader on 7 March 1973 and served until 25 May 1977 when the became the Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands from 19 December 1977 until 7 November 1978 when he resigned both his positions.

BiographyEdit

Early lifeEdit

Willem Aantjes was born on 16 January 1923 in Bleskensgraaf in the Netherlands Province of South Holland. His father, Klaas Aantjes', was alderman in Bleskensgraaf and from 1 October 1950 to 14 January 1951 mayor of Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht. His brother Jan Aantjes was also mayor of several municipalities. Aantjes attended the Marnix Gymnasium in Rotterdam.

On 8 February 1940, Aantjes started to work for the postal mail company PTT.[1] On 19 July 1943, he was selected for Arbeitseinsatz and sent to Güstrow to deliver mail. Aantjes would later say he had not refused selection, because the board of PTT would otherwise have sent a married employee in his place. In September 1944, Aantjes wanted to return to the Netherlands. Other Dutch forced laborers told him that if one joined the Germanic SS, one could ask for an assignment in the Netherlands and be trained as a police officer on the Avegoor estate near Ellecom.[2] Aantjes decided he would follow this route, and enlisted in the Germanic SS.[3] To his dismay, he was assigned to Landstorm Nederland, a division of the Waffen-SS and he received a uniform. After being transferred to Hoogeveen, Aantjes refused to wear the uniform and to enlist in Landstorm Nederland. He was arrested and imprisoned in Port Natal near Assen, an abandoned psychiatric hospital that had been turned into a work camp by the Nazis.

After the war ended in May 1945, Aantjes enrolled at the University of Utrecht to study law. He never mentioned his enlisting in the Germaanse-SS to anyone.

PoliticsEdit

 
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal Dries van Agt and Member of the House of Representatives Willem Aantjes on 26 August 1977.

Aantjes became a member of the House of Representatives for the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) in 1959.[1] He was offered the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment in 1967. He turned it down, because several party members knew enough about his war past to object to his candidacy in public.[4] On 6 July 1971, Aantjes became leader of the ARP group.

Aantjes played an important part in the merger of the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP), the Christian Historical Union (CHU) and the Catholic People's Party (KVP) into the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).[5] His address to the first joint congress of the three parties, which was held in 1975, has become known as the "Sermon on the Mount". After the general election of 1977, Aantjes was offered the Ministry of Justice in the first cabinet of Prime Minister Dries van Agt.[1] Again, Aantjes refused, and used his continuing involvement in the development of the CDA party as reason for his refusal. He then became the first leader of the CDA party in the House of Representatives on 20 December 1977.[6]

World War II controversy and resignationEdit

In 1978, Loe de Jong of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation was confronted with stories about Aantjes's alleged sympathies for Nazism. Although the Institute usually did not respond to such rumors, De Jong - considering the high position of Aantjes - believed that further investigation was necessary. His staff discovered a note, which showed that Aantjes was mobilized in October 1944 as part of the Waffen-SS.[7] On 6 November 1978, Loe de Jong of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation announced in a press conference that Aantjes had signed up for the Waffen-SS in World War II, and that he had been a camp guard in Port Natal. Aantjes, at that time leader of the CDA party in the House of Representatives, resigned his position as parliamentary party leader and member of the House of Representatives the next day. Aantjes argued he had joined the Germanic SS because he believed that this was the only legal way to escape from forced labor in Güstrow. While De Jong assumed that Aantjes had joined the Germanic SS out of mere opportunism or sympathy for the Nazi ideology or the Dutch collaborating fascist National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands, Aantjes said this was not the case.

A later investigation showed that Aantjes was right and had instead been interned at Port Natal, and De Jong admitted to have made mistakes. The affair was publicly seen as a way to get rid of Aantjes by his political rivals.

DecorationsEdit

Honours
Ribbon bar Honour Country Date Comment
  Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion Netherlands 29 April 1970

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c (in Dutch) Biographical info on www.parlement.com, set up by the Parliamentary Documentation Center of Leiden University, retrieved 11 May 2007.
  2. ^ (in Dutch) The downfall of CDA politician Willem Aantjes in 1978, retrieved 11 May 2007.
  3. ^ Meek, James (28 April 2011). "In the Sorting Office". London Review of Books. 33 (9): 3–9. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  4. ^ (in Dutch) NRC Handelsblad, "Loe de Jong admits mistakes", 5 February 2001, retrieved 11 May 2007.
  5. ^ (in Dutch) De Groene Amsterdammer, "Aantjes en de CDA-machinaties", 15 October 1997, retrieved 18 May 2007.
  6. ^ After a general election the previous cabinet continues as a caretaker. The intended Prime Minister is a member of Parliament until the next cabinet is inaugurated, and in that period functions as interim leader of the parliamentary party. So, from 8 June 1977 until 19 December 1977, Dries van Agt was technically the first leader of the CDA parliamentary party.
  7. ^ De affaire-Aantjes; by Mirjam Prenger; Historisch Nieuwsblad; January 1993

External linksEdit

Official
Party political offices
Preceded by
Barend Biesheuvel
Parliamentary leader of the
Anti-Revolutionary Party in the
House of Representatives

1971–1972
1973–1977
Succeeded by
Barend Biesheuvel
Succeeded by
Office discontinued
Leader of the Anti-Revolutionary Party
1971–1982
Preceded by
Dries van Agt
Parliamentary leader of the
Christian Democratic Appeal in the
House of Representatives

1977–1978
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers