A membership card for the NSDAP (commonly known as the German Nazi Party) has been found belonging to King Willem-Alexander’s grandfather, Prince Bernhard.
The Government Information Service (RVD) confirmed the card’s existence but did not want to elaborate on the document.
The document was revealed by a former director of the Royal House Archives, Flip Maarschalkerweerd, who announced its existence in the newspaper NRC and his book De Achterblijvers. Media company NRS and NRC revealed scanned images of the membership card.
The NSDAP card was found in 2019 among Prince Bernhard’s private archives, which Maarschalkerweerd inventoried after the Prince’s death. It’s unknown why the historian waited four years to reveal it.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was troubled by the discovery but that he had been shown proof in the past that the late Prince was a member of the Nazi Party. He also said a government investigation into Prince Bernhard’s past with the Nazis was not necessary.
Rutte said the reveal of the card showed “that this royal family is completely transparent” and that this was “part of a mature monarchy.”
Rutte said he was constitutionally bound not to disclose when King Willem-Alexander found out or any of their conversations regarding the membership.
The German-born royal denied he was a member of the Nazi Party until his 2004 death. In an interview published by Volkskrant after his death, Prince Bernhard said: “I can declare with my hand on the Bible: I was never a Nazi. I never paid for party membership, I never had a membership card.”
The discovery by Maarschalkerweerd may not be a shock to the Dutch people as Bernhard had members of his family and friends aligned with the Nazis. He also met with Adolph Hitler before his wedding to the future Queen Juliana, as protocol dictated that the Prince should meet his head of state before his royal wedding.
However, Prince Bernhard was known to have fought against the Nazis during World War II and worked with the Allied War Planning Councils. He later called Hitler a tyrant and said the Third Reich would fall.