1940-1945. The resistance in the dutch province of Limburg
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1940-1945. The resistance in the dutch province of Limburg



The position of a (non-fascist) mayor was difficult during World War II. Under the Land War Regulations, an international treaty of 1899, they had to assist the German occupiers, but these in turn had to respect the law and legal order of the occupied territories. Nothing came of the latter. The mayors were therefore faced with a dilemma. They could resign and would then be replaced by a fascist who would cause even more damage. They could also stay on to protect their citizens as much as possible and then run the risk of being compromised by acceding to the demands of the occupying power. [1] Of course, also police officers and other officials had to face this problem.
In the first months they were still optimistic about the positive role they could play. The mayors and police usually tried to gain the trust of the Germans by maintaining public order and calling on their population to exercise restraint and calmness, in order to avoid repercussions against their citizens.
They therefore often acted as dampers of anti-German protest.
NSB member Max de Marchant et d’Ansembourg, Commissioner of the Province (the function was previously called Commissioner of the Queen) in Limburg, implemented the Führer principle. In his renowned speech of August 12, 1941, he announced the dissolution of the provincial parliament and all municipal councils. This led to a reaction by Limburg’s mayors that was unique in the Netherlands: 44 of them (most of them members of the Catholic RKSP) collectively resigned almost simultaneously. Two dozen more followed in 1942-1943. [2] It was not until the spring of 1943 that the mayors still on the job turned more actively against the plans of the occupiers. [3]
More than 60% of the mayors were dismissed or resigned during these years, but this also means that about 40% remained in office and tried to make the best of the situation.
It was only from the spring of 1943 that the remaining mayors turned more actively against the plans of the occupiers. [2]
A number of mayors chose a different strategy and did openly oppose the Germans in those first months. They were fired and usually replaced by NSB mayors. [3]
Typical of this dilemma are the two Valkenburg mayors during the occupation period. The pre-war (and post-war) mayor Hens endured until 1943. [4] In that year, about half of the Dutch mayors gave up, realizing that they could not do anything anymore, for example against the deportation of the Jews to the extermination camps and of the male population to slavery in Germany.
Below the footnotes you can see the names of some mayors who paid for their principled stand with their lives. But also the two wartime mayors of Valkenburg: Piet Hens, who tried as long as possible to get the best out of it, and his successor, a National Socialist.

  1. Peter Romijn, Burgemeesters in oorlogstijd. Besturen onder Duitse bezetting, Bürgermeister in Kriegszeit. Regieren unter deutscher Besatzung, Verlag Boom, Amsterdam, 2006. ISBN 9050187714
  2. archieven.nl: Kabinet van de Commissaris der Koningin in Limburg, 1914-1944 – Beknopt historisch overzicht
  3. https://www.tweedewereldoorlog.nl/kennis/themas/ondermijning-rechtstaat-en-bezetting/burgemeester-in-oorlogstijd/
  4. anderetijden.nl: Burgemeester in oorlogstijd Bürgermeister in Kriegszeit
  5. Two mayors of ValkenburgZ
    On the right you can see the then city hall of Valkenburg-Houthem, where both gentlemen resided ⇒
  6. There are two, not identical, Dutch Wikipedia articles on the subject of mayors in wartime:
    Burgemeesters in oorlogstijd
    nl.wikipedia: Burgemeesters in oorlogstijd, Mayors in wartime
  7. nl.wikipedia: Oorlogsburgemeester

Mayors – 4 pers.   ⇒All the fallen resistance people in Limburg
Cann, van
Frans Peter Mathis
∗ 1886-12-22
Melick en Herkenbosc
† 1945-03-31
- Mayors - Helden - Unorganized resistance -

Piet van Cann was the mayor of Helden.As mayor, he turned a blind eye when municipal employees engaged in illegal practices. He ignored the Germans and sabotaged wherever …
wall: left, row 20-03
Piet (Petrus Antonius)
∗ 1888-08-27
† 1971-04-26
- Valkenburg - Mayors - Survivors -

Was mayor of both Valkenburg and Houthem since 1917 and from 1935 also of Oud-Valkenburg. Dismissed in 1943, successor was Paul Schmalbach, a member …
More in our story Resistance in Valkenburg
Jacques Joseph Carlos Marie
∗ 1901-08-31
† 1944-12-27
- Aid to People in Hiding L.O. - Mayors - Limburg + -

Mayor and member of LO-Bergharen [1], which was part of the LO-District Maas en Waal. Arrested on March 6, 1944, because captured people in hiding had talked after severe torture. Read the …

This person is not (yet?) listed on the walls of the chapel.
(Godfried Jozef) Paul
∗ 1897-09-16
† 1952-09-18
- Valkenburg - Mayors - NSB - Survivors -

1942-1943 mayor of Beek, 1943-1944 mayor Valkenburg-Houthem. His predecessor and successor was Piet Hens.