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The '''Reichskommissariat Niederlande''', literally "''[[Reich]]'' [[Commissariat]] of the [[Netherlands]]", was the [[Reichskommissariat|civilian occupation regime]] set up by [[Nazi Germany]] in the [[German occupation of the Netherlands|German-occupied Netherlands]] during [[World War II]]. Its full title in German was the '''Reichskommissariat für die besetzten niederländischen Gebiete''' ("Reich Commissariat for the Occupied Dutch Territories"). The administration was headed by [[Arthur Seyss-Inquart]], formerly the last chancellor of [[Austria]] before initiating its annexation into Germany during the [[Anschluss]].
[[Image:Bundesarchiv Bild 121-1976, Arthur Seyß-Inquart.jpg|thumb||150px|left|[[Arthur Seyss-Inquart]] in [[The Hague]].]]
The German domination of the Netherlands began with the [[Battle of the Netherlands|German invasion]]. On the day of the capitulation (14 May 1940) the entire ministerial staff fled to London to form a [[Dutch government in exile]]. [[Wilhelmina of the Netherlands|Queen Wilhelmina]] had already preceded them the previous day. This had ''de facto'' left government authority in the hands of general [[Henri Winkelman]] as the senior-most military commander in the Netherlands. On 20 May 1940 a [[Military occupation|military administration]] was initially implemented, led by ''Militärsbefehlshaber'' [[Alexander Freiherr von Falkenhausen]]. This was quickly disbanded however to be replaced by a civil administration under the authority of the newly appointed [[Arthur Seyss-Inquart]], who was named ''Reichskommissar für die besetzten niederländische Gebiete''. The new form of government was therefore not a German military government (''Militärverwaltung'') but a civil government (''Zivilverwaltung''). Hitler chose this option on mainly ideological grounds: the Dutch were considered a "racially related kindred-people" and therefore had to be won over for [[National Socialism]].
This move was technically justified on legal grounds according to the provisions of the [[Hague Conventions]] on the laws of war. The wholly unconstitutional evacuation of the monarch and her government before the advancing German forces meant that there was no longer any functioning civil authority left in the area. Article 43 of ''The Laws and Customs of War on Land'' stipulate that in this scenario the occupying power is accorded responsibility for maintaining order in the territories that it has occupied in lieu of the native government exercising this authority.
On the longer term ('longer term' not being defined any further by the Germans other than "''nach Kriegsende''", meaning after the war's conclusion), the German authorities anticipated the direct [[Annexation|integration]] of the Netherlands into the expanding Third Reich.
The German government in the Netherlands was headed by Seyss-Inquart as [[Reichskommissar]]. Beneath him were four ''Generalkommissare''. These were:
* [[Hans Fischböck]], ''Generalkommissar für Finanz und Wirtschaft'' (finance and economics);
* [[Hanns Albin Rauter]], ''Generalkommissar für das Sicherheitswesen'' (security) who also maintained the position of Higher [[SS and Police Leader]];
* [[Fritz Schmidt (Generalkommissar)|Fritz Schmidt]], ''Generalkommissar zur Besonderen Verwendung'' ('special tasks'). Succeeded by [[Wilhelm Ritterbusch|Willi Ritterbusch]] after the former’s suicide on 26 June 1943;
* [[Friedrich Wimmer]], ''Generalkommissar für Verwaltung und Justiz'' (administration and justice).
Despite his nominal government subordination to Seys-Inquart, Rauter as an [[SS]] officer was actually only responsible to [[Heinrich Himmler]] as [[Reichsführer-SS]]. His own deputies in turn were the ''Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD'' (commander of the criminal police and the [[Sicherheitsdienst|SD]]) [[Wilhelm Harster]], the ''Aussenstelle'' (deputy) in Amsterdam (headed by [[Willy Lages]]), and the ''Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung'' (Central Office for Jewish "Emigration") led by [[Ferdinand aus der Fünften]].
No new ministers were appointed; the [[Secretary General|secretaries-general]] maintained control over their respective departments, but were now operating under the authority of Seyss-Inquart. The existing lower-level governments remained completely intact as well, although these were gradually being replaced by [[National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands|NSB members]] as the war progressed.
==Strategy and Policy==
Upon the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1940, Nazi Germany's position on the Dutch people initially looked favourable. [[Adolf Hitler]], [[Heinrich Himmler]], and other senior Nazis regarded the [[Dutch people|Dutch]] as part of the [[Aryan race|Aryan]] "[[Herrenvolk]]" (Master Race).
Seyss-Inquart's policies were to gradually prepare the state structure and Dutch population for [[Nazism|National Socialist]] ideology, the notion of creating a "new Europe" (meaning one led by Germany), and ultimately assimilation into [[Greater Germany]] after its victory in the war. He was conscious however of the very limited support that the Netherlands' future as a German province would necessarily receive, and adjusted his style of rule accordingly so as not to raise any unwanted disturbances that the Dutch people might create. He was also aware that the local Fascist and Nazi movements in the Netherlands, particularly the [[National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands|Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging]] (NSB) led by [[Anton Mussert]] were nothing more than minority groups generally despised by the vast majority of the Dutch. Mussert was also an advocate for creating [[Dietsland]], a type of [[Greater Netherlands]] to be formed out of the [[Dutch language|Dutch-speaking]] Netherlands and [[Flanders]], rather than a [[Greater Germanic Reich|Greater Germanic]] one as desired by [[Adolf Hitler]]. For these reasons Seyss-Inquart allowed the NSB only limited authorities, and was generally non-receptive to appointing its members to strategically significant positions.
Mussert attempted to convince Hitler that he should be the leader of an independent Dutch state, a request which Hitler denied, leaving Reichskommissar Seyss-Inquart as the absolute ruler of the Netherlands. He was however allowed to take on the title of "Leader of the Dutch People" and the NSB was permitted to continue its political activities. The NSB declared that the monarchy was abolished and that the Netherlands should support Germany in the war. 20,000 to 25,000 Dutchmen served in the [[Wehrmacht|German Army]] and [[Waffen SS]].
All institutions and organizations not deemed acceptable by Nazi Germany were abolished. These measures were opposed especially by Dutch [[Roman Catholics]] and [[socialists]].
Despite being considered Herrenvolk, Germany's requirements for war production resulted in the introduction of forced labour ([[Arbeitseinsatz]]) on Dutch men of the ages between 18 and 45 as well as extracting Dutch natural resources to use for Germany's war machine.
[[Image:Standaarden-germaanse-ss.jpg|250px|left|thumb|Regional Standards of the Dutch SS.]]
After [[Battle of the Netherlands|its invasion]], the [[Netherlands]] was temporarily placed under the authority of a German civilian governor (a [[Reichskommissar]]) until a final decision would be made on the next form of government to "facilitate" the [[Dutch people|Dutch nation]] for its intended assimilation into Germany. On several occasions however the German regime seriously considered implementing a concrete plan to change the territorial composition of the Reichskommissariat Niederlande. Its then-eleven provinces were to be replaced by five new ''gewesten'' (historical [[Dutch language|Dutch]] term for a sub-national state [[polity]]) and Reichskommissar [[Arthur Seyss-Inquart|Seyss-Inquart]] appointed as ''[[Reichsstatthalter]] und [[Gauleiter]]'' for the entire country as the first step in this process.
This proposal originated from a document created by the [[Hanns Albin Rauter]], the [[Higher SS and Police Leader]] in the [[Netherlands]]), who subsequently submitted it to [[Nazi Party]] [[Nazi Party Chancellery|Secretary]] [[Martin Bormann]] in November 1942. In it he put forward his suggestions on the future political organization of the Netherlands when it would be a component of the Third Reich. It called for its effective division into five new ''[[Reichsgaue]]'', preferably to be led by Dutch [[Waffen-SS]] veterans from the [[Eastern Front (WWII)|eastern front]]. These Gaue were entirely coterminous with the five police and judicial districts that the Germans had established earlier, based on the regional "standards" of the [[Nederlandsche SS|Dutch SS]]. Fearing the resulting further Nazification of the Netherlands the key Dutch government officials strongly advised Seyss-Inquart not to carry out these steps on account of the administrative chaos that it would inevitably cause, causing them to be shelved for the time being. When Germany was subsequently forced on the defensive after 1942, they were abandoned indefinitely.
In February 1941, opposition to the [[anti-Semitic]] policies of the Nazis and the collaborationists caused major strikes to break out across the Netherlands. This started after the NSB and its stormtroopers, the ''Weerbaarheidsafdeling'' (Defence Section) or WA began a series of provocations against Jewish neighbourhoods in [[Amsterdam]]. Fighting broke out in which members of the WA were injured, the collaborationists then called in the support of the German Army which assisted in turning the neighbourhood into a [[ghetto]] surrounded by barbed wire and armed positions, non-Jews were not allowed to enter the area. Days later German [[Ordnungspolizei]] entered the neighbourhood but a number of police were injured, the Germans then responded by raiding the neighbourhood and capturing 425 Jews who were then deported to concentration camps. On the 24th, the [[Communist Party of the Netherlands]] (made illegal by the Nazis) called for the people of Amsterdam to go on strike. Afterwards, tram trivers, schools, and some companies joined the strike. After three days, German police put down the strike.
[[Image:RedBallExpress.jpg|thumb||150px|right|The "Red Ball Express" was an attempt to resolve persistent Allied supply problems during [[Operation Market Garden]].]]
From 1944 to 1945, the Reichskommissariat came under attack from Allied forces. The first attempt to liberate the Netherlands by the Allies was during [[Operation Market Garden]] in 1944, involving the use of paratrooper divisions to take over key bridges in the Netherlands to allow Allied tanks positioned in Belgium to quickly go through the Netherlands and reach [[Arnhem]], which held a bridge over the river [[Rhine]]. This would put the Allies in a strategic advantage to invade Germany and quickly end the war. However intelligence failures and poor organization led to Market Garden falling apart and German forces taking back lost areas in Belgium.
After Market Garden, the Canadian army was given the initiative to liberate the Netherlands, the Canadian armed forces managed to push the German forces to the upper part of the Netherlands by 1945 in which Germany surrendered, abdicating its claim to the Netherlands and all other occupied territories.
*[[History of the Netherlands (1939-1945)]]
*[[National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands]]
L. de Jong (1969-1991). ''Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog''. Staatsuitgeverij, 's-Gravenhage. (In Dutch).