NOS News•today, 11:11•Amended today, 11:45 am
“With respect and appreciation for the past, the Cultural Fund will continue from today with a name that fits who we are today and with a focus on our content,” says director Cathelijne Broers. The fund supports projects in the field of culture and nature conservation in the Netherlands.
Prince Bernhard, who died in 2004, was in the news last month because his original NSDAP membership card was found. He had denied that he had been a member of the Nazi Party until his death. The map was in the private archives of the prince, who died in 2004. Former director of the Royal House Archives Flip Maarschalkerweerd found the map in the archive at Soestdijk Palace, which he inventoried after Bernhard’s death.
The Prince Bernhard Cultural Fund immediately said in a response that it was upset about the news. “We are surprised by this announcement and the existence of the document,” the fund said in a response. “We are going to list what this news means for us as a cultural fund.”
Card never destroyed
The NSDAP was founded in 1920 and had an ideology of extreme nationalism and racism. A few years before the outbreak of the Second World War, in 1936, Bernhard gave up his membership. That year he became engaged to Princess Juliana, the grandmother of King Willem-Alexander. At the engagement party, German guests gave the Hitler salute. Prince Bernhard never destroyed his membership card.
The discovery of the physical map was confirmation of previous evidence that had come to light. In the 1930s, the Americans made a copy of the NSDAP card. In 1996, that copy was found by two Dutch historians. Bernhard then admitted to having been a member of the youth section of the SS, and said that he had to do so in order to pass his exams.
The prince’s Nazi past is in stark contrast to his reputation as a resistance hero in the Second World War. From London he was put in charge of the resistance. “It is a very divided life that this man has had,” historian Annejet van der Zijl previously told NOS. “After the war there was no way back. He had established himself as a resistance hero.”
The fund, previously known as the Prince Bernhard Fund and Carnation Fund, has existed since 1940. When the war was a few months into the war, it was founded in London under the name Spitfire Fund to purchase war equipment. Prince Bernhard was involved from the start. Since the end of the war, the money has been earmarked for culture and nature conservation.
Since 1950, the fund has awarded Silver Carnations annually to volunteers who have committed themselves to culture or nature. Last year the Prince Bernhard Cultural Fund Prize went to the Anne Frank Foundation. This is a lifetime achievement award for someone who has made a special contribution to culture or nature. This prize has been awarded annually by Queen Máxima since 2010.