Marriage of Meinoud and Florrie Rost van Tonningen on 21 December 1940
By Carolyn Yeager, 14 October, 2011
The life of Florence Rost Van Tonningen, wife and widow of Dutch economist and military man M.M. Rost van Tonningen, displays the qualities of character, faithfulness and fearlessness that are the hallmark of heroic European women.
Her husband, loyal to his National Socialist and pro-Hitler beliefs, was murdered, without even the appearance of a trial, in circumstances which the Dutch government has decreed must remain secret until the year 2069.
The intrepid Florence was herself subject to persecution in the courts of her native Netherlands for distributing and possessing forbidden literature on the war. She tells her harrowing story of escape and survival in a paper presented to the 9th International Revisionist Conference.
Presented here is the more personal, last half of her paper, which can be found in it’s entirety at www.vho.org/GB/Journals/JHR/9/4/Rost427-438.html.
Excerpted from: For Holland and for Europe: The Life and Death of Dr. M.M. Rost van Tonningen
by FLORENCE S. ROST VAN TONNINGEN
Capture and Murder
M.M. Rost van Tonningen and I were married on December 21, 1940. ReichsFührer-SS Heinrich Himmler was best man. Our matrimonial vow echoed the SS oath: “Our honor is loyalty.”
Before the end came for the German Reich, my husband and I were given the chance to escape to Brazil. He refused, determined to see things through to the end and ready to take responsibility for his acts. Finally granted his wish, he took up arms as a member of the Dutch Waffen SS.
Although my husband had let me decide for myself whether I should flee with our two children to South America, naturally I declined. With the birth of my third child imminent, I made a perilous escape from advancing Polish troops across lands which the Germans had largely flooded to hinder the Allies’ progress. A German ship then brought me to the island of Terschelling, in West Frisia, far from the front.
There, in a small room, unaided and alone, I brought my third child into the world, hale and hardy. My husband was never to learn of the birth of this son.
Soon the people of the village knew, however. My child’s arrival was entered into the local register of births and, following the local custom, the town crier, after blowing on his great horn, proclaimed that the new-born child was the son of Rost van Tonningen. At virtually the same time the islanders learned of the official announcement of their country’s liberation by the Allies, and the streets blossomed with little Dutch flags.
My husband was well known; his name adorned every Dutch bank note. The frenzied crowds, discovering that the wife of a notorious “collaborator” was in their midst, dragged my children and me from our room and would surely have lynched us in their wild hysteria had not the ship’s doctor of the German vessel which brought me to the island happened by in his car just then. Driving into the crowd, he pulled us into the car and drove off at high speed.
Since the Kriegsmarine had capitulated, there was no chance of escaping on the ship which had brought me to Terschelling; like the rest of the German warships in the harbor, it was under embargo. Even my brave rescuer believed there was no hope for me; he offered me a poison capsule.
There was, however, one German vessel at anchor there which hadn’t been seized, for it wasn’t a warship. I begged the captain to help my children and me escape. Without wasting any words he weighed anchor and we sailed off into the North Sea, negotiating dangerous minefields until we reached Cuxhafen, at the mouth of the Elbe. I was eager to reach Germany because I believed, following the death of Adolf Hitler on April 30, that the Allies might cease hostilities against the Reich and march, together with the remaining Waffen SS formations, against the Red Army. Himmler had transmitted just such a proposal, through Count Bernadotte, to the British and Americans, and my husband, close to the Reichsführer’s circle, had gotten wind of it. Like my children, I was half-dead with hunger and fatigue, but I still hoped that I would meet my husband somewhere in Germany. That was not to be, however. As I was to learn later, M.M. Rost van Tonningen died brutally at the hands of his captors.
Shortly after arriving at Cuxhaven, where my children and I were admitted to the hospital, I learned that I was about to be arrested and extradited by the British. With the help of a nurse I escaped and, fleeing by foot with my children along country roads, made my way to Goslar in the Harz, where I was reunited with my family. After a few days, however, I was arrested by the British and returned to the Netherlands. It was only after returning that I learned something of my husband’s fate.
At first I was kept prisoner in the subterranean dungeons of Ft. Honswijk, where I endured terrible treatment from the embittered and vengeful so-called Dutch “democrats.” After my release, I was able to locate and regain custody of my three sons. but all our property had been confiscated.
My Fight for the Truth
I was then forced to make a living for my family and myself, not an easy thing for the widow of a prominent National-Socialist sympathizer in postwar Holland. Before the war I had studied biology under the great ethologist Konrad Lorenz, and my studies had brought me to China and the Dutch East Indies. Like other “collaborators.” however, I was excluded from work in my own field.
At first I tried to support my sons by painting lampshades. No sooner had my persecutors learned of this than the rumor was spread that the lampshades were made of human skin (the same lie that was spread about Ilse Koch). I had to give up that enterprise. Thereafter I started an electrical equipment business. Trained as a biologist, I made myself into a businesswoman and technical expert. Beginning with 100 florins, over the course of 34 years I built up my business to a factory employing 25 men.
Since my release from prison I have worked tirelessly to establish the truth about my husband’s death, of which I learned in my captivity. Due to the refusal of the allegedly “humane” and “democratic” regime which the Allies restored in the Netherlands. I have so far been able to learn very little.
In April 1945 M.M. Rost van Tonningen was captured by Canadian troops during the Allied invasion of the Netheriands. At first he was held, together with other Dutch SS officers, at a concentration camp in Elst. Following a visit by Prince Bernhard, consort of Queen Wilhelmina, my husband was transferred to Utrecht and then, on May 24, to a jail in Scheveningen, near The Hague. Thirteen days later he was murdered by his captors in Scheveningen.
I never received official notice of my husband’s death, which authorities later claimed was a suicide. They have never produced any evidence to support this claim: the records pertaining to my husband have been sealed until the year 2069.
I was presented, however, with a bill from the municipal sanitation service of The Hague, for on June 6, 1945, the day of my husband’s death, his remains were transferred, first from the prison to a hospital and then to a cemetery, in a garbage truck. It was given to me by a policeman named Gross, who carried a dossier with gruesome details of my husband’s mistreatment.
When I visited the hospital to which my husband had been taken, the physician-in-charge was badly rattled when he learned who I was. When I asked him about my husbands death, he stammered, “No, no, Mrs. Rost van Tonningen, I can’t talk about it.” Then he took off his white coat and led me out of the hospital, where he hailed a taxi and directed me to the Witte-Brug Cemetery.
When I arrived there, it was the same story. The director was frightened, for he had been told to say nothing regarding my husband. He simply pointed to a row of portfolios, labeled “Secret,” on a shelf, and told me that one of them told the story of my husband’s death, of which he could say nothing more. Then he showed me the grave, a mass-grave set aside for paupers, into which my husband’s body, without coffin, had been tossed.
Although I tried for years to obtain permission to reinter my husband in our family plot, I was unsuccessful. My request was taken under consideration by the Council of State, which procrastinated for some time before informing me that the grave had been cleared.
In 1950, which had been proclaimed a Holy Year by Pope Pius XII, I visited the Pope in Rome. He was aware of the mistreatment and murder of my husband, and he promised to help me. On my return to Holland, I visited the papal nuncio in order to obtain a document concerning my husband’s death. I was unsuccessful, however, since the Minister of Justice, a Catholic who was cooperating with the nuncio, was suddenly transferred to the West Indies, where he had been appointed governor. His successor, who was Jewish, was not friendly to my case. My attempts to present my case to the International Court of Justice at The Hague were similarly frustrated.
When I reached seventy years of age, I fell ill, and required two operations. My sons were not interested in taking over the running of my factory, and during my convalescence some of my enemies, allegedly former members of the resistance, were able through various tricks, to gain control of my business.
During the past five years I have received over one hundred bomb threats, and my windows have been smashed many times. My brake cables have been cut. For my opponents, everything is allowed.
The press has stepped up its campaign against me as well. Since my husband had been a member of the Dutch parliament, I am entitled by law to a small pension. In 1984 a Dutch magazine discovered this, and the professional “anti- Nazis” succeeded in pressuring parliament to hold a hearing on whether my pension should be cancelled. So far they have been unsuccessful.
Nevertheless, I have become something of a judicial “muscle-meter,” called “the Black Widow,” on whom litigants and lawyers can try their strength. After my periodical Manuscripten published a picture of an unknown woman in the costume of a fisherman’s wife, I was astounded to receive a letter from a lawyer demanding 50,000 florins for his client, an actress. Since we had (quite unawares) used her picture without obtaining permission, I was eventually forced to pay her 2,500 florins, as well as assume the costs of the lawsuit, an additional 10,000 florins.
My home has been twice searched by police looking for allegedly anti-Jewish literature. On their first search the police found a brochure which questioned the factuality of the Holocaust. The court found that to challenge the Holocaust was anti-Jewish, and I received a three-month suspended sentence. The second search resulted in the police confiscating Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the Great Holocaust Trial. My trial for possession of these books will begin on March 9, 1989 [Mrs. Rost van Tonningen was subsequently convicted of possessing these forbidden books, each available from the IHR. – Ed.].
I hope that I have been able to communicate successfully to an American audience something of my husband’s life and the ideals for which we both struggled. My husband refused to abdicate his responsibilities or abandon his people. He stayed and fought honorably, only to be butchered. Why? I believe not merely because Rost van Tonningen was a Dutch National Socialist, but because he knew too much about those of his countrymen who cooperated with the Germans in the beginning, then went over to theAllies as Dutch patriots, “heroes of the resistance,” and the like. Had my husband stood trial, his defense might have proved embarrassing for many Dutchmen in high places.
In my life I have experienced many high points, as well as low points. I have tried to be equal to each situation, always attempting to live in accordance with the spiritual basis of life, the mission that is given each of us to carry out on the earthly plane. The life of each of us is merely a thread in the larger fabric or plan.
I still count our meetings with Adolf Hitler as highlights in my life. For us he was a leader who dedicated, and sacrificed, himself for his people, one who eminently fulfilled his life’s mission. He united his countrymen, of all classes and stations, from the aristocracy to the farmers and laborers, as had no man before him. His soldiers fought heroically to the last, particularly the men of the Waffen SS, not only Germans but from across Europe. Like my beloved brother, who died in combat in the ranks of the SS, and my husband, I think of Adolf Hitler as the first European.
I shall close with the words of Rudolf Hess, the martyr who earned, but was never awarded, the Nobel Prize for Peace. After being sentenced to life imprisonment at Nuremberg despite his flight for peace, he told the court:
If I were standing once again at the beginning, I would act again as I acted, even though I knew at the end I would burn at the stake. No matter what people may do, one day I shall stand before the judgment seat of God Eternal. I will justify myself to Him and I know that He will absolve me.