Archive/File: pub/people/van-tonningen.florentine van-tonningen.001 Last-Modified: 1994/02/01 Additional references to Florentine van Tonningen may be found in the Simon Wiesenthal Center's infiltration report. To obtain this report, send GET FASCISM SWC.OPREP to firstname.lastname@example.org. "Florentine van Tonningen lives about an hour from Amsterdam in a small town called Velp on a quiet street whose name in Dutch means 'the one who dwells alone.' The description is apt. None of her three sons or nine grandchildren comes to visit the 'black widow,' as she is called. During Germany's occupation of the Netherlands from May 14, 1940, to May 5, 1945, she was married to Meinoudt Rost van Tonningen, the deputy chief of the Dutch Nazi Party, the head of the Bank of Holland, and by all accounts one of the country's most ardent and outspoken proponents of National Socialism. He died in prison after the war shortly before his trial for treason was to start. His death was called a suicide, but Mrs. van Tonnigen, several Dutch historians, and other students of the war say that he was murdered by fellow prisoners. Her status as the widow of one of the most notorious Dutch Nazis would automatically make her an isolated figure in Dutch society. But she has made herself even more a pariah by continuing to defend her husband and his political credo. In the fall of 1986, a court in Arnheim gave the then seventy-two-year-old widow a four-week jail sentence, suspended, the judge said, only because of her age.<1> She had been convicted of violating Dutch bans on distributing literature aimed at inciting religious and ethnic hatred. Yet, despite repeated warnings from Dutch officials, she has continued to travel and speak out. Her activities have deeply embarrassed many in the Netherlands partly because Dutch taxpayers are indirectly financing her neo-fascist campaign. As the wife of a former member of Parliament, Mrs. Rost van Tonningen has received a monthly pension since the early 1950s that now totals about $11,000 a year. Many politiciats, veterans groups, leftists, and liberals have called upon the Dutch government to take away her pension, which they claim she uses to help finance neo-Nazi activities in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. Members of Parliament have even introduced legislation that would remove her from the pension list. Yet the Dutch Cabinet -- a coalition of Christian Democrats and Liberals -- decided in 1986 not to eliminate her stipend, and the Parliament has not been able to muster sufficient support to overrule it. Some opponents of the measure have argued that it would only call more attention to her. But the majority of those who oppose a cutoff, expressing the pragmatism for which the country is celebrated, maintian that meddling with the Dutch pension system to end her stipend might open it up to far more radical cutbacks and changes, all to eliminate payments to one silly old woman with virtually no base of political support. Those who favor severance cite another reason for the impasse: they say softly that there are those who dear such an action might triffer an inquiry into other pensioners with National Socialist backgrounds. And there are some who worry that a protracted debate over Mrs. van Tonnigen would undoubtedly conjure up uncomfortable memories of the country's lack of resistance during the occupation. No one likes to be reminded that he was no hero. And in this country, that includes the overwhelming majority of the country, who did not collaborate with the Nazis, but simply obeyed orders and went along." (Miller, 93-94) End Notes: See Miller. Work Cited Miller, Judith. One, By One, By One: Facing the Holocaust. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990. ISBN 0671644726
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