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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/v/van-tonningen.florentine/van-tonningen.001


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 listserv@oneb.almanac.bc.ca.

   "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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