Operation Black Tulip viewed from a different angle

Current misconceptions and unsubstantiated statements about Operation Black Tulip include the following:

  • It is estimated that only about 25,000 Germans lived in the Netherlands at the time of the liberation.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, it does not have any data on the number of Germans in the Netherlands in 1914, 1940, 1945 and 1951. Nor can Statistics Netherlands indicate how many German Jews lived in the Netherlands in those years. This makes the estimate of 25,000 Germans completely unreliable. After the Second World War, German Jews were primarily regarded as Germans. There are widely varying estimates of the number of Germans in the Netherlands in the first half of the twentieth century. In that period, Germans were in any case the largest ethnic minority in the Netherlands. Their nationality was registered by the Dutch government at the start and after the end of the Second World War, yet their number could only be estimated.

  • Only 3,691 Germans are reported to have been deported during Operation Black Tulip.

There is no substantiation for this improbably low number of deportees. Deportation lists are not made available for inspection by interested parties upon their request and, according to the government, the deportation lists were largely destroyed. Consequently, the number of 3,691 cannot be verified at all and is therefore completely unreliable. Given the lack of data on the total number of Germans and the lack of deportation lists, it is impossible to make a statement about the percentage of Germans that was deported.

  • In official statements it was reported that Operation Black Tulip did not start until September 11, 1946.

This is incorrect. Research has shown that large numbers of Germans were deported long before September 11, 1946. Well before that date, the Nederlands Beheers Instituut mapped the properties of Germans living in the Netherlands. For example, the household effects of Germans were mapped out in detail through house visits by the NBI to Germans well in advance of their deportation, as were their bank balances. At the time of deportation, the NBI already knew exactly what could be expropriated from which German.

  • ‘Reichsdeutsche’ were to be expelled from the country in reverse order.

It has not been investigated whether this actually happened. Germans who had already settled in the Netherlands prior to the First World War (as war refugees) and who were born and raised in the Netherlands were also deported. Although the Allies did not want Germans without a home to be deported, the Dutch government deported Germans who had lived in the Netherlands for decades or who were born and raised here and did not have a home in Germany. According to the CBS, it is unknown how many German Jews were among them and how many German Jews were deported after the Second World War. It is wry to realize that, while Otto Frank was still looking for a suitable publisher for the diary of Anne Frank in 1947, the Dutch government was busy deporting an unknown number of German Jews to a camp like Mariënbosch (and subsequently against their will to Germany).

  • Deportation of Germans.

With regard to Operation Black Tulip, the scant publicity so far has not so much talked about it in terms of deportation, but in terms of eviction or expulsion. Deportation refers to the forced removal of people to a place they do not want. Germans were labelled as dangerous citizens for the state and society and were arrested by the Dutch police and taken away to places they did not want. Despite their explicit protest, they were nevertheless deported. The forcible removal of persons by expulsion or other coercive measures from the area in which they were lawfully located, without any grounds permitted under international law, is clearly a crime against humanity. Operation Black Tulip was the largest ethnic cleansing carried out by the Dutch government.

  • Post-war ‘administration of justice’.

The word ‘administration of justice’ wrongly suggests that at the time of Operation Black Tulip there was proper jurisprudence with regard to Germans in the Netherlands. This was by no means the case. Germans were deported on false charges. They did not receive legal aid and as a result there was no possibility for them to defend themselves against all kinds of false accusations. For example, Germans were said to have flagged the swastika flag massively and frequently during the war, while (visual) evidence for this seems to be lacking. Since this flag was an important criterion for deportation, this item (without any form of evidence) was frequently found in accusations made towards the Germans. Files supposedly had been created by the National Aliens Service in collaboration with the police and the police investigation service are not made available to family members for inspection. Among the deportees were the sick and the elderly, who were deported and expropriated even on their deathbeds. Expropriation continued even after someone was certified dead, until the year 1951. This is because goods and assets of ‘enemy subjects’ belonged to the Dutch government according to the Enemy Assets Decree. The number of dead and missing as a result of Operation Black Tulip has not been recorded, according to the Dutch government. This is also very worrying since the death penalty was temporarily reintroduced in the Netherlands in the context of the post-war ‘administration of justice’.

  • Germans were expropriated for the purpose of rebuilding the Netherlands

Germans (including German-Jewish refugees) were said to have been expropriated immediately after World War II because the Dutch government urgently needed their property for reconstruction. After the liberation, however, the Dutch government had a large capital at its disposal, which had been stolen from the Jews living in the Netherlands during the war. After the liberation, the Dutch government was requested to return the stolen property to the Jewish owners and their relatives. In the same period, the Dutch government started expropriating and deporting German residents of the Netherlands, largely in the same way as it had done with the Jews during the war. In the event of death during Operation Black Tulip, the expropriated property of Germans did not belong to their relatives, but to the Dutch government. It is remarkable that repayments to the Jews were made only towards the end of Operation Black Tulip. One can therefore wonder whether after the liberation Jewish owners received their own looted property or the looted property of Germans.

Manual for conducting research in the context of Operation Black Tulip.

Several individuals who have researched Operation Black Tulip (in relation to their family history) have found their search for the true facts of events to be quite difficult so far. For the novice researcher, therefore, here is a step-by-step plan to take:

  1. At the CBG – Dutch research Centre for Genealogical studies – you can ask for the identity card of your deceased family member.
  2. If your family member is missing, the CBG – Dutch research Centre for Genealogical studies – may inform you that your family member’s identity card is missing. In that case, ask the municipality in which your family member was registered for a copy of his/her personal card and/or for the death certificate of your family member. In any case, municipalities still have copies of the personal cards.
  3. The municipality may tell you that your missing/deceased family member must give you written permission to view the copy of his/her identity card. In response, you can let the municipality know that this is impossible.
  4. With the personal card/death certificate you can then request in writing the National Archives for access to the CABR file of your family member. You can also request access to, for example, the deportation list on which your family member is listed. [ CABR : Centraal Bureau Bijzondere Rechtspleging, Central Archives for Special Jurisdiction ]
  5. The information you will find in the CABR file may differ significantly from information available in local archives. It is therefore advisable to compare information you find in the CABR with information you find in local archives.
  6. When conducting your investigation into Operation Black Tulip, you will encounter many restrictions on publicity. A WOB request may provide a solution, but, it has often turned out that  information is also withheld in response to a WOB request. [ WOB : Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur, Open Government Act ]
  7. If you do not receive the information you require in response to your WOB request, you may consider objecting to this and, if necessary, you can lodge an appeal then.
  8. Via www.dd-wast.de you can request the war file of Germans from the Netherlands who were conscripted during the war. In exceptional cases it might take a year before you receive further information.
  9. You can try to trace your missing German relatives as a result of Operation Black Tulip via the German and Dutch Red Cross.