Since 1945 the Netherlands has had its share of affairs stemming from the Second World War.
However, the debate over ‘the three of Breda’ was one that profoundly dominated emotions and touched the Dutch.
The three remained in the public eye from the time of their sentencing, in the late 1940s, until the final two were released in 1989.
Researcher: dr. Hinke Piersma
Publication: De drie van Breda, Duitse oorlogsmisdadigers in Nederlandse gevangenschap, 1945-1989 (Amsterdam; Uitgeverij Balans 2005).
The investigation of the ‘Three of Breda’ – actually four until 1966, then two in 1979 – focuses on the interaction between political decision-making and social discourse in regard to perpetrators and victims and a past that refused to go away.
The discourse breathed new life into such concepts as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, that is to say, non-collaborators and collaborators. The discussion surrounding the ‘Three of Breda’ centered increasingly on integrity.
Those who argued against their release drew support from the public recognition that in the Second World War the Dutch had failed to protect Jewish citizens.
Those who argued for their release were met with misunderstanding and, consequently, the Ministers of Justice were reluctant to use their authority to grant pardons.