Photo: Wouter Engler via Wikimedia Commons

The government asked a group of hundreds of volunteers recruited to protect the Netherlands from a potential Russian invasion during the Cold War to investigate.

Relatives of the Stay Behind group, as they are known, have been calling for years for the government to release records on the group’s members and activities.


They were also involved in dozens of weapon caches, some of which ended up in the hands of criminal gangs after the organization was disbanded.

Volkskrant reported that when some of the guns were used by members of Willem Hollied’s gang in the 1990s, the government covered up the theft to prevent Stay Behind from coming to light.

The Dutch Institute of Military History (NIMH) has now been commissioned to catalog documents on Stay Behind and interview surviving witnesses. The institute is expected to report in October, after which the government will decide whether to order a broader investigation.

open the door

Relatives want the government to acknowledge both the group’s activities and the tension it has caused the families involved. Some families learned that relatives were recruited after they died.

Hadewicz Janssen op de Haar, whose father Gerald Pelt was a member of Stay Behind, said:

For 30 years, Pärt was Chief of Sabotage in the Operations Department, during which time he documented about 40 locations where weapons, including bazookas, were stored underground.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and then-Defense Minister Ankh Beyreberd broke their official silence on Stay Behind in a letter to relatives on behalf of the government in February 2021, in which they noted the actions taken by the government. praised the “fair, highly conscientious and professional” work done. “For the Good of Our Kingdom” group.

“This has caused considerable strain on many families and imposed mandatory restrictions on their personal and familial environments. Their efforts deserve the highest respect.

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