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Shell and the Dutch fascists: A study in black

We have to keep in mind that it was not only Sir Henri Deterding who was a keen supporter of the Nazi’s. In the 1930’s there were other Shell directors such as J.E.F. de Kok and *Wim Rost van Tonningen who were also keen supporters of Hitler and his henchmen.

Guest Author: Ton Biesemaat (Dutch freelance investigative journalist and writer) Article published 7 December 2012

Among individuals interested in the history of Shell, it is common knowledge that in spite of Shell sponsored academic studies, it is clear that Deterding was the man who made Royal Dutch Shell a global powerhouse in the first half of the twentieth century, but was also financially supporting the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler. This is very well illustrated by the photo of Deterdings death in 1938 on his German Mecklenburg-estate which was previously owned by the husband of Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands.

We see the coffin of Sir Henri Deterding flanked by Nazi-soldiers and the swastika flag.

The Shell-sponsored historical studies about Royal Dutch and fascism/Nazism omit some fascinating comparative historical trivia about the Shell-head office in The Hague in the years just before the start of the Second World War. With these tiny bits of hidden Dutch history we can prove that the link with Deterdings Shell and the support of the Third Reich, was not something only on a grand scale. In those tumultuous days working towards the great tragedy of the biggest manslaughter ever, Royal Dutch Shell was at its head office supporting the Dutch fascists and Nazi’s. We have to keep in mind that it was not only Sir Henri Deterding who was a keen supporter of the Nazi’s. In the 1930’s there were other Shell directors such as J.E.F. de Kok and *Wim Rost van Tonningen who were also keen supporters of Hitler and his henchmen. The latter was a brother of the notorious Dutch Nazi and during the war head of the state bank Meinoud Rost van Toningen. De Kok and Deterding were keen financial backers of the Dutch fascist magazine De Waag. One subscriber to this magazine was the later well-known offshore pioneer and Waffen SS member Pieter Schelte Heerema who installed so many oil platforms for Shell.

We owe a lot to the researcher Rudi Harthoorn who wrote the book ‘Vuile oorlog in Den Haag – Bestrijding van het communistisch verzet tijdens de Duitse bezetting’ (translated: Dirty war in The Hague – Battling the communist resistance during the German occupation). In this book Mr. Harthoorn describes how the collaborating police force of The Hague persecuted and killed Dutch communist resistance fighters during the German occupation of The Netherlands from 1940 until 1945. In his research Harthoorn describes how Royal Dutch Shell or Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij (BPM) as it was then named, assisted the Dutch fascists and Nazi’s who were later together with the police, railways and civil servants, responsible for putting the largest number of Jews into the hands of the Germans anywhere in occupied Europe. Or to sketch the Dutch political climate of the occupation: the Dutch had the largest number of Waffen SS volunteers in occupied Western Europe.

In his book Mr. Harthoorn gives us the statement of a police informer called Joop van Soolingen. A civilian on the pay role of the police as an agent who spied on the communists, but also on the Dutch Nazi-party NSB (Nationaal Socialistische Beweging) and other fascist groups. In an interview on fifth of November 1947 regarding his collaboration during the war, Joop van Soolingen officially stated that the Dutch Nazi-party held gun practise training on the premises of the BPM head office in The Hague. This was done on Saturday afternoons in the garden of the Carel van Bylandtlaan. The same address on which stands the old and modern buildings of the international head offices of Royal Dutch Shell.

Photograph shows Swastika flag flying at the head office of BPM (Royal Dutch Shell), 30 Carel van Bylandtlaan, The Hague, during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands (From Image Database Hague Municipal)

It has to be said that even though the higher management of BPM with the likes of Deterding, De Kok and Rost van Tonningen were Nazi-supporters, this was of course not the case for every member of the BPM-personnel. Two employees of BPM who knew police spy Joop van Soolingen and were anti-Nazi informed him about the shooting practises of the NSB on the BPM-grounds. Van Soolingen informed his focal point within The Hague police but nothing was done about it. The police detective Johannes Hubertus Veefkind, who was operating Van Soolingen as a spy, was a fanatical Nazi during the German occupation. Responsible for, among other things, arresting Dutch SOE-agents during the notorious Englandspiel and other Dutch resistance fighters who were often killed in concentration camps or executed in The Netherlands. No wonder that this police detective tolerated – backed up by his superiors – the shooting practices of the Dutch Nazi-party on the BPM-grounds.

Dutch historians have contradicted this unwelcome fascist connection between Shell and the Dutch Nazi-party. They say that there were no weapon exercises by Dutch Nazi’s and that the so-called Fifth Column who shot at Dutch troops fighting the invading Nazi-forces in May 1940 is all a myth. However Mr. Harthoorn shows us that the Dutch Nazi-party NSB held weapon exercises not only on the BPM-grounds, but also in another location in The Hague-area. This was observed in 1939 by police detective Pegels. There are besides that, much more reliable witnesses I interviewed in the 1990’s personally, who experienced actions of sabotage in May 1940 by the Fifth Column.

The devil is in the detail as is shown in the statements of police spy Joop van Soolingen. However he is not the only proof of this devil in the detail. There is a photo made on the 23th of July 1938 on the grounds of BPM where the flag of the Nationaal Jongeren Verbond was given to their new The Hague-commander Van Rijen. (photonumber 1.07977 The Hague Archive/Haags Gemeente-archief).

The Nationaal Jongeren Verbond was a fascist like small youth movement led by Wim Heubel, a brother of the later wife of Meinoud Rost van Tonningen whose brother was a Nazi-minded director and NSB-member of Shell. Wim Heubel would during the occupation become a member of the Waffen SS and was killed in action in Holland fighting the Canadian army in April 1945. Heubel was already as a leader of the fascist like youth movement Nationaal Jongeren Verbond a member of the Dutch Nazi-party and during his time as a banker in Hamburg a member of the street fighting thugs Sturmabteilung (SA) of the German Nazi-party NSDAP. 

These relatively much less significant events prove that Royal Dutch Shell was not only involved in the grand scale backing of Hitler during that momentous time in history. Some directors were so hospitable and supportive of Dutch fascists and Nazi’s that Shell even provided them with weapon exercise grounds.

These stories about the collaboration of Royal Dutch Shell with the Nazi’s were after the Second World War, predictably swept under the carpet. A demonstration of the power and influence of this world player. The book of Mr. Harthoorn is not well known and ignored by the academic world. Shell itself ignored this story. They are however ashamed of their past because in the 1990’s as I observed myself, the statue of Deterding was gathering dust in a dark corner of the central archives at the Van Bylandtlaan in The Hague. The location where Dutch Nazi’s carried out weapons practise with Shell-support.



Wim Rost van Tonningen was not a director of Shell but Chief Engineer of a Shell Group company, Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij


From: John Donovan <[email protected]>
Subject: Shell and the Dutch fascists: A study in black
Date: 7 December 2012 15:31:25 GMT
To: [email protected]

Dear Mr Brandjes

We have just published an article by a Dutch investigative journalist, Ton Biesemaat: Shell and the Dutch fascists: A study in black

If Shell disputes the content of the article or the authenticity of the featured photographs, we will happily, as we did recently, publish your comments unedited alongside the article.

If you recall, your most recent comment was in regard to the constant cyber attacks on our website by an unknown party, apparently with very deep pockets.

After we received your email denying any Shell connection with such activity, the bombardment stopped. Unfortunately it resumed earlier this week and continued day and night, every few minutes.

I have of course accepted that you personally have no knowledge of any such operation by Shell.

I assume you were also unaware of the global spying activity by Shell spooks revealed in Shell internal comms we obtained under a SAR application.

Returning to the subject of the above article, any response will be published immediately it is received.

Best Regards
John Donovan


This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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