‘Indifferent Honest’? The Posthumous Charm of a Rassenreferent

Prof. Dr. Johannes Max van Ophuijsen (Amsterdam)

On October 6th and 7th, the conference “Forms and dimensions of resilience under German occupation 1939-1945 – Hans Georg Calmeyer in the context of the Nazi administration” will take place in Osnabrück town hall. The program of the conference can be found here.
In the guest article by Prof. Dr. Johannes Max von Ophuijsen (Amsterdam) the author comments on the discussion about Hans Calmeyer and his posthumous honor. On the second day of the conference on Friday (October 7, 2022), Prof. von Ophuijsen will discuss together with Robert van Galen, Prof. Hirschfeld, Deborah Hartmann and Lioba Meyer  the topic “Prosoziales Handeln während des Zweiten Weltkriegs – Potentiale für eine Pädagogik der Gegenwart?” (Editor’s note)

It need not come as a surprise that the occupation of the Netherlands by the German ‘Third Reich’, and the genocidal regime imposed by the occupying force in particular, have continued to move hearts and minds on both sides of the border between these neighbouring countries even ‘unto the third and fourth generation’ descending from the parties originally involved.

Hans Calmeyer: Lichtbild aus seiner Personalakte (NLA OS Rep 940 Akz. 2001/015 Nr. 4).

These parties included victims, perpetrators, a few protesters risking their lives and those of their near and dear ones to offer resistance, and a wide array of witnesses or at least bystanders: some of them ignorant and some naive, some innocent, some cheering, conniving and betraying, some profiteering; and by far the greatest number, as is only natural but continues to hurt none the less, just looking away.

It seems more surprising that a relatively minor player in the occupation and subsequent discriminatory regime established in The Hague — city of Peace Palace and International Court of Justice — a lawyer from that other ‘Friedensstadt’ Osnabrück, who was not even a member of the National Socialist political party, has continued to cause deep division and heated debate both within his native city and within the Netherlands, but also in places far removed from these, along dividing lines to which location is irrelevant.