After World War II, Nazis were held responsible for their war crimes. In this it was common for many Nazis to classify it under the term ‘Befehl ist befehl’, or: an order is an order, and these Nazis thought that would be the end of it. The Nuremberg Trial took place between November 20, 1945 and October 1, 1946. If you were to ask my grandmother (and her generation) how she would experience this term now, she would immediately become angry and nauseous again.
Befehl is Befehl today
When scouts are given an assignment in 2008 that would be practically impossible to carry out without thorough preparation, they ask their captain for a 24-hour extension so that they can still carry it out professionally. His answer is therefore shocking. “My mother’s mother is German and I am a Prussian leader. With me it is ‘Befehl ist befehl’, and I don’t care if you, you or you die (pointing to his men), your bodies will be flown back to the Netherlands and we will continue with the assignment.”
The captain has a Bundesadler tattooed on his upper arm, and is clearly a fan of German ideology. And this in our Dutch armed forces, while they are on a peace mission in Afghanistan. And everyone thinks that the Dutch soldiers are psychologically tested before their arrival. But the Ministry of Defense will probably explain that they ‘didn’t know’ about these institutions when they appointed this figure. By continuing this mission, without proper preparation, a lot of Dutch soldiers would have been killed anyway.
The result of this captain’s criticism from the unit below him was that the entire unit was taken off the assignment for insubordination. One of the group commanders is relieved of his position and repatriated to the Netherlands. The entire unit is being reported for refusing a service order, which is a criminal offense and can be sentenced to 5 years in prison. However, refusing a service order is one of the biggest accusations for a soldier, especially if it is simply not true. However, the Marechaussee does not find any criminal offenses after their investigation.
Two group commanders later tell their story, and report this captain, who, strangely enough, has now been promoted to major, and is at that moment preparing for the next mission in Uruzgan, which according to these two group commanders could have been irresponsible and even life-threatening for another batch of soldiers who would again be exposed to the whims of this Prussian major. On the other hand, the soldiers of this unit have never seen a rectification of the accusations against them.
One of these group commanders who ultimately files a report is none other than Maurice Vissers. The same Maurice Vissers who has now been discharged, after his promotion to Sergeant Major and after receiving the Cross of Merit. After twenty-nine years of service and countless missions in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan, he is told that his VGB will be revoked because he is a member of the motorcycle club ‘the veterans’, as described earlier in ‘The thanks you get’. In the absence of any evidence that he commits himself a criminal offence, in my view, only a conclusion can be drawn.
My conclusion is simple: Maurice Vissers has, against will and thanks, become ‘a ballast’ for the ministry of defense. Because he was open and honest in an episode of Zembla in 2010, where he talks openly about the situation regarding the captain, earlier in Uruzgan. He has exposed a problem that may cause the defense to lose their credibility. Well, then they think you are of course too much. Doordat hij is bevordert tot Sergeant-Majoor en omdat ze hem welverdiend het Kruis van verdienste hebben opgespeld, lijkt defensie hem als een voorbeeld te stellen. In my opinion, Maurice is now being punished afterwards for opening a cesspool. And the membership of a motorcycle club is misused as a reason, because otherwise there could be no reason to fire him.
As I write this column, I can only think of one thing. If this story turns out like this, as a soldier of the Dutch Armed Forces you should think carefully about what you are doing. This can happen to anyone. After all, it doesn’t matter how many missions you’ve done, or what danger you’ve faced. Sergeant Major or not. Awards don’t make a difference. Anyone who even slightly criticizes a higher-ranking person can get into serious trouble. The whole situation around Maurice seems to be about revenge, because of the words that were spoken in 2010.
The only thing the ministry of defense achieves with this is that it moves a warrior of the Dutch armed forces, who wanted to give everything for the fatherland, from 100% patriot to 100% anti-patriot. At least, that’s how I would feel if I were in his army-boots. If veterans are treated like this, then I don’t understand why there is still a veterans’ day. We should honor and cherish our veterans, not abuse and misunderstand them. If this conclusion comes true, it would be an outright disgrace. I would have handed in my awards in any case, because the Ministry of Defense would then have depreciated these awards itself.
#Mauricevissers #Nurembergtrial #prussiancaptain #ministryofdefense #zembla