by Ton Biesemaat, Dutch investigative journalist
…there is overwhelming proof that Pieter Schelte Heerema remained a staunch Nazi until his death. Yet the world does not seem to care when one of the largest ships is named after this man
There is a lot of media noise about one of the world’s largest ships, which is now in its finishing building stage in the port of Rotterdam. The ship is named Pieter Schelte after his father by the owner of the Allseas company Edward Heerema. So far so good. Allseas is an international player in the offshore industry and the Pieter Schelte will be used for pipe laying on the seabed and decommisioning of obsolete oil and gas platforms in for example the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico. However Jewish organisations are angry because the ship is named after a Dutch Nazi and SS-officer who was vehemently anti-Semitic (1).
The defense of Allseas is that Pieter Schelte Heerema was an excellent maritime engineer and pioneer of the offshore industry and that’s why the mega-ship is named after this captain of industry. Besides that, the public relations machine of Allseas says with automated response: Pieter Schelte Heerema switched sides in the last part of the Second World War. They even get some assistance of a Dutch historian who by accident wrongly stated: ‘… any suggestions that he helped Nazis to escape to South America are untrue.’ (2) David Barnouw, formerly a Dutch historian of the respected NIOD (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation), refers to the so called Nazi rat lines, escape routes after the end of the war for Nazi’s to South America and that Pieter Schelte Heerema played no role in it. However this is historically inaccurate. During research into the life of Heerema, I found several sources who stated that he played in Venezuela an important role in these rat lines.
First we have to address the defense of Allseas that Heerema switched sides during the last part of the occupation of the Germans in The Netherlands. He did indeed have contact with a resistance group. However this resistance group (3) was in reality not a resistance group, but a bunch of Nazi collaborators. Heerema travelled in 1944 with the help of this group to neutral Switzerland. He tried to contact the Dutch government in exile in London but they did not trust him. So he stayed in Switzerland until the end of the war. Research into his time in Switzerland revealed that in his claimed status as a refugee, he had contact with Swiss lawyers. This adds to the rumours that he was perhaps in some way organising the funds of Dutch Nazi-companies in which he was involved, for example the Nederlandsche Oost Compagnie (4).
After the end of the war, Heerema returned to The Netherlands protected by influential friends (5) and the so-called resistance group. He was only stripped of his nationality because he had joined the Waffen SS. Then he was helped to make his way out to Venezuela – Lake Maracaibo, where he had very good contacts because he had lived and worked there until the Germans invaded The Netherlands in May 1940. (As a fanatical Nazi he had returned home in 1940 to join in ‘the great struggle against the Jews and communists’ of a Nazi led Holland joining the Reich.)
When Heerema returned to Venezuela after the war, he started working with his own companies for the big oil companies operating in Lake Maracaibo. It is here that he played his role in the rat lines. In the Heerema-files in the Dutch National Archives, there is a statement of a Dutch worker for Heerema (6) in Venezuela, who escaped to the Dutch Antilles when he felt threatened by Heerema. He says that while working for Heerema, he encountered many Germans, Russians, Lithuanians, Hungarians etc. with a SS-rune sign under their arm pits. According to this Dutch worker, an American ship with 1500 people on board arrived in May/June 1947 from the German port of Breemen and all these people began work in the oil industry in Maracaibo. This is only one source but while carrying out further research I found several other sources of Dutch SS-men (7) who fled to Venezuela with the assistance of Pieter Schelte Heerema. They were members of the Dutch Waffen SS-division Westland who fought on the eastern front or members of the Landwacht, another armed SS-group who carried out a reign of terror in the occupied Netherlands. Heerema employed these men and even nursed them back to health by paying for example for their stay in a hotel in the clean air of the Andes of Venezuela. He was already in contact with some of these Dutch Waffen SS when they were imprisoned in The Netherlands.
So Pieter Schelte Heerema was involved in the Nazi rat lines to South America. Based on several other facts it is accurate to say that he stayed a diehard Nazi until his death. He named his ships after Germanic gods, he was involved in a bid to obtain the Hitler-diaries which later turned out to be forgeries.(8)
Interestingly, *Gerrit A. Wagner of Royal Dutch Shell, praised this offshore pioneer during the funeral of Heerema, which was also attended by the prominent neo-Nazi figure Florrie Rost van Tonningen, widow of the Dutch Nazi-leader Meinoud Rost van Tonningen (9).
Hence, there is overwhelming proof that Pieter Schelte Heerema remained a staunch Nazi until his death. Yet the world does not seem to care when one of the largest ships is named after this man (10).
(1) He was a member of a small Dutch Nazi-party called NSNAP led by major Kruyt. Quite interesting is that another member of this small party was Anton Schouten, who later became private secretary of the Hitler-backer and leader of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Sir Henry Deterding. Heerema was for some time head of the Amsterdam-section of the NSNAP. During the Second World War Heerema had an intimate affair with the close friend of Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, Julia Op ten Noort. Heerema was also in contact with the leader of the SS industry and concentration camps, Oswald Pohl.
(3) Called Geheime Dienst Nederland Groep Vogel led by Egbert Nieuwenhuis a former police officer. This group had good contacts with the Nazi occupiers. After the war they were involved in the rat lines from The Netherlands so Dutch Nazi’s could escape via Spain to South America. See files in the National Archives The Hague, among them the Heerema-files and investigations into several members of this group with fascist links.
(4) The Nederlandsche Oost Compagnie of which Pieter Schelte Heerema was a director started to colonise Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. The company was only dissolved in the early sixties.
(5) Among them the influential General Koot, a friend of Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands. He was a former member of the Nazi party and an SS-man until his marriage with princess and later Queen Juliana. Dutch cabinet minister Ringers was another backer of Heerema.
(6) 22th of March 1948 Johan Kuipers statement to the police of Willemstad Dutch Antilles.
(7) Among them Klaas P., Henk S. and Hans S. in the files which deals with the special courts who decided over the fate – after the occupation of The Netherlands- of collaborators, traitors, Nazi-sympathisers, Dutch volunteers of the Waffen SS and so on. All in the National Archives in The Hague. Exact locations in the archives known by the author. There is in Lake Maracaibo, according to a file related to the Edward Heerema/Allseas scam with 100 million Euro (Paul Sultana/Marek Rejniak-affair), also a possible relation between the undercover Estonian SS officer Harry Männil and Heerema in Venezuela after the end of the war. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Männil was involved in war crimes, murdering 100 Jews personally and rounding up thousands of others.
(8) Heerema hoped to prove Hitler did not know about the extermination of the Jews. This is the so called Stern-affair.
(9) Edward Heerema had contact with prominent figures of the neo-Nazi scene. Edward Heerema was accused by Dutch antifascist group FOK of supporting the neonazi group Nederlandse Volksunie (Trouw news paper 17th of October 1985). Edward Heerema denied that he provided a loan to this group (NRC newspaper 14th of October 1985). However he admitted meeting the neo-Nazi leader Joop Glimmerveen. According to the Flemish magazine Humo, Edward Heerema was involved in supporting the extreme right wing magazine Topics (Humo 10th of July 1986).
(10) The logo of the Heerema Group looks a lot like the flag of the Third Reich – can one see this in the Allseas logo SS-runes? Or is the author now overheating because of his involvement?
*Gerrit A. Wagner was Group Chairman of the Committee of Royal Dutch Shell Group Managing Directors and later Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Royal Dutch until his retirement in 1987.
Gerrit A. Wagner is the person standing in the centre. RED TEXT: After stepping down as chairman of the CMD in 1977, Wagner immediately became chairman of the supervisory board of Royal Dutch, where he served until 1987. Wagner is seen here chairing two AGM’s of Royal Dutch, left with Van Wachem as President, and right with De Bruyne as president.