Paul de Groot

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Paul de Groot 1967

Paul de Groot , whose first name is actually Saul , (* July 19, 1899 in Amsterdam ; † August 3, 1986 in Bussum ) was a Dutch politician and long-time chairman of the Communist Partij van Nederland . For the CPN he was a member of the Second Chamber of the States General in the Parliament of the Netherlands for several years .


Early years

De Groot was born in 1899 as the son of the Amsterdam diamond cutter Jacob de Groot and his wife Rachel Sealtiel, the father was a staunch member of the diamond workers' union founded in 1894 . The family was of Jewish faith , but not particularly religious. In 1901 the family moved to Antwerp in Belgium in search of work , where de Groot attended the French-speaking primary school. In 1912 he began an apprenticeship in a diamond processing company, which was interrupted two years later due to the outbreak of the First World War. As a result, the de Groot family returned to the neutral Netherlands for a few years, where de Groot worked for a cigar manufacturer who taught him the principles of socialism . In 1916 the family moved again to Antwerp, where de Groot worked again as a diamond cutter. He joined the local trade union and became a member of the Socialist Jonge Wacht , a socialist youth organization that was programmatically oriented towards the Belgian Workers' Party . On December 28, 1920 he married Szajndla Borzykowska with whom he had a daughter.

Influenced by the Russian October Revolution , de Groot took part under the pseudonym Paul van der Schilde in the debates of the time about the direction of the Belgian social democracy . He took part as a delegate in the congress that led to the founding of the Vereenigde Kommunistische Partij van België and was then elected to the party leadership. Because of his participation in protests against the occupation of the Rhineland , he was arrested and spent several months in prison before he was finally expelled from Belgium on March 30, 1923. De Groot then found work in Hanau , which he had to leave again in October 1923 following the crackdown on a communist-motivated workers' uprising. A short stay in Saint-Claude , France, was followed by his return to his hometown of Amsterdam in 1925.

Promotion as a party official

Back in the Netherlands, de Groot had his party membership rewritten as the Communist Partij Holland . During this time he earned his living at the well-known diamond factory van Boas and was involved in the Algemeene Nederlandsche Diamantbewerkersbond , of which his father was a member. He also worked on the newspaper Eenheid , which, under the editorship of the later politicians Edo Fimmen and Piet Schmidt , campaigned for a united appearance of all communist and social democratic associations in the Netherlands against the emerging fascism . After a serious dispute over the party's trade union policy, de Groot left the CPH on February 26, 1927, and from then on expressed himself in Eenheid , some strongly critical of the party. Nonetheless, he rejoined it after the newspaper was banned the following year. At the party congress of February 1930, the previous leadership of the CPH was deposed under pressure from the Communist International and realigned under Cornelis Schalker as General Secretary of the Central Committee . Among the now preferred “politically savvy workers” was de Groot, who was elected a member of the party's Politburo with the consent of the communist parent party from Russia . In this new role, he was released from paid work as a diamond worker and was given priority responsibility for union work. Furthermore, in 1931 de Groot took over the management of the newly founded Rode Vak Movings Oppositie , an interest group in which union members coordinated with unorganized workers, mostly with the aim of organizing strikes against the will of the Dutch union association NVV. After a brief interlude as a representative of the CPH at the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow , he was finally appointed de facto chairman of the party (now renamed Communist Partij van Nederland ) in April 1938 . This development was not made public at first, however, until the party was banned in 1940, de Groot's predecessor Ko Beuzemaker officially retained the chairmanship. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed chief editor of the party newspaper Het Volksdagblad . In this function, he oriented his policy mostly to the guidelines of the Soviet-dominated Comintern, so he tried to present the 1939 non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in a positive light.

Second World War

After the surrender of the Netherlands and the beginning of the German occupation in May 1940, de Groot, as a communist of Jewish descent, faced persecution of his person. Therefore he initially hoped to be able to flee to the Soviet Union with the help of his contacts with the Comintern. However, this request was rejected from Russia, instead he was supposed to stay in the Netherlands and help organize the resistance there. At the beginning of the occupation, de Groot still tried to propagate a cautiously accommodating attitude towards the Germans, as he still hoped through the Hitler-Stalin pact that the CPN could remain legal. In the last legal edition of Het Volksdagblad, he described English imperialism and the Dutch bourgeoisie as the trigger for the German attack.

Nevertheless, the CPN was soon banned, whereupon de Groot, together with Lou Jansen and Jan Dieters, led the CPN from underground. At the beginning of the occupation, the CPN made a not insignificant contribution to the Dutch resistance , for example it claimed that the February strike was triggered in 1941. This was the first major resistance action against the persecution of Dutch Jews . She also brought out the De Waarheid newspaper as the successor to Het Volksdagblad . Until the beginning of the German invasion of the Soviet Union , de Groot took the position that English dominance would be just as harmful to the Netherlands as the German occupation. He also regularly criticized the government in exile under Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy in De Waarheid .

On October 15, 1942, de Groot's wife and daughter were tracked down during a house search in the family's hiding place in Gorssel in Gelderland and taken to the Westerbork transit camp . De Groot himself escaped. Shortly afterwards, the two women were deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp and murdered there on November 3, 1942. Following the events, de Groot only continued his underground work for a short time. After the capture of his comrades-in-arms Jansen and Dieters and another narrow escape by himself, he completely stopped his activities in April 1943 and went into hiding in Zwolle for the rest of the war .

post war period

De Groot as Speaker at the CPN Party Congress (February 26, 1950)

After the end of the Second World War, de Groot devoted himself again to politics. First, in April 1945, he was reassigned the position of chief editor of De Waarheid in the Twente region . In the first time after the end of the war, de Groot was considered controversial because of his hiding in 1943. His initial resistance to a quick re-establishment of the CPN in its original form brought him into conflict with other communist leaders such as Wim van Exter, who had re-established the CPN in 1944 in the then liberated south of the Netherlands. Nevertheless, de Groot was re-accepted into the party and managed to be re-elected General Secretary of the CPN in July 1945. In November 1945 he also gained a seat in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.

At that time, De Groot's policy was still strongly based on the guidelines from Moscow, and he was considered a staunch Stalinist throughout his life . Even after the start of de-Stalinization in the Soviet Union, he was one of the last international defenders of the dictator and accordingly took decisive action against critics of the party line within the CPN. His statements on the Indonesian War of Independence, some of which were contrary, also caused discord and confusion within his party . De Groot spoke out in parliament and in De Waarheid on the one hand against the sending of Dutch troops to the colony striving for independence. On the other hand, he urged young communists to go with the Dutch army to Indonesia and to carry out propaganda for the country's independence.

While the CPN had profited considerably from its popularity as a resistance organization against the occupation in the first elections after the end of the war, the party lost many of its supporters during the emerging Cold War . This was not least due to de Groot, who put his personal stamp on party politics and did not shy away from discrediting former companions when they criticized his uncompromisingly pro-Soviet and pro-Stalinist course. Particularly unpopular among the Dutch was the lack of criticism of de Groot and the CPN of the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian popular uprising of 1956. This led to the loss of many votes, in the parliamentary elections of 1959 the party only got three seats. Nevertheless, de Groot stuck to his direction: as recently as 1970 he described the process of de-Stalinization in the Soviet Union as " revisionism ".

De Groot (right) with the then CPN chairman Henk Hoekstra on June 6, 1975

As early as 1962, de Groot resigned his post as general secretary of the CPN for health reasons and instead was elected party chairman, a position he found less labor-intensive. Four years later, he resigned from the lower house of parliament. In 1968 he also gave up the chairmanship of the party and was then made an honorary member of the Politburo. The official task of his offices changed little in terms of his influence on party affairs. He was still involved in decisive decisions such as the positioning of the CPN in the dispute between the Soviet Union and China , which for some time led to a decidedly anti-Russian course and the international isolation of the CPN.

Loss of power and retirement

The end of de Groot's political career heralded the parliamentary elections of 1977, in which the CPN suffered a heavy defeat. Of the previous seven seats, only two could be held. In response to this, de Groot wrote an article in De Waarheid , in which he attributed the defeat to the “bourgeoisisation” of the party and called for the resignation of the entire Politburo. Thereupon the Politburo opposed him and withdrew his honorary membership at the 1978 party congress. This marked the end of his political career.

De Groot then lived in seclusion for the rest of his life and turned down most of the interview requests. He died on August 3, 1986 in Bussum, North Holland .


  • Igor Cornelissen: Paul de Groot, staatsvijand nr. 1 . Nijgh & Van Ditmar, Amsterdam 1996, ISBN 90-388-1379-1 .
  • Jan Willem Stutje: De man die de weg wees - Leven en werk van Paul de Groot 1899–1986 . De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam 2000, ISBN 978-90-234-3908-0 ( [PDF]).

Web links

Commons : Paul de Groot  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Ger Harmsen: GROOT, Saul de. In: Biographical Woordenboek van het Socialisme en de Arbeiderbeweging in Nederland, February 10, 2003, accessed on December 3, 2018 (Dutch).
  2. Jan Willem Stutje: De man the de wees away - Leven en werk van Paul de Groot 1899-1986 . De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam 2000, ISBN 978-90-234-3908-0 , pp. 55-56 .
  3. Hansje Galesloot: BEUZEMAKER, Nicolaas. In: Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, 2002, accessed on February 27, 2020 (Dutch).
  4. a b c d e A.A. de Jonge: GROOT, Saul de (1899-1986). In: November 12, 2013, accessed December 5, 2018 (Dutch). ; originally published in: AA de Jonge: Groot, Saul de (1899-1986) . In: Biographical Woordenboek van Nederland . tape 3 . The Hague 1989.
  5. Jan Willem Stutje: De man the de wees away - Leven en werk van Paul de Groot 1899-1986 . De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam 2000, ISBN 978-90-234-3908-0 , pp. 184 .
  6. Jan Willem Stutje: De man the de wees away - Leven en werk van Paul de Groot 1899-1986 . De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam 2000, ISBN 978-90-234-3908-0 , pp. 195-197 .
  7. Anet Bleich: Een harde despoot en een gevoelige idealist. In: April 14, 2000, accessed December 6, 2018 (Dutch).
  8. Jan Willem Stutje: De man the de wees away - Leven en werk van Paul de Groot 1899-1986 . De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam 2000, ISBN 978-90-234-3908-0 , pp. 265-267 .
  9. ^ Jan van Putten: Politieke stromingen . 1st edition. Unieboek / Het Spectrum, Utrecht 1986, ISBN 978-90-274-2369-6 , pp. 294-296 .
  10. ^ Igor Cornelissen: De kleine Stalin uit de Gaaspstraat. In: Retrieved December 6, 2018 (Dutch).