Anti-tank ditch Clingendael
Anti-tank ditch Clingendael

Seat of government of the German-occupied Netherlands

Here, you ride along the anti-tank ditch that was dug along the Clingendael estate, the seat of government of the occupied Netherlands, on the orders of Nazi Germany.

Seyss Inquart was Reichskommissar of the German-occupied Netherlands from 1940 to 1945. Seyss-Inquart was a gifted Austrian lawyer. He walked with a limp, something for which he was ridiculed increasingly during the war. Seyss-Inquart lived on the Clingendael estate in Wassenaar. He arranged for the necessary modifications to be made to the estate. For example, the gravestones of the historical dog cemetery were torn down out of fear snipers would hide behind them. He had a command bunker built next to the villa, disguised as a farm. The cycling route will pass it shortly. 

The Hague was the seat of government and thus a symbol of power; it was therefore important for Seyss Inqart to stay here. Official receptions were held at Clingendael; for example, Hans Rauter and Heinrich Himmler, amongst others, were guests. There was also an opportunity for recreation. There was skating on the lakes in winter and tennis was played in summer. The residence was also used for propaganda purposes. The Hitler Youth and Nationale Jeugdstorm put on performances in the garden to showcase their gymnastics skills. War wounded were also received.

It now houses Clingendael Institute, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

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