Willem Drees


May 17, 2022

Willem Drees (Amsterdam, 5 July 1886 – The Hague, 14 May 1988) was a Dutch politician of the Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) and the later Labor Party (PvdA). He was Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1948 to 1958, and is considered by many to be one of the most important post-war Dutch politicians. Under his leadership both the decolonization, which for Indonesians was called the struggle for independence, of the Dutch East Indies and the reconstruction of the Netherlands took place. When Sukarno and Hatta declared independence in 1945, Willem Drees opted for military intervention with 2 police actions. He later acknowledged this in his biography written by historian Hans Daalder as a major mistake. See the biography Willem Drees 1886-1988, 'The Indonesian Question 1945-1949 Four years of nightmare. Publishing Balance 2004. Drees was a convinced Social Democrat, but very pragmatic ('not everything is possible, and certainly not everything at once'). Drees enjoyed a popularity that transcended party political boundaries and was nicknamed Vadertje Drees. He was the initiator of several social laws. As Minister of Social Affairs, he laid the foundation for social legislation as early as 1947 with the Emergency Old Age Provision Act. Hence the expression: He draws from Drees (meaning that someone receives a retirement pension). Ten years later, Minister Ko Suurhoff guided his General Old Age Pensions Act through parliament. This differed greatly from the Emergency Act. No one had paid contributions for the benefits under the Emergency Act. It was in fact the state pension advocated by the State Retirement Association, paid out of taxes. In the 1970s, when his son Willem Drees Jr. made his mark with his moderate left-wing party DS'70, Drees broke up with his party, the PvdA, out of dissatisfaction with the increasingly radical and unrealistic course of the PvdA under the influence of New Links • Jelle Gaemers, 'The Red Alderman, Willem Drees 1886-1988, The years 1886-1940. Uitgeverij Balans, 2006. Hans Daalder, 'Four Years of Nightmare, The Indonesian Question'. Balance publishing house, 2004.


Drees was Prime Minister of four cabinets, from 1948 to 1958: Cabinet Drees-Van Schaik Cabinet Drees I Cabinet-Drees II Cabinet-Drees III The cabinets-Drees are numbered in two different ways in different sources. According to the alternative numbering, the Drees-Van Schaik cabinet (1948-1951) is the first Drees cabinet. What is here called Drees I (1951-1952) is then Drees II, and so there are Drees III (1952-1956) and Drees IV (1956-1958).

Life course


Willem Drees was born as son of Johannes Michiel Drees and Anna Sophia van Dobbenburgh. His father was a bank clerk at the Twentsche Bank and died when Drees was five years old. His parents were members of the Dutch Reformed Church and within it belonged to the Orthodox movement. As a teenager he attended catechism for several years but ultimately decided not to make a profession of his faith because he had insurmountable objections to the idea that those who do not believe in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ would be lost forever. Over the years, he developed into an agnostic. Drees became an ardent supporter of social democracy after attending the celebration of Troelstra's election victory in the Amsterdam III district in Amsterdam in December 1902. Despite some criticisms, he would continue to admire Troelstra for the rest of his life. He attended the Second three-year HBS for Boys at the Marnixstraat in Amsterdam from 1898 to 1901. He then attended commercial education at the Eerste Public Handelsschool at Raamplein 1 in Amsterdam from 1901 to 1903, when he took his final exams. It was here that the diamond workers' son Eli d'Oliveira aroused his interest in socialism.