Willem Drees Sr. (
Willem Drees in 1958
|Prime Minister of the Netherlands|
7 August 1948 – 22 December 1958
|Monarch||Wilhelmina (1948) |
|Preceded by||Louis Beel|
|Succeeded by||Louis Beel|
|Minister of Finance|
1 July 1952 – 2 September 1952
|Preceded by||Piet Lieftinck|
|Succeeded by||Jo van de Kieft|
|Minister of Colonial Affairs|
15 March 1951 – 30 March 1951
|Preceded by||Johan van Maarseveen|
|Succeeded by||Leonard Peters|
|Leader of the Labour Party|
9 February 1946 – 22 December 1958
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Jaap Burger|
|Deputy Prime Minister|
25 June 1945 – 7 August 1948
|Prime Minister||Willem Schermerhorn |
Louis Beel (1948)
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Josef van Schaik|
|Minister of Social Affairs|
25 June 1945 – 7 August 1948
|Prime Minister||Willem Schermerhorn |
Louis Beel (1948)
|Preceded by||Dolf Joekes|
|Succeeded by||Frans Wijffels|
|Leader of the Social |
Democratic Workers' Party
14 May 1940 – 9 February 1946
|Preceded by||Willem Albarda|
|Succeeded by||Office discontinued|
|Parliamentary leader in the |
House of Representatives
10 August 1939 – 25 September 1945
|Preceded by||Willem Albarda|
|Succeeded by||Marinus van der |
Goes van Naters
|Parliamentary group||Social Democratic |
|Member of the House of Representatives|
3 July 1956 – 3 October 1956
15 July 1952 – 2 September 1952
27 July 1948 – 10 August 1948
4 June 1946 – 4 July 1946
9 May 1933 – 25 June 1945
|Parliamentary group||Labour Party |
|Born||5 July 1886|
|Died||14 May 1988 101) (aged|
The Hague, Netherlands
|Political party||Labour Party (1946–1971)|
|Independent Social |
Democrat (from 1971)
Workers' Party (1904–1946)
(m. 1910; her death 1974)
|Children||Adriana Drees (1914–1920) |
Annie Drees (1911–2002)
Jan Drees (1919–2002)
Willem Drees Jr. (1922–1998)
|Relatives||Willem B. Drees (grand-son) |
Jacques Wallage (grand son-in-law)
|Alma mater||Amsterdam University |
of Applied Sciences
(Bachelor of Accountancy)
|Occupation||Politician · Civil servant · Accountant · Stenographer · Historian · Author|
Drees applied at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in June 1900 majoring in Accounting and obtaining an Bachelor of Accountancy degree in July 1903. Drees worked as an accountant and bank teller for the Twentsche Bank from July 1903 until July 1906 and worked as a stenographer for the States General of the Netherlands from January 1907 until August 1919. Drees served on the Municipal Council of The Hage from September 1913 until May 1933 and served as an Alderman in The Hague from September 1919 until May 1933. Drees was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives after the election of 1933, taking office on 9 May 1933. After the Parliamentary leader of the Social Democratic Workers' Party in the House of Representatives Willem Albarda was appointed as Minister of Water Management in the Cabinet De Geer II Drees was chosen to succeed him en became the Parliamentary leader in the House of Representatives, taking office on 10 August 1939. On 10 May 1940 Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and the government fled to London to escape the German occupation. During World War II Drees continued to serve as a Member of the House of Representatives but in reality the de facto political influence of the House of Representatives was marginalized. On 14 May 1940 the Leader of the Social Democratic Workers' Party Albarda announced that he was stepping down as Leader in favor of Drees. On 9 October 1940 Drees was arrested and detained in Buchenwald concentration camp and was released in October 1941. In May 1942 Drees was arrested again and detained in the ilag of Sint-Michielsgestel but was released two weeks later. Following the end of World War II Queen Wilhelmina ordered the formation of a cabinet of national unity to reorganize the state and make preparations for new elections with Drees appointment as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs in the Cabinet Schermerhorn–Drees, taking office on 25 June 1945. On 9 February 1946 the Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP), the Free-thinking Democratic League (VDB) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) choose to merge to form the Labour Party (PvdA). Drees was one of the co-founders and became the first Leader of the Labour Party. For the election of 1946 Drees served as one of the Lijsttrekkers (top candidates) of the Labour Party for the election. The Labour Party had 23 seats in the House of House of Representatives previously held by the Social Democratic Workers' Party, the Free-thinking Democratic League and the Christian Democratic Union. The Labour Party a small win, gaining 6 seats and retained its place as the second largest party and now had 29 seats in the House of Representatives. Drees subsequently returned as a Member of the House of Representatives, taking office on 4 June 1946. Following the cabinet formation of 1946 Drees continued as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs in the Cabinet Beel I, taking office on 3 July 1946. For the election of 1948 Drees served again as one of the Lijsttrekkers. The Labour Party suffered a small loss, losing 2 seats but retained its place as the second largest party and now had 27 seats in the House of Representatives. Drees was appointed as Formateur and following cabinet formation of 1948 resulted in a coalition agreement between the Labour Party, the Catholic People's Party (KVP), the Christian Historical Union (CHU) and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) which formed the Cabinet Drees–Van Schaik with Drees becoming Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of General Affairs, taking office on 7 August 1948.
The Cabinet Drees-Van Schaik fell on 24 January 1951 and continued to serve in a demissionary capacity until the cabinet formation of 1951 when it was replaced by Cabinet Drees I with Drees continuing as Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs, taking office on 15 March 1951. Drees served as acting Minister of Colonial Affairs from 15 March 1951 until 30 March 1951 before the appointment of Leonard Peters and served as acting Minister of Finance from 1 July 1952 until 2 September 1952 following the resignation of Piet Lieftinck. For the election of 1952 Drees served for a third time as Lijsttrekker. The Labour Party a small win, gaining 3 seats and became the largest party for the first time and now had 30 seats in the House of Representatives. Drees was appointed as Formateur and the following cabinet formation of 1952 resulted in a coalition agreement between the Labour Party, the Catholic People's Party, the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) and Christian Historical Union which formed the Cabinet Drees II with Drees remaining Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs, taking office on 2 September 1952. For the election of 1956 Drees served for a fourth and final time as Lijsttrekker. The Labour Party a small win, gaining 4 seats and retained its place as the largest party and now had 34 seats in the House of Representatives. Shortly after the election the number of seats in the House of Representatives was raised from 100 to 150 and the Labour Party now had 50 seats. Drees was appointed as Formateur and the following cabinet formation of 1956 resulted in the continuation of the coalition agreement between the Labour Party, the Catholic People's Party, the Anti-Revolutionary Party and Christian Historical Union which formed the Cabinet Drees III with Drees continuing as Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs, taking office on 13 October 1956. The Cabinet Drees III fell on 11 December 1958 and shortly thereafter Drees announced his retirement from national politics and that he wouldn't stand for the election of 1959. The cabinet continued to serve in a demissionary capacity until the cabinet formation of 1958 when it was replaced by caretaker Cabinet Beel II on 22 December 1958.
Drees retired after spending 25 years in national politics and remained active as a historian and author, having written more than twenty books since 1924 in the non-fiction categories of Politics and World War II.
Drees was known for his abilities as a manager and team leader. During his premiership, his cabinets was responsible for continuing the decolonization, reforms to the welfare state and Social security and dealing with the North Sea flood of 1953. Drees was granted the honorary title of Minister of State on 22 December 1958. Drees continued to comment on political affairs as a statesman until his death from at the high age of 101. He holds the distinction as the longest-lived Prime Minister of the Netherlands and is consistently ranked both by scholar and the public as the best Prime Minister after World War II.
Education and private career
Willem Drees was born in Amsterdam on 5 July 1886. After completing his secondary education in 1903 at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, he worked until 1906 for the Twentsche Bank in Amsterdam. This was followed by a period as a stenographer with the Municipal Council of Amsterdam and then between 1907 and 1919 with the States General of the Netherlands.
In 1904 he joined the Social Democratic Workers' Party, which later was absorbed into the Labour Party in 1946. From 1910 to 1931 he was chairman of The Hague branch of the Social Democratic Workers' Party and between 1913 and 1941 a member of the municipal council of The Hague. During that period he was alderman for social affairs from 1919 to 1931 and for finance and public works through to 1933.
For 22 years between 1919 and 1941 Drees also held a seat on the Provincial Council of South Holland and for 19 years between 1927 and 1946 one on the Social Democratic Workers' Party executive. Between 1933 and 1940 he represented the Social Democratic Workers' Party in the House of Representatives and from 1939 as leader in the House of Representatives
During the German occupation he was taken hostage in Buchenwald concentration camp in October 1940. Freed one year later, he played a prominent role, as vice chairman and acting chairman of the illegal Executive Committee of the SDAP, and as a prominent participant in secret interparty consultations. In 1944 he became chairman of the Contact Commissie van de Illegaliteit and a member of the College van Vertrouwensmannen which the government in exile charged with the preparation of steps to be taken at the time of liberation.
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Drees's period in office saw at least four major political developments: the traumas of decolonisation, economic reconstruction, the establishment of the Dutch welfare state, and international integration and co-operation, including the formation of Benelux, the OEEC, NATO, the ECSC, and the EEC. When his Cabinet broke up in December 1958, he was appointed to the honorary position of Minister of State, the Labour Party appointed him a member of its Executive Council for life in 1959. Due to impaired hearing he stopped attending its meetings in 1966. He strongly disagreed with New Left tendencies in the membership and strategies of the Labour Party. He eventually gave up membership of a party he had served for close to 67 years.
A wide range of social reforms were carried out during's Drees's tenure as Prime Minister. The Occupational Pensions Funds Act of March 1949 made membership of industry-wide pension funds compulsory, while the General Old Age Pensions Act of May 1956 introduced universal flat-rate old age pensions for all residents as a right and with no retirement condition at the age of 65. The Retired Persons' Family Allowances Act of November 1950 established a special allowance for pensioned public servants with children, a law of November 1950 extended compulsory health insurance to cover other groups, such as old-age and invalidity pensioners, and a law of December 1956 introduced health insurance with special low contributions for old-aged pensioners below a certain income ceiling. A law of August 1950 established equal rights for illegitimate children, and introduced an allowance for disabled children between the ages of 16 and 20. The Temporary Family Allowances Act for the Self-employed of June 1951 entitled self-employed persons with low incomes to family allowance for the first and second child, and a law of February 1952 introduced an allowance for studying and for disabled children until the age of 27. In 1950, works councils were established, and in 1957 the dismissal of female civil servants upon marriage was abolished.
In the field of housing, the Implementation for Rent Act (1950) fixed rents and rent increases, while the Regional and Town Planning Act (1950) regulated the planning of house building. In addition, the Reconstruction Act of 1950 established housebuilding programmes, and legislation was passed on house building standards (1951), the uniformity of buildings (1954), and uniform building standards (1956). In education, measures were carried out such as increased expenditure on the system, a reduction in registration fees at State universities and at the institute of technology, and the granting (in January 1956) of a special benefit to primary school teachers and to certain categories of vocational teachers, "particularly those who risk being unemployed and who cannot lay claim to a retaining fee." Other initiatives included secondary schools for girls and special primary education in 1949, teacher training colleges in 1952, the extension of compulsory education to 8 years in 1950, and the Nursery Education Act of 1955, which introduced the option of kindergarten for children from the age of four upwards, while also establishing regulations for nursery-school teachers. A department of social welfare was also established (1952), while laws were passed on unemployment benefits (1952) and a widows' and orphans' pension (1956).
On 28 July 1910, Drees married Catharina Hent (6 May 1888 – 30 January 1974) and had two sons and two daughters, Both his sons Jan Drees and Willem Drees Jr. were active members of the Labour Party, but left the party around 1970 to join the Democratic Socialists '70. The cause was a row with younger party members who wanted to plot a more radical left-wing course for the party. Drees himself left the Labour Party in 1971 leaving them without their icon, but he never joined the Democratic Socialists '70.
Drees was a Teetotaler. Willem Drees died on 14 May 1988 in The Hague, two months before his 102nd birthday. From 22 August 1986, when former Turkish President Celâl Bayar died until his own death, Drees was the world's oldest living former head of state.
In 2004 he ended in third place in the election of The Greatest Dutchman.
Four Volume Biography Willem Drees 1886-1988, in Dutch:
- Jelle Gaemers, De rode wethouder: De jaren 1886-1940" (Amsterdam: Balans, 2006).637 pp. ISBN 90 5018 760 9.
- Hans Daalder, Gedreven en behoedzaam: De jaren 1940-1948 (Amsterdam: Balans, 2003). 528 pp. ISBN 90 5018 6157.
- Hans Daalder, Vier jaar nachtmerrie: De Indonesische kwestie (Amsterdam: Balans, 2004). 548 pp. ISBN 90 5018 639 4.
- Hans Daalder en Jelle Gaemers, Premier en elder statesman: De jaren 1948-1988 (Amsterdam: Balans, 2014). 640 pp. ISBN 978 94 600 3715 3.
- W. Drees, Gespiegeld in de tijd. De nagelaten autobiografie (Amsterdam 2000). (Memoir by Willem Drees, Jr.)
|Medal of Freedom with Gold Palm||United States||7 April 1953|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George||United Kingdom|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Trinity||Ethiopia||1954|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion||Netherlands||22 December 1958|
|Minister of State||Netherlands||22 December 1958||Style of Excellency|
- "The Encyclopedia Americana". Grolier. 18 November 1992 – via Google Books.
- (in Dutch) Biography Willem Drees BWSA
- (in Dutch) Geschiedenis VPRO Geschiedenis 24.
- (in Dutch) Willem Drees gekozen tot ‘Dé premier na WO II’ Geschiedenis 24.
- Mcwhirter, Norris; McFarlan, Donald (18 November 1989). "the Guinness Book of Records 1990". Guinness Publishing Ltd – via Google Books.
- (in Dutch) Willem Drees beste crisismanager Geencommentaar.nl.
- Orlow, D. (2000). Common Destiny: A Comparative History of the Dutch, French, and German Social Democratic Parties, 1945-1969. Berghahn Books. p. 120. ISBN 9781571812254. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
- Lentz, H.M. (2014). Heads of States and Governments Since 1945. Taylor & Francis. p. 578. ISBN 9781134264902. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
- UEA: Reta Muzeo. Materialoj el Biblioteko Hector Hodler. 1947-1974 World Esperanto Association.
- Growth to Limits: The Western European Welfare States Since World War II, Volume 2 edited by Peter Flora.
- Wilkinson, A.; Donaghey, J.; Dundon, T.; Freeman, R.B. (2014). Handbook of Research on Employee Voice: Elgar original reference. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 68. ISBN 9780857939272. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
- Moore, B.; van Nierop, H. (2006). Twentieth-Century Mass Society in Britain and the Netherlands. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 60. ISBN 9781845205256. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
- van Heffen, O.; Kickert, W.J.M.; Thomassen, J. (2013). Governance in Modern Society: Effects, Change and Formation of Government Institutions. Springer Netherlands. ISBN 9789401594868. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
- Wolthuis, J. (1999). Lower Technical Education in the Netherlands 1798-1993: The Rise and Fall of a Subsystem. Coronet Books Incorporated. p. 202. ISBN 9789053508619. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
- Hindman, H.D. (2009). The World of Child Labor: An Historical and Regional Survey. M.E. Sharpe. p. 635. ISBN 9780765626479. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
- "Graftombe.nl - Informatie over Catharina Hent". www.graftombe.nl.
- "SeniorPlaza - Willem Drees". seniorplaza.nl.
- "Willem Drees Dies at 101; Postwar Dutch Leader". The New York Times. 19 May 1988.
- (in Dutch) 'Pim Fortuyn toch niet de Grootste Nederlander' NU.nl
- (in Dutch) Zoektocht naar ‘Grootste Nederlander’ begint Geschiedenis24
- (in Dutch) Dr. W. (Willem) Drees Parlement & Politiek
- (in Dutch) Kabinet-Drees-Van Schaik Rijksoverheid
- (in Dutch) Kabinet Drees I Rijksoverheid
- (in Dutch) Kabinet-Drees II Rijksoverheid
- (in Dutch) Kabinet-Drees III Rijksoverheid