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Willem Drees

Other names: 'Father Drees'


Minister of State of the Netherlands 1958
Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Africa 1956 (Liberia)
Grand Cross of the Order Dannebrog (Denmark)
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Netherlands Lion (Netherlands)
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour 1954 (France)
Grand Cross of the Order of Crown of Oak (Luxembourg)
Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold 1949 (Belgium)
Hon. Knight Grand Cross of Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Trinity (Ethiopia)
Grand Cross of the Order of George I (Greece)
Grand Cross Order of Adolf of Nassau (Luxembourg)
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Olav (Norway)
Commander Grand Cross of the Order of Vasa (Sweden)
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Thailand

Positions Held

Minister for Union Affairs and Overseas Departments (acting) 1951
Minister for General Affairs 1945-58
Prime Minister of the Netherlands 1945-58
Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands 1946-48
Member of the Lower House of the States General 1946, 1948, 1952 and 1956
Minister of Social Affairs 1945-48
Social Democratic Workers' Party parliamentary group leader of the States General 1939-45
Member of the parliamentary group 1933-40
Member of the Lower House of the States General 1933-45
Member of the city council of The Hague
Stenographer of the House of Representatives of the States General in The Hague 1907-19


The son of Johannes Michiel Drees (1858-1891) and Anna Sophia van Dobbenburgh (1859-1954), Drees was one of the greatest twentieth-century politicians, under whose leadership both the decolonisation and reconstruction of the Netherlands took place after the liberation from German occupation. He was a convinced social democrat, but with a very pragmatic attitude. He grew up in Amsterdam, joining the Social Democratic Workers' Party in 1904, and rising from the position of stenographer to alderman of The Hague and MP, to minister and prime minister. As alderman before 1940, he had a good reputation as a director. From 1940 to 1941 he was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp , and in 1942, in the Sint Michielsgestel camp. He afterwards became a central figure of political resistance. In 1947, as Minister of Social Affairs, he was responsible for building the country's welfare programme and social democracy, establishing the Emergency Old-Age Provisions Act. He secured the United States Marshall Plan for the Netherlands in 1948. Drees was to became a popular statesman both through his leadership and austerity with all sides of the political spectrum. He was a self-possessed man who lived simply, reaching a very old age. Drees married Catharina Hent in 1910, and had the following children Anna Sophia (*1911), Adriana Catharina (1914-20), Johannes Michiel (1919-2002), Willem jr (1922-98).

Place of birth: Amsterdam
Place of marriage: Amsterdam
Place of death: The Hague




1. Dr. W. (Willem) Drees. Parlementair Documentatie Centrum.
2. Willem Drees. Biografisch Portaal van Nederland.
3 The International Who's Who 1974-75, 38th edn. London: Europa Publications Limited, 1974.
4. Liberiaanse ridderorde (Order of the Star of Africa), ontvangen door Willem Drees, anonymous, c. 1400 - c. 1950. Rijksmuseum.
5. Miniatuur ordetekens van Willem Drees, Van Wielik BV, 1950 - 1988. Rijksmuseum.

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