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Dutch queen tried to swap Nazis for Belgian king

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By Euronews
US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dutch queen Wilhelmina in 1942
US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dutch queen Wilhelmina in 1942   -   Copyright  National Archives and Records Administration   -  

Former Dutch queen Wilhelmina tried to negotiate a deal with Nazis at the end of World War II in exchange for the release of Belgium's King Leopold III, according to a report on Tuesday.

Dutch newspaper Trouw based its report on the newly released diaries of her former foreign minister Eelco van Kleffens, entitled "Your Majesty, You do Not Know Real Life."

According to the volume, Wilhelmina, known for being "anti-papist and anti-German," reached out to van Kleffens in 1945 to "sound out" a possible swap with senior Nazis.

Wilhelmina fled the Netherlands in 1940 following the German invasion but was liked by resistance fighters back home for the radio broadcasts she made from the UK in which she called Adolf Hitler "the arch-enemy of mankind."

She, however, asked her foreign minister, with whom she had a testy relationship, to see if a deal could be negotiated through the Vatican after being moved by a discussion with the Belgian Queen mother Elisabeth.

Trouw reported that the Belgian royal feared that the Germans, who were losing the war, would "liquidate" her family.

King Leopold III, who was held by the Germans in Austria, was released by US troops in May 1945. He nonetheless stayed in exile in Switzerland afterwards because of the controversy about his war-time conduct and abdicated in 1951 in favour of his son Baudouin.

Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948 due to health reasons and died in 1962.