Rembrandt in Propaganda
From May 1940 to May 1945, the Netherlands was occupied by Nazi Germany. The German occupying authorities hoped to win sympathy among the Dutch for a national-socialist Great Germanic Reich, of which the Netherlands would be a part. Dutch heroes therefore had to be made part of the national-socialist ideology, which was based on the superiority of the Germanic race. The new occupying authorities also felt a need for a new national symbol to replace the Royal family, who had fled to England and Canada. The most eligible Dutch hero was the painter Rembrandt van Rijn. Rembrandt had already achieved hero-status in Germany. He was seen as a great artist with typically Germanic 'man of the people' power: He remained true to himself despite numerous setbacks.
The Nazi founded a Department for Public Information and Culture with a propaganda department manned by Dutch national socialists. They were set to portray Rembrandt as the figurehead of Germanic-Dutch culture. They organized Rembrandt commemorations and festivals and the production of a Rembrandt opera. Their plan was to eventually make Rembrandt's birthday - 15 July - an important national holiday. The Dutch were not enthusiastic.