Mussert, Josephus “Jo” Adrianus, born 02-12-1880 in Werkendam, of headteacher Johannes Leonardus Mussert and his wife Frederika Witlam. Josephus “Jo” was the oldest child in the Mussert family. Eventually, five children would grow up in the Mussert household: sons Jo, Max and Anton and daughters Leni and Coby. On the left Anton and next to him Jo. Through his profession as a headteacher, Johannes Mussert and his family belonged to the elite of their village. Johannes Mussert was a man of distinction who had two sides to his personality. For the outside world he seemed to be an endearing man who was always there to help children who had trouble learning. Within his family he showed a completely different side and would not shy away from using corporal punishment to establish his authority. He did, however, pay sufficient attention to his family. His wife Frederika was rather a different sort of person. She was a snob who exploited her privileged position. These opposing personalities led the marriage into heated arguments which were fought in public and sometimes even in the classroom.
His younger brother was the much more famous NSB leader Anton Adrian “Ad” Mussert.
and this might even have been fatal to him. On 14-05-1940, age 59, he was arrested for (alleged) high treason and shot dead upon arrest. Jo Mussert chose a career in the military. Jo Mussert spent the majority of his military career with the counterparts, specializing in the field of torpedoes. He was seen as an authority in this field because of his expertise. As a major, he had made it chief inspector of the Pontonniers and Torpedists. In November 1937 he was appointed as Corps and Depot Commander and promoted to lieutenant colonel, Dordrecht. He also got the mobilization and war function of Head of the Bridges and Feathers Bureau on the central staff in The Hague. That was a very strategically charged function. It is clear that in 1937 no suspicions were raised against Jo Mussert. During the 1930s, a non-cancerous brain tumor was diagnosed in Mussert and had to be surgically removed. Certainly at that time this was a very serious and risky operation. It was such a heavy physical and mental burden that, according to his evaluating physician, Lieutenant Colonel. Mussert was subsequently deemed unsuitable for field service for a longer period of time. In addition, the political activities of Jo Mussert’s brother Anton may have caused concern for his superiors just before the German invasion: Mussert may put loyalty to his brother above his orders. And even though he was never an NSB member himself (officials were also banned from 1933 as a political member of outspoken parties, including the SDAP) and supporter of the Liberal Party, his wife was and actively participated in the movement. Coverage with People and Fatherland. It was not until 1938 that Mussert forced his wife to give up her membership of the NSB.
The unexpected happened anyway. German paratroopers landed at Dordrecht on 10-05-1940. They took positions at the bridges over the Hollands Diep and the Oude Maas, pending the German main force advancing via Brabant. Dordrecht had become a front city and Mussert had to lead the field.
Lieutenant Colonel Josephus Mussert was the Depot Commander and Garrison Commander (Cantonal Commander) in Dordrecht. On 10-5-1940 he was therefore immediately suspected of treason and collaboration with the Germans. His unrefined character and lack of leadership talent reinforced suspicions during the May days. Although there was no evidence that the superior stood up for German interests, and there were countless proofs and indications that Mussert stubbornly wanted to continue to defend ‘his’ Dordrecht – wherever he lived – his chaotic behavior and tension in the city, caused by the battle, prompts him to suspect massively of treason.
Death and burial ground of Mussert, Josephus Adrianus “Jo”.
When on 14 May the entire Dutch occupation of Dordrecht and the Island had meanwhile been evacuated on the north side of the Merwede, an officer of the Light Division heard that the ‘traitor of Dordrecht’ was in his Section. Together with a lieutenant and a police officer, this officer – Captain Bom – left for the command post of the superior on Kerkstraat in Sliedrecht to arrest him. The arrest was not without problems. The superior was overwhelmed and refused to be arrested by a captain. Then the 1st Lieutenant Kruithof, who had gone mad, entered the room, on which the superior turned to him, with his hands allegedly falling. Shortly thereafter, four shots fell, fatally injuring the superior. The lieutenant claimed severe weather and the fact that the superior had grabbed his gun, which was not confirmed by any of the witnesses. In fact, there was murder, for which the captain and lieutenant were both convicted during the war. Superior Mussert died the same evening14-05-1940, age 59, in Gorinchem in the Military Hospital.
Captian Bom and Kruithof were sentenced to long prison terms during the war. Anton Mussert filed a report against the (alleged) murderers of his brother immediately after the May days, when he emerged from his hiding position. Both officers were arrested on 21-06-1940. Only in 1942 did they come before the so-called ‘Peace Court’, after extensive preliminary investigation. The requirements were high. The death penalty was demanded against Kruithof, against Bom twenty years. Ultimately, the sentences were considerably lower: twenty and ten years’ imprisonment respectively. So both officers would spend almost the entire occupation time in prison.Both officers were released with the liberation. Fully expecting that Lieutenant Kruithof was a patriot, he was immediately – now promoted to captain – included in the extensive staff of Prince Bernhard. Kruithof would argue that he had felt this as a rehabilitation.
Mussert, Josephus Adrianus “Jo” is buried with his wife Theodora, born v d Kaay, on the general cemetery in Gorinchem, Netherlands.