Willem Drees
(1886-1988)

Died aged c. 102

Willem Drees Sr. was a Dutch politician of the defunct Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) and later co-founder of the Labour Party (PvdA) and historian who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 7 August 1948 to 22 December 1958. Drees studied Accounting at the Amsterdam Public Trade School obtaining an Bachelor of Accountancy degree and worked as a bank teller for the Twentsche Bank from July 1903 to July 1906 as a stenographer for Parliament from January 1907 until August 1919. Drees was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives after the election of 1933, taking office on 9 May 1933 serving as a frontbencher and spokesperson for Social Affairs. After Party Leader and Parliamentary leader Willem Albarda was appointed as Minister of Water Management in the Cabinet De Geer II Drees was selected as his successor on 10 August 1939. Shortly after the German Invasion Party Leader Albarda announced he was stepping down and Drees was anonymously selected as his successor as Leader on 14 May 1940. Following the end of World War II Drees was appointment as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs in the national unity Cabinet Schermerhorn–Drees taking office on 25 June 1945. In February 1946 Drees was one of the co-founders of the Labour Party and became its first Leader. For the election of 1946 Drees served as one of the Lijsttrekkers (top candidates) and following a cabinet formation continued his offices in the Cabinet Beel I. For the election of 1948 Drees served again as one of the Lijsttrekkers and following a successful cabinet formation with the Catholics formed the Cabinet Drees–Van Schaik with Drees becoming Prime Minister of the Netherlands and taking office on 7 August 1948. The cabinet Drees-Van Schaik fell on 24 January 1951 and after a short cabinet formation was replaced by Cabinet Drees I with Drees continuing as Prime Minister. For the election of 1952 Drees served again as Lijsttrekker and following a successful cabinet formation formed the Cabinet Drees II and continued as Prime Minister for a second term. For the election of 1956 Drees once again served as Lijsttrekker and following another cabinet formation formed the Cabinet Drees III and continued as Prime Minister for a third term. The Cabinet Drees III fell on 11 December 1958 and shortly thereafter Drees announced his retirement and would step down as Leader and wouldn't serve another term as Prime Minister. Drees left office following the installation of the caretaker Cabinet Beel II on 22 December 1958. Drees retired from active politics at 72 but continued to be active as a valued historian and prolific author and served on several state commissions and councils on behalf of the government. Drees was known for his abilities as a skillful team leader and effective manager. During his premiership, his cabinets were responsible for several major social reforms to social security, welfare, Child benefits and education, overseeing the decolonization of the Dutch East Indies following the Indonesian National Revolution, the fallout of the annexation of former German territory and dealing with several major crises such as the North Sea flood of 1953 and Hofmans-scandal. Drees was granted the honorary title of Minister of State on 22 December 1958 and continued to comment on political affairs as a statesman until his death in May 1988 at the age of 101. He holds the record as the second longest-serving and longest-lived Prime Minister at 101 years, 314 days and his premiership is consistently regarded both by scholars and the public to have been one of the best in Dutch history.

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Commemorated on 1 plaque

Geboortehuis van Dr. Willem Drees 1886 5 juli 1988 Deze steen is geplaatst ter herinnering aan de honderdste geboortedag van Willem Drees Bewoners van het W. Dreeshuis

English translation: Birthplace of Dr. Willem Drees 1886 July 5, 1988 This stone is placed to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Willem Drees

Haarlemmerplein 23, Amsterdam, Netherlands where they was born (1886)