Confirmation of payment to the Dutch book dealer Mensing from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The receipt is confirmation of a payment made in 1919. This was the final instalment (amounting to 7,500 fl.) of the total sum of 27,500 guilders, paid to the Dutch book dealer Bernard Mensing (whose signature appears at the bottom) by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as represented by the Consul General Carl Hubert Cremer in Amsterdam.
Throughout the war the Dutch book market was targeted by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in an attempt to influence Dutch readers. The publishers and book dealers were an easy medium through which the belligerent nations could gain interest and shape social views. The inscription on the receipt, 'volgens overeenkomst' ('according to agreement'), refers to the agreement concluded in 1917 between Bernard Mensing (C. L. van Langenhuysen Boek –en Kunsthandel) and Bernhard Wilmans, who was representing the Germans. Clause 4 of the agreement states:
'Der Zweck der Gesellschaft ist der Betrieb einer Buch-und Kunsthandlung im Haag, sowohl en gros als en detail, und hauptsächlich zur Förderung deutscher Interessen zur Verbreitung deutscher und anderer Bücher, die der Gesellschafter Wilmans für diesen Zweck dienlich erachtet'. ('The purpose of the company is to run a bookstore in The Hague, both wholesale and retail, mainly to promote German interests through the dissemination of German and other books, which shareholder Wilmans will choose for this purpose').
The above-cited extract from the agreement and all the correspondence between both parties shows that Mensing, as a real Deutschenfreund (German friend) and through German subsidies, agreed to open a bookstore in The Hague. Among other material, he sold at his store C. L. Langenhuysen Boek– en Kunsthandel German books that dealt with topics other than politics and war, pro-German foreign books, and German-sponsored propaganda books. Mensing’s bookstore was one of many instruments used for German cultural propaganda means.