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|Gays and Lesbians in war and resistance
Omslag boek over Willem Arondéus
It's a little known, and not always published, fact there were gays and lesbians who risked their lives during the nazi occupation. Some names are mentioned in the literature, many from artists circles.
Student Han Stijkel was the religion-inspired leader of one of the first underground groups, the ‘Stijkel group’ – he did not call himself gay.
Danser and poet Karel Pekelharing was involved in the attack on the prison at the Amsterdam Weteringschans.
Tailor Sjoerd Bakker, together with painter and writer Willem Arondéus, took part in the attack on the Amsterdam population registry.
Willem Arondéus was candid about his homosexuality and wanted to prove that gays and lesbians could be as brave as anybody else.
All four of those mentioned above were executed.
Frieda Belinfante (Picture: www.nps.nl)
The lesbian cellist and conductor Frieda Belinfante was a leading figure in the artists resistance. Dressed up as a man she participated in the resistance and escaped the Gestapo.
The couple Ru Paré and Do Versteegh saved over fifty Jewish children.
The famous socialist and homo-erotic writer Jef Last was part of the resistance group 'De Vonk' (The Spark). He was in contact with the editors of the magazine 'Levensrecht' (The Right to Live) (1940), which after the war formed the basis for the COC (Dutch Gay Organisation). Nico Engelschman and Jaap van Leeuwen were active in several resistance groups. Jaap Diekmann went underground, was caught and worked as a forced labourer in Germany.
Other COC-members included Gé Winter, who saved his Jewish friend Van Spiegel and his family, and the publisher and interpreter Henri Methorst from The Hague, who kept psychiatrist Coen van Emde Boas and his wife out of nazi hands.
In Groningen tobacco manufacturer Willy Niemeijer, was involved in underground activities and later perished in Neuengamme concentration camp.
In Amsterdam the Castrum Peregrini was active, a safe-house for Jewish refugees around the German intellectual Wolfgang Frommel, follower of the poet Stefan George. Homo-eroticism was a conceiled theme in their circle. The poets Percy Gothein and Vincent Weyand were arrested on grounds of homosexuality and died in a concentration camp. The writer Wolfgang Cordan was the leader of an armed resistance group.
The exposition 'Who can I still to trust? - Being Gay in nazi-Germany and occupied Holland' shows pictures of Frans Toethuis and his Jewish friend, who was arrested and killed en whose name is unknown.
Zandvoort, ca. 1939. Centre: Frans Toethuis
Unlike Jews and Gypsies, gays and lesbians were not threatened with eradication. They were not that easy to find. However, the occupiers, following the German model, did strive to completely supress this 'unworthy and anti-reproductive' behaviour.
As early as August 1940 the German anti-gay laws were introduced in Holland. Sexual acts between all men, not only between adults and minors, became an offence. For the latter the punishment was a maximum of ten years in jail, for the former a maximum of four years in jail. Minors could also be punished. The regulation (81/40) ‘forgot’ to include homosexual actions between women. A central registration was started, using 'pink' lists. These had to be provided by local investigation departments. As early as 1920 brigadier Jasper van Opijnen was appointed to the Amsterdam vice squad to check the activities of gays and lesbians. The German approach could be directly linked up to this. When leaving the police service in 1946, Van Opijnen was called 'homoführer' in a song by his colleagues.
NIOD-researcher Anna Tijsseling, at the reopening of the exposition 'Who can I still trust? ‘ (Public Library Amsterdam, May 5, 2010), gave an example of a gay case at the The Hague police department. In June 1943, in the Zuiderpark, a ten year old asked chief inspector Lesage for help. He told him to have been sexually intimidated, with his friends, by an older youth. That boy had ordered them, ‘in behalf of the German Wehrmacht’, to drop their pants. Lesage takes the 16 year old, who is confirming the smaller boy’s story, to the police office. The inspector brings the case to his colleague of Public Morality, Auke Anema. Mr. Anema is convinced that the youth must have learned such behavior from adult homosexuals (the ‘Dracula’-theory). The 16-year old boy agrees, of course, and gives the name of a 27 year old tailor. The man is found and he confesses his influence. After a talk with the parents of the boy the police closes the case. Nobody is punished. In nazi-Germany these boys would have been disciplined, and sometimes been sent to a camp.
Jewish gay men and women
There was not a systematic persecution like in Germany. For Jews however, every offence could be life-threatening. In the register of the Bureau Joodsche Zaken (Office for Jewish Affairs) a woman is mentioned, Mina Sluyter, who is arrested 'because of homosexuality'. From a letter by the Amsterdam vice squad and its reports to the Bureau of Jewish Affaires the names of several Jewish gays and a lesbian woman are known. They were arrested by Van Opijnen and his colleagues during the period 1941-1943 and immidiately handed over to the Sicherheitsdienst. All but one were murdered in Auschwitz or Sobibor. There has not been any research on their position in camp Westerbork. Pink and other triangles did not exist there, but the yellow 'Jew-star' did. Jews arrested for being homosexual were supposed to wear a pink-yellow David-star.
Apart from the names in the Amsterdam vice squad letter, also some Jewish gays are mentioned in a letter by esquire Schorer (see article by Marina van der Klein, www.vertrouwen.nu/reactie_MariavdKl.htm). They are Engers, Hiegentlich, Petermeijer and Sjouwerman. A lot is known about Jakob Hiegentlich, not much (yet) about the others. Hiegentlich was a Catholic-Jewish author who foresaw the coming persecution and took his own life. Another gay Jewish man, Hugo van Win, went into hiding as a forced labourer in Germany under the name Bertus de Witte. He witnessed homo-scene in heavily bombed Berlin, which was never completely eradicated. The lawyer and poet L. Ali Cohen from Haarlem survived the war.
Between 1940 and 1945 ninety non-Jewish men had been sentenced because of homosexual activities, sometimes because of sexual contact with German soldiers or officials. They ended up in regular Dutch prisons. Historian Koenders was able to determine three cases of gays who had been deported to Germany. There they did not wear a pink triangle, but they may have worn the H-emblem ('Holländer').
The Netherlands Indies
An even lesser known chapter is the position of gays in the Netherlands Indies in the thirties and fourties of the 20th century. A black period was the raid on gays in the colonial elite between November 1938 and January 1939. The raid was instigated by the newspaper Javabode, whose chief editor was a sympathizer of the NSB (Dutch National Socialist Movement), and the Christelijke Staatspartij (Christian State Party). The Resident of Batavia and Head of Police, Fievez de Mailines van Ginkel, was among the victims. The most famous of the 223 people arrested was the renowned German artist Walter Spies, who lived on the island of Bali and who died in 1942 as a prisoner of war.
(Internet) sources (in alphabetical order):
Homo-encyclopedie van Nederland (2005) (Homo-encyclopedia of The Netherlands)
Hugo van Win, Een jood in nazi-Berlijn. Utrecht 1997 (A Jew in nazi-Berlin)
Willem Johan Cornelis Arondéus
Willem Arondéus (Source: www.ushmm.org)
”Willem Arondéus was born in Naarden (22 August 1894). He grew up in Amsterdam where his parents had a costume rental business for actors. At the age of thirteen he was admitted to the Quellinus School, which later became the Rietveld (Art) Academy in Amsterdam, where he devoted himself to decorative painting. After completing his education he lived in various places in and outside of the province of Noord-Holland. During the time he lived in the 'Gooi' area he met other artists and befriended the poet Adriaan Roland Holst.
After a short stay in Paris he moved to the island of Urk 1920 and later to Breukelerveen. He illustrated poems, received commissions for posters and calendars and designed Christmas stamps or charity stamps which were published by the Dutch postal services in 1923. In the same year he received a commission to make a wall painting for the town hall of Rotterdam, his break-through as a visual artist. In general this work is seen as influenced by the visual artist Richard Roland Holst, a man he admired and who inspired him. He made the engraving shown below for the poem 'The Dying' by his other supporter and inspiration Adriaan Roland Holst, Richard's brother.
Life as a visual artist did not come easy, however. He stuck with his specifie style of painting which was already considered outdated in his time and his artistic work barely paid for his living expenses.
Around 1935 he turned away from the visual arts and he devoted himself to writing. His debut in 1938 was the novel The owl house for which he received an award from publisher Kosmos. His next novel In the Flowering Winter Radish was also received well, although critical sounds were heard about his style of writing. In 1939 his first art history book was published, a biography of the painter Matthijs Maris. In general this is considered his best work. In her review of the post-war reprint of the book Annie Romein-Verschoor puts Arondéus in line with great stylists like Abraham Kuyper and Johan Huizinga” (www.inghist.nl).
Arondéus, gay and resistance fighter
“Arondéus was a remarkable and obstinate man from Noord-Holland who, as early as 1914 at the age of twenty, contrary to accepted custom openly talked about his homosexuality. In those days, even in the circles he frequented, this was a bit too much for many people" (nl.wikipedia.org). There was a continuous inner struggle in himself as well.
"In the documentary by Rudi van Dantzig, The Life Of Willem Arondéus 1894-1943 (Arbeiderspers 2003, 446 p.) Arondéus is quoted as saying: "It's like I'm living in a blackout - without sorrow and without joy." In his often very depressing diary notes Arondéus makes the reader witness to a highly torn and lonely existence. Despite his ambivalent friendships with, for instance, Adriaan and Richard Roland Holst and resistance people like Willem Sandberg and Gerrit van der Veen, Arondéus remained a shadowy figure, even after he took part in the attack on the Amsterdam registry. Arondéus was gay, and considering the morality of the society around 1920, his frankness about this can be seen as his first act of liberation" (www.intermale.nl).
Arondéus with fishermen from Urk (Source: www.gaynews.nl)
"In 1932 Arondéus and greengrocer Gerrit Jan Tijssen became friends. They experienced poverty on a regular basis. In 1941 Arondéus sent Tijssen back to Apeldoorn, most likely because he felt it was too dangerous now, with his increasing activities in the resistance" (nl.wikipedia.org). "His love for Jurie, a fisherman from the island of Urk, and later for Gerrit Jan, the young nurseryman from the Veluwe area, were cause for these sometimes bitter self-dissections. 'Do I have love, true love for someone ... or is it all a sham, nothing but temporary emotion?", he asked himself. In 2001, twenty of his homo-erotic poems: Detached Strophes, inspired by the work of the poet Boutens and written in 1922 on the island of Urk, were published posthumously. In his diaries he wrote extensively about his artistic struggles, but also about his worries about 'money and lust'. Also his social disillusionment became more evident, both in his correspondence and in his literary work: 'Yes, this philistine world is rotten, a garbage bin, a loo' (p. 26, 95)" (www intermale.nl).
“When in 1941 Arondéus’ book about monumental painting in Holland was published, he found himself heavily involved in the resistance. Together with Willem Sandberg and Gerrit van der Veen he falsified identity cards and wrote the Brandaris Letters. In these letters he identified cases of cultural collaboration and called for resistance when the occupier would threaten the arts like they did with the foundation of the Chamber of Culture (Kulturkammer). In 1942 his Brandaris Letter was combined with the artist resistance magazine The Free Artist founded by musician Jan van Gilse." With Gerrit van der Veen he lead the attack on the Amsterdam Population Registry in 1943. He was arrested and together with a some friends from the resistance sentenced to death after a show trial. For a description of the attack on the registry and the role of Arondéus see the story by Martinus Nijhoff and the text on Sjoerd Bakker. The poet Martinus Nijhoff, ex-officer of the engineers, provided instructions were the explosives should be placed and described the attack in 1945.
Grave of Arondéus at the Honourary Cemetery Bloemendaal (Source: www.ogs.nl)
From his death cell in the prison at the Kleine Gartmanplantsoen in Amsterdam Arondéus wrote his last letter to a friend: "There's only wonder because it's so easy to depart in love from life, so happy to commemorate what you leave behind, without bitterness" (www.inghist.nl). At his execution Arondéus is said to have shouted: "Let is be known gays are no cowards" (nl.wikipedia.org).
“Shortly after the war the participants in the attack on the registry were decorated, some posthumously, for their resistance work during the war, some of them with the Military Order of William. It was not until 1984 that Arondéus was granted the Verzetsherdenkingskruis (commemorative resistance cross) for his work in the resistance. Generally his homosexuality is assumed to be the reason why this decoration was so long in coming" (nl.wikipedia.org).
In 1990 documentary film-maker Toni Boumans (also see Frieda Belinfante), supported by the VARA broadcasting company and the Province of Noord-Holland, made a film about the forgotten artist. After the party, Without Goodbye was awarded the Nipkow-disc.
Willem Arondéus Lectures
In December 2004 the County Gouvernment of Noord-Holland decided to organize an annual theme-based lecture followed by discussion in honour of the artist and resistance fighter Willem Johan Cornelis Arondéus. With the lecture and discussion civilians en politicians are offered a stage to freely exchange ideas about current social themes that are relevant to the province.
Rudi van Dantzig was the first to give a lecture on 25 April 2005 in the County hall in Haarlem, on the topic: 'Can you be who you want to be or has this freedom become awkward?'
In 2006 bishop Philippe Bär was the lecturer on the theme 'Freedom'.
The third Arondéus Lecture was held on April 24, 2007 in the stately conference room of the Teylers Museum in Haarlem. It was presented by Gerard Spong, a prominent Surinamese-Dutch gay lawyer.
On 22 April 2008, in the same Teylers Museum, writer Désanne van Brederode had the honour of giving the fourth Willem Arondéus lecture. Her lecture centred on the question what a modern public moral would look like.
Philosopher Ad Verbrugge discussed the question 'What is freedom' in the 5th lecture in 2009. The lecture was held in the shining renovated County Hall.
On 27 April 2010 philosopher, publicist and lesbian Marjolijn Februari presented the 6th Willem Arondéus lecture. It was remarkable she said, that the last wish of the resistance man who was sentenced to death, was to ask for a cream cake. The Roland Holst family from Laren fulfilled this wish and 12 peaces were distributed among fellow prisoners. ‘Homosexuals are more frivolous than ordinary people’, was the approving comment by mrs. Februari. But she also made a link to another biographic theme.
Arondéus was an artist who, just like many others in this time, propagated a public ideal. Why do we have so litte faith in the goodness of human kind, in the admirable ability to co-operate and to live together? And why is there so much distrust towards citizens by the authorities, by bureaucracy?
The ability of parents, teachers, carers, to think for themselves, to make the right decisions by themselves, yes, and even to call into existence an up-to-date government: mrs. Februari thinks this ability is huge. The citizens founded the state, schools, hospitals; so they can reform them too. If the government is able to radiate this, her citizens will change too. She gave an deterring example of the image of an English tourist, who stranded in Portugal because of the eruption of the Icelandic vulcano, and shouted to the tv-camera: ‘Thank you, Mr. Brown!’ Politicians should reply with: ‘Just save yourself'.
The name of tailor Sjoerd Bakker (Leeuwarden, 10 June 1915) is tenth on the plaque for the twelve men who were executed on the first of July 1943 following the attack on the Population Registry in Amsterdam (see below). After the war all were buried at the Honorary Cemetery in Bloemendaal.
This splendid picture and the following personal details were taken from the website of this cemetery. Sjoerd Bakker was a tailor, cutter and designer. He worked where he lived: at the Vondelstraat 24 in Amsterdam. From 1942, when forced labour, raids and deportations started, he helped Jewish and other people in hiding. Bakker provides forged or stolen stamps for food and identity cards. This way people in hiding could manage to get food and were more ore less safe to move around. He also helped Jewish people in hiding to illegally house their movables. Initially he worked on his own. Later on he came into contact with the Persoonsbewijzencentrale (Identity Card Registry) and Gerrit-Jan van der Veen, through Willem Arondeus who was a friend of Sjoerd. In February and March 1943 Bakker made the police uniform coats which were necessary for the planned attack on the Amsterdam Population Registry. Two for the officers: 'captain of the State Police Arondeus, 'lieutenant' Van der Veen, and four for the 'constables' Rudolf Bloemgarten, Karl Gröger, Coos Hartogh and Sam van Musschenbroek. He received the necessary materials from interior designer Einar Berkovich - an acyuaintance of Van der Veen - through relations at the Hollandia off-the-pegg factury in Kattenburg.
Willem Arondéus, the first name on the plaque, was in charge of the attack, together with sculptor Gerrit van der Veen. Both were active in the Identity Card Registry. At that time the registry was housed in the former concert hall of Artis (Amsterdam Zoo) at the Plantage Kerklaan. By destroying the files the artists resistance, wanted to make it impossible to keep track of the false identity cards of Jews and other people who went underground. Two of the executed, medical student Rudolf Bloemgarten (nr. 2), and the store clerk Halberstadt (nr. 7), were Jewish themselves and helped people in hiding. Lesbian conductor Frieda Belinfante was a Jewish member of the group as well. The architect Koen Limperg (nr. 9) made floor plans of the building. Catholic Hispanic historian dr. Johan Brouwer (nr. 8) provided Arondéus, who was impersonating a police captain, with a gun. Policeman Cornelis Roos (nr. 12) may, just like Sjoerd Bakker, have helped to get hold of the necessary police-uniforms. Poet Martinus Nijhoff, ex officer of the engineers, pointed out where the explosives should be placed. He escaped, just like museum conservator Willem Sandberg and Frieda Belinfante. Gerrit van der Veen also escaped but he was arrested a year later and shot.
Plaque at the Plantage Kerklaan (Source: www.jhm.nl)
On March 27, 1943 the six resistance men disguised as policemen and three as civilians, forced their way into the registry and tried to set the offices on fire with explosives. The identity cards may have caught fire, but because of sympathetic firemen water damage was also considerable. Unfortunately it did not benefit the Jews who had already been put on transport. Indescretion by the participants and betrayel led to a number of arrests. Within three weeks the Sicherheitsdienst was able to round up most of the culprits and their helpers. The SS and Police Court passed the death sentences on 18 June 1943 in the Colonial Institute (now Royal Institute for the Tropics), for the 12 men named on the plaque, which were carried out on 1 July 1943 in the dunes near Overveen. The memorial stone in front of the former concert hall, Plantage Kerklaan 36, was designed by Willem Sandberg. On the grave of Sjoerd Bakker there is the following text: "but the greatest of these is love" (New Testament, 1st letter to the Corinthians, 13)
Grave Sjoerd Bakker (Source: www.ogs.nl)
www.ogs.nl (picture grave)
www.jhm.nl/amsterdam (picture plaque)
The gay identity of Sjoerd Bakker has been described by Pieter Koenders - see: Work Plan Investigation drs. Marian van der Klein in Gays in the collective memory of the Second World War: fifty years of conceptualizing of conceptualizing on homosexual war experiences. Dec. 2004 - in Dutch (see www.iisg.nl/research).
Frieda Belinfante was born on 10 May 1904 in Amsterdam. She was the daughter of pianist Ari Belinfante and 'just a girl', a half-Jewish girl. She was openly lesbian and at the age of sixteen fell in love with the componiser Henriëtte Bosmans. They lived together for seven years, also when Bosmans temporarily had gentleman-friends. Belinfante herself, a cellist, was married for some years to the flutist Jo Veldkamp, who was also a conductor but did not excel at it. But Frieda was good at conducting. After studying with Herrmann Scherchen she won a conductor's contest with the Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande in Montreux. IN 1937 she performed in the Concertgebouw with the student orchestra J. Pzn. Sweelinck and the women's orchestra Aedon; thaat was when she was discovered by the outside world. During the late thirties she started Het Klein Orkest (The Small Orchestra) in Amsterdam, a chamber orchestra which had two succesfull seasons.
Frieda Belinfante (Source: www.xs4all.nl/~kmlink/06films/02frieda/contentfrieda.htm)
Belinfante refused to become a member of the nazi 'Kulturkammer' and therefore disbanded her orchestra at the beginning of the war. She joined the artist resistance. If necessary she dressed up as a man. With Willem Sandberg, Gerrit van der Veen and Willem Arondéus she planned the attack at the Amsterdam Population Registry (27 March 1943 – see Sjoerd Bakker).
In a film from the exposition 'Who can I still trust' by Klaus Müller, Frieda recalls Sandberg asked her one day for money. Because she knew quite a few wealthy people, she turned to Heineken (owner of the well-known beer brewery). He told her that he could not help, because the monetary flow was completely controlled by the Germans. Frieda then offered her valuable cello to Heineken; she could not use it anyway at the time. Heineken thought that this was a marvellous plan and so they concluded the sale an circumvented the supervision.
After the attack Frieda had an adventurous escape to Montreux in Switzerland, where she found herself among 160 other Dutch Jews. There, especially, she felt like an outcast and the subject of gossip.
Back in Holland where the reception, as in many cases, was 'quite cool’, she decided to emigrate to the United States in 1947. She worked in Hollywood in one of the big studio-orchestras and with a group of Hollywood musicians she formed a professional symphony orchestra in Orange County. She was the first woman in the world to become the permanent conductor of a professional orchestra. But the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra did not tolerate any competition. And to make matters worse, she compromised herself because of her personal lifestyle. At a later age she gave music lessons to hundreds of children. Frieda died on 26 April 1995, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In 1998 and 2004 the Dutch National Broadcast showed the film But I was only a girl by director Toni Boumans. In this film Frieda tells the story of her life. Her elder sister Renee, ex-students and friends supplement her story. The scarce recordings that exist of Frieda as a cellist, and as a conducter of her Orange County Philharmonic Orchestra can be heard in the film.
http://www.nrc.nl/W2/Nieuws/1998/11/23/Rtv/03.html (by Kasper Jansen)
http://www.kuleuven.ac.be/archief/studgen/nbr/2002_2/2002nb2web.pdf (about Sweelinck and Aedon)
Tiemon Hofman (Source: www.vrolijk.nu)
Tiemon Hofman (1925-1997) is the only gay person who has been officially recognised until now (2010) as being a war victim. He lived in Groningen and was 16 when he was arrested, as a result of the tightened gay regulations of the occupiers (see introduction). Dutch judges sentenced him to a reformatary school. After his release he never managed to get a permanent job. Only at the end of his life did he understand that this was because his war sentence was included in his post-war criminal record. Tiemon became a marine in the Netherlands-Indies and there also experienced gay adventures. He took part in the Groningse gay subculture in Groningen of the fifties and sixties. Under the name Paul Monty he wrote gay rag novels, and published two editions of the gay magazine De Nichten (The Sissies).
- www.vrolijk.nu: website text about Judith Schuyf's book, For Life. Tiemon Hofman, persecuted gay and adventurer. Biography about the unusual life of Tiemon Hofman (1925-1997), with a summary of the discussions about homosexuality as a reason for persecution in the Second World War, conducted since the seventies
- Gay-encyclopedia of the Netherlands (2005).
Josephus Carel Franciscus Last
Painting of J. Last by P.A. Begeer (Source: www.antenna.nl)
Jef Last was a Dutch poet and novelist (The Hague, 2 May 1898 - Laren 15 February 1972). He studied Chinese language and literature in Leiden but interrupted this studies in order to get a taste of real life in an varied, often adventurous, existence. His social compassion turned him first to socialism and later to communism, which lost its attraction when in 1936 he visited the Sowjet Union together with the French author Gide. After 1938 he was a socialist without belonging to a party. He fought in the Spanish civil war as a captain on the side of the legal gouvernment (according to Letters from Spain, 1936; and In the trenches in front of Madrid 1937). From 1940-1945 he took an active took part in the resistance. After the war, journeys to East-Asia followed and for some time he was adviser on the arts for president Soekarno. This period inspired him to write This is how I saw Indonesia (1956). In 1957 he received his Ph.D. in Chinese language and literature in Hamburg. In his later years he became less radical.
In 2001 a street was named after Jef Last in Rotterdam-Nesselande.
Last and homosexuality
Jef Last (Source: www.vpro.nl)
“In his book My friend André Gide (1966) Last talks about the ten years during which he suppressed his gay nature and sublimated it by passionately propagating his political message:
‘The means to it (to the sublimation of his 'gay component'- R.G.) before all was the communion of my lectures. In every room I picked out some young men who's faces attracted me and to whom I more specifically directed my message. My supreme joy came when, between the lips of some seeming uncivilised chap from some small town his cigaret went out by itself, his face started to glow and I saw his eyes light up with some of the enthousiasm which inspired me. I could only do this as long as I fervently believed in the message myself.’
When, after Hitler assumed power, Last started to doubt his beliefs, these homosexual feelings erupted. So it was a political disappointment, which broke the long-lasting suppression of his gay nature. This happened during his stay on the island of Urk, where Last fell in love with a local fisherman:
'A love a first sight for an Urker fisherman struck me with the force of lightning. Not in twenty years had I known such fierce, irresistable passion. The result was my novel Zuiderzee, which actually was far more inspired by my young fisherman than by the problems of reclaiming land from the sea.'
In this novel Last indeed describes the homosexual relationship between the Urker fishermen Theun and Auke. In Zuiderzee (1934) Last must have been one of the first in Dutch literature to describe gay love so openly and so naturally.” Willem Arondéus and Wolfgang Cordan would, later on, also wirte about their feelings for the young men on Urk. “He continued this in his next novel A house without windows (1935) and above all in his collection of poetry The liberated Eros (1936).”
Early gay movement
After this coming out as a gay man Last always openly expressed his sexual nature. At the end of the thirties Niek Engelschman discovered his homosexuality, partly because of Last's performance for young members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP). The monthly magazine Levensrecht, started by Engelschman and two friends published in its third number (April 1940) a fragment from ‘The Liberated Eros’, about the young Moroccan shepherd Ammèl Faratèt.
Through the opening of the tent came the barking of dogs and the first
pink twilight of the morning
he left my arms, but turned
once again on his way out
on his dark face I saw a sad smile:
"why Si Yoessef, didn't you kiss me?"
When the Germans invaded Holland, Last advised the editors to destroy the May 1940 number and the list of subcribers.
“Very little is known about the reactions of the outside world to his homosexuality. His wife Ida Last seemed to accept (with certain reservations) his homosexuality. Last called himself bisexual. In literary critiques of the thirties the gay passages in his books seem to have mostly been ignored.”
www.jeflast.nl (Robèrt Gillesse 2005; the passages between quotation marks)
http://sites.nps.nl/jerome/templates/hetrozerijk (gay monument)
Jef Last and the Second World War
André Gide and Jef Last (Source: www.idfa.nl)
“Jef Last's years during the war are fairly shadowy. One of the strangest facts is that Last, who before the war had so obviously taken a stand against fascism, fought in Spain and harassed German sailors with left-wing stories, could walk around as a free man and could even publish undisturbed until 1942. The fact that at first the occupation regime was mild and the fact that Last had so openly broken with the communist party are perhaps the reasons why he was left in peace .
“After his mobilisation in May 1940 Last soon took an active part in the resistance. Early in 1941 Last became an editor of the underground magazine De Vonk (The Spark). This magazine and its associated groups (De Vonk was spread throughout the country) was humanist-socialist inspired. The magazine and movement were started by Tom Rot, Dirk Schilp and Eddy Wijnkoop. At first there a strong relationship with the RSAP (Revolutionary Socialist Labour Party). Later on they altered course and looked for ways to join other restistance groups. Remarkable was the ‘positive’ form of socialism: there was no room for Kraut hatred.” In those days Niek Engelschman was also a member of the RSAP.
“Last was active editor and wrote many contributions for De Vonk. According to Berendsen and Weeda in their study on De Vonk, Last was not an organisor, because he was considered to be too careless and too inconstant. The influence of Last on the ideological and theoretical content of the magazine was considerable. Last lectured throughout the country and thereby provided contacts for De Vonk. Many local Vonk-sections emerged and sometimes published special Vonk editons.” Anton de Kom (see Suriname) was also active for De Vonk.
“In March 1942 Last escaped the wave of arrests which hit the Amsterdam Vonk group because at that time he was in Katwijk. From that moment on Last went into hiding. In the moving booklet 'Thoughts under water' (which he wrote during the war and which was published in July 1945) Last pointedly describes the difficult position of someone in hiding:
Cover of the booklet 'Thoughts under water' (Source: cgi.ebay.nl)
'..how difficult it was to time and time again adapt an established personal rythm to the custums of another household. How you can long for an evening sandwich, when you are just getting used to a different family, or for a cigarette, which you can't smoke in the living room, or for people who don't talk to you when you're reading – how can you be annoyed about a certain accent, a certain behaviour of some household members, scraping a nail on the table cloth being aware of it – how you can get startled when at night you've again flushed the toilet, forgot to lock the bolt on the backdoor, or notice that you took too many potatoes, because your head was full of all kind of things you can't tell your host. How the ongoing obligation of gratitude weighs on you, the impossibility to do something in return, the lack of understanding for your own work, for the bursts of work and the connecting bursts of depression of the artist in a well organised commoner's household where there's no room for it. How lovely it would be to stay up all alone, to work in this wonderful silence, when all the others have gone to bed... but the lights and the stove have to be turned off – how half crazy you can get from the jazz music the youngest son turns on during his work, from interrupting an article you just started because you have to help chop wood and how you're forced to keep up a cheerful, friendly face, even when the world around falls apart. Surely you're not in their house to get the others more depressed?"
“He remained an active editor of De Vonk and raised money for the magazine through his literairy connections. It was a big shock when his daughter Femke was carried off to Germany, to what later on turned out to be concentration camp Ravensbrück. His daughter Mieke was also active in the resistance. She did courier's work for De Vonk. Both daughters survived the war.
“At the end of the war Last was active as an officer with the Inland Forces near Ommen, where his experiences in Spain will have served him well.” Together with Ida en Mieke, he lived in Kasteel Eerde, Ommen, owned by the Van Pallandt-family.
After the war Ida en Mieke provided room in the castle (a former Quaker School) for displaced persons. They took care of Jewish and other survivors, like daughter Femke (Joods Monument Zaanstreek (Van Praag-Stuiver, kasteel Eerde). Jef dedicated himself to the COC and the emancipation of homosexuals.
For the first time, in 1961, Jef Last, who wrote under the pseudonym of Ohira in de COC-magazine Vriendschap, to erect a monument for the unknown homosexual. "For those who were beaten to death, who were starved or who succumbed otherwise. No flame burns for the unknown gay."
www.jeflast.nl (Robèrt Gillesse 2005; text in quotation marks)
Read more about Jef Last.
Willem August Theodorus Niemeijer
The factury of the Niemeijer family business (Source: www.ovmgeducatief.nl)
Willy Niemeijer (Groningen 8 March 1907), was the eldest son of the well-known tobacco manufacturer Theodorus Niemeijer and gay, and was working for the resistance in Groningen. In the same city Tiemon Hofman was arrested and sentenced because of his homosexuality. Willem Niemeijer died on 16 February in concentratition camp Neuengamme near Hamburg. His body was laid to rest at the Dutch Honourary Cemetery in Hamburg (W.A.Th. Niemeyer).
"Between 1941 and 1945 over 5,500 Dutch men and women were transported to the German concentration camp Neuengamme for various reasons. The majority were in the resistance (like the poet Jan Campert), but there were also hostages, people who were arrested in retaliation for actions by the resistance: Jews, Jehova’s Witnesses and black marketers. When the war situation became more precarious for the nazi-regime, circumstances for the prisoners became worse. Hardly any food or water was available and the terror by the camp guards increased. Eventually only about ten percent of the prisoners returned to Holland in 1945."
Grave Niemeijer in Hamburg (Source: www.ogs.nl)
http://www.vriendenkringneuengamme.nl/boek_ned.htm (text between quotation marks about ‘Dutch prisoners in Neuengamme. The experiences of over 5,500 Dutch in a German concentration camp, 1940-1945’. Final editing by dr. Judith Schuyf. Zaltbommel 2005)
www.ogs.nl (picture grave)
www.ovmgeducatief.nl (picture factory)
Henrica Maria Paré and Theodora Versteegh
Ru Paré (Source: www.enter-amsterdam.nl/Public_html%20rupare/2005-2006/index4.htm)
'Ru' Paré, born in Druten (1896-1972) and 'Do' Versteegh, born in Kerk Avezaath (1889-1970), got to know each other when Ru moved to The Hague in 1919. In The Hague she registered at the Royal Academy for Visual Arts, where she met the painter Jan Toorop. Theodora Versteegh studied singing with Cornélie van Zanten and Tilly Koenen and had already started her career as an alto. Do and Ru had a lesbian relationship. During the war both refused join the 'Kulturkammer'. With Ru's resistance group the couple saved over fifty Jewish children and also a number of adults. Ru Paré, nicknamed 'Aunt Zus', coordinated the resistance work, wich consisted mainly of finding foster families, contacts and providing falsified identity cards. With her concerts Theodora Versteegh provided the necessary money.
The resistance group of aunt Zus searched for hiding places throughout the country. During dangerous situations priests and vicars often played an important role in finding new addresses. One of them was the Frisian vicar Sipkema. Aunt Zus also took care of changing Jewish identification cards into normal looking documents. The visual artis Chris Lebeau removed the stamped 'J' from the card. He was arrested at the end of the war and died in concentration camp Dachau (2 April 1945).
Ru Paré always kept in contact with the children she saved. A number of them moved to Israel. One of the children was Hanneke Gelderblom-Lankhout, who managed to get a street in The Hague named after Ru Paré.
Do Versteegh (Source: www.dutchdivas.net/frames/alten.html)
Theodora made her debut in 1914 in the oratorio Joshua by Händel. She sang the alto solos in the Matthäus Passion about 250 times. She sang duets with Jo Vincent and together with Jo, Evert Miedema (later Louis van Tulder) and Willem Ravelli in the Jo Vincent Quartet. She also sang in Belgium, France and Germany. During the thirties Do Versteegh began teaching in addition to her solo career. She performed until 1948.
The archives of Theodora and Ru are kept at the Dutch Music Archives. In the town of Pijnacker there is a Theodora Versteegh street and a Ru Paré boulevard. In The Hague is a Ru Paréstreet. The old Marius Bauer School in Amsterdam-Slotervaart (merged with the nursery school De Grutto) is now the Ru Paré School (1988). De school is situated at the Chris Lebeau Boulevard, named after a member of Ru's resistance group. The painter Hugo Kaagman made two mural paintings on the building. De school is active in its disctrict as a 'Brede School' (community-integrated school) and has an informative website.
Mural painting of Hugo Kaagman on the Ru Paré School (Source: www.galeries.nl/mnexpo.asp?exponr=25143)
www.enter-amsterdam.nl/Public_html%20rupare/2005-2006/index4.htm (Picture Ru)
www.dutchdivas.net/frames/alten.html (Picture Do)
Karel August Pekelharing
Karel Pekelharing (Source: www.eerebegraafplaatsbloemendaal.eu)
Dancer and poet Karel Pekelharing (Hoorn, 6 August 1909) was a member of the Artists Resistance. The best known person from this group is the sculptor Gerrit van der Veen. Together Willem Arondéus he led the attack on the so called Identity Cards Registry IPBC). Other members of the artists resistance and also gay, were Frieda Belinfante and Sjoerd Bakker. Karel was dancing with the Nederlandsche Ballet; he was a choreographer as well. In 1939 Karels name is in the list of 'left wing extremists' which was kept up to date by the Central Intelligence Service (CID). There he is described as 'actor, communist and anti-mil.' At that time he lived in Utrecht and was the leader of a 'communist theatre group'. Because he was a well known anti-fascist and communist he went into hiding for a while in Kassel, Germany. Late 1942 her returned and lived underground in The Hague and Amsterdam. In the attack on the prison at the Weteringschans, which was conducted on New Year's Eve 1943-1944, the group worked together with the group of Jan Bonekamp and Ko Brasser (Council of Resistance, RVV). In a report of the failed attack Karel Pekelharing is mentioned twice (see below). Just as in the attack on the Amsterdam Population Registry, police uniforms were used. Before a second attempt could be made Karel was arrested in the Amsterdam American Hotel (6 April). Hundred metres from there, precisely in the Weteringschans prison, Pekelharing was locked up. On 10 June 1944 he was executed in the dunes of Bloemendaal. His grave is located at the Honorary Cemetery ‘Bloemendaal’ in Overveen.
Grave Karel Pekelharing (Source: www.ogs.nl)
From: 'White Ko', memories of the armed resistance by Otto Kraan & Jan Brasser, (1982)
The attack on the Weteringschans
"An enormous amount of work went into it, but the attacks on the Weteringschans all failed. We didn't succeed and neither did any of the others. The first time we tried it was on New Year's Eve 1943/1944. With a couple of guys we were in a house, if I remember correctly in the Krayenhoffstraat. Gerrit van der Veen was there, the famous sculptor and resistance leader. That night there were more people present from the artists resistance, including sculptor Johan Limpers and Karel Schippers, the artist who was later shot in Delft. Karel Pekelharing was also there, an actor, and Ferry van den Ham.
There were German uniforms for five men. The had all the equipment and distinctions to make us look like German policemen. The uniforms were provided by Alie van Berkum, who worked at the shipping department of S. Krom textile cleaning in Alkmaar. They were stolen and brought to a safe address. Alie Hollander and someone else brought these uniforms by train to Amsterdam. This in itself was very dangerous. Because if they had been arrested is some kind of check-up, the consequenses would have been disastrous. So everything was well organized.
There was a car which drove for the Wehrmacht. Two guys who drove the car promised to cooperate. The came from somewhere near Amersfoort and were on duty the 31st of December. The plan was that the five of us would pose as German policemen bringing in five prisoners at the Weteringschans. With us was a real German, Albert was the name he used. He was later shot as well. But of course he spoke German and he would do the talking for us. The plan was to drive through the gate to get to the inner courtyard. Of course that gate had to be opened for us by our German-speaking Albert. Then we would unload our so-called prisoners and take aim at the SS who were on duty that night. And then the plan was to free the real prisoners that we came for. I thought about the Zaandam guys, also in the resistance, Ab Huisman, Sjef Zwolfs, who delivered that trotyl from the Hem Bridge, and others.
It just so happened we spent the night in a house whose tenants were celebrating New Year's Eve somewhere else. They left the house to us. Old houses with wooden stairs, I think it was the second floor. During the night, Gerrit van der Veen went to the car. It stood in a little shed which was lent to us; I don't remember by whom, I was not involved in that. But the doors [from the shed] didn't close very well. That car was too big. Early in the morning the two guys from Amersfoort had already found out the battery was empty. A new one had to be provided, otherwise starting the engine would have been impossible. How that came about I don't know. With the help from someone in our group, they managed to get a new battery. So, during the night some work needed to be done in that little shed. Apparently light leaked through the doors and in one way or another drew the attention of the Germans.
Just before the end of curfew whe would attack. Several hours earlier Gerrit van der Veen went to he shed. He took a boy with him (after the war we heard his name was Jansma). The word was: put your uniforms on because we'll drive up in a minute. I was a kind of Feldwebel, some officer; we were ready and waiting. And all of a sudden there was a thumping and thundering on those stairs. That sounded twice as loud in the silence of the night. That Jansma comes running up, out of breath and upset: the SD [Sicherheitsdienst] is at the car! Gerrit van der Veen managed to get on top of the shed and saw the krauts taking those guys. The car stayed there. So, away with the uniforms! Away with everything and get out of there. It was all so well prepared. But it's still a big question how the SD got there...
Well, then then nothing much happened for a while but meanwhile we did some small stuff. It wasn't like us being on a holiday though, but I mean, it took some time before we went back to the Weteringschans. Again it would be under the leadership of Gerrit van der Veen. We met in a place in the Sarphatistraat. But because Sarphati was a Jew, that street was renamed as Muiderschans. A number close to 100. It was a very decent house that was provided to us. Jan Bonekamp was with us again. A few guys from Alkmaar, Johan Asjes and Joop Jongh, Meindert van der Horst. And let me mention this also: not long before we got together, Karel Pekelharing was arrested, Paul Guermonprez was arrested."
Johan Aaldrik Stijkel
Han Stijkel (Source: oranjehotel.nationaalarchief.nl)
“One of the first to start a resistance group was Han Stijkel, born in Rotterdam op 8 October 1911. He studied English at the University of Amsterdam. During his years as a student he was already involved in the fight against fascism; from Portugal he took part in actions of the resistance against Franco during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)." (Oranjehotel). He was an acquaintance of esquire Schorer, founder of the Dutch Scientific Humanitarian Committee (NWHK), which stood up for the emancipation of gays. (Drs. Pieter Koenders, phonecall October 2006).
“Han Stijkel had contacts in leading circles in The Hague. Therefore he managed to involve some influential persons in his group. This group most likely never consisted of more than 80 people, surely far less than the 100 to 150 Stijkel mentioned himself. One of them was general-major S. Hasselman (1880) who took on the military part of the work. The group also consisted of police officers, students, military officers and merchants” – from Catholic, Jewish, socialist, and other backgrounds. As can be seen from an impressive letter, Han Stijkel was clearly inspired by Christian philosophy.
“There was an active core group in the Zaanstreek”, especially in Koog aan de Zaan. They were people from the socialist youth movement (AJC), including the director of the Honig food company, the couple Ero-Chambon from the dance hall De Waakzaamheid (The Vigilance), the owner of Zwart's Automotives and others. Modelling themselves after the Ordedienst (underground militia) groups they mainly focused on collecting military information.
“Stijkel had been given the order by the government to unite the resistance groups that were spread throughout the country. Therefore he and the members of his group travelled across the country. Stijkel used the alias dr. Eerland de Vries. During these trips espionage information was collected as well, which was passed on to the Organisation-Westerveld. ... At the start of the war this work was extremely difficult because supporting organisations (such as the Identity Cards Center, which made false identity cards – see Arondéus and Bakker) did not exist yet and hiding places were scarce. Also real beginners' mistakes were made; ... Certain information about the group, like member lists and weapons lists, were handled very carelessly. As well, the power and the years of experience of German contra-espionage were underestimated. The extremely dangerous spies Van der Waals and Ridderhof (so-called V-Männer) managed to infiltrate in the Stijkel group”.
“Han Stijkel wanted to get new instructions for his activities directly from the gouvernment in London; also he wanted to bring a lot of espionage material to England. Through a police organisation Stijkel came in contact with the brothers Willem (1896) and Arie (1899) van der Plas, fishermen from Katwijk, who in their fishing boat KW 133 would take Stijkel and his right hand men Gude (1916) and Baud (1919), both fellow students, to 'a certain location in the North Sea', where they would be picked up by an English or Dutch submarine. Also a 'rich Jew' would come along, who promised financial support to the organisation in return for the fare to England. The latter however, turned out to be a fish merchant from Scheveningen who worked for the Sicherheitspolizei (Sipo). Furthermore there were also traitors within the police organisation that mediated the chartering of the KW 133.
The fishing boat KW 133, which was later renamed UK 65 (Federation of Fishing Unions)
During departure from the harbour of Scheveningen on the second of April 1941 everything went wrong. The exit from the harbour was blocked. Though Stijkel, Gude and Baud managed to jump overboard, they were arrested instantly. After several days of interrogation they were transported to the 'Oranjehotel' (prison in Scheveningen). Soon the arrest of another 15 men followed and this number rose to 47, among 4 women.” As a result of indescretions by a former member of the group, the majority of the Koog group was rounded up and detained in Scheveningen as well. “In the Oranjehotel Stijkel remained the leader of the group.”
Emprisonment and execution
”After more than a year the complete Stijkel group was transported to Berlin on 26 March 1942. Here, in September 1942 a trial was held before the Reichskriegsgericht, the highest military court in Germany. This was quite an exception for nearly all arrested Dutch resistance fighters were sentenced in Holland. The trial was held in secret. The members of the Stijkel group were treated as so-called 'Nacht und Nebel' prisoners. ... The outcome of the trial and their execution remained a secret for a long time.
Grave Han Stijkel (Source: www.ogs.nl)
On 26 September 1942 39 death sentences were pronounced. Six members of the group received clemency and were sent to a correctional facility, one died in prison. Despite huge efforts by the Dutch gouvernment in Londen, who asked neutral Sweden to mediate, and by the consul in Berlin, the sentences of ... 32 remaining members of the Stijkel group were upheld. Then the convicted lived for eight months between hope and fear, but on the fourth of June 1943 the sentence was carried out on a firing range in Berlin-Tegel. The 32 members of the Stijkel group were shot at 5 minute intervals, Han Stijkel first. Both in prison and during the execution Stijkel and his group received a lot of support from the prison vicar Harald Poelchau, who was very impressed by the attitude of the Dutch.”
In his farewell letter to his father, ‘Pipa’, Han writes about his transition to another, eternal life: "When you get this letter, I've crossed over from this well known but still so mysterious life to the big unknown life ... Stripped from this material body, which I always felt to be an impedement, I'm where God wants me to be". "Far above this earthly existance, above 'birth' and above 'death' lies the aware of that 'spark of God' in me." It is from this awareness of eternity that he also rejected feelings of hatred and revenge. "I did what I felt was my duty. The Germans think that too". He considers the power of the Germans, just like Jesus before the judge's seat of Pilate, as deriving from God. "God always does what is best for us, even if we can't see it yet’.
After the war
“For a long time there was uncertainty about the fate of the Stijkel group. ... it turned out that the 32 executed members of the group were buried in a cemetery in Berlijn-Döberitz, a part of the city which at the end of the war was in the Russian section of Berlin. ... In June 1947, with help from the French Occupation Authorities the bodies could finally be transported to the French section of Berlin and from there to Holland. Attended by a large crowd (the fate of the Stijkel group hit Holland hard) the 32 members of the group were buried at the cemetery of Westduin (Ockenburg) in The Hague.
Memorial Service for the Stijkel group
The funeral was preceded by a service in the Great Church of The Hague. Numerous officials were present, among them a representative of Queen Wilhelmina, who showed great interest in the Stijkel group. Following the service, al kilometre-long procession through the streets of The Hague to the cemetery. There 32 simple wooden crosses and a monument that was erected later on, remind us of Han Stijkel and his resistance group”.
After the war many citie streets were named after resistance fighters who were killed. In several cities in Holland the memory of Han Stijkel and his resistance group lives on. There is, for example, a Han Stijkelstraat in the Northeast Polder. On Highway A6,” near Urk, “a petrol station also carries the name 'Han Stijkel’.” A secondary school in The Hague was named after him as well. It later became a part of the Dalton School Community. The same city knows a Han Stijkel Square.
More information about the other members of the Stijkelgroup is to be found on the site of the Foundation Honorary Grave Stijkelgroep: www.stijkelgroep.nl.
Han Stijkelstraat in the Northeast Polder
All quoted texts and pictures (exept for one) are by http://oranjehotel.nationaalarchief.nl/gevangenen/onderzoeksvoorbeelden/stijkel.asp
The picture of the grave: www.ogs.nl.
Also see www.joodsmonument.nl and www.stijkelgroep.nl
Pieter Koenders wrote about the gay identity of Han Stijkel, see: Work Plan Investigation drs. Marian van der Klein in Gays in the collective memory of the Second World War: fifty years of conceptualizing of conceptualizing on homosexual war experiences. Dec. 2004 - in Dutch (see www.iisg.nl/research).
The information about the Zaan: J.J. ’t Hoen en J.C. Witte, Zet en Tegenzet (s.y. ca. 1985).
Frans Toethuis (©Collectie Jan Carel Warffemius)
On this picture of three gay friends on the beach in Zandvoort, Frans Toethuis is the one in the middle, with a rolled up drawing or poster between his knees. The man to the left of him is Hein Jorissen, the name of the young man on his right, without jacket, is unknown. The picture is from an estate which was kept hidden for a long time and decorates the book by Klaus Müller about the persecution of gays during the Second World War (see below). Frans had a Jewish friend whose name is unknown and who was arrested and killed in the Holocaust. Frans Toethuis lived from 1910-1989. At the time he worked for the fashion-house 'New England'.
www.vrolijk.nu about: Klaus Müller (redactie) - Beaten to Death, Ignored to Death - Persecution of gays by the nazi regime 1933 – 1945’
Klaus Müller and Judith Schuyf (ed.) It starts by saying no: Biographies about resistance and gays 1940-1945, with portraits of Dutch gays and lesbians who were active as members of the resistance.
In the review of the first book, www.schorer.nl refers to a pdf-file with fragments and pictures.
Early gay movement in the Netherlands
Sugar bag from Atlantic (Source: www.suikerzak.nl)
“On January 14, 1940 in the Amsterdam hotel-restaurant Atlanta [Atlantic] at the Frederiksplein a meeting took place to start a monthly magazine for gays. Initially the name Ons leven (Our Life) was suggested, but eventually the more militant name Levensrecht (Right to live) was chosen. The three founders were Jaap van Leeuwen, Niek Engelschman and Han Diekmann.” Engelschman was Jewish. Diekmann and he might have chosen this hotel deliberately because Atlantic had a large Jewish clientele and was not too far from Diekmann's house. During the war the hotel's owner, Jacob Sweering, would help many Jews, adults as well as children, go into hiding.
The 'Preface' of the magazine formulates an important principle: "Averse of any religious or political stand, LEVENSRECHT takes on the common humanitarian principle as a guideline." It therefore demands ‘Lebensraum’ for everyone. In the second edition the editors, in response to a reader's letter, phrase a similar principle: "And therefore it is so beautiful, that in principle there is the possibility of love between all humans, irrespective of race or nationality, age or class, religion or gender." The magazine's orientation was against every racial doctrine and every theory of superiority.
Clipping from Levensrecht (Source: www.ihlia.nl)
“The fourth [actually the third] issue of Levensrecht was printed but not yet distributed, when the Germans invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940. The writer Jef Last warned the editors that the Germans might make use of the address file. Therefore they destroyed what had to do with Levensrecht and Van Leeuwen, with his fabulous memory, learned the names and addresses of the 190 subscribers by heart.”
“Immediately after the war the anti-gay regulation 81/40 was lifted. Thanks to the fact Levensrecht had disbanded during the war and did not collaborate with the Germans, the required permit could be obtained and on 4 September 1946 the first post-war issue, which closely resembled the first three, was published. The continuity in form and content is remarkable.
“On Saturday 7 December 1946 the first meeting of the readers of Levensrecht was held in De la Paix in the Amsterdam with a lecture by Last about love in Greece. There was a huge audience. On Sunday 8 December, a program with songs, dance and recitation followed in Hotel Krasnapolsky on the Dam square in Amsterdam. The place was rented under the pseudonym of 'Shakespeare Club'. This alias had been chosen for good reason because when Krasnapolsky figured out the nature of this club, the management made it clear they were not welcome there anymore. So there was also a pre-war continuity in being condemned by society. Many members of the new club used pseudonymes, the chairman Engelschman (Bob Angelo) included. The pseudonym 'Shakespeare Club' was to be replaced by the equally vague Culture and Relaxation Centre (COC).
“Ever since its establishment in 1946, the COC, in its persuit of equal rights, put great effort into drawing the public's attention to the persecution of gays, before and after the war. Both the first COC chairman, Niek Engelschman (from 1946 until 1962), and the second, Benno Premsela (from 1962 until 1971), had been in hiding during the war, regularly drew attention to the subject.”
Han Diekmann (1896-1989) is the least known of the three founders of Levensrecht, but he was in fact the publisher. He was the treasure of Levensrecht, the only member of the editorial board to use his own name. Diekmann, in that period the partner of the much younger Engelschman, could do this because of his financial independency.
Account of the guarantee fund, with Diekmann as the only one
with his name, addres and bankaccount mentioned (Source: www.ihlia.nl)
Who was Han Diekmann? On 19 January 2008 historian Hans Warmerdam gave a lecture in Haarlem about Diekmann's life. This happened during the New Year's reception of the COC-Kennemerland and was connected with the campaign to open a Han Diekmann House, a house for Christian gays to get temporary shelter. Warmerdam gave permission to Bevrijding Intercultureel to summarize this lecture on our website.
Johann Heinrich ('Han') Diekmann was born on 29 July 1896 in Amsterdam. His father was German. In 1903, unable to manage on her own, his mother brought him to the Salvation Army orphanage. There he attended primary school, got an education, but chose to become a Salvation Army soldier. When, at the age of 27 in 1923, he fell in love with a sixteen year old boy, he resigned from his work for the Salvation Army. His relationship with the minor continued, but was against the law (art. 248 bis). Diekmann's landlady reported him to the police and he was questioned by the Amsterdam vice squad, without further consequences. But the boy was sent by his parents to a reformatory school. Han Diekmann struggled with his homosexual feelings. He learned to accept them and remained a faithful Christian. A new relationship with an under-age boy had a bad ending however. The friend got him into financial troubles and again he was reported for art. 248 bis. Diekmann was sentenced to three months in prison and placed under government supervision, in the psychopath ward of a psychiatric institution in Leiden (1928). When after some time he declared that he did not want to be gay anymore but to be a 'normal human', his doctors assumed he was cured. In 1930 Han Diekmann was set free. He immediately left the country and went to Belgium, where he became a succesful business man. For the rest of his life he kept silent about his imprisonment and detention in the psychiatric institution.
Han Diekmann (coll. Hans Warmerdam)
In 1938 the threat of war brings Diekmann back to the safety of the Netherlands. He settled in Amsterdam, at the Regulierdwarsstraat. From April 1939 he rented a house in the Noorderstraat 62. Through a young friend Han Diemann meets Nico Engelschman in August 1939. Engelschman (25) was much younger and very socially inspired. The 25-year old Engelschman and the much older Diekmann developed a relationship. It was said to be nothing more than platonic, but Diekmann remained in love with Engelschman for the rest of his life. Their brief relationship was of great importance to the Dutch gay movement. Later on Diekmann would say the COC was born out of it. Indeed, without his money, his house and his stencil machine, the founding and publication of Levensrecht, the brain child of Engelschman and Jaap van Leeuwen, would have been inconceivable. But there was more. The call for the start of the publication also was sent to common acquintences of Nico and Han. In the first edition, on the first of March 1940, only Diekmann was mentioned in the header, with his own name and bank account number. Nico is listed as 'Bob Angelo, editor'. This is was also the case in the next two editions, so Diekmann can be considered the publisher of Levensrecht. Meanwhile the vice squad was keeping an eye on him, as well as on Nico. Their personal data and a copy of Levensrecht were sent to the attorney general. In the second week of March Engelschman had to appear at the police station. The vice squad asked for advice from the Ministry of Justice. The official replied: "This publication for gays carefully stays within the boudaries of the law. In my opinion intervention is not possible within the existing regulations." Shortly after the publication of the first edition the relationship between Diekmann and Engelschman ended. This led to discord within the circle of contributors and threatened the existance of Levensrecht.
The threat from outside was much greater. The German invasion on the 10th of May actually brought an end to the existance of the publication. It was Han Diekmann who declared on August 5, 1940 to the Amsterdam vice squad, that the publication of the magazine had ended. Almost all traces of the magazine were erased by then. On the day of the German invasion the editorial board put the third edition (which was in the process of being stencilled) and the remaining copies of former editions as well as the subscribers lists, in a laundry tub to a pulp and dumped it into the Reguliersgracht. The money was still administered by Diekmann. Not until after the war would there be contact again between Diekmann and the other contributors.
In October 1941 Han moved to Haarlem, where he lived at the address Ripperdastraat 15-c. From April 1942 on systematic actions were undertaken by the Germans to get not only the unemployed, but also Dutch labourers to do forced labour in Germany. In 1943 students and ex-militairy were forced to go. Many managed to avoid this measure. In August of that year, Generalbevollmächtigter Fritz Sauckel demanded 150,000 Dutch men. At first the maximum age was put at 45, but later on this was extended to 50. Han Diekman now decided to go underground, probably in Amsterdam. There, on 6 June 1944, when the allies landed in Normandy, he was caught in a raid. His red tie and his remark that he did not feel like working in Germany, incriminated him on suspicion of being a communist. After a short imprisonment in camp Amersfoort Han Diekmann was put to work in the Messerschmitt airplane factories in Stuttgart. He worked there as a supervisor and administrator and managed to survive. In June 1945 he was back in Haarlem.
When Nico Engelschman in 1946 started the magazine Levensrecht again (number4), the header mentioned only one name: J.L. van Dijk, with address and bank account number. Han Diekmann felt passed over, but eventually did become an active member of the circle of readers of the magazine Wetenschappelijk, Cultureel- & Ontspanningscentrum de Shakespeare Club. (Scientific, Cultural & Leasure Centre the Shakespeare Club). When in 1949 this name was changed to Cultuur- en Ontspanningscentrum (COC), Diekmann started a division in Haarlem (January-September 1951). In 1956 he was rewarded honorary membership by the COC. Han Diekmann died in 1989 in Heemstede.
Lecture Hans Warmerdam on 19 January 2008 before the COC Kennemerland
http://www.ihlia.nl/documents/pdflib/Levensrecht/1940/Levensrecht-01.pdf (also both other issues from 1940 can be found here as pdf-file)
http://www.publiek.coc.nl/cocupdatepdf/Update2005-4.pdf (Rob Tielman Jan Carel Warffemius)
http://www.herdenkenenvieren.nl/hev/4.mei/organisaties.van.de.naoorlogse.generatie (about the involvement of the COC on May 4).
Nico Engelschman (©Collection Jan Carel Warffemius)
“Nico Engelschman was born on 12 November 1913 in Amsterdam as the oldest of five boys. His father was a travelling salesman, his mother a housewife. He was not raised with a specific political or religious outlook. His father was Jewish, his mother Lutherian – both non-practicing. Niek searched and found his own way..."
"Soon Engelschman joined the labour force. Poverty due to his fathers unemployment did not allow for a secundary education. Engelschman was offered a job as a junior assistant with an export company in the Netherlands Indies. He worked there until the Japanese occupied the country in 1942. During that period he also became a member of 'Mercury', the General Dutch Union of Trade and Office Workers. He joined the youth movement of the Union. ... In 1932 Engelschman became a member of the Independant Socialist Party (OSP), a party which had split in 1932 from the SDAP. In 1935 the party merged with the Revolutionairy Socialist Party of Henk Sneevliet to the RSAP. It was a rather small party with only a few thousand members. Young people, espacially, were active within the RSAP. Engelschman became secretary of 'Revolutionary Socialist Youth', of which his brother Hennie also was a member. During the winter of 1933 Nico had already been active in meeting fleeing German socialists at the Dutch-German border. In 1936 he wrote the one-act play Fascist terror about the bloody suppression by fascism. This pre-war resistance would continue after the occupation."
“Lectures were given on sexuality as well, following the example Wilhelm Reich. Homosexuality was mentioned briefly and vaguely. In the youth movement I also met Last and Rot. They were asked to give lectures. It was only later that I understood that Last also had gay feelings, though I should have known because of his book Zuiderzee, which mentioned that aspect.'
“At the age of 24 he became completely aware of his gay nature. In 1938, through an advertisement in the Wierings' Weekly, the Amsterdam free local paper, he becaime acquainted in 1938 with an older gay man, an academic named Ellenberger. Through him he met Schorer (Jacob Anton Schorer esq. was a jurist who started in the early 20th century openly challenging homosexuality was punishable by law. He died in 1957.) and whom he visited twice. During that period he also became involved in studying of all kinds of famous gay people in western history, including the ancient Greeks and Romans. He started to read Couperus. 'It became clear to me a lot of famous gays had been writers, something that so far I hadn't had a clue about. ... With all the admiration I had for Schorer and his contributors, I still felt it wasn't enough. More could and should be done.'"
“Engelschman decided to completely dedicate himself to this cause and stop his political activities. Sal Santen, also a RSAP member, described the way he was told about this by Sneevliet: 'Yesterday your friend Nico was with me. He wants to leave the party and the youth movement. ... It's not a political break. But he also doesn't want to become a resting soldier. It's a very delicate situation. The young man is gay, he told me, and feels very lonely between all the others of a different nature, especially because he has to keep it a secret. He wants to start something for the rights of gays, whom he calls an oppressed minority, and maybe they are. I gave him my blessing.'” Sneevliet's children, the twin brothers Pim and Pam, were also secretly gay.
“Through Schorer, (Benno) Stokvis was given the name of Engelschman. Stokvis asked him if he wanted to write an autobiography. This resulted in autobiography III in Stokvis' book (The Gays. 35 autobiographies. Lochem, 1939). The fairly favourable reception of book was an incentive for Engelschman to put into practice his idea about what could and should be done. Together with Ellenberger and Diekmann, at that time his personal friend, he undertook action. Late in 1939 a newsletter appeared announcing the start of a magazine for gays. The newsletter was signed by Bob Angelo, the alias Engelschman would use from now on and under which he became widely known.” On the first of March 1940 the first issue of Levensrecht, Monthly Magazine for Friendship and Freedom, was published. In May there were 190 subscribers, when the magazine was discontinued because of the occupation.
Identity Card (28 January 1943) of Nico Engelschman:
his profession ‘office assistant’ has been changed to ‘actor’
(©Collection Jan Carel Warffemius)
When the Germans occupied The Netherlands in 1940, Engelschman joined the resistance. "During the war I was active in the resistance, but I felt it wasn't that big a deal. One of my brothers and I helped Jewish friends. They're still alive. Jef Last and Tom Rot, who also were in the resistance, came to my house once a week for a meeting. This was from 1943 on, when I started living at the Keizersgracht. I was in hiding, sometimes at my mothers place, sometimes in other houses."
“Engelschman presumably was involved in the resistance group of the RSAP. The RSAP was also connected to the Vonk group where Last and Rot were members.”
”During the thirties Engelschman became a member of an amateur theatre group, with no specific political of religious profile. In 1942 he tried to register for the theatre school. He was not admitted because he had two Jewish grandparents but he was allowed to become a student teacher for half a year. After that he took classes from actors who were well-known at that time. After the war he joined the theatre group 'The fifth of May', which consisted of people who all refused to join the Kulturkammer during the war. From that moment on he became a professional actor."
In 1946 Engelschman started Levensrecht again, the precursor to the COC. One of the awards he would receive posthumously was the bridge named after him (1998) near the Amsterdam Gay Monument. In Leiden (1990), Nijmegen (1991) and Groningen already streets had already been named after him, and in The Hague a park.
The bridge named after Engelschman in Amsterdam (Source: members.chello.nl)
users.cybercity.dk/ ~dko12530/53.htm (drs. J.N. Warmerdam & drs. P. Koenders 1987, conversation with Nico Engelschman)
http://www.offensief.demon.nl/krant/offensief-165.pdf (Ron Blom)
www.publiek.coc.nl/cocupdatepdf/Update2006-1.pdf (Hans Warmerdam, picture 1938)
www.publiek.coc.nl/cocupdatepdf/Update2005-4.pdf (Picture PB 1943)
members.chello.nl/mennevellinga/homomonument.html (Picture bridge)
www.gaypnt.demon.nl/straatnamen/E.html (streetnames Nijmegen)
Homo Encyclopdia of the Netherlands (2005)
Jaap van Leeuwen
“Jaap van Leeuwen (1892-1978), born in Leiderdorp, was actief within the Dutch Scientific Humanitairain Comittee (NWHK), which was founded by esquire Schorer in 1919 and which disbanded when the nazi’s invaded”. This also applied to the magazine Levensrecht, which had just released three issues. Van Leeuwen was one of the editors, using a pseudonym. See below the final paragraph of his review of the publication ‘The Gays’ by Mr. S. (Benno Stokvis) from number 1.
Again an honourary salute for the work of Mr. S., whose person
became sympathetic to us by the establishment of this publication, which
we already predict, will bring him more abuse than success,
indeed already brought it to him because it was published in the first place
(see Preface). Let Mr. S. be assured, however: the
Truth always triumphs! The Samaritan, who shows compassion
is more than the Priest and the Levite, who, pass the victim
with contempt and anathema. And in these matters,
today's church is the successor of Priest and Levite;
not of the Merciful Samaritan.
During the war Van Leeuwen became involved in the Parool group. In the autumn of 1941 his distribution group is betrayed and arrested. Because nothing could be proven against him and he resisted vehemently and remained unbroken, he was released after seven months. Fortunately he had hidden all books and documents that could compromise himself and his group at his parents' house in Zeist. Everything that was in his room in Amsterdam with the Addicks family, was destroyed or taken out. In 1943 he went in hiding again when he found out the Sicherheitsdienst was looking for him. The correspondence that was kept shows that during the occupation he continued networking. It was helpful that even before the war he had already been used to leading a double life. Much of the communication by letter was exchanged through poste restante agreements with newspaper stand holders, for instance on the Spui in Amsterdam. Before, during and after the war he also used the alias Arent van Santhorst.” In the Goffert district in Nijmegen a boulevard is named after him; in the same district Benno Stokvis, Niek Engelschman, Anna Blaman and mayor Dales also had streets named after them.
The boulevard in Nijmegen named after Van Leeuwen (Picture: Rob Essers)
www.publiek.coc.nl/cocupdatepdf/Update2005-4.pdf (Rob Tielman Jan Carel Warffemius)
www.gaypnt.demon.nl/straatnamen/E.html (streetnames Nijmegen)
e-mail Rob Essers (picture Van Leeuwenlaan)
Joop Leker (29 July 1920 - 23 april 2008)
Joop Leker, 2007 (Picture: Mireille Vroege)
Joop grew up in the popular Amsterdam neighbourhood 'Haarlemmerbuurt'. There were five children in the family: three sisters, Joop and a disabled brother. His father had a jewellery store, which he neglected because of drinking problems. At the age of fourteen Joop started working. When he found out he was gay he had a hard time. His mother and his sisters accepted his orientation, his father did not. He continued working, followed evening classes and after the war rose to personnel manager at a machine factory in Delft. Later he became a successful businessman. Joop was present when the COC was founded in 1949. At that time he used the pseudonym: 'Joop van Delft'. During the years 1954-1956 and 1961-1963 Joop Leker was a member of the board of directors. He played a role in the discussions about the new course the COC would take from the sixties on, during the chairmanship of Benno Premsela. In 1991 Joop's friend Peter Overbeek died of aids. They had been living together for thirty years. Year after year, on Aids Memorial Day, Joop would read out the names of the aids victims.
During the war Joop didn't join the resistance, but he did commit acts of bravery. At the beginning of the war Joop Leker stood up for his Jewish aunt Stella, head purchaser at the Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam. In the spring of 1941 the company, mainly Jewish, got German 'Verwalter’ (manager). He was supposed to lay off Jewish employees. But the man was a 'good’ German. Joop went to talk to him and it was agreed that his aunts' salary and that of other laid-off Jewish staff would be continued. When she went into hiding, he brought the money to her hiding place every month. Reportedly he did this also for his aunts' colleagues.
During a raid in the spring of 1943 his Jewish relatives were taken from their house. When Joop heard about this 'he ran to the house, ignored the snarling policemen, saw the youngest son standing beside his mother and grabbed him. Together they walked away; a bold and extremely dangerous action.’ Joop brought the boy (3) to the house of a friend. When their new neighbours in Zwanenburg turned out to be NSB-members (Dutch nazi party), they brought him to another hiding place in Katwijk. The little boy was saved. His older brother was gassed on 16 April in Sobibor, his parents at the end of August in Auschwitz. His sister (19) died at the time of the liberation of Auschwitz, in January 1944. Later on Joop would always ask himself why he had not married this sister earlier.
During the summer of 1943 a friend he knew from the sea scouts, Freek, was captured and sent to Camp Amersfoort. Freek worked at the airplane factory Fokker, a ‘kriegswichtig’ (important for the war) company. As with his aunt, Joop went to the manager again and got him to write a letter saying Freek was indispensable for the company. Joop had the German authorities in The Hague stamp the document and took it to the camp commander. A few days later Freek was a free man. They stayed friends for life.
Peter Brusse, ‘Uit het leven’, Volkskrant 24 May 2008 http://www.coc.nl/dopage.pl?thema=any&pagina=viewartikel&artikel_id=2315 www.joodsmonument.nl http://geschiedenis.vpro.nl/programmas/3299530/afleveringen/1132219/items/9070561
Henri Methorst (picture: www.conferenceinterpreters.com)
Henri Methorst (1909-2007), publisher and interpreter from The Hague, provided a safe house for the psychiatrist Coen van Emde Boas and his wife. He was given the Yad Vashem decoration. After the war he became a prominent member of the COC, through his work for the International Committee for Sexual Equality (ICSE). Henri was one of the first Dutch interpreters when the various bodies of the European Community were starting up.
Homo-Encyclopedia of The Netherlands (2005)
Gé Winter (1909-1992), Amsterdam amateur actor from Amsterdam, and Mau van Spiegel (1904-1981), a dance teacher from Deventer, began a relationship in 1940. Mau was Jewish and went into hiding at his friend's house. Gé Winter saved the lives of Van Spiegel and many of his relatives as well as others. For this he received a Yad Vashem decoration from the Israeli gouvernment. After the war the two friends performed at COC parties as the comic duo 'The Ladies Van Pothoven to Ruigenhoek', impersonating two aristocratic women.
'The pilgrim's castle'
The house at Herengracht 401 (Source: www.castrumperegrini.nl)
In an article in April 2004 about the start of Castrum Peregrini Gert Hekma wrote: “At the Herengracht in Amsterdam, at the corner of the Beulingstraat and across from the Leidsegracht, there is a world-famous house, dubbed by Mattias Duyves 'The gay version of the Anne Frank house’. ... Most of the residents were gay but they never called themselves that way”. The German poet and writer Wolfgang Frommel (1902-1986) lived there, probably from mid 1942 on, together with friends, some of them Jews who were in hiding during the occupation. The invitation came from Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (The Hague, 11-9-1912), an artist from the coastal village of Bergen who had studied in Roermond with glass artist Joep Nicolas. The poet Adriaan Roland Holst called her 'the girl with the wettest name in The Netherlands' (Waterschoot stands for drainage-canal and Van der Gracht for canal) (www.studiokoning.nl)
Wolfgang Frommel (Source: www.gaynews.nl/article04.php?sid=669)
Frommel, inspired by the German poet Stefan George and a conservative elitist in his opinions, was not uncritical towards national socialism in his publications. After Hitler came to power he accepted a position in Frankfurt as a radio broadcaster (1933-1934). The name of his program was 'Vom Schicksal des Deutschen Geistes' (The Fate of the German Spirit). Frommel wrote newspaper articles as well. Expert Michael Phillip remarks about this period that Frommel's attitude towards the Nazis was one of conformity. He cherished contacts with the Frankfurt Hitler Youth (HJ) and with high ranking officials of the party in Berlin. A local leader of the HJ, Sven Schacht, was his lover. After the Röhm Putsch in 1934 (a political purge by Hitler against his opponents), Sven became victim of the anti-gay measures and died in the Mauthausen concentration camp.
On the run
Frommel too came under the suspicion of the local Gestapo who understood that he was gay. He also had contacts with Jewish friends. Frommel went to teach in Greifswald University in 1934 and worked for the National Radio in Berlin. Later he went to Switzerland (Basel), Italy (Florence) and France (Paris). He came back to Germany and left again in 1937 for France. In 1936 the Nazis had put his best known publication, Der dritte Humanismus (The third Humanism) on the blacklist.
Frommel fled to Holland in 1939. He decided to stay. He was a member of the artists' colony of Bergen. He lived at 'De Zonnebloem' (The Sunflower), the house of the painter Etha Fles. She took him in at the recommendation of the then nationally celebrated poet Adriaan ('Janie') Roland Holst who knew Frommel from a visit in 1925.
F.W. Buri (exp. Castrum-NIOD)
In Bergen Frommel began to assemble a circle of young friends around him (Marita Keilson-Lauritz, 2006). From Bergen they were the young couple Vincent Weyand (Bergen, 31 October 1921), son of a painter, and Chris Dekker (1922-1996). There were two of his old friends from de Quaker School in Ommen for refugees, mainly from Germany: William (Billy) Hildesheimer and Adolf Wongtschowski ('Buri') - both 14 years old when their relation with Frommel started. He had helped them to flee to Holland. Since 1937, the painter Buri worked as a teacher of textile arts in Ommen, and Billy was a music teacher. He organized musical-like productions, as he also later did in the German camp for interned. There he survived the war thanks to his earlier achieved British nationality (with thanks to Rien Buter, July 2010).
In 1941 Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (The Hague, 11 September 1912), who lived in Bergen with her parents since 1940, made a portrait of Roland Holst. Roland Holst asked them to meet a German friend, Wolfgang Frommel, a Protestant poet from Heidelberg. Gisèle did so and offered him her help, if needed. From 1940 on she had a pied-à-terre on the third floor at the Herengracht 401 in Amsterdam. Only a couple of rooms and no kitchen.
In hiding in Amsterdam
From January 1942 on the coastal regions were cleared of Jews and the Jewish citizens of Bergen had to leave their homes on April 22. Frommel also felt insecure and moved in with Gisèle in the apartment on the Herengracht. This also applied to another gay German writer, Wolfgang Cordan (see below) with whom Frommel was in contact since 1940 based on their kindred spirit. Marita Keilson-Lauritz assumes that Cordan was the first to find refuge with Gisèle and that he left when Frommel came. Buri (Frankfurt 1919) soon followed. He had left Ommen in September 1940 and found shelter with artist Charles Eyck in Limburg. When the 'Jewish Star' was introduced on 1 May 1942 it became unsafe there. Frommel visited him and invited him to come to Amsterdam.
This was far from easy. Vincent Weijand agreed to travel by taxi past a pre-arranged place near Sittard on his way to the station, and on impulse take Buri along as a hitch-hiker. At the station, Wolfgang Frommel awaited the two young men and took them to Amsterdam. He used a yellow band which he still kept as a German in the Netherlands from his short military service in the Wehrmacht. The NIOD (Dutch organization for war documenting) suspects Wolfgang Frommel had been in service with a non-combattant part of the Wehrmacht. They were in civilian clothes and recognizable by an arm bandage. Normally a bandange with 'Deutsche Wehrmacht' would have been used. It is conceivable Frommel worked with this bandage at the air raid department (Luftschutz). Claus Bock speaks about the 'Schutztruppe' where Wolfgang and his friend dr. Späth served. Meanwhile Charles Eyck had discovered a letter by Buri saying that he planned to commit suicide. Gisèle welcomed the heroes with red roses. It happened on 8 July 1942.
Joseph and Miep
Thanks to the research of his American daughter, Francesca Rheannon, we know that Joseph Antonius Hubertus Maria (Guido) Teunissen (Weert, 1917-1979) and his wife Miep (Wilhelmina) Benz (1920- ), lived on the fourth floor of the house at the Herengracht since 1939. When Buri joined Gisèle and Wolfgang, the neighbouring couple was informed about the political background of the two Germans. Guido was a skilled carpenter, although he was working as a bicycle messenger, and Frommel asked him to help them build inventive hiding places. For example Guido built a hiding place in the pianola, by taking out the little motor. This place would save Buri's life during a raid. Miep worked in the Jewish-owned department store 'De Bijenkorf' (The Bee-Hive). The couple proved to be reliable and became important for the beginning Castrum project. Their floor became part of the hiding activities of the Frommel circle. As Marita Keilson writes, Joseph was called 'George' and later (by Percy Gothein) 'Guido', the name of an intimate friend of Dante. The name Castrum Peregrini, by the way, comes from the magazine which started in 1950. The first two floors of the house were occupied by people who had no connection to the group of Wolfgang Frommel.
Castle Eerde and De Esch
Kasteel Eerde en De Esch (inset)
Drawing by Haro op het Veld from 1952 (source: www.haroophetveld.nl)
Frommel and Cordan were in contact with a boarding school in fairytale 'Castle Eerde' on the Van Palland estate in Ommen. They were invited to give lectures, but never got an appointment as teachers.
On 12 October 2007 a discussion was held at the NIOD (Dutch Institute on War Documentation) about the origin of the school. During the early thirties the Quaker communities in the United States, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands wanted to start an international school in Germany, with a democratic foundation and English as the official language. The diploma was the internationally acknowledged Oxford School Certificate. The nazis, of course, refused. So the school started in Holland. The Quaker teachers from nazi Germany were appointed there. Children of Jews and other opponents of Hitler who had fled became students; a few Dutch and English children came to Eerde as well, drawn by its high academic standards. On April 4, 1934 the school was opened by Quaker leader Pieter M. Ariëns Kappers: 'Du kennst keine Völker, Du kennst keine Rasse' ('God, You don't know nations, You don't know race'). During its heyday there were 120 pupils, taught and educated by 20 to 30 staff members. The school operated in the tradition of the progressive German 'Landeserziehungsheim' (National Educational Home).
Because of the German occupation the Quaker school in Eerde was in danger, especially after the German racial laws were introduced. The Quakers did not want to close the school, however. The occupation did not seem too bad and where would go with the staff and teachers? Ariëns Kappers personally contacted the German occupier in the best Quaker tradition of silent diplomacy and good trust. A friend and fellow student, member of the SS, was Kulturbeauftragte (cultural representative) with Seyss-Inquart (the Reichskommissar during the occupation of the Netherlands). In September 1941 Jewish children were forbidden to continue lessons in non-Jewish schools. Eerde followed the ban. Many Jewish children had already been returned to their parents before May 1940, but 9 of them still remained in Eerde, as well as 3 teachers. They were separated from the rest of the students in the children's home 'De Esch', elsewhere on the estate, thus becoming the Ommen Jewish School. Teachers and students promised not to escape or go into hiding. Tragically the nine pupils who kept their promise became victims of the Holocaust. The three teachers and most other pupils survived. Four of the survivors belonged to the circle of friends around Frommel and Cordan.
One of them was Claus Victor Bock, born in Hamburg (1926) who arrived in The Netherlands via Brussels. His father was Czech, his mother German. On 21 September 1938 the Jewish family fled Germany, just in time. The last day of that month the Treaty of Munich would be signed and from 22 September on Belgium would not allow Czech passport holders to enter the country. Father Bock was a merchant in chemicals and had business contacts in Brussels. By order of a Belgian firm he was able to go with his wife to the British Indies for one year, as was thought at the time. They thougt it would be better to leave young Victor in Europe. But where? The Quaker Boarding School in Eerde, established especially for German refugee children, seemed a likely choice. The house-mother of the school, Josi Warburg, had been a class mate of mother Bock.
In the spring of 1941 Frommel gave a lecture at Castle Eerde and had, as Marita Keilson puts it, a turbulent-erotic encounter with Claus. In his memoir Untergetaucht unter Freunden (In hiding among friends) (1985) he describes this encounter as a 'spark that ignited'. Frommel adopted him as a disciple and in August 1942 found an address for him in Bergen, with the family Dekker-Maathuis on the Guurtjeslaan. Rheannon writes that Frommel asked Guido to build a hiding place there as well, under the floor boards of son Chris' bedroom. The simple hiding place still exists. Chris's son Vincent wonders if Guido was necessary to build it. Notable is the curious text on the wooden wall, probably written by Claus. Nazionalsozialistische Judenhilfe Adolf Hitler. It was Guido who brought Claus to the Dekkers. In February 1943 Claus Bock joined the group on the Herengracht and stayed with Guido and Miep on the fourth floor.
Hiding place at the Dekker-Maathuis family in Bergen. Picture: Chris Dekker
In March 1941 Wolfgang Cordan also gave a lecture in Ommen. Now, as Keilson writes, another pupil makes a big impression: the 17-year old Johannes Piron (fathers name: Kohn). From this encounter a life-long relationship arises. A second 'unexpected following' (Cordan) occurred because in the form of his friendship with Thomas Maretzki, a Jewish pupil of the school, who just graduated but had not found another place to live yet. After the introduction of the Yellow Star (May 1942), Cordan persuaded him to leave Castle Eerde and join him in Bergen. At first they found shelter with an old friend of Wolfgang, Theo van der Wal (see below), and later with the mother of Chris Dekker, who belonged to the circle of friends around Frommel.
Polderhof in Bergen
Chris Dekker by Haro op het Veld
Source: www.haroophetveld.nl - Van Gruting Publ.
Next Chris rented a house on the outskirts of Bergen, where Wolfgang Cordan could live with his protégés. Johannes Piron ('Angelo') came, as well as the German-Jewish student from Ommen Liselotte Brinitzer. Eva Kohn, a sister of Johannes, brought her to Frommel in Bergen. Cordan called the house the 'Polderhof'. Between his stay with the mother of Chris Dekker and his move to the Herengracht, Claus Bock also lived at the 'Polderhof' for a short while. Because of the impending evacuation of Bergen, the house was closed in 1943.
The Frommel circle
Manuel and Peter Goldschmidt, 'half-Jews' according to Nazi laws, were also student from Eerde. They belonged to the Frommel circle. Their non-Jewish mother arranged safe papers. Their non-Jewish appearance made it possible for them to leave Ommen without going into hiding. Manuel lived in a boarding house on the Amsterdam Singel and was a regular visitor to Herengracht 401. So was his brother Peter. Other friends and frequent visitors included Reinout van Rossum du Chattel and, from Bergen, Chris Dekker and Vincent Weyand. When the author Percy Gothein visited them in November 1943, a special picture of the men from the Frommel circle was taken in the kitchen of Miep and Guido Theunissen (Keilson-Lauritz 2006; picture below).
Back row (left to right): Vincent Weyand, Peter Goldschmidt
Middle row: Reinout van Rossum du Chattel, Manuel Goldschmidt, Chris Dekker
Front row: Friedrich W. Buri, Wolfgang Frommel, Percy Gothein, Guido Teunissen
(Source: www.castrumperegrini.nl and Peter Elzinga)
De Esch student Clemens Brühl finally, arranged his own hiding places, and became active in the Dutch Resistance. He kept his contacts with Wolfgang Frommel and his circle. Another Jewish student, who also went in hiding on his own, thought that the contacts of Frommel and Cordan in Ommen were characterized too much by a gay atmosphere for him to want to be part of it.
On 10 April 1943 De Esch was cleared. The remaining residents, as agreed with Ariëns Kappers, went 'voluntarily' by public transport to camp Vught. From there the group ended up in camp Westerbork. There they read together Latin writers like Tacitus and Sallustius and books by Fichte, Goethe and Tolstoy. Three of them were murdered in Auschwitz later that year on 24 September. The last of them, Hermann Isaac, died during the liberation of that camp, on 21 January 1945 (see: www.joodsmonument.nl at Eerde, nine names).
Rheannon describes how Claus and Manuel with Buri, as Germans, belonged to the inner circle around the charismatic leader Frommel. In the second circle the young Dutchman Vincent Weyand (or Weijand) was the primus inter pares - Frommels favourite. But he did not live at the Herengracht. He lived in Bergen and later in a room on the Singel. He was a son of the painter Jaap Weyand and his Jewish wife, and therefore half-Jew according to the Nazis. Gisèle was the 'mother' of the circle, also as an artist. She was important because of the help and resources she provided. She was also the one who provided the hiding places. Fellow artists who did not join the Kulturkammer, like Mari Andriessen and Adriaan Roland Holst - Roland Holst later on did join under pressure - supported her with food coupons; as did Adriaans' brother Eep.
But neither Gisèle, nor Miep Benz, as women, were allowed in the all-important nightly poetry readings. These readings were the main social activity of the Castrum-group. The guiding principle was the pedagogical eroticism between the older and the younger man, 'der Pägogischer Eros', as Stefan George for instance called it. The eroticism could be platonic, but also extend. Guido, although not an intellectual, was part of them, since he was a man.
Frommel taught the group of Jewish and non-Jewish, German and Dutch young men about the works of Goethe, Hölderlin, and George. Or as Gisèle said in the radio broadcast, "As a friend, father and professor he teaches them about Greek culture". In the same broadcast Manuel Goldschmidt compared it to a 'Hebrew school', and described his experience as follows: "When we were reading poetry we were invisible". Outside there were raids and also the house is searched. But inventive hiding places have been made, such as the hollow pianola and the hidden elevator shaft which led up to the attic and beyond.
House search 1944
According to Claus Bock, the search on 15 October 1944 followed a nervous reaction by the 'Grüne Polizei' (German Order Police in green uniforms) who thought they heard the sound of a radio transmitter. It was the typewriter Buri was working on. Francesca Rheannon talked about this to Miep Benz who was able to tell her the real facts. Miep showed her a note which was given to her after the war by former mayor Voute which said: "There are people in hiding at Herengracht 401". The note came from the files of the Sicherheitsdienst at the Euterpestraat and was written by a distant relative of Miep. She stayed in the Schiller Hotel on the Rembrandt Square, which was owned by a common relative. Miep and Guido were invited to come once a week for a good meal and met the woman there. She fell in love with Guido and was dissappointed when he refused to sleep with her. She was informed about the fact the two helped people in hiding and sent the note to the SD (e-mail Francesca Rheannon, 10 January 2008).
The hollow pianola (Source: Francesca Rheannon)
On 12 October 2007 at the NIOD Claus described the action: "The German officers went upstairs. On the fourth floor Miep Benz opened the door, in a pink nightgown and obviously pregnant. They left that floor at and went to the third floor. Gisèle opened and was held at gunpoint by six policemen. Her mother was Austrian, so she was fine. Meanwhile Buri managed to hide in the pianola. In the house, a portrait of Hitler was glued on the backside of a portrait of Stefan George. It was quickly turned around. One of the officers said: 'Nichts los also' ('Nothing's the matter') which made Buri crawl out of the pianola. Just in time he saw who the visitors were and he crawled back. In the kitchen was Wolfgang Frommel, a German citizen. He declared - truthfully - they were just having a Nietzsche circle in the house, for three days later it would be the philosophers birthday. Manuel Godschmidt (apart from being half-Jewish) was also a German citizen. Reinout van Rossum had a well-forged exemption from the Arbeitseinsatz (forced labour). Now it was the turn of Claus Bock. He was asked for his papers. It was an expired Czech passport. Frommel told them Bock was a Sudeten German (German minority in the north of Czechoslowakia) on the run. 'With papers?' 'No'. The German policeman went silent but was obviously impressed by the situation and advised Frommel to get a 'Fallschirm' for Claus; a 'parachute', i.e. forged papers. Then he asked who lived below. 'Alsema? On to them!'"
The website of the current Castrum Peregrini describes what the members saw as the core of the underground commune: life with poetry and the visual arts and the in-depth study of the work of Stefan George (1868-1933). The concept of 'Pedagogical Eros' is not mentioned, though it definitely was part of it. After the war this continued and the house became the institution it is today.
Contact with Max and Quappi Beckmann
Max Beckmann, Max Beckmann, Les Artistes Max Beckmann, Gisèle, (1946)
Triptiek Schauspieler (Source: Kemper Artmuseum, St. Louis) (Source: Castrum)
During the war, Wolfgang Frommel and Gisèle van Waterschoot van de Gracht regularly visited the German refugee painter Max Beckmann and his wife ‘Quappi’ Kaulbach. The couple lived at the Rokin 85. It is possible that in 1941 Beckmann visited the exposition of Gisèle's paintings at Art Dealer Van Lier, the same gallery where he had a solo exposition in 1938.
Frommel on canvas
Frommel appears on two of Beckmann’s paintings. First on the left panel of the triptych Schauspieler (Actors) (1941-1942), and secondly in the painting Les Artistes mit Gemüse (The Artistes with Vegetables) (1943). In both cases Frommel takes up an almost priest-like position towards the others depicted. On the Schauspieler he raises his finger against a warrior in medieval dress, who seems to be arresting him. A woman stands in between, praying.
In the other painting he sits at a table, with Max and two other exiled painters: Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart and Herbert Fiedler. Each is holding an object. Wolfgang Frommel holds a loaf of bread which he seems to be breaking, like Jesus for his disciples. Beckmann wrote about Frommel in his diary on the 16th of February 1943: ‘Fr. was here, someone who has a true relation with my paintings’. In 1945 Beckmann made a drawing of Gisèle as well as of Wolfgang.
Wolfgang Cordan Charles Eijck, drawing for Wolfgang Cordan (ca. 1960)
(during war) Cordan's Muschelhorn (1944) (Source: www.gaynews.nl/
(exp. Castrum-NIOD) (exp. Castrum-NIOD) article04.php?sid=669)
Hekma also writes about two other literary personalities. Wolfgang Cordan (alias for Wolfgang Heinrich Horn, 1909-1966) was a German journalist, poet and writer who fled to France in 1933 and from there to Holland in 1934. As Marita Keilson-Lauritz relates, the writer Jef Last and, through him, the young journalist and author Theo van der Wal, were Cordans hosts. In France he wrote a booklet against the Nazis, 'L'Allemagne sans masque' (Germany unmasked) (1933) with a preface by André Gide, and in Holland he wrote an essay on surrealism (1935). This book instantly made him an avant-gardist in Holland. He also was editor of the leftist literary magazine The Fundament, published by Contact (1934-1937). Dutch writers as well as German exiles like Klaus Mann and Willy Brandt and the French surrealist Louis Aragon contributed. Between 1937 and 1939 Horn was in Berlin. Back in Holland he set up the surrealistic-political magazine Centaur. The title refers to the mythological half man - half horse figure, one of which (Chiron) was the teacher of young heroes. Centaur therefore symbolised the pedagogical-erotic relation between teacher and pupil - as for instance known with Stefan George and Frommel. The first two issues were published by the renowned publisher Stols in Maastricht. Cordan also published in his magazine Halycon (1940-1944), wrote Spiegels (Mirrors) on modern Dutch and Flemish poetry, and a lot more.
In 1940, through Adriaan Roland Holst in Bergen, he met Wolfgang Frommel. Both refugees were of like mind in literary and erotic matters. Frommel experienced the flash of lightening that Cordan mentioned in a letter to Roland Holst. Cordan meant by this the 'deepest contact between two men of about the same age and of equal spiritual development, a flash of lightning which breaks down all barriers and fuses two natures' (July 4, 1940). Despite disagreements, Frommel contributed to some of the Centaur issues during the war. It is possible that in 1940, Cordan was not yet a practicing gay, but he showed a certain preference as in the poem Die Insel Urk.”.
Urk is also the place where the left-wing writer Jef Last and the painter Willem Arondéus found the love of men, a kind of Dutch Island of Capri:
"Es gehn mit schwerem blick die bleichen
Jungfrauen durch die alten Gassen,
Die Burschen hinter Ställe schleichen
Und müssen sich verliebt umfassen.
Es spricht der Pfarrer streng von Sünde,
doch haben nur die Frauen glauben -"
(from: 'Das Jahr der Schatten', 1940)
(The pale girls walk with eyes downcast
through the old alleys,
the boys sneak behind sheds
and have to lovingly embrace each other.
The vicar harshly speaks of sin
but only the women have believe -)”
For a short while (ca. June 1942 - February 1943) Wolfgang Cordan formed a circle of friends (on the Polderhof) similar to the one Frommel would maintain for a long time at the Herengracht.
In a lecture at the NIOD (12 October 2007) the differences between Cordan and Frommel were pointed out as follows: Wolfgang Cordan thought that Frommel, with his contacts in high-ranking nazi circles, was unsuitable for the front-line resistance work in which he himself was engaged. On the other hand Frommel thought that Cordan had left 'the mountain of the poets' and therefore was not suitable for activities in the pilgrims' castle at the Herengracht. Marita Keilson-Lauritz in her publication (2006) poses a question that applies to both men: didn't they only save their darlings, the good looking boys? As one of the survivors said: was Clemens Brühl not beautiful enough to get help in hiding? Another question is whether we can approve of the homo-eroticism with minors, inspired by Stefan George (like Frommel's relationship with Claus Bock). Maybe not. Fact is that most of the protégés of Wolfgang Frommel and Wolfgang Cordan survived the war and the persecution of Jews. And their testimonies on the friendship and inspiration they experienced during this period are very positive. This also applies to Claus Bock, who was then still a minor.
Frank Ligtvoet, who was a member of Castrum for ten years, wonders if (Vrij Nederland, 10-7-2017) Bock perhaps had the Stockholm-syndrome: "During his years in hdiding he lived day and night only in a few small rooms with Frommel. There was no chance of escaping or of a possibility to resist."
National armed resistance
Cordan went his own way. Being a known progressive artist he had into hiding. After a period in Antwerp, where he worked with the publishers couple Kollár-Veen, he moved in with Johannes Piron in Amsterdam, in the Euterpestraat. He owned this place to the Kouwenaar family, acquaintances of Roland Holst. Both become more and more involved in the resistance, especially in the National Armed Resistance Groups. This was also the case with Thomas Maretzki and a new protégé, the young helmsman Jan Monnier. With his little 'ark' of friends and with the gay poet Jac. van Hattum Cordan also published a resistance magazine Resistance and Construction (February - May 1945). After the war Wolfgang Cordan was one of the actors in a documentary by Max de Haas about the Christian an communist resistance.
Percy Gothein and Vincent Weyand
Hekma describes Frommel as being the favourit of poet Percy Gothein, who in his turn for some time belonged to the circle of Stefan George. George was the poet who, adored by a small circle, shortly before his death (1933) was asked by Hitler to become the National Poet. Stefan George may have felt honoured but, because of various reasons, refused.
Percy Paul Heinrich Gothein (1896-1944) was the son of Eberhard and Marie Louise Gothein, Heidelberg intellectuals. Eberhard Gothein was a noted sociologist and had Jewish roots; Marie Louise Gothein wrote the definitive study of English gardens. Stefan George often visited the family and 'discovered' the child Percy as a rare poetic soul. Percy became an author. As Rheannon writes, he was unable to get work in nazi Germany because he was 'non-Aryan'. Gothein went to Italy, where he lived until 1943. He had to flee when the American and British troops arrived. Gothein went to Stuttgart and briefly got a job at the Württemburg provincial library. Then Wolfgang Frommel wrote to him from Amsterdam with a proposal to have some of his work published in Holland. Percy, who had visited Frommel once in 1943, went to The Netherlands in the spring of 1944 and lived in the house on the Herengracht, in the front room of Miep and Guido. The men became close friends. Gothein was the first to use the name 'Guido'. Initially Miep, as a woman, had to move elsewhere. Gothein also met other people in the Frommel circle there. In 1944 he followed two of them to Ommen and was arrested there.
Back row: Wolfgang Frommel, Martijn Engelmann, Guido Teunissen
Front row: Haro op het Veld, Percy Gothein (1944)
(Source: coll. F. Rheannon)
Wolfgang Cordan writes in his diary: “Ommen, 30 July 1944 (more likely July 25, ed.). Sad symbol: during the night Percy Gothein has been caught in the act / shaven and locked up in the local concentration camp / with him two guys, one of whom was truly the corpus delicti ... this is a crime - not in a juridical but in a philosophical sense ...". Rheannon explains that Gothein left Amsterdam because of discord with Frommel. The attack on Hitler (20 June 1944) could have been the cause for the arrest. Gothein had connections with the Kreisauer Kreis who prepared the attack. Through him in 1944 a letter for the Britisch Government went to the poet Geerten Gossaert (see www.dbnl.org). After 20 June Gothein fled to Castle Eerde in Ommen, where Vincent Weyand and Simon van Keulen were also staying in order to evade forced labour. Gothein knew Simon from a street encounter. They lived in villa De Esch. The 9 remaining Jewish students of the Quakers school in April 1943 had been transported to camp Vught in April 1943. Maybe Vincent and Gothein thought that De Esch would be safe after the raid.
Francesca Rheannon suspects that Gothein was reported by someone in Ommen. 'The police came to the house where he was with Simon to ask him to come into police headquarters the following day. They found him in bed with Simon, and somehow the news got to the Gestapo'. Simon later claimed that 'he and Percy were in bed together only because there was no other bed around'. But Gothein had been arrested in Germany 2 or 3 times under the infamous anti-gay paragraph 175, and he made no secret of his sexual orientation - possibly one reason why the poet Stefan George rejected him in the 1920's'. George was very secretive about his own gay feelings.
From Castle Eerde Gothein and Van Keulen were transported to the cruel Erika camp, a penal camp in Ommen, manned by mostly Dutch personnel. Four days later, on July 27, Weyand was arrested as well and brought to Erika in the car of camp commander Werner Schwier. Rheannon was told by a Vincent's brother Olaf Weyand that the Dutch guards accused the young men of being gay and beat them up. Gays were often beaten up in the camps, by the guards, their fellow prisoners, or both. Gothein had been separated from Simon immediately upon entering Erika. Simon reported seeing him a few days later from a window and that he had looked very 'bad'.
Vincent Weyand (1944) Cover book about Weyand
(Source: Castrum-NIOD) (Publ.: Van Gruting - ISBN-13: 978-90-75879-43-8)
When the news of the arrest of Percy, Simon and Vincent and their transport to the infamous camp in Ommen reached the Herengracht, precautions were taken. Maybe, under torture, information about the circle around Frommel and Gisèle would come out. Buri and Bock went in hiding elsewhere. The fear turned out to be unfounded and the two returned in September.
During that time they found out, Simon van Keulen was in camp Amersfoort. Gisèle, after waiting a morning at the Sicherheitsdienst, managed to get a permission to visit him. The permit was signed by the chief, Willy Lages. On 12 September she went to the camp by tandem bicycle with Guido Teunissen. She introduced herself as a the friend of Lages, bribed the guards with cognac and cigarettes, made use of the fact that the brute Kotälla was drunk, and had a 5-minute conversation with Simon. She could tell the badly beaten young man that the hiding at the Herengracht still was functioning and that nobody had talked. On 19 October Simon jumped from the train which would have transported him to Germany, and appeared at the Herengracht 'like a ghost' Herengracht.
Monument for gay victims Neuengamme (picture: fcit.usf.edu)
Sachsenhausen, Neuengamme, Auschwitz
Percy Gothein was transported to Sachsenhausen and from there to the Neuengamme camp where he died on December 22, 1944. During that time Willem Niemeijer stayed there as well. On August 18 Vincent Weyand was brought to the Amersfoort camp and from there, ten days later, to the Dutch deportation camp for Jews, Westerbork. On September 4 the last train to Auschwitz departed. But Vincent was on the train that left the camp on September 13 to the, relatively mild, Bergen-Belsen camp. The train also transported 77 children from the Westerbork orphanage, a group of diamond workers, and a group of 44 Turkish Jews (see chapter on Turkey). Vincent Weyand, who had been arrested as a political prisoner, was deported again. He died on February 21, 1945 in Buchenwald.
After the war After the war, Wolfgang Frommel became the leader of what would become known as Castrum Peregrini and its magazine of the same name, published in German (1951). Shortly after the liberation Frommel was thought to be a German soldier and almost thrown into the canal. Frank Ligtvoet describes in the Vrij Nederland-article, Frommel as a man who had an insatiable sexual hunger for underaged, young and older men, and also women. He not necessarily respected others people's whishes, his behaviour therefore in practice sometimes resulting in rape. This attitude also influenced other members. Castrum Peregrini more and more started resembling a sect. "Frommel had created a seemingly beautiful world, which at some point may have had sincere ideals, but in the end became a monstrous planet for many, where sexual relations with or the abuse of young boys and men seemed to have become the underlying goal."
Immediately after the war, Cordan was involved in re-establishing the literary magazine Centaur. After his years in Holland Cordan wrote several books on the Mediterranean countries and two novels, one of them the homo-erotic Julian der Erleuchtete (Julian the Enlightened) (1950).
Guido Teunissen left Miep and went to the US.
Miep Benz married Chris Dekker.
In 1973 Wolfgang Frommel received a Yad Vashem decoration from the State of Israel for hiding and helping Jews during the period of the Holocaust. He died, 'poeta et amicus', on 13 December 1986. Gisèle d'Ailly received the decoration in 1997.
Claus Victor Bock (Picture: www.castrumperegrini.nl)
After the war Victor Bock (Hamburg, 7 May 1926) went to his parents in India, who worked there since the late thirties. After a year he returned to Amsterdam to study literature. He continued his study in Manchester and Basel, where he obtained his doctorate in Germanic studies (1955). In Engeland he worked mainly in London. For eight years he was the director of the Institute of Germanic Studies. In 1980 he became Dean of the Faculty of Arts. In 1984 he went into early retirement to return to Amsterdam, to Castrum Peregrini. He published his account of the time he was in hiding - Untergetaucht unter Freunden (1984) - and carried out several activities for the Foundation and the publishing house. His book was translated into Dutch in September 2007: As long as we write poems, nothing will happen to us, Amsterdam 1942-1945. Claus Victor Bock died unexpected and peacefully on 5 January 2008, in the house where he had been in hiding during the war.
On 27 May 2013 Gisèle d'Ailly-van Waterschoot van der Gracht died, at home in her studieo, at the age of 100. As an artist leaves behind stained-glass-windows in the Amsterdam Catholic churches Het Begijnhof and De Krijtberg, tapestry for the s.s. Rotterdam, paintings with fictional and mythical figures, and also abstract works. Gisèle was buried privately on 1 June at the De Stompe Toren cemetery in Spaarnwoude, next to her husband Arnold Jan d'Ailly (1967). Also the graves of people who went into hiding at her place as Wolfgang Frommel (1986), Victor Bock (2008) and others from the Castrum Peregrini circle can be found there.
- www.gaynews.nl/article04.php?sid=669 (article Ger Hekma, picture Cordan)
- www.castrumperegrini.nl (pictures and texts)
- E-mails by Francesca Rheannon (November-December 2006 - Guido Teunissen, Vincent Weyand, Castrum)
- Marita Keilson-Lauritz, Centaurenliefde, in: Het begint met nee zeggen, Schorer Boeken (p. 191-214)
- http://geschiedenis.vpro.nl/programmas/3299530/afleveringen/5950244/items/7183843 (VPRO radio broadcast, May 26, 2002: 'Spoor terug, Castrum Peregrini')
- www.hko97.nl/Archief/artikelen/eerde%20en%20pallandt.htm (Harry Woertink about Ommen)
- Exposition and catalogue Max Beckmann in Amsterdam 1937-1947 (Van Gogh Museum, April 2007)
- Exposition about Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht, NIOD (April-October 2007) and a seminar on 12 October 2007
- www.fraenger.net (Frommel, Gothein)
- The Encyclopedia of Righteous among the Nations, Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. The Netherlands. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 2004 (Frommel)
- www.filmtotaal.nl (an armed resistance group)
- www.ned.univie.ac (Kouwenaar)
- www.ogs.nl (Weijand, Castle Eerde)
- www.onsamsterdam.nl (picture Van Waterschoot van der Gracht, 2003)
- Claus Victor Bock, 'Zolang wij gedichten schrijven kan ons niets gebeuren', Amsterdam 1942-1945. Castrum Peregrini Press 2007
- Frank Ligtvoet, In de schaduw van de Meester. Seksueel misbruik in de kring van Wolfgang Frommel. Vrij Nederland-on-line, 10-7-2017.
N.B.: Castrum Peregrini is not mentioned in the Dutch Homo Encyclopaedia.
Jewish gays and lesbians
L. Ali Cohen (1895-1970). Levi Ali Cohen was a lawyer who played an important role in the cultural life of the city of Haarlem. He regularly published in magazines and wrote several books. Martinus Nijhoff reviewed the collection of poems Reflexes (1925) and the short story Eros in Reykjavik (1931). He summarized the latter and gave his opinion. Homo-eroticism played an important role.
Cover 'Eros in Reykjavik' (Source: www.antiqbook.nl/boox/fok/18036.shtml)
Three ships are in the harbour of Reykjavik, a Norwegian vessel, a Danish warship and the ‘Eros’, a slender, white ship that came from Scotland under a far-away, unknown flag, with people who sailed all over the world. Aboard the latter (the Eros turns out to be a tourist ship) a night-long party is organized, to which girls from the shore and the crew of the other ships are invited. During one night of exceptional awareness under pressure of an heightened state of mind, several of the party-goers arrive at a more accurate evaluation of their own personality. Of course the next morning depression sets in. Some of the tourists go to a trip inland by car with the Icelandic girls to visit a spring that produces water only once a day. But a Danish naval cadet however, who during the night experienced a revelation about his own nature, tries to wash off what to him seems to lie in between a personal secret and a stain; dives into the icecold seawater in the harbour, gets cramps, and drowns’... In part because of Ali Cohen's florid style, his book does not touch us any deeper than with a sweet bitterness. Just like the galosh-wearer in the fairy tale by Andersen, we are forced to enter all the hearts too deliberately, one by one; with too much emphasis we are made aware of all these profound motives and tender feelings."
Ali Cohen survived the war and the Holocaust. After the war, the COC-magazine Vriendschap published a short fragment from the book cited above (August 1951).
M. Nijhoff, Kroniek der Nederlandse Letteren III (p. 711-712, 714)
M. Nijhoff, Reflexen (Collected Work Vriendschap, magazin of the COC (August 1951) p. 7 (www.ihlia.nl/documents/pdflib/Vriendschap/1951/1951-08.pdf)
Jacobus Cohen (Heinenoord, 13 June 1877). Jacobus was a baker and lived in the Blasiusstraat 47. He was married to Joahnna Goudsmit (Wijk bij Duurstede, 5 September 1873) and they had four adult children: Mozes Nathan (1909), Israel (1910), Nathan (1913) and Sophia (1915). The children were born in Rotterdam, where the family had lived for some time. Cohen, who had a typical Jewish name and a 'J' in his identity papers, was arrested in September 1941 by the Amsterdam vice squad. At that time he was 64. The police handed him over to the German authorities who detained him. Jacobus was sent to Westerbork and was gassed on 1 October 1942 in Auschwitz. His son Mozes died in the same camp on 30 April 1943. His wife and his son Nathan were gassed on 21 May 1943 in Sobibor. His daughter Sophia was murdered the same year on 30 November in Majdanek. Israel Cohen succombed before 31 March in a labour camp in Central Europe.
Jacob Hiegentlich (1907-1940).
The Jewish Monument writes about him: ‘Jacob Hiegentlich was born April 30, 1907 in Roermond. His parents - the garment whole-saler Sallie Hiegentlich and his mother Rosalie Egger who died in 1927 - had five children. Four of them, like the father, would not survive the war.’
’Jacob Hiegentlich grew up in Catholic Roermond, in, in what he described himself as "confusing mix of Roman Catholic and Jewish events". He attended the Bishops College of Roermond but, because of problems with mathematics, did not finish his education at this high school.’ In 1923 his debut album of poems in German Die rote Nacht (The red night) was published. ‘At the age of 17, under the pseudonym of David Jozua de Castro, he wrote 'Het zotte vleesch' (The foolish flesh), a novel about the people of Limburg. In it the general practitioner Laurent Stijn, a friend of Hiegentlichs father, was depicted in a very unflattering way. Father Hiegentlich then bought up the entire edition.’
Jacob Hiegentlich, oil painting by Jules Rummens, ca. 1925
(44 x 33,5 cm, collection Ser J.L. Prop, Banholt) (Source: www.dbnl.org)
‘At the urging of his father he went to Amsterdam for the diploma Dutch language teacher, which he obtained on the 17th of November 1930. In Amsterdam he was an active member of the Dutch Zionist Students Organisation (NZSO). He lived among circles of artists and Bohemians and he belonged to the ‘Reynders circle’, named after the famous café at the Leidseplein.’
’In 1932 he became a teacher at the Theosofic high school ‘Drafna’ in Naarden. The classroom-based educational system was contrary to his own strong feelings of individualism. From 1935 on he devoted himself solely to his literary work.’ He published poetry in the literary magazin the Nieuwe Gids. In 1937 his novel Onbewoonbare wereld (Uninhabitable world) was published and in 1938 Schipbreuk te Luik (Shipwreck at Liege). The novel Met de stroom mee (With the Flow) was published posthumously in 1946. Jacob was gay and his stories and novels show a Freudian involvement with subjects like sexuality and death.
‘Jacob Hiegentlich was a fervent supporter of zionism. Within zionism he chose the extreme and militant school of Revisionism under the leadership of Jabotinsky. He wrote numerous articles in common Jewish and zionist magazines, like Baderech, Hatikwah (the offical magazine of the NZSO) and Ha’Ischa. Especially for the Joodsche Wachter (the Jewish Sentinel, official magazine of the Dutch Zionist Union) he wrote political articles against the growing national socialist movement. He gave lectures on literature and Judaism and wrote several reviews.’ Not surprisingly he was a great admirer of Jacob Israël de Haan who was also gay and a zionist, as well as of his sister Carry van Bruggen.
’On the evening of 14 May 1940, Jacob Hiegentlich took poison. He was admitted unconscious to the Wilhelminagasthuis in Amsterdam, where he died on Saturday the 18th of May 1940, 33 years old. On the front of his parental home at the Markt 27 in Roermond a commemoration plaque was placed to Jacob Hiegentlich, ‘Roermond's writer’.’
Siegfried E. van Praag wrote about him: ‘Whenever I'm in Amsterdam, I miss him. He can't be found any longer in the Reijnder’s-café on the Leidsche Plein, not longer in his room in an old canal house. He no longer pours Bols [Dutch gin - ed.] in his landlady's glass, while he plays a typical, little known, record on his gramophone. And he no longer curls the lips in his eternal boyish face around strong cigars ... Yes, Hiegentlich was dressed flamboyantly, because he was inclined towards dandyism, the need for the chic appearance of an old-style boulevardier. Despite his inner feminine nature and probably to compensate for it, he loved bravado. His bravado and his conscious zionism did not allow him any camouflage of his personality and Jewishness.’
Digitaal Monument Joodse Gemeenschap (www.joodsmonument.nl)
Marina van der Klein, De Homo Commemorans en de bezetting: kanttekeningen bij een dominant discours (www.vertrouwen.nu/reactie_MarianvdKl.htm)
G.J. van Bork, Jacob Hiegentlich (www.dbnl.org/auteurs/auteur.php?id=Hieg001)
Samuel Hoepelman (Amsterdam, 28 juni 1896). Samuel was an office clerk and unmarried. He lived together with his elderly parents, Jacob Hoepelman (Amsterdam 1863) and Alida Hoepelman-Suis (same) at the Valckenierstraat 35-I. On 26 August 1942 he was arrested by the vice squad, on the same day as Isaäc Walvisch (see below).
Report on Samuel Hoepelman (Source: NIOD)
Van Opijnen reported to the Bureau of Jewish Affaires that Hoepelman 'on several occasions committed a sexual offence with Arian boys, and still frequents public conveniences to seduce them to sexual offences'. On this the Bureau (a certain P.K.) determined this Jew was a dangerous homosexual and a 'Volksschädling', a harmful element. He was to be permanently removed from society. On the day of his arrest Samuel Hoepelman was handed over to the Sicherheitsdienst. In December 1942 he was sent to camp Westerbork and from there deported to Sobibor on 20 April 1943. There Samual Hoepelman was gassed on 23 April, 46 years old. A few weeks earlier his parents were murdered in the same camp on 26 March 1943. A brother or sister of Samuel survived the Holocaust.
- NIOD, dossier Bureau Joodsche Zaken Amsterdam (5225/7313), with thanks to Erik Schaap, June 2010
Salomon Lam (Amsterdam, 24 September 1886). Salomon was a travelling salesman and unmarried. In 1941, according to www.joodsmonument.nl, he lived together with the young couple Springer and the family Sluijzer at the fourth flour of the Sarphatistraat 195. His parents were Levie Lam and Sara Vleeschdrager. According to the Amsterdamse police report of 1942 his adress was Nieuwe Achtergracht 107 ground floor, the house of the aged couple Emanuel en Mirjam Mossel-Mulder (www.joodsmonument.nl). On 26 August 1942 he was arrested by the vice squad, on the same day as Samuel Hoepelman and Isaäc Walvisch (see elsewhere). It was 'Kriminalbeamte' and head of the vice squad Jasper van Opijnen who arrested him. Van Opijnen repported to the Bureau of Jewish Affairs, in similar words as he did with Hoepelman, that Lam seduced 'Arian' boys to sexual offences. The Bureau determined that this Jew was a dangerous homosexual and hadded to be permanently banned from society. Colleague Kaper from the Bureau also knew Salomon was a communist. This word is underlined. Salomon Lam, Jew and gay and communist, was handed over to the Sicherheitsdienst the same day and deported via camp Westerbork to Auschwitz. There he died on 13 November 1942, 56 years old.
- NIOD, dossier Bureau Joodsche Zaken Amsterdam (5225/7317), with thanks to Erik Schaap, June 2010
Isaäc Metzelaar (Amsterdam 22 maart 1874). In 1941 Metzelaar lived at the Amstellaan 82-II, called Stalinlaan after the ward and since 1956 Vrijheidslaan. He was married to Hendel Limkowksi (Chrzanow, Poland, 27 December 1876); her addres was in 1941 Tweede Boerhaavestraat 77-I, where two more women her age lived. The couple were probably separated. Isaäc was arrested in July 1942 by the head of the vice squad, Jasper van Opijnen, on grounds of prohibited homosexual behaviour. From July (the 15th) the first trains left Amsterdam for Westerbork. Metzelaar was part of one of these transports – just like Jacobus Cohen. In Westerbork he belonged to the group of prisoners who were deported to Auschwitz on 24 July. Isaäc Metzelaar died there on 19 August 1942, at the age of 68. His wife died in the same camp on 14 January 1943.
Mina Sluyter (Amsterdam, 31 May 1916). Her name is known because of a annotation of the Bureau of Jewish Affairs on 24 July 1942: 'taken into custody because of homosexuality 24-7-1942, also Jewish, moved to the Sicherheitsdienst'. During the months of July and August 1942, according to the letter by Van Opijnen, more Jewish homosexuals were arrested. Mina Sluyter had visited an 'Arian woman' with whom she supposedly had a lesbian relationship. Mina was a seemstress and lived in 1942 at the Kerkstraat 378-II. She died two months after her arrest, on 30 September, in Auschwitz.
- NIOD, dossier Bureau Joodsche Zaken Amsterdam, with thanks to Erik Schaap, June 2010;
- Sytze van der Zee, Vogelvrij, De jacht op de Joodse onderduiker (Amsterdam 2010), p. 123
- www.joodsmonument.nl (with the name Sluijter)
Isaäc Walvisch (Amsterdam, 21 September 1888). In 1941, Walvisch, a merchant, lived at the Amstellaan 27-II, together with two other families. In 1942 his addres was Kromme Mijdrechtstraat 6-II. On 26 August 1942 Walvisch was arrested by the vice squad, the same day as Samuel Hoepelman (see above). He was detained only briefly and was sent to Westerbork on 10 September and the next day to Auschwitz. On 14 September 1942 Isaäc Walvisch was gassed.
David Waterman was also one of Jewish men who were arrested and handed over to the Sicherheitsdienst. He might have been the same David Waterman who was born in 1893 in Amsterdam in a family of 12 children; this David was married and had two daughters who married non-Jews and survived the Shoa. On 25 May 1943 Waterman ended up in Westerbork, possibly together with some family members. Fifteen people with the surname Waterman were gassed in Sobibor three days later, on 28 May 1943 but David was allowed to stay in the camp, in barac 65, and managed to avoid deportation. He lived to see the liberation of camp Westerbork on 12 April 1945. Waterman did not wait for permission to leave the camp and disappeared after a couple of days.
He had to be careful because the vice squad of Van Opijnen was still active until 1946 and the German regulation 81/40 remained until 1947. Finally in the sixties the social climate changed. However, it was not until 1986 that gays could apply for compensation for suffering during the war.
Hugo van Win (1920-2004). Hugo was the second child of the Amsterdam Jewish couple Salomon van Win and Elisabeth de Metz. During the thirties the family lived in the Den Textraat. At that time he attended the Regulierschool, together Benno Premsela, who later became an inerior disigner and a co-founder of the COC. During those years Salomon van Win started making cans which he filled with menthol liquorice, which became a flourishing business. Hugo also worked there for a short while after finishing high school, and his first job at a ladies'fashion store, which was about to send him to the Netherlands Indies. Meanwhile, war had already started.
Hugo’s parents were non-practicing Jews, but well aware of the dangers of their origin. In 1940 and 1941 his father, under an assumed name, had already rented living accomodations in case they had to go into hiding. It required a lot of money. In December 1942 Salomon van Win bought forged identity cards for the family, at 200 guilders each.
Before the war Hugo had already discovered, in the street, that he was gay. Everywhere in Amsterdam were ‘krullen’ (curls), public urinals. There he experienced the tension of erotic contact with men. Also ‘cruising’ was done in parcs or fields. After that he came into contact with men of his own age who always believed they were ‘the only gay in the world’. The boys sometimes dressed up as girls, used make-up and once went to the De Bijenkorf (Amsterdam's most famous department store) to stage a demonstration. Hugo also visited the gay-bar 'The Marathon' at the back of the Tuschinsky Cinema in the Reguliersbreestraat.
Homosexual contact by an adult (over 21) with a minor had been an offence since 1911. Therefore the police checked the 'curls' and regularly raided the gay bars. Boys under the age of 21 were taken to the police station where their parents could pick them up. The German laws, in force as of August 1940, made all homosexual contact punishable and raised the penalty from a maximum of four to ten years.
In November 1943 the SS-magazine Storm wrote that gays needed to be rooted out 'to the last man, as weed in the Dutch garden' (http://home.wanadoo.nl/gckool/a06.html). The magazine also published some articles on the gay bars which still continued their businesses. Under a picture from a little pub with the name 'Blonde Saar' they inserted the text: ‘Something that damages a healthy nation should be cut out’. The text in the small frame explaines that these places ruined the nation's health (see http://www.annefrankguide.com/nl-NL/bronnenbank.asp?aid=9086).
SS-magazine Storm, late 1943 (annefrankguide.com)
On many occasions Hugo had a lucky escape. In October 1941 he became an adult. He relates that in the room near the Concertgebouw, which his father rented for him from two ladies from the Netherlands Indies, he had his first experience of trying to make love. The boys kissed each other and that was it.
In June 1942 Hugo left Amsterdam to avoid forced labour and deportation, and with help of his mother's relatives, began work in a Jewish mental hospital, The Apeldoornsche Bos (The Apeldoorn Forest). Later in that year the trainee nurse received, through his father's secretary, a forged identity card and the of key to a hiding place in Apeldoorn, just in case. On the 20th and 21st of January 1943 the mental hospital, where Jews from Apeldoorn had also been rounded up, was prepared for evacuation and deportation. On the night of the 20th Hugo managed to escape to the hiding place and the next morning he managed to get on the train to Amsterdam. On the 22nd of January about 800 residents and 50 staff members were transported to Westerbork. Most of them were killed in the camps (see Abigael Santcroos*, Netherlands Antilles).
Luckily Hugo could return to his room at the Alexander Boersstraat, where his mother and sister soon joined him. Three other persons in hiding followed, and finally also Hugo's brother with a friend. Ten people in a house which officially could accomodate only two people. Hugo decided to leave. After a failed attempt he received a tip to contact a member of the Employment Centre in Hengelo, mister Maurits Staudt. He was able to provide a forged passport (in the name of Bertus de Witte) and other documents, which enabled Jews and others who wanted to go into hiding to join the employed workers in Germany. Hugo decided to go for this seemingly crazy proposal. His father and the others in hiding in Amsterdam were furious, but after all kinds of delays, on the 17th of August 1943 Hugo left for the lion's den.
On the papers Staudt had entered the German city of Balingen, far from the violence of war, near Switzerland. Van Win actually managed to get a job there, with a department of the Siemens company. He forged Dutch certificates and proof of ‘Arian Descent’ to make him look like the person in his passport. Hugo van Win worked in the financial department, gained trust, met some reliable Germans and made a career. He listened to Radio Oranje and secretely resisted by manipulating the accounting records. Escaping to Switzerland seemed impossible. Instead, on the 1st of Juli 1944, his boss sent him to heavily bombarded Berlin. Hugo could not refuse the ‘promotion’, but insisted on permission to look for a place to live on his own, just like in Balingen.
His boss in Berljn thought a labour camp was good enough for the novice. Hugo then went to the Gestapo and with some luck was given permission to rent a private room. He found one in the Sesenheimerstrasse, Charlottenburg. Van Win lived through over 300 bombardments. On October 6, 1944, he survived a direct hit on the air-raid shelter. During this insane period only one thing counted: staying alive. But also, just like so many young people in Berlin, he wanted to experience everything that life still had to offer. Every night Hugo visited a gay bar which, despite the severe nazi punishments, was still in business. One of the bars was 'Barth' in the Fasanestrasse. He also visited the ‘curls’ in Berlin, public urinals near underground and railway stations. Because Hugo had an appartment of his own, he could take men home with him unhindered.
Hugo took part in wild gay parties while the bombings went on. One of his most exceptional encounters was with a boy who was known as ‘Klosetta’. He was always flamboyantly dressed and often appeared as a woman. When the Russians were already in Berlin they had a conversation. Klosetta turned out to be Israel Cohen. He had chosen his striking disguise to save himself and his mother. In Berlin Hugo became involved in the resistance. On Wednesday nights he met a certain Klaus in café Bristol at the Kurfürstendamm, who needed secret lists and drawings of Siemens. This probably had something to do with the production of V-weapons.
On th 5th of May 1945, Hugo heard about the liberation of the Netherlands on a radio rigged up by Delft students. With five students he decided to get back to Holland by bicycle as soon as possible. That was very optimistic. They ended up in a Russian camp and were handed over to the Americans. The Americans then transported them to Wolfsburg. From there the arrived by freight train in Eindhoven on May 29. In Amsterdam Hugo’s parents, his brother and his sister, also turned out to have survived the war. But their house at the Den Texstraat was occupied by a NSB couple. The husband had fled to Germany but the woman still lived there. After a lot of pressure she eventually left, taking all the furnishings with her.
Hugo van Win (about 1960) (www.coc.nl/dopage.pl?thema=any&pagina=viewartikel&artikel_id=149)
On saturday the 7th of December 1946 the Amsterdam Shakespeare Club organised its first meeting in café De La Paix (Leidsestraat). Jef Last gave a lecture on ‘Liefde in Griekenland’ (Love in Greece). Hugo van Win became a member of the club, which was formed from the readers contacts of the pre-war gay magazine Levensrecht (see Niek Engelschman). In 1948 the name of the Club became ‘Cultuur en Ontspannings Centrum (COC)’ (Culture and Relaxation Club). Between 1952 and 1956 Hugo van Win was the treasurer of the COC. The COC made him an honorary menber.
Hugo van Win became a successful businessman, first in textiles, later as a successor to his father in the Liquorice Factory and in the Import Factory 'The Atlas'. He died on the 22nd of May 2004.
- Exposition ‘Who can I still trust?’ and the exposition newspaper
- Hugo van Win, Een Jew in nazi-Berlin. Utrecht 1997
Poster from the exposition (Source: www.westerbork.nl)
Exposition 'Who can I still trust?'
The exposition 'Who can I still trust? Gay in nazi Germany and the occupied Netherlands' took place from 22 September 2006 in the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam until 14 January 2007. For more information about the exposition and its tour see www.vertrouwen.nu