My interest in Han van Meegeren (1889-1947) stemmed from his drawing of the Dutch pianist Theo van der Pas seated at a piano and surrounded by the great composers of the past while one composer is granted a seat on the piano bench next to Van der Pas.(1) That seated composer is Franz Schubert who was the subject of my portrait iconography. (2) After its publication, I came upon the Van Meegeren portrait of Van der Pas, and it sparked a separate interest in Van Meegeren’s own work as a portraitist. In my research on the infamous Van Meegeren – infamous because he was the Dutch art forger whose Vermeers and other Old Masters fooled the art experts and collectors in the 1930s and 1940s – there arose the question of who designed the notorious art book of Van Meegeren’s drawings Teekeningen I, the only book published by Van Meegeren in his lifetime. (3) The book was produced in 1942, two years into the German Occupation of the Netherlands, during a period of strict rationing that included paper and ink. (4) The book’s plates were accompanied by poems linked by their themes to the images in the drawings. Many of the poems were by Martien Beversluis, an ardent Dutch Nazi who was a friend of Van Meegeren’s. Beversluis wrote for Van Meegeren’s right-wing extremist art journal De Kemphaan, defunct since 1931 after only three years of publication. The book’s other contributors were Nazi sympathizers or deeply political conservatives and arch right-wingers, some of who had also edited or written for De Kemphaan. The final plate on the last page of Teekeningen I is the portrait of Theo van der Pas surrounded by those ghostly friends and Schubert.
Why was Van Meegeren’s book notorious? Quite simply because soon after the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945 a young Dutch journalist, Jan Spierdijk (1919-1997), managed to tour the ruins of Hitler’s Reichschancellery in Berlin and said he found in the debris of Hitler’s personal library a copy of Van Meegeren’s book Teekeningen I. Spierdijk saw that the book was inscribed in German by Van Meegeren to Hitler and presumably presented to Hitler (but not by Van Meegeren personally, as far as we know). The inscription in full read: “To my beloved Führer in grateful tribute, from H. van Meegeren, Laren, North Holland, 1942.” (5) It appears that some researchers in trying to deny the truth of Spierdijk’s assertion that he found the inscribed copy in the Berlin Reichschancellery overlooked at least one witness who also had the book in his possession. Lopez refers to two Belgian journalists who accompanied Spierdijk without mentioning their names. (6) One was the Belgian journalist Nic Bal (1916-2007). Unfortunately, as Bal later wrote, he lost the inscribed copy that Spierdijk had lent him by what Bal called his own careless lending. (7)
Bal and his Belgian journalist colleague may have sold the book – see note (8) – with or without Spierdijk’s knowledge or consent. In any event, the book was removed from the Reichschancellery improperly although it was done in the immediate post-surrender period when the Allied armies and war correspondents pilfered countless items as the “spoils of war.”
After Van Meegeren’s arrest as a collaborator in 1945, during interrogations he denied having written the inscription claiming it wasn’t his handwriting (the inscription appears to be more printed lettering than cursive writing). His claim was disputed but no final resolution as to the inscription’s authenticity has been reached nearly seventy years later. During the German Occupation Van Meegeren had done business with Nazi art dealers, various art collectors and Party bigwigs who bought authentic art as well as forged Dutch Masters for a considerable amount of Reichsmarks. In his years as an art dealer starting in the 1930s Van Meegeren became wealthy. In 1943 he sold one of his forged Vermeers, Christ and the Adulteress, to another Nazi-friendly art dealer who then sold it to no less a leading Nazi art collector than Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring. That second sale, priced at 1.65 million guldens – roughly $ 7 million today – was paid for by Göring’s swap of about 200 Dutch art works seized by the Reichsmarshall at the start of the war. Van Meegeren’s use of intermediaries was one way to distance himself from the buyer should future events take a disconcerting turn. The sale-swap came to light after Van Meegeren’s arrest and turned him from a villain into a hero in his countrymen’s eyes because Göring was so universally hated in Netherlands. No longer was Van Meegeren considered a traitor to the patrimony of the Netherlands – everyone believed that the forged Vermeers he sold were genuine and therefore a crime against the Dutch nation. With Van Meegeren’s shocking admission to the Dutch court that he was the forger of those Vermeers – which he proved by painting another “Vermeer” for the court – the populace made a fast about-face and lauded him as a clever hero-swindler who clawed back the money and art that was stolen from the Dutch who had endured a brutal Nazi invasion and occupation. The court dropped the charges of collaboration and now charged Van Meegeren with falsification and massive tax evasion from his lucrative art sales.
Some contemporary Dutch researchers exculpate Van Meegeren’s book of drawings from its Nazi taint by repeating Van Meegeren’s claim about the inscription’s handwriting not being his. (8) One researcher, Prof. Dr. Frederik H. Kreuger, claims that the book’s design, most probably the cover, was by a German-Jewish refugee printer who worked for a noted Dutch publisher in The Hague. (9) Kreuger noted that the Nazi-like cover design – black, red and gold colors and Fraktur, or a gothic font (generically known as blackletter) – could only have come from the hand of a trained print designer familiar with German fonts, which Van Meegeren was not. One of the parties to the book’s production, publisher L.J.C. Boucher, said almost thirty-five years after the event:
“Clearly announcing its intentions, this folio-sized tome featured a black cover with the title embossed in gold Gothic lettering and a large red circle containing the number “1” – black, red, and gold being the ceremonial colors of the Nazi Party. In a 1976 letter expressing regret for his involvement in the project, the book’s Dutch publisher explained that Van Meegeren had incorporated the number “1” into the cover design not as a sequential designation – no Volume 2 was ever envisioned – but as a surreptitious ideogram. Van Meegeren said that he intended the single digit on a round field to look like a Wolfsangel, a Nazi hate emblem. The Wolfsangel, although German in origin, was the primary symbolic motif employed in the badges, flags, and insignia of the Dutch Nazi Party.” (10)
This is the most convincing evidence that Van Meegeren not only had control over the book’s design but that he had specifically set the cover design. Van Meegeren was known for the intense control of his work, whether it was his forged art, his own art, his right-wing art journal or a book of his drawings.
The claim that the book was designed by a Jew seemed to cleanse the book of a Nazi connection with Van Meegeren and disavow the dedication to Hitler. Not possible, it was said, Van Meegeren was not a Nazi (or an anti-Semite). It was true that he was not a Nazi by official registration with the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (NSB), the Dutch Nazi Party. One’s sympathies do not always appear on membership lists. Yet, Van Meegeren had one or two Jewish friends, and made several portraits over the years of one Jewish friend in particular, a sweet- tempered Amsterdam bohemian named Jopie Breemer. (11)
The name of the book designer has to be authenticated. The most curious aspect of this historical puzzle of attributions emerged in early 2014 when the following piece of information was received by the author:
“In the time that this book was edited my father, L.J.C. Boucher, was in a hostage camp of the Germans, at St. Michelsgestel [recto Michielsgestel], with many others. In that time he was not in contact with Friedlaender. So the only [person] I can imagine is that my grandfather W. Boucher did choose a designer. There exists no information who this person was.” (12)
Sint-Michielsgestel was the place of a former minor Catholic seminary, Beekvliet in North Brabant, which housed hostages. The seminary building was a two-story stone structure with an imposing spire. Technically, it was a German police prison camp under military administration. The camp commandant and guards were all part of the Waffen SS which administered Nazi camps and ghettoes. In this location were many Dutch SS members who served as guards but this was not a combat battalion nor was Beekvliet an extermination camp. However, on 15 August 1942 five hostages were executed by the Nazis in Sint-Michielsgestel. Why L.J.C. Boucher was interned is unexplained. He seemed to be on the liberal side in politics as were many other internees, and it is unclear if being a publisher placed him in the category of intellectuals. Also unclear is whether Van Meegeren knew that his publisher was imprisoned and agreed to work with the publisher’s father. The question to be asked is how could Van Meegeren not have known.
The print run of Teekeningen I has been variously estimated as either 500 or 2,000 copies, and many copies are still available and sold in the Netherlands, and occasionally in other countries. The book’s paper and the print work are of excellent quality. Only someone with Nazi connections could have overcome the rationing restrictions and produced such a book of quality materials. (13) The lower figure seems more probable given the rationing limitations during this period but only the business records of the publisher and printer can tell us precisely. An attempt to look at those records failed since the custodian of the archive in question claimed that there were so many unsorted documents that without any staff to do the search there was no way to know what was in the collection.
Almost anything related to Dutch books is easy to find online. The reason for the wealth of information is the 470-year Dutch involvement in publishing, book design and printing and their dedication to the history of book making. Several sources for this history are in The Hague’s Museum Meermanno, a noted museum of the book and repository of important documents about publishing and printing; in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library) and its partner institutions; and the many collections of private papers of persons who had been associated with the book trade. Numerous Dutch historical databases, government files, books, newspapers and documents have been digitized and published online for free access. In my research about the cover design of Teekeningen I I found only one person, the independent researcher Frederik Kreuger, who had named a book designer as allegedly responsible. That designer was said to be Henri Friedlaender (1904-1996), working at that time for the publishing firm L.J.C. Boucher in The Hague (see note (13)). J.L.C. (Jean Louis Charles) Boucher (1907-1987), known as the “gentleman-publisher,” opened for business in 1932 in his father’s bookstore. The firm survived the German Occupation by complying with the regulation to register with the newly-created Departement van Volksvoorlichting en Kunsten (Department of Public Information and the Arts). By doing so, Boucher could remain in business. And he offered work and protection to his Jewish book designer.
Friedlaender was born in Lyons, France, of a German-Jewish father and an English mother. At a very early age young Henri moved with his family to Berlin where Henri entered the Mommsen Gymnasium to continue his education. Upon graduation, however, Henri chose not to go to university but instead was apprenticed to a Berlin book printer where he learned the trade and studied calligraphy in his spare time. In 1925 Friedlaender entered Leipzig’s Staatliche Akademie für Graphische Künste und Buchgewerbe (State Academy for Graphic Arts and Book Trade). After graduation Friedlaender worked for the wellknown Leipzig firm Drugulin. He then moved to Offenbach where he found a mentor in the noted book and writing designer Rudolph Koch (1876-1934), who was particularly interested in Gothic lettering. Koch’s influence on Friedlaender was very important for the young book designer. (14) Friedlaender moved in 1928 to Hamburg to work for leading publishing firms. He moved around quite a lot afterwards, in what might be called his journeyman years, but he always worked for leading book publishers and printers wherever he settled. He continued his studies and private design creations on his own time throughout this period.
In 1932, with Nazi-promulgated anti-Semitism growing rapidly in Germany, Friedlaender fled to the Netherlands. He found work immediately, joining the firm of Mouton and Company in The Hague as a book designer and artistic advisor while also doing freelance work designing books and dust jackets for other firms including Querido and Allert de Lange. In 1933 his association with L.J.C. Boucher began. In 1936 he started teaching typography and lettering in Amsterdam. However, Friedlaender began to see the Netherlands as less safe than he had hoped. The German invasion of 1940 undoubtedly caused Friedlaender great trepidation but he kept working for Boucher and doing whatever other freelance work he could find. In 1940 he was one of the 15.000 German Jewish refugees who remained in the Netherlands after Hitler’s takeover in 1933. It was that power grab by the Nazis in Germany which caused the flood of refugees that finally receded by 1940. That same year Friedlaender entered into a civil marriage with a German woman Maria Helena Bruhn (1905-1994) who had been living in the Netherlands since 1931. In 1940, Maria Friedlander asked the township authorities of Wassenaar, where they lived, to destroy their marriage certificate, which the township agreed to do. In this way, the German Occupation authorities had no civil marriage record for Henri Friedlaender. (15) Friedlaender obviously did not register with the infamous census of Jewish residents in the Netherlands begun soon after the Occupation; the census was a subterfuge used by the Germans for identifying Jews for later roundup and deportation. “Of the 140,00 people who registered themselves with the Germans as being Jewish, 107,000 were deported, of which only 5,500 came back. Approximately 24,000 went into hiding, of whom about 8,000 were caught.” (16)
In the summer of 1942 (most likely July) Friedlaender went into hiding in Wassenaar where with the help of his wife he survived in their garden shed until 1945, although Friedlaender’s granddaughter says he hid in the house’s attic. (17) In the Burgerlijke Stand (Civil Register) for Wassenaar, Friedlaender lived at the same address in 1940 and 1947 – Hertelaan 7. Maria, who was not Jewish, continued to use her maiden name Bruhn and pretended to be a Nazi sympathizer. Trained as a teacher of rhythmic gymnastics, Maria Bruhn offered gymnastic lessons to German women in her house, all to draw attention to herself and away from the surroundings at Hertelaan 7. In a bit of irony, her husband designed the prospectus for Maria’s course of instruction while in hiding. (18) Besides her husband Maria Friedlaender also hid a number of Jews, some from the resistance, and provided for them out of her earnings. Jolanthe Boucher, wife of L.J.C. Boucher, had become a close friend of Maria Friedlaender and because Maria had food ration coupons for herself only, Mrs. Boucher brought food to the Friedlander house to help feed Henri and the others in hiding. (19) A noted Jewish artist and art teacher who was saved by Maria was Paul Citroen (1896-1983) who Maria hid in the attic of her house, which may be why Friedlaender’s granddaughter named it her grandfather’s hiding place. On 7 July 1997, Yad Vashem recognized Maria Helena Friedlander-Bruhn as Righteous Among the Nations.
After the liberation Friedlaender left hiding and resumed his profession. Friedlaender, his wife and young daughter Hannah eventually left their Netherlands home in Wassenaar in 1950 to settle in Israel. In 1952 he became head of the Hadassah Apprentice School of Printing in Jerusalem. By the time of his death, Friedlaender had become an internationally noted book, print, type and graphic designer and educator. He was responsible for the design of a famous Hebrew font called the Hadassah Type, probably the most widely used Hebrew font. Ironically, Friedlaender’s design work on his Hadassah Type continued during his years in hiding. Friedlaender also designed the font for the IBM Selectric II dual Latin/Hebrew Hadar typeball as well as two other Hebrew fonts for IBM – Aviv and Shalom. A set of Hebrew type was donated to Dartmouth College and research at the Dartmouth library proved it to be Friedlaender’s notable Hadassah typeface. (20)
The Boucher firm went out of business in 1982 and an exhibition in 2007-2008 at the Museum Meermanno was dedicated to publisher L.J.C. Boucher. (21) In a review of the exhibition is the following sentence:
“Voor deze uitgaven is met de beste typografen, ontwerpers en drukkers rond de Tweede Wereldoorlog samengewerkt. Onder hen Gerrit Noordzij, Henri Friedlaender en Piet Cossee.”
“This is where the best typographers, designers and printers around the Second World War worked together. Among them Gerrit Noordzij, Henri Friedlaender and Piet Cossee.” (22)
Friedlaender may or may not have been the designer of the cover and cover typeface of Teekeningen I. Only one researcher of Van Meegeren, Frederik Kreuger, says:
“Op de omslag van het boek is veel kritiek geweest. Het ziet er nazistisch uit met zijn oud-Duitse letters en een agressief uitziende cijfer 1. Het ontwerp ervan is echter niet van Van Meegeren, maar van de ontwerper Friedländer (een joodse vluchteling), die het tegen zijn zin nazistisch moest maken. Vermoedelijk vanwege de autoriteiten, die het drukken moesten toestaan, want ook de uitgever, Boucher, stond aan de goede kant.”
“There has been much criticism about the book’s cover. It looks Nazistic with the old German letters and an aggressive-looking figure 1. Its design is not by Van Meegeren but by the designer Friedländer (a Jewish refugee) who made it despite its Nazistic look. Probably because the authorities had to allow the printing, because the publisher, Boucher, stood on the good side.” (23)
Other phrases have taken hold in Dutch society referring to people’s sympathies during the German Occupation. Even today references are made by an older generation who lived through the war years regarding those who chose the “right side” (against the Germans and the Occupation) or the “wrong side” (those who were active in their support of the Germans and the Occupation and those who were mostly sympathizers). Kreuger seems to use “good side” to mean in this instance that Boucher was at the very least a German sympathizer, and that enabled him to overcome restrictions. However, this “good side” characterization lays the responsibility solely with L.J.C. Boucher as if Van Meegeren had not much of anything to do with it. Van Meegeren was an artist who was known to be fanatical in control of his work. He spent his money lavishly during the Occupation living a luxurious life style that few Dutch people could afford. Boucher was not viewed at all as sympathetic to the Nazis but rather he undoubtedly bent under the regulations to keep his business alive, as very likely did Enschedé. In fact, Boucher published several clandestine books when he could while giving the appearance of hewing to the Occupation’s official requirements. Many among the Dutch played this double game of appearing to knuckle under to the Germans in order to deflect closer scrutiny of their clandestine work.
No other researcher, no archival material and nothing in Friedlaender’s correspondence has yet turned up supporting the claim about Friedlaender and his design of Teekeningen I. Without stating the source of his information about the book’s designer, Frederik Kreuger has told only part of the story and leaves a gap in his research about Van Meegeren’s historically accepted hands-on involvement with the book’s design. (24) No one has yet established a chronology of events to support the contention that Friedlaender designed Van Meegeren’s book. Friedlaender went into hiding in the summer of 1942, the year the book was published (although Lewin says publication was September 1941, see note (4). Still to be found are a contract between L.J.C. Boucher and Van Meegeren, and invoices between the publisher and printer that would note the quantity and quality of the paper, number of copies to be printed, how it would be bound and what the costs were although they were sure to be high, and Van Meegeren was wealthy. A continuing search could turn up Friedlaender’s name as book designer, or not. The book’s print production was by “Joh. [Johannes] Enschedé en Zonen te Haarlem,” whose name is at the end of the book, a highly respected and leading print house founded in 1703 and still in existence. This print house maintained the highest quality in its work; it is uncertain who decided on this printing firm – L.J.C. Boucher or Van Meegeren.
Turning to the printer Enschedé, we discover that in 1942 there was in the firm’s employ Jan van Krimpen, then a fifty-year old distinguished calligrapher, book designer and type designer. Friedlaender is now thirty-eight years old and struggling to keep working as he had struggled since he arrived as a refugee in the Netherlands. Jan van Krimpen had friendly relations with Friedlaender, and Van Krimpen’s son Huib van Krimpen (1917-2002) studied typography with Friedlaender. Van Krimpen also had friendly relations with a Jewish bookstore owner in Arnhem, Simon Hijman, who died in Auschwitz in 1944 and in whose memory Van Krimpen designed a tablet with a menorah placed outside of the entrance to the new bookshop still bearing Simon Hijman’s name. (25) Jan van Krimpen had a cordial relationship with engraver S.L. (Samuel Louis, called Sem) Hartz (1912-1995), a Jewish colleague, whose friendship spanned the years until Van Krimpen’s sudden death. Van Krimpen, like Hartz, took on work during the German Occupation in printing for the Dutch resistance although Hartz soon had to go into hiding to save himself from arrest and deportation. The Enschedé owners and Jan van Krimpen would have wanted to protect themselves and the Enschedé firm. It makes sense that all involved – L.J.C. Boucher, Henri Friedlaender, Jan van Krimpen, and the Enschedé ownership – and anyone on the periphery would have cooperated in getting the work done and pleasing Van Meegeren.
Following is a timeline of events before and after the book’s publication.
1939: Van Meegeren and wife return to the Netherlands from the south of France where they had lived through most of the 1930’s. In the 1920’s and early 1930’s he had produced many portraits for his wealthy socialite clientele and also sold forgeries in the 1930’s. He began to amass a great deal of money.
1940: Van Meegeren buys a villa in Laren. Van Meegeren sells the Head of Christ and the second version of The Last Supper. He also paints Isaac Blessing Jacob; Washing of Christ’s Feet, bought by the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam; and Christ and the Adulteress in the style of Vermeer. The Card Players that he had painted earlier is also sold.
1941: 8 November-1 December: Exhibition of fifty drawings by Han van Meegeren, at Hotel Hampdorff in Laren. Brief notices appear in De Tijd, 7 November 1941 and De Gooi- en Eemlander, 7 November 1941. A longer and complete signed review appears in De Tijd, 20 November 1941.
1942: 3 January: Opening of an exhibition of Van Meegeren’s drawings in Panorama Mesdag, The Hague. Het Nationale Dagblad reviews it with the comment: “vele zijner verbeeldingen zijn nog aan den negatieven kant; d.w.z. zij zijn onvolksch veelal cosmopolitanisch geörienteerd” Many of his imaginings are on the negative side, i.e. they are mostly unvolkish and often cosmopolitanly oriented.
The comment is clearly a negative political criticism that says Van Meegeren is not sufficiently observant of Nazi racial ideology; “unvolkish” meant not Nazi and “cosmopolitan” was Nazi racial code for a Jew. (26) Het Nationale Dagblad was published from 1936 to 1945 as the news sheet of the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (NSB), the Dutch Nazi Party. The newspaper’s art critic obviously followed a prescribed Nazi esthetic.
9 January: There is a signed review of the Panorama Mesdag exhibition in Het Vaderland. May: Van Meegeren registers with the Fine Arts Chamber. All professional workers must register in their professional chamber to be vetted and approved to work.
13 June: Start of deportation of Jews from Camp Westerbork where they are taken after their arrest.
14 July: Beginning of large-scale round-ups of Jews ages 15-40 in Amsterdam. After this date periodic round-ups of Jews in Amsterdam occur through the rest of the year including deportation of Jews from Camp Westerbork eastward to the extermination camps.
July: Teekeningen I published. Friedlaender goes into hiding around this time.
1943: Van Meegeren and wife move to Amsterdam into a large elegant mansion at Keizersgracht 321, an address on one of the elite canals. Van Meegeren does business with Hermann Göring, selling him a forged Vermeer. 18 December: Van Meegeren divorces his wife but this is only a formality. The couple remains together while a large share of Van Meegeren’s capital is transferred to his wife’s accounts as a safeguard against the uncertainties of wartime. Van Meegeren is attempting to shield his assets from any possible expropriation.
1944: A review of Teekeningen I is published in De Telegraaf, 5 February, and is titled “Een Vlot Talent” which translates as “A Smooth Talent.” “Smooth” have a negative connotation, in this instance of an ability to achieve an easy and great success in a time of hardship under German occupation. The first sentence of the review begins by saying that Van Meegeren is more famous in The Hague than in Amsterdam and pointedly mentions the book as being printed on large and expensive paper. Years earlier Van Meegeren had run into determined opposition to his taking a leadership role at the Haagse Kunstkring (Hague Art Circle). The Hague was the central place of government for the German Occupation. Obviously, Van Meegeren’s powerful friends – Dutch and German – gave him their help. How else could such an expensive book have been published? Thus, his “fame” in The Hague.
The rest of the review is not as important as the late date of its appearance and of the reviewer, Kasper (also Kaspar) Niehaus (1889-1974), a well-known and influential art critic who was also a painter and writer and the art critic for De Telegraaf. Niehaus, who was based in Amsterdam, had to register with the Kultuurkamer (culture chamber) in order for him to work as a journalist. While some of his contemporaries thought Niehaus was not a convinced National Socialist, fellow art critic Jan Engelman criticized him in 1937 for his applauding the Nazi leadership in Germany and for being a lackey of the “artistical” Hitler.(27) Opinion then and now is divided but what can be said is that Niehaus obviously flourished under the German Occupation. Niehaus undoubtedly knew the art scene of Amsterdam where Van Meegeren had been living since 1943 and Niehaus knew who had their hands on the levers of power in the art world and possibly in its associated crafts and businesses such as printing and publishing.
This timeline indicates that Van Meegeren had a small fortune at his disposal and he tested the reception of his drawings in several exhibitions. He had freedom of choice regarding a publisher to whom he may have made known both his money and his connections to Ed. Gerdes, et al. Van Meegeren began to live in high style once he started making money. He had the taste for luxury and used his money to get what he considered the best of what he wanted. (28) Wouldn’t that also apply to the choice of book designers for his drawings? In 1942 Friedlaender was still a relative unknown to the wider print profession beyond Netherlands, working for Boucher. Friedlaender’s reputation came much later, after the war ended and he went back to his profession.
Enschedé had a star book and type designer in Jan van Krimpen who began working for Enschedé in 1923 and was now well established as unequaled in his art. In 1942, at age fifty, Van Krimpen had a history of notable font and book designs that continued up to his death in 1958. He never left the employ of Enschedé and worked at the firm until his retirement. His work is described as “type designs [that] are elegant book typefaces.” (29) Between 1941 and 1943 Van Krimpen designed another one of his noted typefaces, Spectrum. His type designs were meant strictly for book publications. One quote about Van Krimpen is supported in many histories of printing in the Netherlands, that he “became the preeminent book designer of his generation in the Netherlands.”(30) With the recent examination of photos from the book, it was determined that the typeface for the title page and the text of Teekeningen I is Jan van Krimpen’s Lutetia.(31)
What evidence there is that “the authorities” forced book design decisions would seem irrelevant even if there was a specific order as to “a Nazi appearance” of any given book. In fact, there was an effort to standardize public lettering:
“During the German occupation, the Central Standardization Office (supervised by the occupying forces) asked a number of large Dutch corporations if it would be feasible to standardize public lettering on the basis of the German standard DIN 1451. A rather crude series of anonymous alphabets designed on a coarse grid of squares, that early DIN alphabet was ugly as well as despicable to patriotic Dutchmen – a symbol of German oppression. In 1944, a commission of specialists was assembled consisting of Jan van Krimpen, Sem Hartz, G.W. Ovink, the architect C. Wegener Sleeswijk, a notary and type specialists named H.C. Warmelink, and N.A.J. Voorhoeve of Philips, and presided over by H.G.J. Schelling, an architect at the National Railways. They did not bring out a statement until well after the liberation. The DIN standard was rejected….” (32)
The DIN is the Deutsches Institut für Normung and the DIN 1451 sans serif typeface is still used in many modern variants for traffic, administrative and technical applications. It did not then and still does not apply at all to books.
Since Van Meegeren, a Nazi-friendly artist, was undoubtedly paying from his own wealth for the book’s total editorial and production costs and had connections to overcome paper and ink rationing, it isn’t surprising that a first-rate printer was chosen. (33) Perhaps that firm was chosen for the fame of its excellent reputation, and it happened to have Jan van Krimpen working there.
The other part of this investigation asks where is that inscribed copy of Teekeningen I and why has it disappeared from view unlike most of Van Meegeren’s art – forged or his own? If we construct a chain of evidence for the book and Van Meegeren’s copy to Hitler with the shocking inscription we begin with its discovery by journalists in 1945 Berlin touring the remains of the Reich Chancellery where the Dutch Jan Spierdijk, and two Belgians, Nic Bal and the French- speaking Jacques Phillipet saw it. Another Dutch journalist Jan Goderie saw the book as may have Henri H. Dubois, a Dutch journalist working in Belgium. Perhaps the book was not “lent” to anyone, as Nic Bal claimed, but it somehow got into the hands of an Amsterdam collector named Jammert (if that was indeed his unusual name) for an appraisal, and the collector may have bought the book from one or more of its discoverers. (34) Did Spierdijk return to Amsterdam with the book? If “Jammert” is correct in his assertion that the book was requisitioned by the Centrale Raad van de Eereraad voor de Kunst (Central Committee of the Purge Board for Artists) from which he demanded the book’s return, did he get the book back? If he did get it back, did he sell it to an unnamed buyer he claimed he had for the book? If Jammert did not get the book back, what happened to it? (35)
There were two estate sales of Van Meegeren’s possessions, in 1947 and 1950, and copies of Teekeningen I seem not to have been included in either of these auctions. Referencing Lopez’s examination of the Central Committee’s archives (note 8), he says the minutes of the meeting mention the report of a handwriting expert from the Hague crime laboratory regarding the inscription to Hitler but the report itself was not in the file folder when Lopez examined it in 2006. So, now the book itself and the expert’s report went missing. The trail stops here. No book, no handwriting report.
Finally, we can establish a timeline of those who saw the book in 1945 in Berlin and saw its inscription as well as the references to that event many years later. A chronology of the reporting may pinpoint who were the actual witnesses to the book’s discovery, and how the story changed. All those cited were accredited war correspondents who continued with their careers after the war in communications, journalism, media and literature. The question arises as to why the initial claims of being the first discoverer were made by Spierdijk and why his claims were retracted while other claimants told a slightly different story. One wonders if this is a case of brothers-in-arms war correspondents covering up an episode in 1945 that could be more freely written about more than thirty years later.
I. Jan Spierdijk, “En de trots van Berlijn: Hitler’s Kanselarij,” De Waarheid, 11 July 1945. An account of Spierdijk’s visit to the chancellery which although in ruins seems to awe visitors. In the same article is a boxed announcement in typeface different from the article: “Vondst in de Rijkkanselarij” about the just-found inscribed copy of Teekeningen I. The brief editorial insertion reads:
“Vondst in de Rijkskanselarij Onze speciale verslaggever in Berlijn, Jan Spierdijk, meldt ons, dat in Hitler Rijkskanselarij het in 1942 uitgegeven boek van Martien Beversluis en Han van Meegeren gevonden is met de volgende opdracht: “Dem geliebten Fuehrer in dankbarer Anerkennung gewidmet von H van Meegeren.” Mocht er tot nu toe nog twijfel over de politieke gezindheid van den heer Van Meegeren bestaan hebben, die twijfel is door dit bericht wel opgeheven.
“Find in the Reich Chancellery Our special correspondent in Berlin, Jan Spierdijk, tells us that a book published in 1942 by Martien Beversluis and Han van Meegeren was found in Hitler’s Reich Chancellery with the following inscription: “Dem Geliebten Fuehrer in dankbarer Anerkennung gewidmet von H van Meegeren.” As for any doubt that hitherto exists about the political affiliation of Mr. Van Meegeren, that doubt is lifted by this post.”
Spierdijk’s own bylined article doesn’t contain the claim of discovery of Teekeningen I but that editorial box gave him the honor. It may have been the editor’s attempt to scoop everyone else by making the claim for one of its reporters.
II. Jan Goderie, “In Hitler’s rijkskanselarij,” Veritas, 28 July 1945. Goderie writes:
“Wat zou u denken van een Russische ikon, geschonken door de Russische nationaalsocialisten’ aan Hitler voor de bevrijding van de Oekraïne, gevat in een cederhouten doos met zilverbeslag en tezamen een klein vermogen waard? Ik zag er een oorlogscorrespondent mee weg wandelen. Een ander had een oude meester opgerold onder zijn arm, een derde sleepte kostbare boeken en platen weg (…)”
“What would you think of a Russian ikon, donated by Russian National Socialists to Hitler for the liberation of Ukraine, encased in a cedar box with silver fittings and worth a small fortune? I saw a war correspondent walk away with it. Another had an old master rolled up under his arm, a third dragged precious books and records away (…)”
Goderie seems unwilling to name the correspondents involved. In the same issue he writes a short report “Enorme collectie Joodsche boeken ondekt” about the recovery of stolen Jewish books and libraries. He remained in Germany to attend and report on the War Crimes Trails (the Belsen Trial) at Lüneburg, Germany, 1945, about which he later published his own account.
III. Jan Spierdijk, “Geen valse Van Meegeren!,” De Waarheid, 6 November 1945. In this article Spierdijk mentions Pierre H. Dubois and Nic Bal as helping him get the book to De Nieuwe Standaard, the Brussels newspaper Dubois worked for, in order to make photocopies of the flyleaf dedication to Hitler. Spierdijk got the images made and brought them back to Amsterdam. If Spierdijk was not the new owner of the book why would he be involved in this enormous effort in the near-immediate aftermath of Germany’s surrender?
IV. Jan Spierdijk, “Han van Meegeren: fenomeen van menselijke vervalsing,” De Telegraaf, 12 October 1974. In this extensive article Spierdijk no longer claims to be the first person to find the book but credits others with the actual hands-on discovery:
“De Belgen lieten mij ook een groot boek met tekeningen zien. Zij kenden de tekenaar niet.”
The Belgians showed me a large book of drawings. They did not know the artist.”
And, says Spierdijk, all of them being cut off from the “home front” they had no way of knowing what was happening back home. That refers specifically to the art trade scandal that had erupted with the arrest of Van Meegeren.
Spierdijk now reveals the time he met Van Meegeren in Amsterdam in 1943 while Spierdijk was living in Spartan circumstances with a group of men all of whom had refused to volunteer for labor assignments in Germany. Trying to make a photocopy of the book while he was in Berlin was impossible for Spierdijk which accounts for his earlier mention in De Waarheid, 6 November 1945, of having the copies made in Brussels.
Spierdijk describes the living quarters in a Zehlendorf villa, located in a Berlin suburb, in which he was billeted. He was one of three Dutch journalists and an editor in one room next to a room occupied by Belgian journalists. Since all spoke Dutch it seemed natural to share their stories of the visit to the Reich Chancellery and the items pilfered from the debris.
“Terug in de villa was ik juist klaar met mijn verhaal, toen de Belgen binnenkwamen en de verzameling kunstschatten uitstalden, die zij in dezelfde kanselarij hadden buitgemaakt, waarbij de mooiste ikoon, dir ik ooit gezien had, verpakt in een houten doos met een zilveren plaat, waarop de namen van de schenker waren gegraveerd, vrijwilligers van Slavische afkomst. (…) De Belgen lieten mij ook een groot boek met tekeningen zien. Zij kenden de tekenaar niet. Kende ik hem soms? Ik kende hem.”
“Back at the villa I had just finished my story, when the Belgians came in and displayed the collection of art treasures which they had captured, with the finest icon that I had ever seen, packed in a wooden box with a silver plate in the same chancery on which the names of the donor were engraved, volunteers of Slavic origin. The Belgians (..). let me see. They did not know the artist. Did I know him? I knew him sometimes. I knew him.”
V. In 1985, Nic Bal publishes a memoir that includes a section titled “Berlijn.” Nowhere does Bal mention Jan Spierdijk regarding the discovery of the book while Bal says, “Ik vond (…) een album van Van Meegeren opgedragen aan de Führer.”
“I (…) found a book by Van Meegeren dedicated to the Führer.”
Bal talks only about his own adventure into the Reich Chancellery and the loot he picks up, including Teekeningen I whose handwritten dedication in German he can read although at the time he doesn’t know who Han van Meegeren is.
VI. Jan Spierdijk is interviewed for a TV program “Het Van Meegeren Mysterie” broadcast on 29 December 1989 on Netherlands Television. However, since no transcript is available, there is only the program’s log which describes Spierdijk as the journalist who discovered, obviously through the book’s dedication, that Van Meegeren was on the “wrong” side in the war.
VII. The Dutch TV program Geschiedenis 24, broadcasts “Han van Meegeren: Meestervervalser” on 30 January 2014, with selected journalists, researchers and scholars reviewing the last sixty-nine years, each offering their explanation as to why Van Meegeren became an art forger. The program comes to no conclusion as to Van Meegeren’s motives for forgery. Regarding Teekeningen I, Frederik Kreuger doubts the existence of the entire album and its dedication.
It appears that several persons mentioned are witnesses to the discovery of Teekeningen I and its dedication, a book which was conveniently “lost” sometime in 1946 for unexplained reasons as was an official graphalogist’s report on the inscription’s handwriting. The paradox, as Jan Spierdijk maintained and still applies, is that Han van Meegeren’s works still get exhibited – his own paintings and drawings and sometimes his forgeries – while the claims about Teekeningen I and Van Meegeren’s dedication to Hitler remain either ignored or denied. Van Meegeren is something of a folk hero to the World War Two and later generations, and Dutch pride or national chagrin about the dedication to Hitler seems to end all inquiry. Trying to deflect the focus from Van Meegeren and naming other individuals as responsible for the “Nazistic” appearance of Teekeningen I is beyond the realm of dispassionate scholarship and slides into ideological favoritism as was evidenced early on by the book’s convenient disappearance. There seems still to be an unwillingness to allow researchers to dig more deeply into archives or for individuals who were close to Spierdijk to talk to outsiders.
(1) Benjamin Binstock, Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice, (Routledge, 2009), 59. The image (plate 40) is labeled “Van Meegeren, Theo van der Pas, ca. 1940;” and the source for the image is the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie. However, the entry in the RKD portrait database, number 109736, provides no mention of the date of the portrait’s creation nor does it provide the dimensions and medium. This large drawing, as it is usually described, is a watercolor and mixed technique [pen and ink drawing] on paper, 152 x 253 cm, ca. 1942.
(2) Janet Wasserman, “A Schubert Iconography: Painters, Sculptors, Lithographers, Illustrators,Silhouettists, Engravers, and Others Known or Said to Have Produced a Likeness of Franz Schubert,” in Music in Art; International Journal for Music Iconography, [City University of New York, Research Center for Music Iconography], XXVIII, 1-2, 2003, 199-241.
(3) Han van Meegeren, Teekeningen I, (‘s-Gravenhage: Firma L.J.C Boucher, 1942).
(4) “In september 1941 verscheen bij L.J.C. Boucher, (die vier clandestiene boekjes heeft uitgegeven) van H. de Boer en Pieter Koomen Han van Meegeren [sic]. Deze schilder die later beroemd zou worden als geniaal vervalser, stuurde een exemplaar van zijn Teekeningen I naar A. Hitler met de opdracht: ‘Aan mijn geliefde Führer.’ Lisette Lewin, Het clandestiene boek 1940-1945, 2d ed. (Van Gennep, Amsterdam 1983), p. 90. “In September 1941 there appeared by L.J.C. Boucher (…) [a book] by H. de Boer and Pieter Koomen Han van Meegeren. This painter [Han van Meegeren] who later would become famous as a brilliant forger, sent a copy of his Teekeningen I to A. Hitler with the inscription: “To my beloved Fuhrer.” ) Lisette Lewin, Het clandestiene boek 1940-1945, Van Gennep: Amsterdam, 1983 (tweede druk). At http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/lewi001clan01_01/lewi001clan01_01_0005.php. Teekeningen I shows 1942 as the year of its printing.
(5) Jonathan Lopez, The Man Who Made Vermeers, (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2008), 18-19.
“There is a copy of a letter from one of Enschedé’s directors, W. van Andringa de Kempenaer, dating 14th of December 1942, thanking Van Meegeren for sending him a presentation copy of the book.” Johan de Zoete, Curator, Museum Enschedé, email to the author, 16 December 2013. Enschedé printed Teekeningen I.
(6) “(…) two Belgian colleagues who had been with him on the trip to the Reichschancellery.” Lopez, The Man Who Made Vermeers, 212. The Belgians are Nic Bal and a French-speaking Belgian journalist named Jacques Phillipet.
(7) “(…) dat ik ben kwijtgeraakt door een onvoorzichtige uitlening” “I’ve lost by a careless lending.” Quoted from Nic Bal’s memoir, De mens is wat hij doet. BRT-mémoires, (Kritak/Fonds Leo Magits: Leuven, 1985), 63. Also repeated at http://www.geschiedenis24.nl/andere-tijden/afleveringen/2013-2014/Han-van-Meegeren-meestervervalser.html. The twenty-three-old Spierdijk was arrested July 14, 1942, sent to a hostage camp in Haren and released just before Christmas 1942. See http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/cali002spee01_01/cali002spee01_01_0004.php.
Spierdijk said, many years later, about it: “I was interned because of the very anti-German magazine Prologue that I had then (…) wrote poems in that time, much to the dismay of my father who was a carpenter who wanted me to succeed him.” http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2844/Archief/archief/article/detail/419587/1996/04/20/Het-Koos-Tak- syndroom-van-Jan-Spierdijk.html.
Spierdijk reported for the Communist Party’s newspaper De Waarheid after the war. He left his position at De Waarheid a few years afterwards, having become disenchanted with politics, and joined De Telegraaf where he had a long career as an art and theatre critic. He translated Shakespeare into Dutch and wrote poetry, essays and novels. Spierdijk and many other young Dutch people in Netherlands joined the most active part of the resistance which was organized early on by the Dutch Communist Party. In his Belgian homeland, Nic Bal began a radio career in 1939 but left to become an organizer in 1940 with the Belgian Communist Party, also the best organized and earliest of the Belgian resistance after the German invasion. Bal went into hiding to avoid arrest and internment in Belgium. His later post-war career was a prominent one as he became a BBC-trained radio and then television broadcaster. He ultimately rose to be the director-general of Belgian radio and television and was responsible for bringing color television to the Belgian public.
(8) “Jonathan Lopez wrote to me, ‘With regard to the handwriting on the inscribed copy of Teekeningen 1, the Centrale Raad van de Eereraad voor de Kunst (Central Committee of the Purge Board for Artists) had a special meeting on January 27, 1946 to consider the evidence regarding the book. The reason for the special session was that the committee had requisitioned the book from its owner, an Amsterdam collector named Jammert, who had acquired it from two Belgian journalists. (I’m pretty sure these were friends of Jan Spierdijk, who went with him to the Reichschancellery in Berlin.) Jammert demanded the book be returned to him because he had a buyer who wanted to acquire it immediately. The minutes of the meeting reference the report of a ‘grafoloog’ – handwriting expert – from the Hague crime laboratory. The report is said to be appended to the minutes, but was not in the file folder when I examined it in 2006. However, the minutes of the meeting summarize the findings of the report as follows:
a. The handwriting expert determined that the entire inscription, including signature, was written in vine charcoal.
b. The handwriting expert determined that the entire inscription, including signature, was written by a single hand.
c. By comparing the inscription and signature in the copy of Teekeningen 1 to an inscription and signature on a charcoal portrait drawing by Han van Meegeren of someone named L. Weber, the handwriting expert concluded that the same hand had produced both‘.” Source: Errol Morris, “Bamboozling Ourselves (Part 3: The Nazi Aesthetic),” The New York Times, 31 May 2009.
(9) Prof. Dr. Frederik Hendrik Kreuger retired in 1995 after a long and notable career as a high voltage scientist, inventor and teacher. He worked in England, Sweden and Netherlands, and published books and textbooks in his field. He began his study of Han van Meegeren in 2001 which resulted in several books about the artist as well as web sites dedicated to the life and work of Van Meegeren.
(10) Jonathan Lopez, The Man Who Made Vermeers, 152. See 279n152, Letter from L.J.C. Boucher to M. van den Brandhof, 6 March 1976, RKD/VDB, box 1, corr. file A-G. “Boucher gaf in 1942 het tekeningenboek van Van Meegeren uit en was uit dien hoofde bekend met Van Meegerens oorlogswerk, waarvan de verwantschap met Van Meegerens ‘Vermeers’ zich aan iedere beschouwer onmiddellijk opdringt.” (In 1942 “Boucher published the book of Van Meegeren’s drawings, and for that reason was familiar with Van Meegeren’s wartime work, whose relationship with Van Meegeren’s ‘Vermeers’ imposes itself immediately on every viewer.” Marijke van den Brandhof, Een vroege Vermeer uit 1937, (Utrecht/ Antwerp: Spectrum), 1979, 9.
(11) I am in the process of completing a larger article about Van Meegeren’s relationship with Jopie Breemer.
(12) Philippe Boucher, email to the author, 5 March 2014. It seems curious that this information was never known until now.
(13) In an online exhibition “Private Presses in the Netherlands,” by several authors identified only by their initials, there is a detailed survey of wartime shortages of paper, lead for type, and replacement parts for the presses (often the presses were removed to be shipped to Germany as scrap metal for their war effort). http://www.kb.nl/en/web- exhibitions/private-presses-in-the-netherlands. Van Meegeren was able to overcome any possible barrier or challenge to his book’s publication.
(14) Paul Standard, “Henri Friedlaender: A Koch Pupil Who Brings His Master’s Reflective Spirit to the Dutch Book Arts,” Print: A Quarterly Journal of the Graphic Arts, no. 2 (1947), 15-27.
(15) Philippe Boucher, the son of L.J.C. Boucher, e-mail to the author, 1 January 2013, in response to my letter of inquiry about the Boucher firm’s archives.
(16) Jewish Situation under the German Occupation of The Netherlands. http://www.humboldt.edu/rescuers/book/Strobos/Conditions.Holland.html.
(17) “All through the war he was stuck in that attic, sitting and designing that typeface,” Ayala related. “Had he been caught he would have been executed, along with his wife, on the spot,” in Ofra Edelman, “Whose font is it anyway? The battle for Hadassah,” Ha’aretz, 10 July 2009. A printed source says that Friedlaender himself noted that he was in hiding for 1,018 days (approximately two years and eight months) in a Hut or Hütte – a cabin or shed, Kurt Löb, Exil-Gestalten. Deutsche Buchgestalter in den Niederlanden 1932-1950, (Arnhem: Gouda Quint BV, 1995), 102.
(18) Kurt Löb, Exil-Gestalten, 101.
(19) Philippe Boucher, email to the author, 1 January 2013.
(20) William C. Fontaine, The Hadassah Type at Dartmouth’s Graphic Arts Workshop in Baker Library, Dartmouth College Library Bulletin, November 1991.
(21) “L.J.C. Boucher, uitgever.” http://www.meermanno.nl/index/-/p-l.j.c.boucheruitgever.bredevoort.
(22) Review of Museum Meermanno exhibit about L.J.C. Boucher in 2007. http://www.cultuurarchief.nl/literatuur/actueel/actueel091.htm.
(23) Frederik H. Kreuger, Han van Meegeren, Meestervervalser, (Diemen: Veen Magazines B.V., 2004), 114. “[G]oede kant” in this context may mean pro-German or collaboration with the occupation authorities, willing or unwilling, or a similar stance that did not place the Boucher firm under suspicion or in dangerous opposition. Van Meegeren could not be overlooked in approving the design. Leaving his book’s design to others was not his modus operandi as was seen during his days with his art journal De Kemphaan. His connection to Ed. Gerdes, the German-appointed art chief for the Netherlands, was also important in helping the Boucher firm overcome any paper rationing and getting the official go-ahead to publish. If Friedlaender was the Boucher designer assigned to create the lettering, he may have realized that refusing this design job would have been foolhardy if he wanted to continue working for Boucher under the eyes of the Occupation authorities. Moreover, Friedlaender had studied old Germanic lettering with Rudolph Koch, a leading German book and letter designer. That alone would have made him the preferred designer for the book’s cover lettering. Two works published in the 1990s about German book designers in exile in the Netherlands, 1930s and 1940s – Kurt Löb, Exil-Gestalten (a thorough scholarly book) and the exhibition catalogue Grafici in ballingschap include the life and work of Henri Friedlaender during this period but neither mention Friedlaender in association with Van Meegeren’s Teekeningen I. It would have been, of course, a monumental irony that Friedlaender had anything to do with Teekeningen I. One would suppose that survival was his main goal.
(24) “Correspondence between Friedlaender and his friend Reinold Kuipers (…) dates from this period. Neither book nor letters give any mention of Friedlaender being involved in this publication.” Ricky Tax, email to the author, 22 February 2013. Mr. Tax is the custodian and archivist of the papers of the L.J.C. Boucher publishing firm donated to the Museum Meermanno and is knowledgeable about Friedlaender’s work and life.
(25) T.W.M. van Berkel, “A Jewish bookseller/publisher in Arnhem, NL, 1942,” translation of an article originally published in Europa Atlas, VPRO, Hilversum, 12 December 2008. See: http://www.nostradamusresearch.org/en/ww2/hijman.htm.
(26) Quoted in Marijke van den Brandhof, Een vroege Vermeer uit 1937: achtergronden van leven en werken van de schilder/vervalser Han van Meegeren, (Utrecht/Antwerp: Het Spectrum), 1979, 131.
(27) Marie Timmer-van Eunen. Men voelt het of men voelt het niet. De kunstkritiek van Jan Engelman, (Doctoral Diss., University of Groningen, 2007), 184.
(28) “Van Meegeren was een man ‘die graag op de rand van het toelaatbare vertoefde, als een soort uitdaging,’ zoals Boucher het zo treffend uitdrukte in voornoemd schrijven.” “Van Meegeren was a man ‘who liked living at the edge of the permissible, as a kind of challenge,’ as Boucher so aptly expressed in that letter.” Brandhof, Een vroege Vermeer, 11.
(30) Philip B. Meggs and Alston W. Purvis. Meggs’ History of Graphic Design. 5th ed. (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2012).
(31) “The text pages are designed in Van Krimpen’s Lutetia typeface, and while many of the pages (the title page in particular) are designed in the style of Van Krimpen, my bet would be that he did not design the book.” Jason Dewinetz, email to the author, 28 December 2013.
(32) Jan Middendorp, Dutch Type, (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2004), 298.
(33) Prof. J.W. (Hans) Renders says: “I really don’t believe Friedlaender did that cover and in my research (…) I never saw a document that indicates there were rules for producing books with Nazi appearance. De Arbeiderspers [The Workers Press] did on purpose the opposite and Nazi publishers didn’t need a document ‘from above’ to do so.” Hans Renders, email to the author, 26 March 2013.
(34) Jammert seems unusual for a family name since in both Dutch and German it means “wails”or “laments.” Perhaps there was some confusion and the name should be Van Gemert, a known Dutch family name. Or perhaps Jammert was simply a cover name to protect someone and avoid liability for publishing the real name.
(35) See note 8.
Complete book citations and abbreviations appear under LITERATURE.
NIC (NICOLAAS) BAL (Belgian, 1916-2007)
During the German Occupation of Belgium, Bal wrote for the clandestine socialist newspaper Morgenrood.
Mentioned in Jan Spierdijk, “Geen valse Van Meegeren!,” De Waarheid, 6 November 1945.
De Mens is wat hij doet. Bal’s memoirs. Nowhere in this section about and his visit to the Reich Chancellery does Bal mention Jan Spierdijk. Bal’s claim that he lent the book to an unnamed person who never returned the book seems hard to credit. Bal brought home the rest of the loot he acquired and displayed it. See 3n8 and p.13.
Mentioned in “Han van Meegeren: meestervervalser,” on Dutch TV series Geschiedenis 24, 30 January 2014.
WIW, p.40. DBNL: mentioned many times.
After post-war radio broadcast training at the BBC, Bal’s career at BRT-VRT (Belgian Radio and Television-Flemish Radio and Television) began in 1953 as a TV series writer, natural enough for a former journalist. Subsequently, he moved up to production manager, producer, screenwriter for commercial distribution, episode host and actor. His commitment to Flemish language broadcasting never wavered as he used his creative linguistic and organizational abilities to push forward with quality Flemish news and entertainment. He ultimately became the Director-General of VRT where he had introduced color TV transmission. When he retired from VRT in 1981 he was considered one of the founders of Flemish TV broadcasting. Bal’s claim that he lent the book to an unnamed person who never returned the book seems hard to credit. Bal brought home the rest of the loot he acquired and displayed it. See 3n8 and p.13.
PIERRE H. DUBOIS (Dutch, 1917-1999) Poet, writer and critic.
Mentioned in Jan Spierdijk, “Geen valse Van Meegeren!,” De Waarheid, 6 November 1945.
WPL, p. 123.
DBNL: Dubois has extensive coverage.
Memoranda Retour Amstedam-Brussel (1942-1952). Memoir.
From 1941 to 1949 Dubois was a journalist in Brussels for De Standaard. In 1949, Dubois returned to Amsterdam and began an eminent literary career in Netherlands.
In Dubois’s memoir for the years 1942 to 1952, he mentions Nic Bal once but not at all in reference to the Reich Chancellery, and he makes no mention of Spierdijk or of Teekeningen I. Dubois mentions Van Meegeren once but only in reference to a well-received film made in Brussels about the Vermeer-Van Meegeren investigation by the Brussels art expert Professor P.B. Coremans. Most of Belgium was liberated by the Allies between September and October 1944, although areas to the far east of the country remained occupied until early 1945. The Occupation in Netherlands was finally over in May 1945 with its total liberation so Dubois had freedom of action on behalf of Spierdijk’s request for help. The Van Meegeren scandal must have hit the headlines of Belgian newspapers in July 1945 so it seems unusual that Dubois would have not have mentioned his and his newspaper’s small but important contribution to Spierdijk’s reporting. Dubois may have forgotten the incident in which he was said to have played a part in helping to get the photocopies made of Teekeningen I for Jan Spierdijk.
JAN GODERIE (Dutch, 1912-1962)
“De officiëele overgave van Westelijk Nederland. Historische besprekingen in Wageningen,” De Nieuwe Dag, 12 May 1945. Goderie was present at the meeting between General Blaskowitz, German Chief of Staff of German Forces in Netherlands, Lt. General Foulkes, Canadian Army, and Prince Bernhard negotiating the capitulation of the German Army in western Netherlands. Goderie’s report is considered a reliable witness to the signing. In a report “Capitulatie of Dienstbevel: 5 of 6 mei 1945? Wageningen en de laatste oorlogsdagen,” Historische Vereniging Oud-Wageningen, 17 May 2010. See firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In Hitler’s rijkskanselarij,” Veritas, 28 July 1945. Reporting as A.N.P. war correspondent.
“Enorme collectie Joodsche boeken ondekt,” Veritas, 28 July 1945.
“Jan Goderie overleden,” Het vrije volk,” 1 September 1962. In this obituary it notes that Goderie became a popular radio and TV commentator.
JACQUES PHILIPPET (Belgian, no years but he was alive from 1945 to 1952) Mentioned in “Belgische radio-reporters op tournée door Nederland,” Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, 8 May 1952.
Mentioned in Nic Bal, De mens is wat hij doet, 64.
JAN SPIERDIJK (Dutch, 1919-1997)
“Eens de trots van Berlijn: Hitler’s Kanselarij,” De Waarheid, 11 July 1945. The article includes a boxed item, “Vondst in de Rijkskanselarij” about the inscribed copy of Teekeningen I.
“Geen valse Van Meegeren,” De Waarheid, 6 November 1945.
“Han van Meegeren: fenomeen van menselijke vervalsing,” De Telegraaf, 12 October 1974.
Andermans Roem. A compilation of character sketches of artists, writers, poets and actors Spierdijk encountered over the period of 1940 to 1970 including Han van Meegeren. Spierdijk’s 1974 De Telegraaf newspaper article is the basis of the sketch of Van Meegeren.
Interview on TV Program “Het Van Meegeren Mysterie” on Netherlands Television, 29 December 1989, described as “journalist die ontdekte dat Van Meegeren in de oorlog ‘fout’ was geweest.” (journalist who discovered that Meegeren had been on the ‘wrong’ side.) No transcript of the program is available; only the tapes themselves can be purchased.
WPL, p. 374
DBNL: Spierdijk has extensive coverage.
As did Spierdijk, several of his friends achieved high literary recognition and appear in NVA and DBNL. Among them were Gerald den Brabander, Simon Vestdijk, and Reinold Kuipers. Kuipers studied typography with Henri Friedlaender and they became friends.
DBNL: Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren. A large and growing collection online of primary sources and secondary works on Dutch language and literature by authors from the Low Countries. See http://dbnl.org.
Delpher.nl: The new portal for 400 years of digitized Dutch newspapers. Reaches only to 1995.
NVA: De Nederlandse en Vlaamse Auteurs. Weesp: De Haan, 1986.
WIW: Wie Is Wie in Vlaanderen. Brussel: Cegos, 1980.
WPL: Winkler Prins Lexicon van de Nederlandse Letterkunde. Amsterdam/Brussel: Elsevier, 1986.
Bal, Nic. De mens is wat hij doet. Leuven: Kritak, 1985. “Berlijn,” 59-71. Binstock, Benjamin. Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown
Apprentice. New York: Routledge, 2009.
Brandhof, Marijke van den. Een vroege Vermeer uit 1937. Utrecht: Spectrum, 1979.
Dolnick, Edward. The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.
Dubois, Henri H. Memoranda Retour Amsterdam-Brussel (1942-1952). Amsterdam: Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 1988.
Euwe, Jeroen. “The Dutch Art Market, 1940-1945.”
Fontaine, William C. “The Hadassah Type at Dartmouth’s Graphic Arts Workshop in Baker Library.” Dartmouth College Library Bulletin November 1991.
Friedrichs, John and Jason Dewinetz. “Preliminary Checklist of the Early Work of Jan van Krimpen, 1912-1930.” http://home.planet.nl/~johnf/home.html
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Philippe Boucher, Midlaren, Netherlands, for his information about his father L.J.C. Boucher, his mother Jolante Boucher (née Yolanthe Simonyi), and Henri Friedlaender; Prof. J.W. (Hans) Renders, University of Groningen, Netherlands, and director of the university’s Institute for Biography, for his advice and help; Ricky Tax, Museum Meermanno, The Hague, Netherlands, curator of the L.J.C. Boucher Collection, for his research; Jason Dewinetz, Greenboathouse Press, Vernon, BC, Canada, for his help on Jan van Krimpen’s typeface and a general discussion of the research.
I hereby give my express permission to ROB SCHOLTE to reproduce online my article “Janet Wasserman – Han van Meegeren and his book TEEKENINGEN I.” Kindly note that the article carries the author’s copyright and was originally published at http://www.janetwasserman.com.
s/ Janet I. Wasserman, New York, New York, USA