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Henri Polak

Collection former Stichting Film en Wetenschap

 

Interviewer: : Salvador Bloemgarten
Number of interviews: 22
Sound carrier: 14 sound tapes

Production date: 1976

Type of interview(s): scientific

Accessibility: limited, for research purposes
Transcription: none

The interviews were held as part of Salvador Bloemgarten’s PhD research on Henri Polak (1868-1943), politician and one of the most prominent leaders of the Dutch labour movement. This resulted in his biographical dissertation (UvA):

Henri Polak. Sociaal democraat 1868-1943, Den Haag: SDU, 1993

 

The interviews were held as part of Bloemgarten’s PhD research on Henri Polak (1868-1943), politician and one of the most prominent leaders of the Dutch labour movement. Both in the biography and in the interviews the emphasis is on Polak’s public functions. The interviewees speak from the various relationships they had with Polak.
After coming under the influence of socialism as a diamond worker through the English Fabian Society and the Dutch socialist Frank van der Goes, Polak joined the Social Democratic League (SDB) of Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis in 1890. In 1894, together with Pieter Jelles Troelstra and others, he founded the Social-Democratic Labour Party (SDAP), for which he became the first socialist councillor in Amsterdam in 1902. Also in 1894 he founded the Algemene Nederlandse Diamantbewerkers Bond (ANDB), of which he was chairman for 45 years. In 1906 he took the initiative to found the Dutch Union of Trade Unions (NVV).
He also devoted himself to the ‘cultural uplift of the working class’ and developed many activities in the field of journalism. In 1913, he became a member of the Dutch Senate.
From the 1920s onwards, he concentrated more and more on the position of the Amsterdam diamond workers, the group that was closest to him and which in that period got into economically bad situations.
poor economic conditions. After the German invasion in 1940 he was taken prisoner and unexpectedly released in 1942. He died in 1943 of pneumonia.

 

Portrait of Henri Polak, chalk dawing Albert Hahn, 1913