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The first witnesses of our century

Jan Tinbergen – foto: R.C. Croes, ANEFO, 1986

Willy Corsari – foto: Edith Visser, ca. 1948

Arthur Lehning (1976)

Jeanne Bieruma Oosting – Zelfportret (1932)

Chris Walder – Foto: Johan van Gurp, 1993

Corrie de Roos-Oudegeest, 1961

Series of six interviews with people born around 1900 about their memories of and experiences in the 20th century.


Jan Tinbergen 1903-1994

Interview with Jan Tinbergen about his youth, the end of WWI, his study of physics in Leiden and his contacts with his tutors Paul Ehrenfest and Albert Einstein; his work at the Central Bureau of Statistics mn crisis management in the 1930s; about his transfer in 1936 to the League of Nations in Zurich and the cooperation during WWII with experts on international law such as Van Asbeck and van Eysinga t. his research into the role of international treaties; his passivism and anti-colonialism, the research by the CBS into the economic consequences regarding overseas territories and his criticism of Min. Drees’ attitude towards de-colonialisation policy. He also talks about his research into world issues such as developing countries and environmental problems, which according to him require a global approach by means of a world government, and about receiving the Nobel Prize in 1969. Finally, he gave his vision of the future in terms of an economic balance between production and fairer income distribution and his desire for a more sober and idealistic society.


Willy Corsari 1897- 1998

Interview with Willy Corsari about, among other things, her unhappy childhood, the artists’ milieu in which she grew up, the origin of the name Corsari, her studies of piano and singing and writing girls’ books, her memories of The Hague and Berlin, where she took singing lessons; her life with Jean-Louis Pisuisse’s cabaret company and pre-history of his murder. She talks about the publication of her first books, about euthanasia among other things, and her love for the theatre, which she stopped attending on principle during the war; the work of the resistance and helping Jews during the war years and the positive memories of the occupation period with regard to human relationships; about the publisher Leopold, who committed suicide, and her move to cooperative publisher Lubberhuizen/Blommestein (later De Bezige Bij), where she left after conflicts.


Arthur Lehning 1899-2000

Interview with Arthur Lehning about his exciting stay in artists’ and anarcho-syndicalist circles in Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s, the rise of fascism, his views on the political movements of the time, including the Spanish civil war, his initiative to found the international politically engaged art magazine “i10” and the people, including Mondrian, Kandinsky and Nagy, who contributed to it. He talks about his childhood friend Marsman and the ideological conflict between them in the 1920s; about the Spanish Civil War, his reasons for actively supporting the socialist revolution and his stay and meetings there; his experiences in the internment camp on the Isle of Man, England, after the neutralisation refusal, in connection with his political activities, of the Netherlands, his activities regarding the Cold War and the Paris protest movement ’68. He calls the past century “this terrible age” and sees few positive prospects for the next one.


Jeanne Bieruma Oosting 1898-1994

Interview with Jeanne Bieruma Oosting about her childhood years in the affluence of noble and aristocratic circles; her early love of painting and her studies at the Art Academy in The Hague during which time she met Queen Wilhelmina. She talks about her teacher Van Konijnenburg, her impressionist style of painting, her departure in 1929 with Charlotte van Pallandt for Paris and her 11-year stay there where she met Piccaso, among others, and became fascinated by the city’s seamy side and nightlife; about her stay in the south of France after the outbreak of the war, the return to occupied Holland and the productive years in Amsterdam. Oosting talks about her painting and graphic work, including the design for children’s stamps and her self-portraits, the stroke that struck her and the happy life she enjoyed.


Chris Walder 1900-1997

Interview with Chris Walder about his childhood in Breda, where he learnt to play football on the streets early on, his first matches, the mobilisation and outbreak of WWI and his training to become a notary; playing football at NAC, the various Dutch championship matches and the various NAC players around 1920-’21; NAC’s national championship, after which he was selected for the Dutch national team. He talks about the fact that back then there was no training programme for the team and the big difference with today’s football.

He believes he could have come along now too, because it always remains about the talent.


Cor de Roos-Oudegeest 1899-1998

Interview with Cor de Roos-Oudegeest about her background, memories of the railway strike of 1903, her father Jan Oudegeest (chairman NVV and SDAP politician), WWI and the support committee; the reactions in Dutch socialist circles to the Russian Revolution, her joining the SDAP and her activities for the SDAP women’s union, the rise of communism and fascism and the outbreak of WWII, the occupation years and her husband’s resistance work.

She talked about politics after the war, including the Dutch East Indies, about Minister Drees’ views on the inferior position of women, her entry into parliament for the Dutch Labour Party in 1956 and her reasons for leaving active politics. She sees the biggest changes in this century as the great growth of prosperity and participation, but also a much more selfish society, which leaves her with a not very positive feeling for the future.