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Brabantia Nostra

Title: Brabantia Nostra: een gewestelijke beweging voor fierheid en ‘schoner’ leven 1935-1951

Author: Jan van Ousheusden

Publisher: Stichting Zuidelijk Historisch Contact, Tilburg, 1990

ISBN: 9070641348

Also available online

For his dissertation, Jan van Oudheusden interviewed ten founders and members of Brabantia Nostra between 1987-1989. Brabantia Nostra (=our Brabant) was a Dutch socio-cultural magazine that existed from 1935 to 1951. The magazine devoted itself to the development of  the culture of (North) Brabant, which was onspired by, among other things, the Roman Catholic Church and the ‘Burgondian Lifestyle’.


The following individuals were interviewed:

  • P. Dorenbosch
  • J. Heerkens
  • L. van Hoek
  • P. Mutsaers
  • J. Naaijkens
  • C. Ruygers-Smulders
  • C. Slootmans
  • F. van der ven
  • A. Willemse
  • B. Wijffels-Smulders


You may find the transcriptions here 

Colonists tell

Bewoners poseren bij hun koloniewoning aan de M.A. van Naamen van Eemneslaan in Wilhelminaoord, foto omstreeks 1920-1940 (Maatschappij van Weldadigheid)

How did the people of the free colonies live? That’s what the “colonial kings” tell themselves in sixteen video portraits. Now it is still possible. Humility has given way to colonial pride in Frederiksoord and Wilhelminaoord.


Life in the “free colonies” of the Maatschappij van Weldadigheid was not as “free” as the word suggests. Order and discipline, norms and values and a regentesque culture formed a tight corset. Scant wages and cap in hand to the director. A somewhat feudal atmosphere prevailed for a long time in the colonies of Frederiksoord and Wilhelminaoord, Willemsoord and Boschoord. Even into the 1970s.


De kruidenierswinkel van Jannie Specht



Derk Ploeger and Cathrien Ploeger-Eimers

Derk Ploeger Cathrien Ploeger-Eimers, Dagelijks leven in de vrij-socialistische beweging in Groningen door hen zelf verteld

Written by Wilbert Dekker, Jack Hofman, Wantje Fritsehy and Pieternel Rol

With a foreword by Anton Constandse

Own publication

Groningen, 1979


GRONIEK Nr 65 (1979)





The view of 50 years of socialist history from “the bottom up” by two people who witnessed the developments very closely is a valuable addition to what has been published about this period in the official annals. It is also a story of two people who dared to live their lives differently than was usual and succeeded.



Drukkerij “De Volharding” in 1924 van links naar rechts: Derk Ploeger, J. Bijlstra, J. Lenstra, J.B. Ploeger. Links de snelpers, rechts de trap-degel

From resistance fighter to subversive citizen

Van verzetsstrijder tot staatsgevaarlijk burger. Hoe progressieve illegale werkers na de oorlog de voet is dwarsgezet

Joost van Lingen en Niek Slooft

Anthos/uitgeverij In den Toren, 1987

ISBN: 90 6074 200 1

The life stories that seventeen former resistance fighters of a very left-wing persuasion told journalists Van Lingen & Slooff describe hopes, expectations and bitterness, feelings of unity and, above all, hostility. The interviewees are (ex)-communists, Trotskyists, anarchists and so on, from clubs such as the CPN, EVC and De Vonk, and their mutual feelings are decidedly less lovely than the common denominator ‘progressive’ would suggest. Nevertheless, there is something they shared in post-war Holland and that is their position of absolute outsider, of enemy and ‘fifth columnist’ in a situation of division in which even fierce non-communists, such as the interviewed old Groninger, an anarchist pacifist, were labelled communists.

What is intriguing about the stories van Lingen and Slooff recorded is the ambivalence that many revolutionaries display: a curious combination of distrust, cynicism and illusiveness on the one hand, and surprised innocence and naivety on the other. During the war, many had the dream that everything would be different later, but at the same time, even then, they felt alone, deviant, always (even in the future) in struggle and always betrayed.

Radical salvation

Radicale verlossing – Wat terroristen geloven

Beatrice de Graaf

Prometeus, 2021

ISBN: 9789044646573

Beatrice de Graaf has interviewed some 20 violent jihadis for her book Radical Redemption, In doing so, she also sheds light on the personal souls of terrorists.

‘The suicide bomber or pious fighter often makes an explicit appeal to his God who would command him to kill ‘infidels’. But at the same time, he also appears to be beset by other motives such as a lack of recognition by his fellow man, a belief in a kingdom of salvation or utopia that he must realise, an opposition between his own ‘good’ group’ and the ‘bad’ others that is held to be absolute.


Beatrice de Graaf discusses these ‘other motives’ in more detail. The strength of her book is that thanks to the oral history method, in which she conducts several in-depth interviews, she takes jihadis’ own perspective seriously. She thus makes it plausible that they are not crazy but engaged in a coherent combination of ideology and practice, which she calls ‘orthopraxis’. Guilt over one’s own decadent life in the Netherlands, characterised by criminal profiteering and/or drug use and so starkly contrasted with the needs of Syrians, is a driving force. Only something big can still bring salvation.

Terrorism, according to De Graaf, can be summed up in four Rs: revenge, renown, reaction and redemption or, in other words, revenge on the evil world, desire for one’s own glory, drive to action and craving for atonement and then redemption. Terrorists, in short, want to become martyrs.

Mama read Marx


Elke Weesje researched the experiences of those who, born between 1937-1952, grew up in a communist nest in the shadow of World War II and the Cold War. She makes clear the emotional rollercoaster in which communists and those close to them were caught, having first survived persecution during World War II, then enjoyed great popularity because of their consistent resistance, which, however, turned into aversion and suspicion within three years under the influence of the Cold War. With the Russian invasion of Hungary in 1956 as a tragic low point.


During her internship at the IISG, supervised by Margreet Schrevel, Weesjes came into contact with the history of Dutch communism and spoke to children who grew up in a communist family largely after World War II. She became fascinated by this second generation, which sought a path between the loyalty and admiration for their emotionally wounded communist parents, and the repulsion and hostility from society towards their parents that also radiated onto the children.


Weesje previously wrote an English-language dissertation in which she compared the experiences of the ‘cradle communist’, the children of communists in the Netherlands and Britain. Based on a series of interviews with 38 children of working-class rank-and-file members of the Dutch and British communist party. A relevant study that offers insight into how, in particular, the experiences of a Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, which never took place in England, influenced the different dealings with and positions of communists in both countries. Weesjes then decided to write a more accessible book, written in Dutch, in which she focused on the Dutch experience. This was a good choice, as it offers more space to place her interlocutors’ statements within their life stories and within the way communism was dealt with in the Netherlands during the Cold War.


Oral History offered her the opportunity to illuminate this history from a non-institutional perspective (of the child). Relevantly, after the first series of interviews, she returned to a number of interlocutors some 20 years later. She indicates that these then had more space or were better able to look back critically, although we don’t see much of that in her book. This is a shortcoming, as the book would have gained strength if Weesjes had mobilised more opposing voices from children of the time who – sooner or later – distanced themselves from communist ideology and criticised their communist parents’ upbringing.