Tuesday, February 24, 2015

X The First Year of the Nazis (Superseded)

This post features a letter from my great-aunt Hilda de Booy in Amsterdam to her sister, my grandmother, in Washington, D.C. It has been superseded by incorporation in Chapter 3 of the book on the Dutch Resistance.

It notes that the first reaction of Dutch people to the departure of their Queen on May 14 for England was one of catastrophe.

This post is left up to maintain links.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

HvS BIRTHDAY | Feb. 9 - Celebrating in Berkhamsted, UK

Four of HvS's Six Children (L to R): Sheila, Brigid, Lis, John. Photo by
Chris Oakley.
We celebrated our Mom's 107th birthday at Brigid's house in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, UK  over the weekend of the birthday.

Jo, Alice, Chris. Photo by JT Marlin.
Great-uncle John with Jo's kids.
Lis and John.
Alice Tepper Marlin and I are staying with Chris Oakley in his new house on Shotover Hill in Headington, just outside the Ring Road in Oxford. Chris drove the three of us to Berko.

We were 12 at the lunch - four of HvS's six children, plus Alice, Brigid's sons Chris and Desmond Oakley with Des's wife Anna, and Lis's daughter Jo with her husband and two kids.

Lis kindly primed me with two magic tricks involving coins and ropes, and this got the attention of the boys. But then, she is an expert grandmother. She and Sheila just wrote together the Grandmother's Survival Guide. The link takes you to Amazon where you can get your copy, grandmother or not.

Chris and his Mom Brigid enjoy a joke.
Alice and Lis. Photo by JT Marlin.
Des's birthday is coming up this week, on February 14. The birthday cake was therefore jointly dedicated to Des and his grandmother HvS.

Lis and her grandkids.
Besides the book she wrote with Lis, Sheila has recently written a book for children about two seals born in Blakeney in Norfolk, England, Flip to the Rescue. She painted 32 realistic water-color pictures for the book and accompanied each picture with a poem. The moral of the book is that siblings need to look after one another, a fitting theme for the day.

Sheila reads from her new book to Anna and Des. Photo
by JT Marlin.
Alice is heading off to Mumbai to meet with some executives of Tata Steel and give a couple of speeches, followed by some vacation in Kerala.


My next stops were in Amsterdam to study the Dutch Resistance, Bilbao to look at the Guggenheim Museum and then Pamplona to visit my fourth sister, Olga.

HvS KIDS: Feb. 22 - Olga Marlin and Her Pamplona Family

Celebrating Olga's return to good health, and her 80th birthday, at La Olla
Restaurant, Plaza de Toros, Pamplona. Photos by JT Marlin or (when
he's in pic) La Olla staff. 
PAMPLONA, Navarre, Spain - From Bilbao it was a two-hour bus ride to Pamplona to visit with Olga, after having visited with the other three sisters last week.

Today I went out with Olga and three of her Pamplona Family to a restaurant near the Plaza de Toros.

Most good restaurants seem to close in Pamplona on Sunday evening. So Eduardo Lopez at the desk of the Albret Hotel where I am staying suggested two restaurants that were open - La Olla ("Saucepan") and Casa Luis.

Someone in the know said both restaurants are good but La Olla is better, so that settled it. That's where we all went. We were all very pleased with the food and the restaurant set us up nicely in an alcove on the lower floor.

Olga and I have the Ajoarriero con Gambas in front of us.
I had a vegetarian starter (Panache de Verduras) and an Ajoarriero con Gambas. Gambas are prawns. Apparently the main course I happened to select is what the toreros (bullfighters) at the Plaza de Toros eat before the bullfight and what some people bring with them between pieces of bread to sustain them during an afternoon of bull-fighting.

If you aren't aware of how much bullfighting means to many Spaniards a short video of Torero sung by Chayanne - with no ads (!) - might help you. The difference between them is:
  • In the video the guy gets the girl, and takes off, making food for thought.
  • Bullfights traditionally end with the torero killing the bull, and tapas bars grilling the beef. 
The Torero video has been viewed so far by 22.6 million people. Another version of the video shows what appears to be 50,000 people dancing to the song in a square in Spain.

The Running of the Bulls doesn't start until July 7, during the Feast of San Fermin (July 6-14), around which Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises. It is the most famous fiesta in Spain. One million people come to Pamplona every year for the celebration. San Fermin was a martyr and the first Bishop of Pamplona in the fourth century AD. One story about San Fermin is that he was beheaded in Amiens, France; another is that he was dragged through the streets chased by bulls, hence the Running of the Bulls.

Bulls and bullfighting is a central to the Pamplona brand as the more recently acquired Guggenheim Museum is to Bilbao. Pamplona's fiesta reportedly brings in one million visitors in a two-week period - Bilbao's museum brings in half a million during a year.

Bullfights have been outlawed in Catalonia, where Ferdinand the Bull would be the more important textual reference; that book was commissioned by May Massee, the same editor that Hilda van Stockum had at Viking Press.

Meanwhile, here's the recipe for the Ajoarriero con Gambas, posted online by Bruno Oteiza.
The ajoarriero is a traditional recipe from Navarre cuisine, built around flaked cod and potatoes, peppers and a spicy chili. Ingredients for 4 people: 1 kg of salt cod crumbled, 20 prawns, 3 large potatoes, 2 green peppers, 1 large onion, 6 garlic cloves, 1 tip chili, 4-5 chilis in vinegar, 250 ml of fish broth, 200 ml tomato sauce, olive oil, salt, chopped parsley, chives, bread for sandwiches. Chop the garlic and put in a wide, low pan with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of pepper. When the garlic begins to brown, add the onion and chopped green peppers. Let it all poach well. Peel and dice the potatoes, and add to a casserole. Season and add a little chopped parsley. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir in crumbled cod and stir well. Pour in the broth and tomato sauce and mix well. Wiggle the pan occasionally. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add seasoned shrimp and cook a few more minutes. Sprinkle with a little parsley and put on plate with a little oil on top. Garnish with chives. You can use the leftovers to make a sandwich filling, adding chopped chilis in vinegar.
Olga went to Pamplona originally because of a bone marrow disease that hospitals in Nairobi were not as able to monitor and ameliorate as the Navarre Clinic, which is a widely respected hospital in this part of Spain.

The doctor who has been monitoring her progress over four years has declared Olga back to normal, which is a huge cause for celebration. He told her: "Come back for a check-up in three months, if you feel the need." Olga also passed her 80th birthday three months ago - another cause for celebration.

Her course of treatment has taken four years, during which time she has developed a Pamplona family to match her biological family, then her Dublin family and then - for more than 50 years - her Nairobi family.

Olga is working on a biography of the two parents of a long-time friend. She wants to use her regained health to finish the book, and then she is considering what she might propose to do next to be of service to the world. She is teaching short courses - for example, in anthropology. She has lived in so many countries, she is well-placed to write about what she has learned about differences in cultures in countries on three Continents.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to visit the University of Navarre.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

WW2 | Intro. Boissevains in the Dutch Resistance (Book Draft) Why This Book?

What was it like to live in a country occupied by Hitler?

What was it like to fight back against the Nazis?

These questions are hard-wired into my head.

As a pre-teen in Montreal in the late 1940s, I heard my mother, Hilda van Stockum Marlin (1908-2006) and grandmother, Olga Emily Boissevain van Stockum (1886-1949) talk for hours about the tragedies of their Dutch relatives - those who died in World War II and those who survived only to envy the dead.

When they didn't want me to understand, they talked about in Dutch. But the pain in their voices etched an even deeper track in my head because I couldn't understand what the words meant. Dozens of relatives and friends died during the war. My grandmother lost both of her sons, my mother lost both of her brothers.
  • Willem van Stockum (1910-1944) was the pilot of an RAF bomber shot down during the week of D-Day, and was buried in France. 
  • Jan van Stockum (1913-1947) contracted tuberculosis in a Dutch hospital during the occupation and died in Heiloo, Netherlands.
I gradually figured it out and was haunted by my inability to help - although now I see I had some value just being there, a stand-in for the two sons, the two brothers, who were gone.

Years later, my mother wrote two books about the Dutch Occupation, fictionalized and targeted to a young adult age group. The books were based on facts she learned through letters from her relatives in Holland and from personal recollections.

The Dutch Occupation

In the 1930s, Hitler came to power in Germany. Despite Holland's neutrality in World War I and its wish to be neutral in World War II, he invaded Holland in 1940 with no warning. The tiny Dutch army, and private citizens, fought furiously. They are credited with shooting down 500 German planes during the opening days of the war - a relative writes that this number is probably understated.

But the Queen left Holland for England on May 13 (Friedhoff, 27) and when the Nazis obliterated central Rotterdam the next day with bombs (Friedhoff, 29-30), and threatened to follow up with Utrecht, the Queen capitulated on May 15. Only Zeeland held out until it, too, was bombed.

The Boissevain and van Hall Families

The Boissevains and their friends early on decided to be unwelcome to a "Deutschland Über Alles" in their midst. As the Nazi Occupation of Holland continued, an increasing number of family members joined the Resistance and many paid for their involvement with their lives or the lives of their parents, siblings and children. They were subject to betrayal and execution - weekly, daily, hourly. The leaders within the Boissevain family were from all age groups, women as well as men, old as well as young.

At the start, however, there was a period of "Phony Peace" (Friedhoff, 60) for a few weeks before  Hitler's representative in Holland, Reichskommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart, began showing his hand. During this time some members of the extended family made mistakes, some fatal. For example, for tax-allocation purposes there were lists of residents by religion that in retrospect should have immediately been burned as the Nazis invaded. The SS seized these lists as soon as they could, a terrible blow for Jews in Holland because all of these addresses were systematically visited. Later,  the SS followed up with razzia roundups, neighborhood by neighborhood, house by house, so the lists only hastened the assembly of their deadly database.

From June 24 on, Seyss-Inquart proceeded to take away the rights of the occupied, one by one. With each new crackdown, the Resistance became more stubborn.

My mother told me of a Family Legend that Hitler said near the end of the war that "he should have exterminated all the Boissevains at the start of the Occupation of Holland". While when I first heard the story I was sure it was apocryphal, now I am now so sure. We know that Joseph Goebbels in his Diaries wrote confidently on September 8, 1943 that "Seyss-Inquart is a master in the art of alternating gingerbread with whippings" (Lochner). But later Goebbels admits:
The Führer expects the Anglo-American invasion attempt to come in the Netherlands. We are weakest there, and the population would be most inclined to give the necessary local support to such an undertaking. As everyone knows, the Dutch are the most insolent and obstreperous people in the entire world. (Lochner, 434.)
In the chapters that follow are prominent examples (parenthetical numbers preceded by NP are references to pages in the Nederland's Patriciaat 1988) of the people in the Boissevain and van Hall families who gave or risked their lives in pursuit of maximum insolence to Herr Hitler. The first chapter sets the stage on the close connections among the Boissevains and the van Halls and the clusters of houses in which they lived.

Sources for this Chapter

de Jong, Louis, The Netherlands and Nazi Germany, Erasmus Lectures, 1988 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press).

Friedhoff, Herman, Requiem for the Resistance (1988)

Lochner, ed., Joseph Goebbels Diaries.

Nederland's Patriciaat 1988

Other Chapters

The outline of the book with links to other chapters is here.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Superseded by this post.
This post is kept open to avoid broken links.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

HvS BIRTHDAY | Feb. 9 - Will Celebrate 107th in England

Hilda van Stockum as Art Student
On February 9 I will be in England and will celebrate with family members the birthday in 1908 of our mother Hilda van Stockum.

She was born this date in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the eldest child and only daughter of Dutch Navy Captain Bram van Stockum and Olga Boissevain.

Just two months after she was born she was taken around the world to Java, sleeping in a hammock with her parents. Her father was tasked with carrying Dutch troops and training Navy gunmen how to shoot.

Years later she met an American, Ervin Ross Marlin, when she was attending the Royal Hibernian Academy of Art in Dublin, Ireland. Her brother Willem van Stockum was his roommate at Trinity College, Dublin. She became Mrs. Marlin at a Dublin wedding in 1932.

She followed her husband to New York City and then Washington, DC, where he joined the FDR Administration based on a competitive exam that took the top 300 people out of thousands of people who took the test. He worked for eight years in several Federal agencies and during World War II he was sent by the OSS under Bill Donovan to Ireland. After the war he worked for the UN for 20 years.

HvS wrote and illustrated her first book for children in 1934, A Day on Skates, published by Harper & Brothers. It had a foreword by her aunt Edna St. Vincent Millay and won a Newbery Honor Roll award.

During the next four decades she averaged one book per year - written or illustrated or both, plus several translations from German or Dutch. After her first book, most of her books were edited by May Massee, who moved to Viking Press in 1932 and remained her faithful editor for 25 years. Her other main publishers were Constable, Lippincott (she illustrated four of the Rainbow Classics including Hans Brinker, Little Women and Little Men) and Farrar Straus.

Since 1994 about 15 of her books have been kept in print by Bethlehem Books and Boissevain Books (named after Hilda van Stockum's mother). One book (The Winged Watchman) has sold 50,000 copies in reprint, in addition to the prior sales from the original publisher, Farrar Straus, over 20 years.

HvS died at 98 years of age on All Saints' Day, 2006. She was pre-deceased by her husband in 1994. She was survived by six children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Remembrances by Her Children

The following remembrances of Hilda van Stockum on Her Birthday by Her Children were written in 2013, with two updates in 2014. [These were all in the form of emails, posted here by permission. Notes in square brackets by John. All six of her children are still living, in four countries, this month of her 107th birthday. Three live in England.]

Olga Marlin [in Pamplona, Spain for medical treatment, on leave from her Kianda Foundation family in Nairobi, Kenya – she sent these originally as emails to her five younger sibs]:
2013 - Tomorrow is Mom´s birthday,and a day when I pray especially for all of us. Are you following the work of John Beaumont? [Beaumont is finishing up a book on U.S. converts to Catholicism, including Hilda van Stockum.] I´m touched that he is so interested in mother´s religious background. It is built into her whole life, and always had a great influence on me. I don´t know whether he would like to read my book [To Africa with a Dream, Scepter and Boissevain Books]: it brings up quite a lot about Mom. I´m eagerly waiting for a feedback from my Kenyans on Lis´s book [Lis Paice, New Coach: Reflections from a Learning Journey, Open University Press]. I'm sure they are going to like it immensely. We have a number of philosophers coming and going in this Centre [in Pamplona]. An Ecuadorian has just left, who is studying the substance of freedom in the writings of Fernando Polo. Another, from Uruguay, is studying philosophical aspects of anthropology. I discuss their theses with them from time to time - very interesting, but out of my depth... I feel more at home in theology. I´m looking forward to April when the family visits start again!! I can walk around OK now, just using a stick outside for security. My love and a great big hug - I can just hear Mom singing: "Bind us together, Lord, bind us together..." XX Olga
2014 - Warmest greetings from Pamplona, where I´m thinking of you all especially on Mommy´s Birthday tomorrow, I´m sure she´ll hear our "Happy Birthday!" in Heaven. and bless us all. It has been a cold winter across the Atlantic -I hope you didn´t suffer too much. Here we are having huge tidal waves at the coast, with some loss of life and lots of property destroyed. The seaside walks have been cordoned off, to avoid people being swept away. Olga
Brigid Marlin [in Berkhamsted, UK]
2013 - I've been missing Mum so much in different ways. We always discussed painting problems together, and if either of us had a difficulty, a second artist's opinion was very helpful. She was endlessly patient in advising about writing - I always appreciated that very much. And finally she was brilliant at interpreting dreams! And how we all miss her great love for us; uncritical, believing in us and admiring us, giving us confidence and belief in ourselves! Thank you, Mother!
Randal Marlin [in Ottawa, Canada]
2013 - I play violin with our parish choir, Olga, and we recently played "Bind Us Together," and I thought of Mom at the Castle [in Galway]. "He will raise us up on the last day" is another reminder. I can't remember whether "Be not afraid" was a favourite of Mom's but it expresses her thoughts and is a great hymn. I'm studying Spanish with a good teacher and hope to be more fluent when I next come to Pamplona. I'll be playing "Pescador de Hombres" on Sunday, though the music is the same in English or Spanish. Maybe there's a slightly different feeling when I think the Spanish words as I play. Congratulations on your health improvement, Olga. Love to all. Randal
Sheila O'Neill [in Garston, UK]
2013 - Hi all, I miss mother a lot but I feel her presence, watching over us. She was a strong influence on us and a great example of dedication, hard work and religious fervour. She did something right because all six of us have been very successful in our careers. I raise a toast to Mum, long may our memory of her live on! Sheila
John Tepper Marlin
2014, Tiradentes, Brazil - We think of religion as a pacifying influence, especially in Latin America. But for Mom it was revolutionary and that is what religion was in Tiradentes. The revolutionaries who started the movement for Brazilian independence from the Portuguese Empire, inspired by the American Revolution, first met in 1789 in the home of Padre Toledo in this small mountain village. They were called the Inconfidencia Mineira. One of the group testified against 11 others, and they were all executed on April 21, 1792. Only Lieutenant Jose da Silva Xavier, known as Tiradentes (tooth-puller) was hanged, and since independence of the Portuguese monarchy was achieved a century later, in 1889, the anniversary of his death has been a public holiday in Republican Brazil. The flame that was lit in Tiradentes never went out. Mom lit flames like that and many are still burning.
Elisabeth Paice [in London, UK]
2013 - Awwww. That does bring Mom back, Brigid! And “How Great Thou Art!” She loved to get mimosa on her birthday, and Yardley’s Lavender Water, and a poem. I just reread The Winged Watchman in her memory.
Other February-Birthday Children's Book Authors and Illustrators