160 years spun together, brother and sister through “thick and thin” – Dutch saying -, Marie and John celebrated their 80th birthdays on July 9, 2017, at the house of their granduncle, Joost van der Poorten Schwartz, alias Maarten Maartens, the once-famous novel writer around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Uncle Joost was the brother of their grandfather, John (Johannes) Schwartz, after whom this John was named. Although the castle-like house, named “Zonheuvel” or “Sun Hill”, located in Doorn near Utrecht in the Netherlands, is now owned by the Dutch business training and advice institution, SBI (de stichting Slotemaker de Bruine Instituut), it is still used as a regular reunion venue for the extended Schwartz family (and their counterpart de Savornin Lohman family as well). They revere their uncle’s fame with his pen and immense imagination and like to dwell in his library and workroom, where he kept his many old literary books while writing his own. At the same time, they enjoy the good catering services of “Zonheuvel Hotel,” which SBI built on the grounds of the estate.
Both Marie and John went around the world during their lifetime, Marie for “Women in Europe for a Common Future,” a non-governmental organization she created in 1994, and which has internationally grown over the years, now operating under the name of “Women Engage for a Common Future.” Having relinquished the direction of WECF to her daughter Sascha Gabizon, who directs the organization as Executive Director from München, Germany, Sascha has expanded the operations of WECF considerably under the guidance of her mother, Marie, still acting as Honorary President and Policy Adviser. Sascha was recently elected as European Regional Representative to UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, one of the primary activities of WECF. (UNEP’s election results are in: Sascha is now UNEP’s regional representative for civil society in Europe.) As she once told me – in all modesty – “I’m a good manager.”
Sascha’s brother Michiel Kranendonk became a devoted art painter who produces wonderful special-light-effect sea views, portraits, and sculptures and also accomplished an impressive wall-painting of the Maarten Maartens House that hangs in Hotel Zonheuvel.
Both Sascha with Marc Gabizon, and Michiel with Swenne van Roosmalen, were blessed with lovely children. Sascha with Lily, who at age 16 already speaks four languages fluently (Dutch, French, English, and German!), and Michiel with Marinke, a beauty in full bloom, and Ingmar, her younger brother in battle.
Photo above: Swenne van Roosmalen, Michiel’s wife. Next, their daughter Marinke, dancing with Preston John Schwartz, his sister Sadie looking on. Marinke’s brother, Ingmar, appears later as an Indian warrior in Karl May’s Old Shatterhand stories Marie always read endlessly on “de plee” – (Dutch word for toilet and pronounced “play.”)
John traveled the world for the World Bank most of his life, and also as an international consultant for 17 years after he retired, looking back on mixed results, as improving public financial management, sound economic investment, and modernizing old cultural habits with deeply-vested interests in less developed nations proves difficult, slow-moving, and often exasperating. His children did not think much of it – “Daddie is always away on mission” – while Joy, his dapper wife, had to drive them to and from school in snow and ice, or thunderstorms. In the end, Pa left it to others trying to improve the world – much too late the kids said – and became a writer. In the spirit of Uncle Joost, also writing in English.
Photos above: John’s books about Maarten Maartens’ stories. Next, leaving the two books to his greatuncle on his desk, in his memory and with great admiration. Standing against the bouquet of flowers is a booklet by Maximiliaan Schwartz, a cousin of Maarten Maartens, who translated some of his stories into Dutch. It was a gift to John from Ada Baars de Savornin Lohman. This is a rare booklet and little known in the family today. Uncle Max descended from the first marriage of the Great Grandfather Carl Schwartz and was a doctor in the classical languages, who translated the works of many Greek and Latin authors into Dutch while being Dean of the City Gymnasium of Nijmegen in Holland. These books are still in print.
John’s kids did not follow their dad to the World Bank but succeeded in making good careers of their own. Samantha obtained a Ph.D. in psychology and law and works as a jury consultant (US law system) traveling to all corners of the USA, and David is a successful sales representative of Ethicon, the surgical instruments division of Johnson & Johnson, selling “hammers and nails” to needy surgeons. The grandchildren would probably still be working on grandpa’s failed missions, a never-ending story, but, so far, they seem more interested in playing football and ballet dancing.
Preston is a Little League football player in the US and was named “most valuable player” (at the age of 7) of his region in 2016. On “Sadie Ballet”: she is the little one second from right. At the end of her show, she makes a summersault!
As a result, on this fabulous day of celebration, the two 80-year-olds – John reached his past November 10, 2016, and Mary will reach hers next February 11, 2018 – can’t complain about their life’s achievements, despite the pain, hardship and difficult moments. It was, therefore, a great pleasure to celebrate this lifelong achievement with dear family and dear friends from different parts of the world we had not seen for many years, some never before, in bright sunny weather (hooray for the Netherlands). It was a day of music, song, and dance, with good dishes, beer (Van Vollenhoven’s lager and stout!) provided by Poesiat & Kater, Muiderpoort-Amsterdam, courtesy brewers Eymert van Manen and Pieter Teepe, wine, and fun, and having a chance to interact with each other, even if it was for a brief moment. The serene atmosphere of the Maarten Maartens House offers a splendid environment for such an occasion.
After all this self-boasting, a few pictures of the event follow below. Most pictures were made by April R. Faulkner-Schwartz, an excellent amateur-photographer, whose diligence is hereby greatly appreciated. Other family members and friends (among others Nellie Mietes, Junte Schwartz, Lodewijk Regout) also contributed pictures and we are immensely grateful for that.
Welcome toasts at the Maarten Maartens House Marie – John – Max the Dog – Joy (John’s wife) son David, daughter Sam, granddaughter Sadie, Amalia Baracs, in the background Jan van Roosmalen, Michiel’s father-in-law, and
Mary, John, Joy, David with Sadie, Samantha, Jan van Roosmalen, Willemijn Banki (student friend of Michiel’s) and Amalia Baracs in the background – Next Joy and John toasting.
Guests still entering the hall of the Maarten Maartens House during the welcoming ceremony.
First cousins Junte and John chatting together. Next cousins Arent van Sminia and Alexander de Savornin Lohman talking.
Dear friend Amalia Baracs bringing flowers to Marie. Next Joy talking to Marie with April Schwartz listening in.
Pianist Bas Vermeyden playing classical music on Maarten Maartens grand piano, still in splendid shape, to accompany a show of Michiel’s paintings on screen. Children are watching the show.
Sascha, director of the performance, speaking. Cousin Samantha speaking as well.
Above Lily Gabizon, Naomi van Kleef, Sadie and Preston Schwartz, Marinke Kranendonk, Samantha Schwartz, performing.
The children and grandchildren performed a hilarious show.
Michiel, acting as Marie’s mother superior at her girl-boarding school, Sacré Coeur, who was not happy with her behavior.
Heleen de la Hayze (now Corbet), Marie’s oldest friend from Heemstede, Marie, and John watching the performance. Next Michiel being addressed by his mother during the show.
Ending the performance in applause and deep bows.
John dancing with Heleen (like they were 5 and 4 years old) – and the rest of the party in full swing.
More dancing after the show
Cousins Michiel and David having second thoughts about their parents’ speeches
Michiel turned off by David’s flirting with Lilly.
Joy and Alexander de Savornin Lohman. Next, Joy holding a gift photo with Mary, John, and sister Carla when they were teens.
From left to right: Willem Dólleman from Kenya and his wife Marie-José, John, (Willem Dólleman from Paris, hidden behind John), Judith and her father Junte. Willem Dólleman from Kenya became a successful farmer like his father Willem (from the North East Polder – Flevoland) and built a windfarm in Kenya of 365 wind turbines, producing 320 MW, with partners, in a remote but very windy area, to supply Kenya with cheaper alternative energy (at half the cost of European windfarms!) Read about it on http://bit.ly/2yHK1jL , how he overcame World Bank objections (!!!) and won the confidence of the African Development Bank, which was my employer for many years after my retirement from the World Bank. Also consult http://bit.ly/2yPUszf, and about Willem’s earlier successful exploits in Tanzania and Kenya: http://bit.ly/2iDeo4n. This is a remarkable story! If there is one family member who deserves the crown, it’s Willem Dolleman from Kenya! I regret we did not herald his terrific achievements more loudly at the party. The Dólleman family came from our grandmother Mary Dólleman, who married our grandfather Hector van Coehoorn van Sminia (Arent van Sminia, our cousin, below, attended our birthday party as well). Mary Dólleman’s mother was the daughter of Johan Jacob van der Wall, medalled Officer of the Cavalry in Holland, who as a young boy was forced to accompany Napoleon on his infamous Russia invasion. He was one of the very few who came back alive, on a beautiful horse, given to him by his saviors in Russia. I was delighted to meet again after many years with another dear cousin Willem Dolleman, who was a former diplomat of the Dutch Foreign Service and now lives in Paris with his French wife. We were so glad to reconnect with this illustrious part of the family.
Same photograph: Cousin and niece Judith, second from right, who had just recovered from a serious and mysterious infection and we were so happy to see her alive and kicking again, though still using a walking stick at the party. A few months before we were praying day-in-day-out that she would not succumb but she’s a very strong-willed girl (with a lovely little daughter Nicoline) and thank God made it back.
Next photo above: Marie in talks with Maartje Hamers-Dolleman, sister of Willem from Kenya, and Marie-José Dolleman.
Children having fun in the lovely garden of the Maarten Maartens House
A few of the many group photos. Names on the photo above:
Left: The open-air theater, built by Maarten Maartens’ daughter, Aunt Ada in 1939, as photographed in 1971, in a 1991 brochure of the Maarten Maartens Foundation. Next, the theater rediscovered and restored by SBI in 2017, just ready for the birthday party (photograph by Kim Mastenbroek of Hotel Zonheuvel).
April Renée Faulkner-Schwartz, the great photographer, with her two children Preston John and Sadie Rose. Next, her mother Doris Kooch.
We did not realize how important this festivity would become when the idea of a joint 80th birthday arose. When the day was over and everybody had gone home, it dawned on us what a great day it was. To us – and hopefully to all who came – the idea of the whole family and friends being together for a few hours became a memorable event. Even if we could not talk long with everyone, it was a great feeling being together and having seen each other again. Life is only so short.
Born in Amsterdam fills me with pride every time I get back to my home town. I realized this first in Paris where I studied in 1964 and heard Jacques Brel singing, for the first time, “Dans le Port d’Amsterdam”, in the famous Olympia Hall. A song about sailors eating, drinking, burping, and having fun with Amsterdam’s fabulous women of pleasure that today draw even schoolgirls from Japan under tight escort to their splendid vitrines. Perhaps to tell them what they should not be doing, or what their boyfriends/husbands pilots and sailors might be doing when landing in Amsterdam Port or Schiphol.Extending to a roaring climax, the song tore my heart apart. But was that Amsterdam? I had more romantic visions.
The River Amstel in fog, as painted by my nephew, Dutch painter, Michiel Kranendonk
or a sunlit bridge over an Amsterdam canal on a quiet Sunday morning, also painted by Michiel,
or the first visit to Amsterdam by Queen Elisabeth in 1958 that I pictured with a prehistoric camera.
after which I dropped by a dear school friend, who lived in a turret of a canal house along Prinsen Gracht (Princes’ Canal). I remember dropping a bag full of fried rice out of his window because what he served me was inedible and it fell on the head of an innocent person strolling along the canal on his evening walk. We checked and miraculously he survived, even though with a headache.
Not long thereafter I attended the Matheus Passion at the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam’s famous Concert Hall) with my mother and we walked along the Rijksmuseum ( in the back of the picture) and Jan Luikenstraat 2 where I was born. A moment I won’t forget.
It was said that Jacques Brel did not like Amsterdam. As he was from Belgium, the other “lowland”south of the Dutch border, this didn’t surprise me. It must have been in-born jealousy, as Antwerp – a port city I like very much by the way – could never match Amsterdam port city despite all its efforts. But I loved Jacques Brel’s songs.
Amsterdam is ubiquitous in the World. In Paris there is Rue d’Amsterdam, linking it with Gare St. Lazar, and the best French cheese shop (Androuet) in town.
New York was New Amsterdam, as everyone knows. The Dutch were there first.
And there are 16 towns in the USA with the name of Amsterdam. If we had not lost one of those many sea battles with the Perfidious Albion, New York would still have been New Amsterdam. Wall Street would have been Dijk Straat or “Dike Street” and Yankee would have been “Jan Kees”. Both British Guyana and Dutch Suriname in Caribbean South America were once Dutch colonies. Both have a town named New Amsterdam. In New Amsterdam in Guyana, which the Dutch got in return for New York (what a deal!) before the British stole it back again, I have never seen so many mosquitoes in my life. I had to shave myself dancing to avoid being bitten by swarms of these bloodsucking insects. New Amsterdam in Suriname wasn’t much better.
No, there is nothing more comforting than my old Amsterdam. Jules B. Barber, an American author, writes in his “Amsterdam” of 1975: “Amsterdam is a charming, dynamic, hustling, tolerant, greedy, seedy, beautiful, enlightened, socially oriented politically eruptive, warm, welcoming, “gezellig” (cozy), schizophrenic kind of place. It’s eternally young at heart despite its 700 years.” That’s all true. From Google images under “Amsterdam in Paris” I borrow a few pics that represent the sense of the city.
This is Amsterdam.
Central Station at night as I pictured it from Hotel Victoria across the station.
A city of eternal youth, especially if you are over 70. Yet it is also the only place in the world where I was robbed three times of my travel bags. Multiculturalism has its charms and dissonants. Oh well, we “Amsterdammers” are “tolerant” (they say).
Next week when I am in Holland, Born in Amsterdam II.
Why I am writing?
To join a masterful Great-Uncle, Joseph M.W. van der Poorten-Schwartz (1858-1915), a Dutchman who wrote bestsellers in the English language one hundred years ago, most of them under the pseudonym “Maarten Maartens.”
His 20 odd books are all stored in the Library of Congress (see picture below) and were widely read in the USA, England and Germany.
Even though born in Amsterdam, Joseph wrote in English because he spent his early youth in London where his father, Carl August Ferdinand Schwartz – my great-grandfather – was appointed reverend of the Free Church of Scotland. English became Joseph’s second language.
Maarten Maartens’s novels were popular in the USA and England because they dealt with “the psychological and moral questions of conscience…as at the time there was a growing tendency to devote attention to the psychological problem play and novel” (quoted from Hendrik Breuls in his Doctoral Thesis “Author in Double Exile, The Literary Appreciation of Maarten Maartens” – 1985, later completed as his 2005 Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Dresden, Germany, entitled “A comparative Evaluation of Selected Prose by Maarten Maartens”). Maarten Maartens is especially known for his sharp characterizations and caricatures of certain professions.
Hendrik Breuls starts his 1985 thesis with one of many worthy Maarten Maartens quotes, which are as good a perception of the needed writing skill as we find in today’s essays on good writing: “If you want to be heard by your own generation” (and that is his, one hundred years ago) “never say in three words what you can say in six, and if you want to be listened to by all future generations, never say in six words what you can say in three.”
Uncle Joe made tons of money from his books and built a huge mansion for himself, his wife and one daughter in a wooded area near Utrecht, not far from Amsterdam, baptized “De Zonheuvel” (The Sunny Hill). A nephew of mine, Michiel Kranendonk, a currently renowned Dutch painter in Holland whose mother is Marie Kranendonk-Schwartz, created a mural painting of the “Maarten Maartens House” in the hall (see partial picture below). At the back of the house featured a meticulously maintained “French Garden” with remembrances of the Chateau “Versailles”. The house is currently a Foundation and occupied by the Institute “Slotemaker de Bruine Institute” (SBI).
In 2015, Maarten Maartens’ one hundred year anniversary will be remembered to revive interest in the works of this forgotten prolific author.
More on this – and on painter Michiel Kranendonk – in a future Blog.