Biography Sal Tas (1905-1976)

17 November 2015 - 16:05

Een onwrikbaar geloof in zijn gelijk ('An unshakable belief in being right') is the title that Tity de Vries gave to her biography of the left-wing journalist Sal Tas.

In addition to a balanced biography of a driven journalist, it is a beautiful history of fractured (political) left and of journalism in the Netherlands before and after the war.

Tas grew up in a socialist environment and naturally became a member of the SDAP. In the early 1930s he radicalized and went to the Independent Socialist Party, which did not last long. For his entire life, Tas kept his tendency to take up minority positions, something he shared with his friend Jacques de Kadt. In the PvdA, where he was active again after the war, he fulminated against the Indonesian politics of the party. The police actions, which the party supported, he called a blunder. His sympathy for the Indonesian struggle for independence was awakened in the early 1930s when the young student, Soetan Sjahrir, started renting a room with the young couple Sal Tas and Mies Duchâteau. That sympathy did not diminish after Sjahrir and Mies ran away together. The political career of Tas ended at DS'70.

In his journalistic career, Tas had his finest hour at Het Parool, where he ended up after the war after a long period of hiding. He had a short-lived relationship with Annie Schmidt.
Tas traveled the whole world for his work, so that his nickname became 'Travel bag'. He was in Prague at the takeover of power in 1948 and in Asia and Africa in major world conflicts.
He also published about this in leading American magazines as Socialist Commentary.

Nice to read that it was the Russian Menshevik Boris Sapir who gave Sal Tas his American journalistic contacts. Sapir was head of the Russia cabinet of the IISH before the war and lived in New York until 1948. Tas had met him at the IISH, that he liked and visited a lot.

Biographer Tity de Vries has visited the IISH often too, including for the archives of the Het Parool Foundation, Wim van Norden, Federation of Dutch Journalists and various left-wing political parties.

Also read:

IISH Collections | Bookblog | Tity de Vries