Come On, Women!

29 November 2017 - 13:56

Trien de Haan-Zwagerman (1891-1986) became a prominent figure in the Dutch left wing movement of the 1920s. Bart Lankester wrote her biography.

"Women, especially for us, it is necessary that we learn to see that the struggle is beyond our small circle, our household"

The West Frisian worker-wife Trien de Haan-Zwagerman (1891-1986) is already far in her thirties and the mother of two daughters, when she decides to completely turn her life around. She goes into politics and puts her family in second place. With self-study and leadership courses she climbs to the confidante of the famous left socialist Henk Sneevliet.

She occupies prominent positions in the Dutch Revolutionary Socialist Party, establishes a women's union with a radical feminist program and is at the forefront of a major unemployed strike in the Wieringermeer. She also manages for 30 years a bureau for birth control in Hoorn and she is the first woman to join the board of the NVSH (Dutch Union for Sexual Reform). In the Second World War the Sneevliet group went underground. After treason and arrest, Trien experiences horrible years in concentration camp Ravensbrück. Mentally bruised but not broken, she remains faithful to her ideals after the liberation and she is politically and socially active until her old age.

Kom op Vrouwen, Aangepakt! (in English:"Come on, women. Lets get started!") is the special life story of an ordinary woman in which almost a century of Dutch history is enclosed. From poverty and class struggle, from oppression and war, from freedom and reconstruction. Press and readers praise the fighting skills of Trien, the combination of personal and public life and the accessible and lively way in which her life is sketched. A biography 'from the bottom up', according to a reviewer.

For the book, Bart Lankester used a large number of archives and periodicals from the collection of the IISH - including NAS, RSP / RSAP, NMB / NVSH, Sneevliet.

IISH Collections | Book blog | Bart Lankester - Photo by Prometheus Uitgevers