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Background Story is History
the stuff that goes into stories, his, her, and mystery
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Percolator - Koffie weetjes

Percolator - Koffie weetjes | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
De percolator bestaat uit een metalen kan met hierin een hol metalen buisje. Voor deze manier van koffiezetten gebruik je het beste een medium maling.
Judith van Praag's insight:

Seated in her chair by the kitchen window Nita ground coffee beans,  the antique coffee mill locked between her knees. The aroma made her nose tickle. She pinched her nostrils together, stifling a sneeze. Placing the mill on the table she removed the small wooden drawer, and scooped five table spoons of coffee into a perforated receptacle inside the coffee pot, poured hot water from the kettle on the stove into the pot, careful not to touch the coffee, and put the lid on. While she set the table for breakfast the water in the pot came to a boil, bubbled through the central tube, hit the glass knob in the lid and came down onto the grinds. "Coffee's brown," she yelled. Not quite, but it would be by the time Jake stumbled into the kitchen.

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Zonnegloren - Ned. Hervormd Sanatorium Zonnegloren - Soest & Hilversum

Zonnegloren - Ned. Hervormd Sanatorium Zonnegloren - Soest & Hilversum | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

This is the men's gallery. Fresh air and rest wat the way to treat TBC or TB or consumption back when the Zonnegloren sanatorium was opened, in 1921, and during the decades that followed.

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House of Chandor

House of Chandor | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

How fortunate I was to stay at the Menedez Braganza home in Chandor during my visit to India in 1989. 

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What Makes a Family of Artists - The New Yorker

What Makes a Family of Artists - The New Yorker | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Scholars noticed long ago that creativity runs in families. The question is whether it’s passed on genetically.
Judith van Praag's insight:

Diamond cutter, painter, sculptor, tailor, wizard with scissors, needle and thread, modelist, designer, cook. And that's just three generations. 

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Looking Back | Stans Lutz on Plays by Ischa Meijer and R.W. Fassbinder

Looking Back | Stans Lutz on Plays by Ischa Meijer and R.W. Fassbinder | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
In 1988 schrijft en regisseert Ischa Meijer voor Toneelgroep Amsterdam een stuk getiteld ‘Ons dorp, de schoonheid en het leven’. Hij schrijft het als een reactie op een ander stuk, of eigenlijk op de reacties die het mogelijke opvoeren van dat stuk in Nederland veroorzaakte. Dat stuk heet ‘De stad, het vuil en de dood’…
Judith van Praag's insight:

This post by Stans Lutz resonates for me, and belongs to my background story for several reasons.

 

For one, I briefly attended a design class Stans taught at the Rietveld Academy. Another faculty member, Els Timmermans and her then partner, Ischa Meijer had a taste of my cooking at my birthday party, and afterwards they asked me to cook for them once a week, at their home. And last but not least, I'm the child of a Holocaust survivor.

 

"Ons dorp, de schoonheid and het leven" (Our Village, Beauty and Life") is performer, playwright, journalist, author Ischa Meijer's answer to the rally that took place in the Netherlands against the staging of  Rainer Werner Fassbinder's play "The City, the Whore and Death".


I remember this well, I as well thought the play should have been performed. Fassbinder's use of stereotypes was a strong statement, and more P.C. than those who argued against the mounting of the performance seemed to understand. Ischa Meijer would have played the role of the Rich Jew.



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Before Auschwitz Was Auschwitz Auschwitz Was Auschwitz Before

Before Auschwitz Was Auschwitz Auschwitz Was Auschwitz Before | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Background story. 

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Stefan Zweig: The Impossible Exile Stefan Zweig and the End of the World

Stefan Zweig: The Impossible Exile Stefan Zweig and the End of the World | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
In George Prochnik's new book, "The Impossible Exile Stefan Zweig and the End of the World," Prochnik tells the story of a man that led an inspired life and ultimately was taken down by a tragic fall.
Judith van Praag's insight:

As a incorrigible editor I stumble over the "a man THAT led," something dangling! The story "that", the man "who", turns out it's just the transcript. Never mind my nitpicking, this interview entices me to read the biography by Prochnik.

 

"Diversity that protects diversity —We're greater than the sum of our parts." 

 

We could see Zweig's realization that the idea of an ideal Europe had gone wrong as a warning (free after the interview).

 

In the Netherlands the notion to subsidize the arts after WWII, the idea to create a social welfare state, and read "welfare" here as —for the good of all— gave the initiators hope.

 

Utopia lay at the end of the dark, dark tunnel. 

 

Seventy years after the end of WWII, the demise of that Dutch Utopia is close to being a fact. 

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N.S.B. IN ZANDVOORT

N.S.B. IN ZANDVOORT | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
DE ZANDVOORTSEBUNKERPLOEG ONDERZOEKT ALLE BUNKERS IN DE REGIO
Judith van Praag's insight:

The Zandvoort City Council granted NSB member Beekman to return to his former home, therefor my parents had to move out, my mother heavily pregnant with me.

Half a century later I'd meet the Dutch Cultural Attaché. During dinner at Salty's in West-Seattle we discovered his grandfather had been my parents' landlord, the owner of the property in the Zuidbuurt where I was born.

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The Netherlands Virtual Jewish History Tour | Jewish Virtual Library

The Netherlands Virtual Jewish History Tour | Jewish Virtual Library | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

I haven't checked the information on this virtual library site, but it's looking good at first glance.
In 1620 the first Ashenazim arrived from the east, my ancestors hailed from Prague (that's what van Praag means in Dutch).

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Find A Grave - New Jewish Cemetery in Prague

Find A Grave - New Jewish Cemetery in Prague | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

In 1983 my work took me to Prague. I visited Kafka's grave on the 100-year anniversary of his death.
In order to get to the New Jewish Cemetery I had to take a bus, but the chauffeur didn't know, or pretended not to know what I was talking about. A woman got up, and told me to get off with her, to follow her. Turned out she was a professional photographer sent by her newspaper to make photos of the gathering at the grave site. I would meet her again a few days later. 
At the grave side I met a rabbi/ Kafka scholar from the U.K. who offerend me a ride back to town. I accompanied him and his driver to the kosher restaurant where I'd eaten two years earlier. The next day I accompanied the same two men to Theresienstadt. 

 

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To Forgive A Nazi

To Forgive A Nazi | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Rabbi Zalman was asked whether we should forgive the alleged NE Minneapolis Nazi. This is what he said.
Judith van Praag's insight:

Reb Zalman: "Forgiveness in Jewish thought is between the victim and offender."

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The Disappearance - Storytelling from Life

The Disappearance - Storytelling from Life | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Why would this book a collection of short stories by Mexico City born Jewish author Ilan Stavans belong in my Scoop-it! Background Story is History?

 

The title story The Disappearance was inspired by, or is a spin on an "event" set in my world, at least my world before I immigrated. 

 

The "Belgium" actor was in fact Dutch, Jules Croiset, a relative of friends, someone in our circle of theater makers. I remember the moment his wife called the producer who helped me write a grant at the time, to let him know Jules had been kidnapped. My immediate response was "he did it himself." The late Dutch celebrated author Harry Mulish wrote a novella "Het theater, de brief en de waarheid" (the theater, the letter, the truth) about the same subject —Second Generation Holocaust Syndrome, as if to exonerate or at least apologize for his friend's actions.

 This is what storytelling is all about.

We hear or read something, and we make it our own. Think of it like gossip, the last one in line relating the story probably tells a different story than the person who was the first to share the experience of herself of another.     
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Artist Henri De Smeth 1865-1940

Artist Henri De Smeth 1865-1940 | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Born into a well to do family Henri's artistic talent was recognized at an early age, by 1981 his professional designation was clear. I learned  about him as a child. Why? I'm going to look into that. 

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Gifts from the Chazzan's wife.

Gifts from the Chazzan's wife. | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Was it the summer of 1966 or 1967 that I spent a fortnight in Amsterdam, at the home of Rabbi Soetendorp? What I do know for sure was that the new LJG synagogue had just opened, and that it was the first time in my life that I was away from my parents. I called the rabbi oom Jaap, and his wife tante Mirjam and got to stay in their daughter Leah's room.
On a Saturday, after sjoel the chazzan Harrie Ereira, and his wife, who told me to call her tante Bertje took me home with them for lunch, and to spend the night. Their children were all grown up and they enjoyed having a child around they said. I was surprised they let me choose a book from their children's library, wouldn't they be upset when they'd find out? No, they wouldn't they said.

Still, I was reluctant to take my pick, so  tante Bertje chose for me. I went home with Chaweriem, Anne Frank's Diary and a book about a boy and a dog, or rather a dog and a boy, for the story was told from the dog's point of view. 

 

Years later, when I started working for Taller Amsterdam, I met and went on tour with Tirtsa the Vries, the girl mentioned in the epigraph by her father Leonard together with her sister Mirja, two of "us", the children who had to make up for all the losses during WWII. 

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Sanatorium Zonnegloren in Soestduinen - Long Gone Soest

Sanatorium Zonnegloren in Soestduinen - Long Gone Soest | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Sanatorium Zonnegloren te Soestduinen - Verdwenen Soest
Judith van Praag's insight:

In 1937 Nita sends a postcard with a side view of this home called Tjemara to "Den Heer H van Joolen, Bloemgracht 33, Amsterdam Centrum.
The number of words you could write on a post card was dictated by the postage. Did ink weigh that much, you wonder.  

The 1.1/2 cent stamp bought Nita, or the recipient, just the following text: "V. P. van Nita" (underlined), where the sender's name was required she wrote "H v G."

The printed text on the postcard says:

Sanatorium Zonnegloren

SOEST

Zijaangezicht Zusterhuis

 

Question: Did Nita work as a nurse at the sanatorium where TBC patients were treated (with rest, sun and fresh air), or was she a patient herself? 

At times she would share that she became ill while working, other times she denied she ever had TBC. Yet, she lost one diseased kidney, and lived the rest of her life with just one, and after her death I found a letter from the director of a hospital (need to look up whether that was this sanatorium) stating she had no TBC upon departure. 

Cured I imagine. 

Having been exposed to TBC would have cut her chances to find a job to practical nil. That explains the letter. Still, the fear of a contagious disease such as TBC was as bad then, as the fear of ebola today.

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▶ 100 YEARS / STYLE / EAST LONDON - YouTube

▶ 100 YEARS / STYLE / EAST LONDON - YouTube | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
100 years of East London style in 100 seconds. Sept 13th 1911 - Sept 13th 2011.
Judith van Praag's insight:

Of course I love fashion flurries on liquid speed (that's called Java y'all). Considering that I've been a costume designer (that never quite wears off), and am a writer of historical fiction and creative non-fiction that covers a life time of about a hundred years (not mine, not yet ;-)) this video tickles all my creative trigger points. Enjoy!

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An Intern, the Dutch, and the Improbable Fines Levied Against Holocaust Era Jews

An Intern, the Dutch, and the Improbable Fines Levied Against Holocaust Era Jews | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
It was all over the Dutch press this past spring—the revelation that in the years immediately following the Nazi occupation, Amsterdam authorities came after the small trickle of returning Dutch Jews who owned property and told them they owed outstanding leasehold fees from the time they were ...
Judith van Praag's insight:

Jonathan Groubert reports from the Netherlands and interviewed not just the intern. As a Dutch 2G member I was told stories similar to those Ronny Nathaniel shared in this Vox Tablet.

By the way, I'm sure Ronny didn't mean to say the welcome of returning Jewish Dutch was "cool", or after Groubert's questioning the word choice even "very cool". The Dutch "koel" means not warm, rather tepid, closer to cold. And yes, that was my father's, and cousin's experience as as well. 


My father wasn't a home owner before the war, but 10 years after the liberation, my mother heavily pregnant with me, my future parents were summoned to vacate their house in Zandvoort because the previous occupant, an NSB member, had returned from rehabilitation and was going to get his house back. The Zandvoort City Council had no qualms about putting a Jewish family out, Zandvoort after all had the highest number of NSB members in the whole country.

As for the Nazi occupation, it lasted five years, not four. 
To hear Klezmer in between segments is odd, not typically related to Mokum (Yiddish for Amsterdam), the Eastern-European music wasn't really heard in the Netherlands until the 1980s.
Great to have Vox Tablet pay attention to this bleak page in Dutch history, thanks to Jonathan Groubert!

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De 50 meest voorkomende Joodse achternamen

De 50 meest voorkomende Joodse achternamen | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Weinig verrassend: Cohen en Polak zijn de meest voorkomende Joodse achternamen in Nederland. Na de top 25 van populairste Joodse voornamen nu de top 50 van algemeenste familienamen. Ik ben in het g...
Judith van Praag's insight:

Cohen and Polak may be the most common Jewish family names in the Netherlands, a person having either as last name does not mean s/he is Jewish. Van Praag is number 10.

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Nina Siegal reflects on being Jewish In Amsterdam

Nina Siegal reflects on being Jewish In Amsterdam | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Very interesting to read Nina Siegal's reflections. I recognize the illustrations. They're etched on my mind.

Siegal mentions an interviewer "... a Dutch Jewish woman who had moved to New York, where, she confessed to me, she felt a lot more “at home.” “It’s hard to be Jewish in Amsterdam,” she said."


As a native Dutch speaker I immediately wonder what the Dutch interviewer meant. Did she indeed say "hard" and if she did, was that a translation for difficult or for painful? Or both?


Siegal doesn't seem clear on that herself. She brings up tolerance (which is a joke), and that Jews always having been welcome (another misconception). She feels at home in many other ways, but not necessarily because of Jewish Amsterdam which exists mostly in what is not there. 

 

Others concluded that Dutch Jews often link their Jewishness to the Holocaust. There's only a small percentage of religious Jews for whom Judaism means, well, being Jewish and practicing Judaism.

 

Siegal may yet have to experience the opposite of what I experienced 40 years ago, and the Dutch journalist more recently —that being Jewish is easier in America, because it is not as fraught with the pain of the past. And yes, that's worth writing about. 

 



 
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Amsterdam around 1900

Amsterdam around 1900 | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Hoe zag Nederland er een eeuw geleden uit? We kunnen er ons wel iets bij voorstellen, maar echt tot leven komen de zwart-witbeelden natuurlijk niet. Maar daar komt nu verandering in. The Library of Congress in Washington, de nationale bibliotheek van …
Judith van Praag's insight:

The world of my grand parents. My father a toddler, my mother's parents had not even met. Wonderful to see the open space around monumental buildings, canals that have been dredged and filled up, still water ways. The colors of course must have been added by hand. 

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Novelist Sonia Pilcer on Second Generation Holocaust Survivors - 2G

Novelist Sonia Pilcer on Second Generation Holocaust Survivors - 2G | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
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Not my story, and yet it is.

Aw, Awe. Sonia Pilcer the fierceness of her writing, her eloquence, her on the spot marking of where we're at as G2, I hear Arthur Waskow say "the breath of G-d"; she takes mine away. 

 

I'm collecting sentences that express what keeps me from sharing my own story, in Pilcer's piece: "The Holocaust is our scar, distinguishing us like stigmata. It gives our life gravity and we cling to it. We would be ordinary without it. Secretly, we believe that nothing we can ever do will be as important as our parents' suffering."


It always comes down to the second hand experience not carrying the same weight as that of our parents. And yet, your writing, this powerful storm of words funnels and delivers the message loud and clear.

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Colour photos from pre-revolutionary Russia

Colour photos from pre-revolutionary Russia | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Photographer, Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, was one of the nation’s leading photographers at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was commissioned to capture a photographic record of Russia after the monarch saw his colour portrait of Leo Tolstoy.
Judith van Praag's insight:

Why post this in Background Story is History? Because these photos speak to the costume designer in me. Such amazing riches, not in monetary but creative sense.

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100 Greatest Guitarists | Rolling Stone

100 Greatest Guitarists | Rolling Stone | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
We assembled a panel of top guitarists and other experts to rank their favorites and explain what separates the legends from everyone else. Featuring ...
Judith van Praag's insight:

It's a flash-flash back, it's the time of the Nation, it's the common timeline of our lives. Any memory I have is connected to music. The guitarists string together moments I'll never forget thanks to the the way they make their guitars sing. 

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Auschwitz.nl: Personal story

Judith van Praag's insight:

One of the IDs Ronnie Goldstein - Van Cleef used was my mom's.

I watched a documentary by Willy LIndwer about Dutch Jewish women in the Resistance when I spotted my mom's data. The same ID is pictured in this personal story. 

 

This is where the creative writer says: What if ...

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Cityscapes from A Bird's-Eye View

Cityscapes from A Bird's-Eye View | Background Story is History | Scoop.it

A great collection of images that present unique views of cities around the globe


Via Johann Barnard
Judith van Praag's insight:

The natural quilt of Dutch pride, combined with costumes from around the world, has colored the way I decorate my home. 

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