Jan Hanlo, the 'Vijftiger' who wanted to remain a child
By: John Stefan
Jan Hanlo is one of the few Dutch poets who are well-known for their pedophile inclination. He was born in Bandung, Indonesia, on 29 May 1912, and went to Holland with his mother when he was 1 year old. He spent his youth in Deurne, in the province of Brabant. His father descended from a family of judges and his mother's ancestors were medical people. The marriage of his parents had been arranged and did not last for long. In 1914 Jan's father moved to another house. After several attempts to heal the breach, the separation order was pronounced in 1923. Jan stayed with his mother and her parents. He called his mother Mai and was deeply attached to her. Until the age of 19 she allowed him to sleep in her bed.
Hanlo had a Catholic upbringing. His friend Frans Ketelaars thought he was a spoiled little brat who was annoying from time to time. A considerable amount of toys was given to Jan, but yet he was often bored. Then they decided to send him to music lessons and that's how he learned to play other musical instruments all over again. Many well-known painters and writers were living in Deurne, among whom Antoon Coolen (author of Dorp aan de rivier (= Village Near The River), Toon Kortooms (author of Help! De dokter verzuipt (= Help! The Doctor Is Drowning), the writers Anton van Duinkerken, Aldous Huxley, Stijn Streuvels and the sculptor Ossop Zadine. At (grammar) school Jan was not a particular good student. In 1927 he moved to a small village near Valkenburg, Houthem. At fifteen he still decided to remain a child, just like Peter Pan, a boy who loved his mother without any ulterior motives and unconditionally. He lacked a male role model. He was often teased because of his red hair and he did not think he had a fine body. He was much too thin. On some photographs he looks like a girl and there is also a photo on which he is dressed like a girl. He was also bothered by the fact that his parents were not together any longer.
In 1930 he wrote a few essays for which he received good marks, and also some poems. He developed a predilection to LIGA biscuits, which he would eat until his death, because they reminded him of his childhood years. He became a hypochondriac too, with hosophobia and other peculiarities. His peers thought him excentric and pathetic. At nineteen he graduated from grammar school and bought his first motorcycle. At sixteen he already wrote an essay about a motorcycle ride he made. Jan did not need to do his military service and began to study art history and psychology in Utrecht, where he moved into lodgings from December 1931 on. His study was paid by his uncle Louis. On 6 October 1932 he returned to Houthem.
At home he found the beauty again which was related to the good, to Catholicism, and he read for instance the literary magazine De Gemeenschap (= The Community). He also began to take an interest in jazz music, an expression of artists who, according to Jan, felt very strong about spontaneity and childlike and daring matters. He had the ambition to become an art critic. He shared the philosopher Jacques Martin's opinion that Art should not have any intention, any tendency. In 1932 Hanlo became a member of the youth association R-K Bond Jong Limburg (= Roman Catholic Bond Young Limburg), for which he would give some lectures, for instance about the Katholiek Filmfront (= Catholic Film Front) on 27 June 1933. He had become enthusiastic about film when he had seen Rin Tin Tin The Detective and wanted to found a department of the Katholiek Filmfront in Valkenburg. The goal of this organization was to make ethically and esthetically sensible movies to spread the Catholic faith. To Hanlo the KF, which edited the magazine Filmfront, was a means to fulfil his ambitions as a journalist and as an art critic. In January 1933 he was a correspondent for the magazine Jong (Young) Limburg, in which he also philosophized about film as an art and made appeals to become a member of the KF. On 26 January 1934 the Valkenburg department of the KF was founded and a week later the first movie night was organized with the comedy If I Had A Million by Ernst Lubitsch as the major movie. This first movie night became a fiasco, because the film projector broke down, but this was solved by calling in a professional film distribution centre. After that, more movies were being shown, for instance Het wonder van de kinderziel (= The Miracle Of The Child's Soul), a film which appealed to Hanlo, because he yearned for his lost childhood at the time.
He received a training for secundary school teaching during a couple of months and on 9 August 1934 he left for England by boat. His interest in the Catholic film was replaced by his interest in hot jazz. He wanted to found a department of the Nederlandse (Dutch) Hot Club(NHC). He had become a passionate dancer himself and he told his acquaintances that he was sent into a trance by African grammophone records. Jazz was something he experienced as a tremendous liberation and he regarded it a means of expression. He had fallen in love with his fellow-student Agnes de Roover and this was mutual. But later on she would marry another man.
In London Hanlo moved into a guesthouse, together with two Dutch boys and a German who also wanted to learn the language. Jan often visited a well-known jazz club, which was also visited by his big idol Louis Armstrong when he was in London. He wrote about his visits in the magazine De Jazzwereld (= The Jazz World). Hanlo felt very much at home among the students, workers and coloured people who visited the club. He regarded negroes as pure, unspoiled people and this pure, this true thing was exactly what he was looking for time after time. On 10 September 1934 he was back in Oostende again. In 1935 he stopped his activities for De Jazzwereld, Jong Limburg and the Katholiek Filmfront. A Valkenburg department of the NHC was never founded. Later on Jan would love films of a.o. Laurel and Hardy and Jacques Tati.
Already at a very early age Hanlo was interested in the English language. Through the radio he got familiar with its tone. His involvement with film and jazz stimulated his interest in his English study. Right before his exams in 1936 he went to London for a few months, where he visited dancings, concerts and cinemas, played meccano with the cute, ten-year-old son of the owner of the boardinghouse and even began to paint. As a (former) cooperator of De Jazzwereld he was given free entrance to the shim sham club where he got in contact with negroes.
At the end of March of that same year his grandmother died and he moved to a smaller house in the same street, together with his mother. In his letters to her he had not mentioned his engagement to the English Mary Matthews, sixteen and having become an au pair in Eindhoven, a city not far from Deurne. Her father had just died and to earn money and to be close to Jan she wanted to do this job, until she could start a training to become a nurse when she would turn eighteen. Because of Jan's "baneful" influence, the distinguished family lodged the girl with acquaintances in Groningen, a city in the north of Holland. It appears from her letters that she was hopelessly in love with the, according to herself, 'conceited and irritating' boy.
In 1937 she wrote about Jan's reluctance to kiss her, which she explained as 'real love'. But Jan made a psychoanalysis of their relationship and decided that it was better for her not to meet him anymore. Because of Hanlo's suspicious attitude - he was afraid that others would read Mary's letters - he threw away many of them. Mary often stayed at Jan and his mother's. He took her with him on the back of his motorcycle. In 1938 Mary was sent home because of the threat of war and in 1939 she spent a holiday in Valkenburg. Afterwards she told that she had always thought that Jan was gay, all the more because he had said that he was 'a dried up volcano'. In June 1940, when she was in Valkenburg again, she was pregnant and rumour had it that Hanlo had begat the child. But Mary had been married since October 1939. In 1947 they met one last time in Amsterdam and had an argument with each other. As a result of his encounter with Mary, Hanlo had been going through an identity crisis about his sexual inclination. It appears from stories by his youth friend Marietje Pinckers, that at the end of the thirties Hanlo was a young man who was fixated on sexuality and faith. She once witnessed that he performed a masturbation scene while standing in front of a Holy Mary statue when he was drunk. (Jan had a drinking problem). Probably he apologized for this the next morning.
In the beginning of January 1938 he wrote in his diary that, as a good intention, he wanted to shape his own will, but three weeks later he established that not much had changed. 'I feel like a living corpse then, and I keep reverting to the same sins which harm, damage others. Fortunately, I have a good guardian angel. That same night he went on his motorbike to a party which was thrown by his uncle Louis in Heerlen. In Valkenburg Pieter Al (43), a tax collector, was chosen that same night as Chairman of a new association of tradesmen. He was the father of three children. He drank a couple of glasses and returned home late in the evening, walking. Because the footpath had become impassable by the rain, he started walking on the road. On a dark part of the Houthemerweg (Houthemer Road) Jan's motorcycle ran into him from behind, as a result of which Al fell to the ground, badly injured. In the hospital he lapsed into a coma. On 18 February he died, without having gained consciousness. Jan had to appear in court, because he was charged with Al's being ill for a long time. It was established that he had been sober that night, but also that he drove recklessly and uncarefully. He was made punishable and condemned to pay a fine of fifty guilders or one month custody. On his knees Jan asked Pieter Al's wife for forgiveness. He was very sorry for the children. She said, 'Stop it, my husband is dead.' When she was 100, in 1995, she still would say, 'Jan Hanlo is a killer.' The accident made a deep impression on Hanlo and his conscience kept playing tricks on him.
During World War II Hanlo hung around a lot with his fellow-student Frits Bernard (not unknown to OK readers). Jan's feelings of desire for small boys led to an unbearable moral burden at the time and Bernard had tried to convince him that after death and before birth the absolute nothing ruled. Though Jan as a Catholic did not want to reconcile himself to this thought, the absolute nothing to him was the only escape from this moral burden. In those days Jan had his beard grown and sometimes they would call him 'Christ' in the street. With Bernard, whom he called Frico, he had endless discussions about the free will: 'What is life?' and 'What is will?' he asked himself. If the free will corresponded to God's will, could you speak then of a will of your own? He regarded it God's will that he passed his exams for secundary school teaching, for which he had prepared only moderately.
From 1940 on Jan lived in Amsterdam, on the top floor of hotel De Rijk, where he rented a room with a terrace. Again he had taken an interest in psychology. At the Psychologisch Laboratorium (Psychological Laboratory), which was under the wing of Wilhelmina Bladergroen, the later professor of child educational theory, he earned a dime from assisting with tests with spastic children and adolescents. In 1942 Hanlo started to study psychology. Things in Valkenburg had got too hot for him because of the rumours about his public drunkenness, the motorcycle accident and his just a bit too intimate contacts with boys. Jan himself said that he drank in order to learn from it, to observe himself. What he also observed from himself was that he felt utterly miserable in Amsterdam. He also missed his father, who lived in Arnhem during the war. They kept on writing each other, but it was not a very constructive correspondence.
One fine day Hanlo, standing on his balcony, read some of his poems about boys to Frico, who himself did not have any problems about his own pedophile feelings. Hanlo thought that loving young boys to a Catholic person was untolerable and that the entire society should be sexless. Pedophilia, which was under a strong taboo at the time, was counted as a deviation which anyhow should be treated medically. During the years of war, homosexuality and pedophilia were forbidden by law. Not only was Hanlo a notorious problem drinker, but he was also addicted to smoking. He did not write poems anymore and his study stagnated. Frico was worried about that. On 6 February 1943 the university was raided and great numbers of male students were arrested. The reason was the attempt on lieutenant-general Seyffardt's life one day earlier. However, the system by which the students sent messages to each other, worked well, which reduced the number of victims to a minimum. Jan and Frico escaped too and went into hiding for ten days in a Dominican monastery. Because lectures were not given any longer at the university, Jan left for Valkenburg. In the monastery he had written an article about the Oedipus complex, in which he stated for instance that at birth the mother should also renounce the child mentally. He saw a dramatic parallel between the love of mother and child and the love between himself and the little boys he fell in love with; there was always an evaporating passion, because the child did not remain a child.
Frico and Hanlo belonged to the 80 or 90 percent of the Dutch students who refused to sign the declaration of loyalty in which people were asked to conform to the German authorities. As a punishment they had to come forward to the Arbeitseinsatz, or else something would happen to themselves or to their families. Hanlo came forward. On 7 May he arrived in camp Erika in Ommen. In the letter to his mother that he wrote before his departure to Germany, he put courage to her. Frico was sent to Germany too; he went to Hannover, Hanlo to Berlin. The philology and psychology students were lodged in separate camps. Jan became acquainted with the psychology student Albert Jan Govers, who was ten years younger, came from Utrecht and was half-Surinam by birth. They made friends with each other and it appeared that both of them loved jazz music. Hanlo said that he felt attracted to Govers' Surinam looks, because he loved negroes. He turned down Govers' suggestion that his inhibitions indicated impotence and claimed that he was bisexual, and both sadistic and masochistic.
Hanlo had to start working in a Spandau factory, northwest of Berlin. By the end of 1943 many victims among the convicts were made, as a result of heavy bombardments. One working week counted 54 hours. The workers slept in barracks and were allowed to go into town during the evenings. Catholic organizations gave lectures to the convicts. Football tournaments were organized too. In the magazine Van Honk, which was made by the Dutch convicts, Jan read a report about the irregularities among supporters after a football match. In the camp he dissociated himself from "the bull" of the others. He thought that the workers under whom he worked were good people. He regularly wrote letters to his mother, in which he told her what food or clothes she should send to him. When he developed an ulcer on his large intestine, some doctors ordered to send him back to the Netherlands. Hanlo said goodbye to Govers, whom he promised to mediate with the girlfriend with whom Govers had a stuck relationship, and arrived in Valkenburg in July 1943. One month later he was arrested again because of public drunkenness, resulting from his depressions. He considered himself a "transparant" man, whose thoughts could be read by everyone. He wrote to Govers that he would start working with Bladergroen again, who in the meantime was running a boardingschool for problem children. Jan was appointed homework coach, a.o. for boys who were dyslexic or who stuttered. With two of them, Guus and Huib, he had long personal conversations. In those days he wrote the poem "Gallant Boy".
Feet and forehead
And all the rest
Of all names gallant
Fits you best
Especially in Amsterdam a subculture had risen in the thirties of men who were looking for tulles, beautiful boys from the people who might be willing to have an affair with them. This subculture stayed on during the war. Various gay bars were even added to the existing ones. From a letter which was written to Mai during the war, it appears that Hanlo had been initiated into homosexuality by the friend of the family chaplain Wintgens. Jan always wrote her frankly about his love life, one time about a boy called Johnny, another about other boys. At his mother's address Hanlo received letters of thanks from parents whose children had moved up with good reports. He was obsessed with his pupils' pureness. He fell in love with them and to keep the situation under control he often visited gay bars in the evenings.
Jan's faith was a big support to him and he wanted Govers to be a Catholic too. They had profound conversations with each other, but never about pedophelia. In the meantime Govers had broken off his engagement to his fiancé and declared himself dead set against the Catholic faith. In 1944, Hanlo had such a crush on Guus that he did not answer for himself anymore. He did not want to leave Bladergroen. For Guus he wrote the poem "Day And Night".
Day And Night
at night when we are sleeping
I think of you
day and night
I do not know if I still know you
and I do not fathom
my desire anymore
but I think of you
day and night
In August Govers came and stayed at Jan and his mother's. It suddenly turned out that he had written poems as well. To which Jan let hem read his own poems. The contact with Govers, which became more and more awkard, would last till 1952. Back in Amsterdam again, Hanlo picked up boys sometimes, who could accompany him on his pub-crawls. He rented a room at the Blieme family's in the Tweede Helmersstraat. As the Allies were already in the south of Holland in September, he could not go to Valkenburg. He sent his poems to De Gids (The Guide, a Dutch literary journal), but the editor Anton van Duinkerken returned them. Jan was arrested during a raid and put on the train to Germany. But just before the train departed, he managed to escape through a window and walk away steadily. He was fired by Bladergroen because of his all too intimate contact with some students, but he was allowed to go underground in the institution. They asked him one time to be on guard in the boys' dormitory. The boys started to trifle with Jan and hid a horse blanket under a mattress 'to punish Jan for his childishness'. He went downstairs crying. Mai received all kinds of food and cigarettes from the American soldiers which she saved up for Jan. By the end of May 1945 he arrived in Valkenburg. Meanwhile his mother had become penniless, because his father had stopped her allowance. He told her that he was a pedophile. She explained this inclination from the fact that he was searching for the untouched and for pureness. He wrote the poem "Johnny" at the time.
Johnny something is glowing in my chest
Would it be the love the old love
Be the old love for you Johnny
Johnny something is going through my head
Something is going through me
A sail arm a sword
Would it be the love be the old love Johnny
Be the old love for you?
The less Hanlo was able to handle his pedophile feelings, the more energy he could afford for his work as a poet. From the Spring of 1946 on, he made frantic attempts to make his debut as a poet. However, publishers returned his work over and over again, because poetry collections were bad sellers at the time. Since April 1945 Jan was an English business correspondance teacher at Schoevers, a training institution. In 1946 he made his debut with his poem 'Illusions' in De Koerier (= The Courier), the youth magazine for potential Schoevers students. Ernst Groenevelt was a cooperator of this magazine too; he was a pedophile poet as well, and in the mid-twenties - he was about 38 then - he had been sent to prison because of his contacts with minor boys. After the war he recited much of his literary work during COC2 evenings.
Hanlo became friends with the organist Jan Slot, over sixty at the time and manager of an institution which promoted the mental well-being of blind and half-blind people. Jan took his father, who had come and lived in Amsterdam, with him to the service during which Slot played, and his mother also got acquainted with him and thought him sympathetic. Slot became a father figure to Hanlo and spoke intimately, but sometimes also strictly with him, especially about his consumption of alcohol. According to Slot, pedophilia should be dealt with with the 'moral billhook' and 'needed the care of the Gardener'. 'Keep you caressing hands etc. off!' he advised Jan for instance. He died in 1961.
Adriaan Morriën, secretary of the editorial staff of the literary journal Criterium, was enthusiastic about Hanlo's poems. He showed them to W.F. Hermans, another famous Dutch writer, who agreed with him instantly. In the January 1947 edition three poems by Hanlo were published. Once a week he tutored a fourteen-year-old boy, for half the price, because he liked to be in his company. He asked the boy to keep looking at him during the lesson, to help him fixate his gaze on something. By fixating, Jan did not want to feel love and sexuality any longer and it looked more like a matter of exorcising. The boy did so and it helped. But the staring became compulsive and Jan did not only look at boys he was in love with anymore, but fixated with his gaze to taste his power over sexual things. The sexual urge was transformed into an urge for power, but nevertheless Hanlo was robbed of 350 guilders by a rascal he had taken to his room for one night.
His thinking was controlled by delusions. He was writing poems until four or five o'clock in the morning, a.o. about the problem of the free will and about the beautiful things he had seen. Sometimes he had sudden bursts of fear in the street. Because he thought that God wanted something from him, he started walking around with a rosary. After a leap from a third floor window Hanlo was admitted to the Valeriuskliniek (a mental clinic) in Amsterdam, because of an acute psychosis. He described his period as a psychiatric patient in his book Zonder geluk valt niemand van het dak (Without Luck Nobody Will Fall From The Roof), in a light-footed, even humorous tone. Because he tried to cut out his eyes, he was first put in a straightjacket. After that he ended up in a ward, where the seventeen-year-old Johan was lying too. Jan did not get tired of the boy 'with the snake eyes', to whom he dedicated the poem "Aan J." ("To J.").
Do you remember that once we tried
to kill the slow time by playing checkers together?
I saw that your eyes were so big, mysterious
and strange - beautiful, very beautiful
How delicate the framing lid, - one small moment,
pointed, curved upwards, like
indeed the contour of almonds.
Your quietly bowed head and your arm,
in which the movement, when you made a move,
suddenly welled. - You won the game,
but when you had to take my king
and the rest of my pieces in one strike at the end,
then you did not want to - you did not want to win? -
you hesitated and waited with jumping till I said: 'You
have to jump' - and I did it myself then in your place.
Now I see your silent mouth and your eyes;
the narrow, dark, moss-brown iris
around the big, black pupils.
One day Jan jumped onto Johan's bed and let himself fall down full length on top of him, putting his arm around Johan's head on the cushion. Johan looked frightened just for a sec. Jan looked at him seriously, but not unfriendly. 'Just don't be afraid!' Johan said. When they were sitting next to each other on Jan's bed, drawing once again, a male nurse made Johan go to his own bed.
On 7 August 1947 Hanlo was transferred to the Catholic psychiatric institution Sint Willibrordus Stichting (Saint Willibrord Foundation) for male neurotic and emotional disturbed patients in Heiloo. There, the diagnosis paranoid schizofrenia was made. Jan's relatives had made an appeal for this transfer. The Saint Willibrord Foundation was well-know for its rigorous approach of sexual deviations. As a result of having escaped twice, Hanlo was not allowed to receive visitors for a while. In his file it was reported that he masturbated regularly and felt aroused sexually by boys, women and girls. He had to follow a severe insulin course, which made him suffer terribly. On Saturday afternoons he was visited by Jeanne Beekman, who was eleven years older and whom he knew from Schoevers. He had a confidential relationship with her. She was in love with him, but this was not mutual. In 1957 she married another man. Jan's love for boys exceeded all of his other emotions.
At the end of October 1947 Jan's condition progressed for the first time. The cure was stopped. A way to "cure" homosexuals at the time was by castrating them. Saint Willibrord was one of the Dutch institutions which did most castrations in the Netherlands, to both delinquents and non-delinquents. Up to 1969, castrations would be done to gay people and to pedophiles, even though they had not put their feelings into practice. The consequences of a castration were that the hormone system got disturbed and that masturbation was not possible any longer, at least not with an ejaculation as a result. To Hanlo the "billhook" became a castration knife. Finally he had "been able to do penance" for his sexual feelings towards boys. Two days before Christmas 1947 he left the institution.
During the fifties, Jan as a poet belonged to the experimentalists among the Vijftigers. He had come to live in Amsterdam again and had regained his job at Schoevers. His poems were edited in various literary journals, but not in the most prominent one, De Gids. He came away empty-handed from publishers repeatedly. In 1949 he sought contact with the avant garde poet Gerrit Kouwenaar, but he did not regard Hanlo an experimental Cobra artist. Jan wrote to his mother about a boy of thirteen or younger who came to him in a bar with his mother, because he did not want to dance with either of the girls, 'but would like to dance with me'. He also started to write about his landlady's six-year-old son. Jan took him and his five-year-old sister to Artis Zoo and to stays in Valkenburg. He gave Jos English lessons and read Donald Duck with the children. Hubert, their father, was jealous, because Jan had more contact with them than with him. But Jan was too much in love with Josje to let Hubert sober him up. On 19 January 1950 he wrote the poem "Jossie".
Jossie sweet Jossie. Small Jossie. Good Jossie.
Good body Jossie. Good view. Good soul, think.
Do not know soul well Jossie. Not well acquainted with soul Jossie.
Soul Jossie. Good Jossie is good soul. Jossie maybe.
Do not know soul well Jossie. Do not know.
Old Jossie. Do not know old Jossie. Not acquainted with old Jossie.
Not acquainted with old soul Jossie.
Old soul Jossie. Young soul Jossie. One soul Jossie.
If soul becomes different Jossie? Soul becomes Jossie?
I soul I. I soul young soul Jossie.
I soul I? I soul young soul. I soul old soul.
I soul do not know old soul I.
I soul old soul do not know old soul Jossie.
Do not know I soul Jossie.
Do not know I soul Jossie.
I soul young soul. I soul not crazy soul.
I soul sometimes crazy soul. Joke soul.
Do not know joke soul. Do not know sometimes soul.
Do not know sometimes soul. Joke soul.
Do not know. Sometimes soul joke soul.
Hanlo led a free and easy life and drank a lot. He had already told Josje's mother that he was attracted to boys, but she trusted him. Bernard Hanlo, who had become a tramp, died in 1951. He left all of his money to Jan. Josje on his part was fond of Jan too. When Jan moved to another address, Jos often came to visit him, most of the time alone, sometimes with friends. He played with a meccano set then and Jan was allowed to kiss him. In 1950 Jan sought contact with the Cobra group - which wrote the so-called Dada poetry - via the writers Rudy Kousbroek and Remco Campert, and published poems in the magazine Blurb of the poet Simon Vinkenoog. Much to Jan's satisfaction Vinkenoog reacted against the political engagement of the experimentalists. That same year Hanlo's and some other poets' poetry was published for the first time in book form by Otto van Loo under the title of Zes Minnaars (Six Lovers). In the Cobra organ Braak (= waste, fallow) a poem by Jan Hanlo was published too.
In December van Loo organized a literary evening, during which Hanlo was not allowed to read his phonetic poem "Oote boe". It had not been admitted to Braak as well. But when Hanlo's friend Paul Haimon asked permission to read it, van Loo could not refuse. Jan Hanlo thought that three characteristics were essential for good poems:
they should not have any rethoric;
humour was a characteristic of real poetry;
authenticity, recognizable by the aspiration to elimination between the subconscious and the concious.
Hanlo's and ten other young poets' poems were published in the anthology atonaal. The magazine editor H.A. Gomperts thought that Jan had more humour than the other ten together. But Vinkenoog thought Jan too privincial and refused to put "Oote" in Blurb. However, in 1952 it was published by the magazine Roeping (= vocation), though the editor Michel van der Plas was against this. But as an art editor of the magazine Elseviers Weekblad he published it in his own organ, with the question whether it was a poem or not. On 22 April 1952 the first part of "Oote" was read in the Eerste Kamer (Dutch House of Lords) by right wing party MP Wendelaar from the VVD. This was the result of his questions about the policy on subsidies in connection with Dutch magazines. Hanlo thought all tumult about his poem wonderful. Many people reacted to the publication of "Oote" and some of these reactions were answered by Hanlo personally. This would go on for years.
Jan had become a famous poet overnight now. He was invited to read his poem for the radio, students asked him to give lectures, theatre makers wanted to bring "Oote" on stage. Yet he was still kept at arm's length by the Vijftigers. But Jan felt more and more better in his role as a relative outsider. When his volume of poetry The Varnished - Het Geverniste was published, Hanlo knew that (for the time being) writing poetry was over for him. He put his energy in managing his small oeuvre and in defending his literary interests. The Vijftigers often saw him in the Eijlders bar. Once a female soldier of the Salvation Army came in to collect there and Jan gave her a tenner. 'I have been naughty,' he said, 'I've gone with a boy and now I must pay for that.' His behaviour was often bizarre, especially when he had drunk too much.
In 1957 Hanlo's second volume Niet Ongelijk (= not unequal, not wrong) was published, which received more reviews than his first one. More and more irritations rose between Jan and Mai, mostly about questions of faith. She had also threatened to report him if he would assault little boys. He was always dressed perfectly, and to lure children he always took care to have stamps in his pocket. Thus he came into simple people's homes and he was as happy as Larry when he was allowed to bring such a child to bed. He told Adriaan Morriën that he went to film matinees regularly to make engagements with small boys. One day, when he walked with a boy, a detective asked him if he was gay. 'If you think that I want to go to bed with you for that reason,' Hanlo replied, 'I am not gay.' He had a web of small boys around him. One of them, Roel Kip, was to die in hospital because of an incurable disease. Jan had been at his bedside. Morriën saw his friend play tikkieloop (= tag-and-run) with his children every now and then. Hanlo regarded Morriën, who stimulated him to write prose as well, as a mentor.
Jan's mother suffered from lung cancer as a result of smoking a lot of cigars and pipes. On 1 January 1958, after twelve years and a half of being a teacher, about 3,000 private lessons and seventeen courses, Jan left Schoevers to live at his mother's in Valkenburg. Two days after her return from Lourdes, which she had visited together with Jan, she died. 'You should always have much confidence,' were her last words. She had witnessed that Jan was granted the Kleine Poëzieprijs (Small Poetry Price) from the City of Amsterdam of the year 1957. That same year, Hanlo's volume Verzamelde Gedichten (Collected Poems), which was dedicated to her, was published by Geert van Oorschot. It was a volume full of poems for little boys.
From the beginning of 1959 on, Hanlo lived in the empty porter's house of the Volkshogeschool (People's College) Geerlingshof, together with his mother's doggy. This college was situated opposite his mother's house. Immediately, the mayor put pressure on the director to 'remove this pedophile from the premises'. But the director of Geerlingshof, Fons Erens, who was friends with Hanlo, resisted the mayor's pressure. Hanlo read from his own work at school and let himself be interviewed by students. Jan felt lonesome, missed his mother, and as a result of the moisture in his little house he suffered from rheumatic disorders. Besides, he could not wander anonymously through the Valkenburg streets to let the beauty of boys sink in him. Under his mattress he had a hatchet ready at night to keep intruders at a distance. In 1959 he was granted the Grote Poëzieprijs (Big Poetry Price) from the City of Amsterdam. That same year the first edition of Barbarber was published, a magazine in Dadaistic style, which paid attention to minor poets, non-serious literature and non-gaudy writing. Hanlo, about whom the editorial staff of the magazine spoke with love, was very happy about the magazine, because now he could publish the prose with which he had experimented for years. The editors of Barbarber were, a.o., Kees Schippers and J. Bernlef, both writers. The latter regarded Hanlo his mentor. Jan appreciated their lack of 'a kind of self-importance'. Simon Carmiggelt, a very famous Dutch writer, was subscribed to the magazine as well. He called Hanlo 'the only cooperator of the magazine who formed people's opinions.' Barbarber was to be discontinued in 1971. Hanlo asked Kees Lekkerkerker from De Gids, whom he knew from the Amsterdam entertainment centre, to put some translations of Greek poetry about boys in the magazine. But Lekkerkerker refused and asked Jan not to send him any more photographs of naked little boys. He was afraid that the police would open his mail.
Hanlo decided to become coach of a correspondance course for poetry writing. Every Sunday he went to Mass three times. Almost always the contact with a boy ended in a sultry atmosphere. He was friends with Paul Fijns, born in 1946, whom he took on his motorcycle, and he contacted the fifteen-year-old Harry Koolen from Maastricht by addressing him at the station. He made a photograph of the boy and gave him his address. But Harry felt that 'something was not right' and called on to ask Jan if he could not just send the photo to him. On the Zandvoort racing circuit Hanlo had contacts with several little boys. On 10 June 1962 he caressed the fifteen-year-old Hubertus Rutte over his chest, while they were sitting in a deck chair. Jan sent the boy to his parents to tell him what they had done, because he just wanted to pay for the many affairs he had had. On 19 June Hanlo was arrested and imprisoned in the Haarlem prison De Koepel. Two months later his case appeared. The psychiatrist had declared Hanlo to be in a state of diminished responsibility. The witness Hubertus stated that Hanlo had caressed one nipple and that he had pushed away his hand when descending to his belly. After that Hanlo had kissed the boy on his cheek and had said 'darling'. Then Hubertus had said that he had to go home. Hanlo confirmed this story and added that the boy had cried. Because he did not want to saddle him with tension, he had given him the advice to tell his parents everything. Hanlo was condemned to two months imprisonment. He decided to be open about his sexual inclination. He yearned for sexual contact with boys. Someone who was open about his pedophile inclination and yet was held in high social regard was Edward Brongersma (not unknown to OK readers). He was a member of the Eerste Kamer. Jan took his motorcycle and visited him. He was received in a friendly way by Brongersma and noted down in his diary later: 'Exaggerated chastity which he let lean on Catholicism. Frank conversation.'
Hanlo earned his living by his trade in stocks and shares and kept himself far from political issues. He was conservative, but not extremely. He destested televison. Hans Kool, who was at secundary school and would be a university student later, exchanged forty-four letters with Hanlo between 1960 and 1968, often about problems of philosophical, theological and psychological nature. It was not until the beginning of 1969 that Jan told Hans about his inclination during an encounter they had, and also about his wish to go to another country without the taboos of the Dutch culture. Krol advised him against going to Turkey. Hans had a real crush on the three sons of the Geerlingshof gardener, especially the middle one, Jos. He was not allowed to receive the little boys in his house, but he was allowed to bring them to bed at night and read them from Donald Duck. Like he did with all the boys he knew, he gave them (often expensive) gifts. Despite the ban, Jos came to Jan's house all the same and they kissed each other. Later Jos told that Jan asked his permission for everything they did. He always took the boy on his lap. 'Once I entered Hanlo's house. He was naked. He asked me to undress too. I did. I was calm and did not feel threatened. After we had palyed around, he asked me if he was allowed to take my willie into his mouth. I did not want that and therefore he did not persist any longer.' Jan thought that children did not belong to their parents, but that other people were allowed to enjoy this delight on earth too.
Ronald Dietz, the later publisher of De Grote Lijster (= The Big Thrush, in Dutch a pun on lijster and lijst (list); it is a series of books, especially selected for secundary school students), also had, as a sixteen-year-old, an elaborate correspondance with Hanlo, whom he addressed consistently by 'Sir', to Hanlo's irritation, because he wanted to build up a friendship with Ronald. When they were on holiday in Paris, in August 1964, Jan began to praise Ronald's transition from wrist to hand. 'How beautifully your thighs change into your buttocks,' he said. Dietz felt uneasy by Hanlo's remarks. 'What frightened me particularly, was his request to kiss me once. He asked this in a soft and modest tone, after he had prayed the Veni Creator Spiritus. But I was scared. After my rough, emphetic refusal something was wrong between us. I wanted to return to Holland the next day. Three years later Dietz wanted to restore the friendship with Hanlo, but Hanlo refused.
Jan did a lot of charity. He had adopted two small Mexican boys, for whom he transferred money regularly to a father in Limburg (a province in the south of Holland). Everywhere where boys were around, Jan could be found: on race tracks, on fairs, in circuses and preferably in churches where boys' choirs sang. He became more and more uncareful in approaching little boys. Regularly an angry parent or policeman was standing on his doorstep, because Jan had sought contact in an improper way. As a result of the many complaints and the fact that on the spot of Jan's little house a bungalow would be built, he received a letter in which he was given notice to leave at the beginning of 1969. Jan protested, but Erens could do nothing for him.
In September 1968 Jan was locked up again for one night, because he had tried to kiss the eleven-year-old paperboy Aartje Jansen. Hanlo stated that he had not caressed the boy deliberately over his naked buttocks that Sunday morning, but that he had shifted over and over again to not let the contact become too intimately. Jan wrote to the prosecutor: 'It is not simple to embrace someone firmly and yet not to adopt an erotically provocative attitude. Especially when you are only dressed in pyamas, underpants and shirt.' After some conversations with the parents by mediation of Rita Kohnstamm, a member of the COC Board, the complaint against Jan was withdrawn.
Morocco was a favourite country in homosexual and pedophile circles. Writers like Paul Bowles, André Gide, Jean Genet, Hans Warren, Jef Last and Michel Foucault went to Morocco for the little boys. The morals about marriage were strict there, so unmarried boys sought safety with other boys for eroticism and sexuality. The step to hire themselves out to tourists for money was not such a big one. However, to retain their male selfrespect, the boys did play an active role. Hanlo was a pedo, who did not think in sexual, but rather in erotic terms. Together with his friend Vic Savelkoul he left for Tanger by plane, in February 1969. From Morocco Jan wrote letters which later would be compiled under the titel Go To The Mosk; Brieven uit (Letters from) Marokko. He had an uncomplicated contact with the small boys there. 'When an innocent beauty of about 11 years old speaks to you,' he wrote, 'And he knows that you are a Dutchman, and the conversation drags, or a not well understood question is being asked, then he just throws pik (= prick) in between for once.' Savelkoul was irritated by Hanlo's continuous efforts to get in touch with little boys. And Hanlo for his part regarded his travelling companion as a milestone around his neck. That's why Savelkoul returned to Holland.
Jan wrote about a four or five-year-old boy who tried to win him over by all kinds of complaints about hunger and by promises of love, and took him by the fly in a friendly manner. In Marrakech he got acquainted with a boy who at once made an overwhelming impression on Jan. Mohåmed was his name and he was about thirteen years old. 'When we sought each other's eyes, we laughed from both sides with a touch of humour, of love and of melancholy.' He gave the boy new clothes and to that was given a kiss on each cheek by him. Some days later he, Mohåmed and another little boy went to a small bathhouse. 'We undressed to our underpants then in the company of the very indolent, friendly old patron (boss) and some Moroccan guests who turned out to bath in steam (...). The boys entered a rather wide shower cabin then (...). There was a shower. Nice. But the boys (the smallest one too, with remarkable, fine, cute buttocks) did not wash themselves and only waited for the fak-fak pleasure. That seemed (seems) too risky to me. But I did see that all three of them were very beautiful. My little negro Mohåmed of 12 beats everything. He was Africa in all its (her) round angular mystery. I kissed him.'
He wrote about Mohåmed that he was a complete sex maniac and that as a result he suffered from migraine because of lack of sleep. Sometimes he had ten men in one night. Mohåmed kept saying 'I love you' to Hanlo constantly. He wanted to save the boy from his pernicious surroundings by taking him to Holland. But Mohåmed did not want to go away. He stole from Jan, but he forgave him when the boy admitted his wrong step. Though Hanlo had become a sexually active pedo, he kept on visiting the Catholic church. He encouraged his little friend to go to the mosk. 'On our way to the church,' Hanlo told, 'Mohåmed's prick came through the irreparable hole in his trousers, while we were walking. 'Take it,' Mohåmed said. I cuddled him there for a moment. A few steps later, again: 'Take it.' It was sticking out stiffly from his trousers. I took it firmly for a moment, which satisfied Mohåmed, as his little laugh showed.'
As the smitten Jan felt more and more like a father to his small friend, his sexual desires diminished. He thought back longingly to the pureness of youth. Mohåmed called him dad. Hanlo wanted the boy to live with a host family. After having arranged the formalities, he got on a plane with him on 17 May 1969. At the time, nobody had been found who wanted to take Mohåmed in his house as a paying guest. Two days after their arrival in Holland, Hanlo found a shelter in the Sint-Aloysiusinstituut (Saint Aloysius Institute) in Flemish Zepperen, where they stayed for four days. The boy misbehaved there. He climbed into the trees and fought with his fellow-students. On 22 May Hanlo took him to his little house in Valkenburg. There he beat his little friend to make him obey. Mohåmed thought this was fair. After some days he was sent away from the primary school in Valkenburg, because he was too wild.
On 29 May the boy was taken by the police, because Jan had not applied for a visa for him. Though he did everything to keep his friend in Holland, Mohåmed was put on a plane, after a dramatic goodbye. The decision of the civil servant concerned, to send the boy back, was influenced by Jan's ancestry. Thirty years later, Mohåmed recalled that Hanlo only used to fondle little boys when he had drunk too much and then wanted to make love to them too. As a result of the castration he did not manage to do anything in sexual matters. Mohåmed was jealous and afraid that dad would approach other little boys. It turned out that Hanlo was put into bed dead drunk by his friend almost every night and that the boy stayed with him to take care of dad. In 1978 Mohåmed told Anton Oskamp, a adventurer, that he still regarded himself Jan Hanlo's son. In 1998 he was an instructor at a small sports school in Agadir and also a security guard in an off-licence store. He was married in 1991 and is the father of two children. He could not help crying for days on end, when he heard that Hanlo had died a few months earlier, on 16 June 1969.
After that his Moroccan friend had been deported, Hanlo was a disillusioned man. Though his trust in providence had been put to the test repeatedly, there is not a single indication that he chose for death consciously. On the contrary, he had plans to get his little friend to Holland for good, or, if this was not possible, to live together with him in Morocco. Often he had mounted his motorcycle to cut capers with it, which was perilous. After such a suicidal drive he fell on his knees to thank the Lord that he had survived. On Saturday afternoon 14 June 1969, Hanlo went to Maastricht on his motorcycle to enquire about the formalities which were demanded to get his little friend back to Holland. With an enormous crash he hit a tractor, which was going to the left without a turning sign. Hanlo was taken to hospital in Maastricht, seriously wounded.
The next day he gained consciousness and complained about a lot of pain. He regarded the fact that his penis was wounded a punishment from God. They had told him to keep on lying for three weeks without any movement. That's why he wanted to be transferred to the hospital in Heerlen, where his uncle Louis was an internist. That same night his condition worsened, so that he was operated on his torn bladder. On Monday morning 16 June he died unexpectedly of an embolism, as was concluded by the pathologist Dr Zeldenrust. Jan Hanlo was buried some meters away from Pieter Al's grave.
1Vijftigers has two meanings: 1. persons of fifty years and older; 2. Dutch art movement in the fifties.
2COC = Dutch lobby for gay and lesbian people.
Zo meen ik dat ook jij bent (This Is What I Think You Are Too) - Hans Renders, 1998
source: Book review 'Jan Hanlo, the 'Vijftiger' who wanted to remain a child' by John Stefan; Translated from Dutch; OK Magazine, no. 89; June 2004