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Executed by the Nazis: the story of Vincent van Goghs brave great-nephew

The grave of Theodoor van Gogh (1920-45) with roses, Field of Honour Cemetery, Overveen, Netherlands..



The grave of Theodoor van Gogh (1920-45) with roses, Field of Honour Cemetery, Overveen, Netherlands Courtesy of Willem van Gogh, Amsterdam

Earlier this month members of the Van Gogh family placed roses on the grave of Theodoor (Theo), who was executed by a Nazi firing squad in 1945. He was buried in the Field of Honour Cemetery, in the sand dunes near Haarlem. His gravestone reads: “Brave and fearless for freedom”.

Theodoor was the eldest grandson of Theo, Vincent van Gogh's brother. Born in 1920, Theodoor began studying economics at Amsterdam University in 1941. He then joined a student organisation which resisted the German occupation, secretly helping Jews and others who had been forced into hiding. In 1943 and again in 1944 he was arrested by the Nazis, but on both occasions his father managed to secure his release.

Theodoor van Gogh, aged around 20 Courtesy of the Van Gogh family

On 1 March 1945, just two months before the end of the war, Theodoors luck ran out. A fellow student, Hans Bais, had been taking bread to some people in hiding when he was stopped and questioned in the street. The German troops then ordered Bais to take them to his house in Weteringschans, where they found Theodoor. Both young men were arrested and imprisoned in detention cells. (By chance, Weteringschans lies just a few minutes walk from the Van Gogh Museum, which was opened in 1973.)

A few days later, on 6 March, the Dutch resistance launched an attack on Hanns Rauter, the German leader of the occupying SS police force. Rauter was badly injured and, as a reprisal, the Nazis executed 263 Dutch citizens—including Theodoor, then aged just 24. On 8 March he was shot by a firing squad in south-east Amsterdam, in what is became known as Fusilladeplaats (Firing Squad Square) in Rozenoord, formerly a rose garden.

Ram Katzirs Monument Rozenoord (2015) © Studio Ram Katzir; photo: Allard Bovenberg

In 2015 the Israeli-born Dutch sculptor Ram Katzir designed a memorial for Firing Squad Square, dedicated to the 140 people who were shot on this spot. In Monument Rozenoord each victim is commemorated with a metal chair above a stone inscribed with their name.

Katzir says that he had been inspired by seeing metal seats in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris: “Empty chairs were scattered around the park and you could really feel the presence of the absent people. Traces left by Rozenoords victims and by visitors to the monument are just as ephemeral.”

Although Katzir was unaware of the link, his memorial is particularly apposite for Theodoor, since Vincent equated “empty chairs” with those who had once sat on them (and hence the painting of his own straw-covered seat, now at Londons National Gallery).

Johan van Gogh on the chair of his brother Theodoor at the unveiling of Monument Rozenoord in 2018, with the artist Ram Katzir © Studio Ram Katzir; photo: Katrien Mulder

Theodoors brother Johan attended the unveiling of the Monument Rozenoord in 2018, sitting in the appropriate chair. Johan van Gogh, a former Dutch intelligence officer dealing with the Soviet threat during the Cold War, died last year, aged 96.

Last week the story of Theodoors death came back to me in a personal way when I bought a rather special book. It was an anthology of Belgian literature with a penciled inscription at the front, “T. van Gogh/11 Nov 1942”. Presumably the seller had failed to spot its significance, considering its relatively modest price (€15).

Theodoors signature of 11 November 1942 at the front of the book by Jan Greshoff, A la Gloire de la Belgique

The Van Gogh family confirmed to me that the handwriting is indeed that of Theodoor and the inscribed date suggests that it may have been given to him for his 22nd birthday. We dont know who gave the book to him, but it might well have been his father, Vincents nephew. The preface is by the Belgian Symbolist poet Emile Verhaeren, who was one of the first critics to mention Van Goghs paintings in print, less than a year after the artists death. We shall never know whether Theodoor was aware of the link between the poet and the artist.

The 1915 book, published in Amsterdam during the previous world war when Belgium had been occupied by the Germans, appears to have been read—but it was very well cared for, hardly looking over a century old, despite the wartime events.

Jan Greshoff, A la Gloire de la Belgique, published by S.L. van Looy, Amsterdam (1915) Courtesy of Martin Bailey

I thought back to the story of Theodoors treasured volume. His parents must have been shocked to receive the traumatic news that their son had been executed. They would then have had the agonising task of sorting through his possessions, abruptly abandoned when he was arrested. At some unknown point A la Gloire de la Belgique left the family and ended up in a Dutch bookstore.

Cradling the book made me ponder the tragic story of the three Theo van Goghs. The first, the artists brother and loyal supporter (1857-91), died an agonising death from syphilis—a common disease at the time—just a year after his marriage. The second (1920-45), a grandson of the artists brother, was slaughtered by a Nazi bullet. The third (1957-2004), a great-grandson, was the controversial 47-year-old filmmaker who was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim fanatic.

This month Willem van Gogh, a cousin of the filmmaker, circulated a letter to the family to mark the 75th anniversary of the brutal execution of Theodoor: “All three of the Theos are deeply worth remembering because of the special people they were and the great significance they still hold.”

Other Van Gogh news

• The art museum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence reopened yesterday, following the coronavirus closure. The Musée Estrine shows 20th-century and contemporary art, along with display panels on Van Goghs stay in the nearby asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole. Only a maximum of 15 masked-visitors will be allowed into the galleries at any one time.

Martin Bailey is a leading Van Gogh specialist and investigative reporter for The Art Newspaper. Bailey has curated Van Gogh exhibitions at the Barbican Art Gallery and Compton Verney/National Gallery of Scotland. He was a co-curator of Tate Britains The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain (27 March-11 August 2019). He has written a number of bestselling books, including The Sunflowers Are Mine: The Story of Van Gogh's Masterpiece (Frances Lincoln 2013, available in the Read More – Source

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Michael Apted: TV documentary pioneer and film-maker dies aged 79




Film director Michael Apted, best known for the Up series of TV documentaries following the lives of 14 people every seven years, has died aged 79.

He also directed Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorillas In The Mist and the 1999 Bond movie The World Is Not Enough.

The original 7 Up in 1964 set out to document the life prospects of a range of children from all walks of life.

The show was inspired by the Aristotle quote “give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man”.

The first 7 Up show was followed by 14 Up at the start of the next decade, which interviewed the same children as teenagers – and the pattern was set right up until 63 Up in 2019.

Throughout all those intervening years ITV viewers became engrossed with the stories of private school trio Andrew, Charles and John, of Jackie who went through two divorces, of Nick who went from jobless and homeless to Liberal Democrat councillor, and of working class chatterbox Tony, whose life ambition was to become a jockey.

Apted’s shows – which won three Bafta awards – have often been described as the forerunner of modern-day reality TV series, giving its participants the time to tell their own stories on screen.

But unlike their modern counterparts, the original Up children tended to fade away from the limelight in the seven years between each chapter.

In 2008, Apted was made a companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the British film and television industries.

‘Remarkable’ career

Thomas Schlamme, president of the Directors Guild of America, said Apted was a “fearless visionary” whose legacy would live on.

He said Apted, who was born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, “saw the trajectory of things when others didn’t and we were all beneficiaries of his wisdom and lifelong dedication”.

ITV’s managing director Kevin Lygo said the director’s six-decade career was “in itself truly remarkable”.

He said the Up series “demonstrated the possibilities of television at its finest in its ambition and its capacity to hold up a mirror to society and engage with and entertain people while enriching our perspective on the human condition”.

“The influence of Michael’s contribution to film and programme-making continues to be felt and he will be sadly missed,” Lygo added.

Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of the James Bond film franchise, said Apted “was a director of enormous talent” and “beloved by all those who worked with him”.

“We loved working with him on The World Is Not Enough and send our love and support to his family, friends and colleagues,” they said.

A post on the Twitter account of the band Garbage, who performed the theme for The World Is Not Enough, labelled Apted a “delightful, charming soul”.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Composer David G Arnold, who composed the Bond theme and worked with Apted on three other non-Bond movies, said he felt “lucky” to work with him.

“A more trusting, funny, friendly and, most importantly, kind, person you’d never meet. So pleased to have known him and so sad that he’s gone,” Arnold wrote on Twitter.


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Liverpool FC anthem singer Gerry Marsden dies aged 78




Gerry and the Pacemakers singer Gerry Marsden, whose version of You’ll Never Walk Alone became a football terrace anthem for his hometown club of Liverpool, has died at the age of 78.

His family said on Sunday he died after a short illness not linked to Covid-19.

Marsden’s band was one of the biggest success stories of the Merseybeat era, and in 1963 became the first to have their first three songs top the chart.

But the band’s other best known hit was Ferry Cross The Mersey came in 1964.

It was written by Marsden himself as a tribute to his city, and reached number eight.

Marsden was made an MBE in 2003 for services to charity after supporting victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

At the time, he said he was “over the moon” to have received the honour, following his support for numerous charities across Merseyside and beyond.

Liverpool FC posted on social media that Marsden’s words would “live on forever with us”.

While Marsden was a songwriter as well as a singer, his most enduring hit was actually a cover of a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical number from 1945, that he had to convince his bandmates to record as their third single.

In many interviews over the years, he explained how fate played a part in his band ever recording the song. He was watching a Laurel and Hardy movie at Liverpool’s Odeon cinema in the early 1960s and, only because it was raining, he decided to stay for the second part of a double feature.

That turned out to be the film Carousel – which featured that song on its soundtrack – and Marsden was so moved by the lyrics that he became determined that it should become part of his band’s repertoire.

In a 2013 interview, Marsden told the Liverpool FC website how You’ll Never Walk Alone was adopted by the club’s fans as soon as it topped the chart in 1963: “I remember being at Anfield and before every kick off they used to play the top 10 from number 10 to number one, and so You’ll Never Walk Alone was played before the match. I was at the game and the fans started singing it.

“When it went out of the top 10 they took the song off the playlist and then for the next match the Kop were shouting ‘Where’s our song?’ So they had to put it back on.

“Now, every time I go to the game I still get goose pimples when the song comes on and I sing my head off.”

Sir Kenny Dalglish, who managed Liverpool at the time of the Hillsborough tragedy, tweeted that he was “saddened” by the news of Marsden’s death, and that You’ll Never Walk Alone was an “integral part of Liverpool Football Club, and never more so than now”.


By BBC Radio Merseyside’s Spencer Leigh

Gerry was an entertainer. He loved being an entertainer; he loved people seeing him in the street and asking him for his autograph and the like.

He had a very distinctive voice, and that is terribly important. You knew instantly it was him on those records. He was best on those ballads.

I think he really did them very well indeed. You’ll Never Walk Alone was a big show song that had been around for years and years, and lots of people had done it.

Just before Gerry brought his version out, Johnny Mathis brought his out. If that version had been played on the Kop, I don’t think the Kop would have taken to it because you couldn’t sing along with Johnny Mathis – he had too big a range and too perfect a voice.

But Gerry sounded like everyman and it was absolutely perfect for the Kop. I think it’s the greatest football anthem of the lot.

As well as being a Liverpool anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone has also been adopted by fans at both Celtic in Scotland and Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram posted a tribute on Twitter, saying he was “devastated” by the news.

Marsden’s career began at legendary live music venue, The Cavern Club, where The Pacemakers played nearly 200 times.

The club said on Twitter that Marsden was “not only a legend, but also a very good friend of The Cavern”.

Gerry and The Pacemakers were spotted by Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who gave them the song How Do You Do It, which had been turned down by the Fab Four and Adam Faith, for their debut single.

The band achieved nine hit singles and two hit albums between 1963 and 1965, before splitting up.

Marsden pursued a solo career before the band reformed in 1974 for a world tour.

In 1985, Marsden was back in the pop spotlight when he was invited to be one of the vocalists of a charity version of You’ll Never Walk Alone, which was released to raise funds for victims of a fire at a Bradford City match.

In doing so, Marsden set another chart record by becoming the first person to sing on two different chart-topping versions of the same song.

So when, after the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989, the other Pacemakers classic of Ferry Cross The Mersey was chosen to raise funds for its victims and a group of famous Liverpudlian singers was gathered, Marsden was again included and was back at number one once more for a cause he held dear for the rest of his life.

Marsden was awarded the Freedom of Liverpool in April 2009, an occasion he marked by boarding a ferry across the Mersey and getting out his guitar to sing his famous hit which described the scene.

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Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ dies of Covid-19 complications at 82 Lisa France byline




Dawn Wells, who played the lovable castaway Mary Ann Summers on “Gilligan’s Island,” died in Los Angeles on Wednesday from Covid-19 complications, her publicist Harlan Boll confirmed to CNN.

She was 82.
Tina Louise portrayed movie star Ginger Grant on “Gilligan’s Island” and said in a statement to CNN, “I was sad to learn of Dawn’s passing, I will always remember her kindness to me.
“We shared in creating a cultural landmark that has continued to bring comfort and smiles to people during this difficult time,” the statement read. “I hope that people will remember her the way that I do — always with a smile on her face.”
Born in Reno, Nevada, Wells represented her home state in the Miss America pageant in 1959.
That opened the door for her to start a career in Hollywood where she appeared in a multitude of television shows, including “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Bonanza,” “The Joey Bishop Show” and “Hawaiian Eye.”
She beat out 350 other actresses to nab the role of girl-next-door Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island,” which aired on CBS from 1964 to 1967 and later in syndication.
In a 2016 interview with Forbes magazine, Wells revealed that the job was not as lucrative as many people believed.
“A misconception is that we must be wealthy, rolling in the dough, because we got residuals. We didn’t really get a dime,” she said. “I think my salary — of course, I was low on the totem pole, Ginger (Tina Louise) and Thurston (Jim Backus) got more — was $750 a week. Sherwood Schwartz, our producer, reportedly made $90 million on the reruns alone!”
She starred in more than 150 TV shows, seven motion pictures including “Winterhawk” (which she also narrated) and more than 60 productions on and off Broadway.
Beyond acting, Wells also served as a producer, author, journalist, motivational speaker, teacher, humanitarian, spokesperson and chairwoman of the Terry Lee Wells Foundation, an organization for women and children in northern Nevada, as well as running her Film Actors Boot Camp for seven years in Idaho.
She received the Elephant Sanctuary Trumpeting Award for her activism in supporting The Elephant Sanctuary. The sanctuary, founded in 1995, is the nation’s largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for African and Asian elephants.
But it was her pigtail-wearing character on “Gilligan’s Island” which made her a beloved star — and she had fun with it.
Wells acted as the “castaway correspondent” for Channel 9 in Sydney, Australia, where she interviewed actors and directors including Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Julia Roberts, Rene Russo, Mel Gibson, Ron Howard, and Richard Donner.
At the premiere of the film “Gravity,” she presented star Sandra Bullock with a coconut cream pie, in honor of their shared experience with being “stranded.”
“Gilligan’s Island” was an unexpected hit and in honor of the 50th anniversary of the series, Wells released “A Guide To Life: What Would Mary Ann Do?” in which she wrote about the meaning of the Mary Ann character and observed the cultural shifts that have happened since she was on the island.
Her gingham dress and famous short shorts from “Gilligan’s Island” are currently on display in the lobby of The Hollywood Museum.
She is survived by her stepsister, Weslee Wells.
No services have been scheduled at this time and in lieu of flowers, donations are requested to either The Elephant Sanctuary, Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum or The Shambala Preserve.

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