Friday, March 09, 2012

Max Salomon de Winter and The Pill

This post is in memory of Max Salomon de Winter (Nijmegen 5-19-1920 - Oss 3-8-2012).

Yesterday my friend Harry posted a movie on Facebook, less than a minute long, that he made last Monday, in it we see his father Max, with great-grandson Mathius on his lap. The elderly gentleman gently sang to his family's latest addition. Listening carefully you can hear his, "La, la, la, hoera, hoera, hoera!" part of a Dutch birthday song, followed by soothing words about all those people, wanting something or other of the only months old little man. A few nights later Harry's father died in his sleep.

I never met Max de Winter, but looking at the obituaries in Het Brabants Dagblad and De Telegraaf, I remember the exact moment, a lunch meeting at a café in Amsterdam decades ago, when Harry told me how his father survived Auschwitz thanks to his technical skills, which were of use in the Wartime Siemens factory, And that he invented The Pill.

The survival story clicked as part of the usual exchange between children of Holocaust survivors. Harry's pride in his father's professional career hit a cord as well, since my mother made sure I "got on The Pill" the moment she suspected her teenaged daughter might be sexually active.

Photo: Eve Besnyö -
My mother took pride in the fact that she, as a member of "Dolle Mina Movement" (1970s Dutch feminists who with their "Baas In Eigen Buik" campaign claimed power over what happened inside their own bellies) helped make The Pill part of the Health Insurance package in the Netherlands.

Someone on Facebook responded to Harry's announcement about his father's death, and the obits in Dutch newspapers with the words: Without your father you might have had many more brothers and sisters. 
To which I say: Without his father there would be no Harry, no Mathias, and without The Pill there would have been and be, a whole lot more misery in this world.

In memory of Max Salomon de Winter, and remembering my mom Nita "Do" van Praag, I'm linking to CafeMom's re-published N.Y.Times advertisement: A Thank-You Letter to Rush Limbaugh.

Photo of Dolle Mina members by Eva Besnyö (Budapest 1919- Laren, 2003) found at Hondius Auctions

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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