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Ben Telders

Benjamin Marius Telders, professor of international law, died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen on 6 April 1945. He was an example of civil courage before and during the occupation. He spoke up against inequity and injustice.

Together with his colleague Cleveringa, Telders was involved in the events of October 1940, when all professors in the Netherlands were instructed to sign what was known as the Aryan Declaration. Telders led the resistance to this declaration. ‘This far, but no further,’ he wrote to the President of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, L.E. Visser.

Telders provided the argument about international law for Cleveringa’s protest speech on 26 November 1940. Without Telders, Kees Schuyt concluded in his biography of Cleveringa, Cleveringa’s protest would never have been as successful. Telders was arrested for his resistance and taken to ‘Orange Hotel’, the prison in Scheveningen, at the end of 1940. He died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp right at the end of the war.

Telders’ name lives on in the Telders Students Society of International Law and the Telders Foundation, the think tank for liberalism.

In April 2020, exactly 75 years after Telders’ death, the book Ben Telders. Moedig, strijdbaar en onverzettelijk was published and the name of the Small Auditorium was changed to ‘Telders Auditorium’. The film about Telders Aan ons de vrijheid, also released in April, shows what civil courage means and stands as an example to today’s generation.

Video about Ben Telders

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