Historian Katja Happe new Cleveringa Professor
German historian Katja Happe is the new Cleveringa Professor at Leiden University. She will give the Cleveringa Lecture on 26 November 2019. She conducts research into the persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands, and wrote the critically acclaimed book 'Veel valse hoop' (Much False Hope).
‘It’s a real honour,’ Happe said in a brief response to her appointment. ‘I had heard the story of Rudolph Cleveringa’s protest, but didn’t know that a new Cleveringa Professor is appointed each year.’
Highest percentage of murdered Jews
Happe initially wrote her book Viele falsche Hoffnungen (2017) for a German audience. It was not common knowledge in Germany that in North and West Europe the Netherlands is the country in which the highest percentage of Jews – around 75% – were deported to extermination camps. In her book, Happe analyses the various reasons for this, such as the law-abiding culture of the Dutch and the stance of the Dutch government.
Happe (1970) developed an interest in the history of the Netherlands during the Second World War at an early age. She studied German and history in Siegen and continued her study of history in Groningen. Her thesis was about the treatment of moffenmeiden (women accused of a having a relationship with a German) in the Netherlands. At present, she is the director of Ladelund Memorial Site in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Kamp Ladelund was a sub-camp of Neuengamme Concentration Camp. It ‘only’ existed for six weeks, but in this short space of time housed 301 prisoners, including 111 men from the Dutch village of Putten.
Researcher at NIOD
Happe previously worked for a few years as a guest researcher at the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD). She was also an academic advisor at Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg and a researcher at the University of Siegen. She will tell us more about her research and the subject of her Cleveringa Lecture (open to the public) on 26 November in an interview that will be published soon on this website.
Every year, the University remembers the victims of the Second World War and the protest speech given by Leiden Dean of the Faculty of Law Rudolph Cleveringa. On 26 November 1940, he condemned the dismissal of his Jewish colleague Eduard Meijers and was arrested afterwards. Both professors survived the war. The Cleveringa chair is a rotating professorship held by a different person each academic year. The Cleveringa Professor focuses on the Second World War or issues relating to law, freedom and responsibility.
Photo: Eduard Meijers stands in front of the Academy Building