September 6, 2022

The Museum of Literature acquires war letters from Dutch writer Lucebert

The Museum of Literature has come into possession of more than sixty war letters from 'Bertje' to 'Koppijntje', as Bertus Swaanswijk (Lucebert, 1924-1994) and his childhood friend Albertine Koppijn (1924-2016) called each other. Letters full of youthful enthusiasm, passion and hubris, in which the budding poet discovers the possibilities of language with noticeable pleasure. In his own words: ‘exaggerated words in exaggerated impulse’, as he writes in September 1943. But they are also letters with often shocking content.

The Dutch poet and painter Lucebert is one of the greatest and most influential post-World War II artists. He acquired enormous fame as ‘emperor’ of the Vijfigers with his poems that break with every poetic tradition. The letters that the Museum of Literature has recently acquired come from a period in which he is still developing. However, they are not interesting for that reason alone. Its content gives them an even greater importance. Lucebert more than once made Nazi and anti-Semitic remarks; he turned out to be more sympathetic to the German occupiers than was known until then.


Additional research

For the first time since the biography of Wim Hazeu - who was the first to quote from the letters - researchers can now view all letters and conduct additional research. On you can read an article (in Dutch) by Bertram Mourits, Head of Collections, about the letters.


Lucebert in 1943 and one of the letters from Lucebert to his friend Albertine Koppijn. Collectie: The Museum of Literature