Jacob Israel de Haan

Jacob Israel de Haan

Jacob Israel de Haan (1881-1924) was born into an Orthodox Jewish family and is considered one of the most important poets and thinkers of his time. His sister was Carry van Bruggen, the author of a large number of novels and philosophical essays. Following the controversy surrounding his novels, Jacob Israel de Haan emigrated to Palestine, where he joined an ultra-Orthodox community and was assassinated in 1924 by a member of a paramilitary organisation.


The political assassination drew worldwide attention. In 1932, the German author Arnold Zweig published his novel De Vriendt kehrt heim (De Vriendt Goes Home), inspired by these events.

De Haan is generally considered to have been a precursor of the gay liberation movement that took off in the second half of the 20th century. A line from his poetry is featured on the Gay Monument on Amsterdam’s Keizersgracht: ‘Such an endless desire for friendship’. In the ’70s and ’80s, his books were reissued and enjoyed a surge in popularity.

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