Sal Santen (1915-1998) was both a revolutionary and a novelist. As his literary body of work was mainly autobiographical, these two aspects are virtually inseparable in his writing. His political archive was deposited at the IISH years ago. Now his literary estate has been transferred as well, and this enables us to get a full picture of Sal Santen’s work.
Sal Santen and his daughter, 1948 (Call no BG A12/439)
Born in 1915 in a social-democratic home, Santen joined the Onafhankelijk Socialistische Partij (Independent Socialist Party in 1932), Revolutionair-Socialistische Arbeiderspartij (Revolutionary-Socialist Workers Party in 1935), Leninistische Jeugdgarde (Leninist Youth in 1936), Groep van Bolsjewiki-Leninisten (Group of Bolshevist Leninists in 1939), Bond van Communisten (Communist Union in 1940), Comité van Revolutionaire Marxisten (Committee of Revolutionary Marxists in 1943), Revolutionair-Communistische Partij (Revolutionary-Communist Party in 1945) and the Fourth International (in 1952).
In 1937 he married Bep Blaauw, the stepdaughter of the famous revolutionary Henk Sneevliet. In 1960 and 1961 he acquired international renown because he was convicted for counterfeiting. The Fourth International produced false French money and IDs in order to help the Algerian Liberation Front that was involved in an anticolonial war with France. In 1967 Santen said goodbye to politics, but he always remained a convinced revolutionary-socialist.
Santen now became a full-time writer. His first book was Jullie is jodenvolk (You are Jewish folk, 1969). “In literature, truth matters, it is not about storytelling,” he said. He wanted to elucidate his own experiences, for himself and for the sake of his family, which he thought was the most important thing in life. Thus, his novels treat the fate of his Jewish family, his political development and disappointment. His in-laws, Henk and Mien Sneevliet, his comrade Michel Raptis, and the solidarity with Algeria movment. Santen was also wrote for various magazines, including Het Parool and Propria Cures.
This addition to the Sal Santen archive includes the manuscripts of his publications, correspondence between Sal and his wife Bep from the period in which Santen had settled in South America on behalf of the Fourth International (1952-1953), scrapbooks, tapes with interviews, the DVD Sal Salten, Rebel, and a documentary by Rudolf van den Berg (1982) that was awarded the Dutch Film Prize, Gouden Kalf (Golden Calf).