Meindert Fennema en Johan Rhijnsburger, Dr. Max Hirschfeld. Man van het grote geld (Amsterdam 2007).
Hovering between Loyalty and Bureaucracy Hans Max Hirschfeld has often been the subject of discussion: he was Secretary General of the Ministry of Trade and Industry during World War II and, as such, a collaborator. Or should we regard him as a faithful and obedient civil servant who simply performed the task entrusted to him by his successive (political) superiors? The question is all the more intriguing because Hirschfeld was of German descent, even though he only lived in the land of his birth for four months of his life. Hirschfeld has been the subject of two successive biographies.
In the opening article of this dossier on Meindert Fennema’s biography of Hirschfeld, Hans Renders describes the value that the biographical genre holds for history writing. Although there is certainly some criticism to be levelled at Fennema’s biography, he has succeeded in providing a balanced account of this sphinx-like man. This is indeed an achievement, as Hirschfeld’s private archive was destroyed upon his death. Thanks to the use of other sources, the biographer makes a convincing case that Hirschfeld’s thoughts and deeds were strongly influenced by the headstrong Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825).
This review is part of the discussion forum 'Dr. Max Hirschfeld. Man van het grote geld' (Meindert Fennema en Johan Rhijnsburger).