Siegfried Van Praag
- Category : 1899-births
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sphinx 3
Dutch writer of some sixty titles, his greatest relevance is as a novelist, yet van Praag was also an essayist and an autobiographical writer.
He was born to Jewish parents as the youngest of three sons. His brother Prof. Jonas Andries van Praag (26 February 1895 - 30 October 1969) became a Hispanist and Marinus Maurits van Praag (1 May 1896, Amsterdam - 19 June 1965, Schiedam), an engineer.
His father, Henri van Praag (27 May 1856, Amsterdam - 23 October 1924, Amsterdam), worked in the diamond trade. His mother was Grietje de Jongh (16 Augustus 1863, Harderwijk - 8 Augustus 1934, Amsterdam). They were secular Dutch Jews who wanted their children to be succesfull in the Dutch society. Siegfried loved to visit Artis Zoo and considered to become a biologist. But he decided to study French Languages at the University of Amsterdam, and became a teacher at the Higher Civil School in Purmerend.
On 16 April 1924 he married in Amsterdam Hilda Sanders (19 May 1899, Amsterdam - 22 February 1974), daughter of Jacob Sanders (8 August 1868, Amsterdam – 2 July 1943, Sobibor), trade agent draper en Johanna Ruben (2 July 1868 Hamburg – 2 July 1943, Sobibor). Hilda had studied for teacher economics, and would become a financial journalist working for NRC Handelsblad. They got a son and a daughter.
He published his first novel De Weegschaal (The scales) in 1925. He wrote articles that were primarily concerned with Jewish and French literature. He and Hilda were also involved in the German (Exil) funds of publisher Allert de Lange (1933).
At the end of 1936 he moved to the French part of Brussels for economic reasons. In 1940 the family left the continent for England. They travelled with the Nigerstrom (1939-1956). The decision was made by Hilda, according to Henriëtte Boas, who described Siegfried as a very hesitating man.
In London he worked for the Dutch and Belgian radio programmes of the BBC. The war made a considerable impression on van Praag and his consequent preoccupation with Jewish culture and identity—specifically Dutch Jewish culture and the newly formed country of Israel—can be noted in the published works that follow this period. But unlike so many other artists who were exiled to England or The New World he did return to Europe after the war, settling in the Netherlands once more. Still writing, he now also resumed his teaching career and taught in at a Lyceum in Overveen, then later at the Nutsacademie in Rotterdam.
His autobiography De Arend en de Mol (The Eagle and the Mole) was published in 1973, but because of his fierce interest in Jewish identity some of his fictional and non-fictional writings may also have an autobiographical ring to them: thus Een Lange Jeugd in Joods Amsterdam (A Long Youth in Jewish Amsterdam) reflects van Praag's own experience growing up in 'Jewish' Amsterdam. By the 1980s he was nearing the end of his writing career, though he lived for another 20 years. Siegfried van Praag died on 16 March 2002 in Brussels at age 102.