Hans Keilson

Hans Keilson was WriterDoc


Hans Alex Keilson (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɦɑns ˈkɛilsɔn]; 12 December 1909 – 31 May 2011)[1] was a Jewish German/Dutch novelist, poet, psychoanalyst, and child psychologist. He was best known for his novels set during the Second World War, during which he was an active member of the Dutch resistance.


Keilson, having worked with traumatized orphans, mainly wrote about traumas induced by the war. His first novel was published in 1934, but most of his works were published after the war. In 2010, The New York Times ‘s Francine Prose described Keilson as “one of the world’s greatest writers”, notably honouring Keilson’s achievements in the year in which he turned 101 years old.[2]

1928–40: Exile

From 1928 to 1934, Keilson studied pharmacology in Berlin, but due to the Nazi law prohibiting Jews from employment, Keilson was employed as a professional gym teacher to Jewish private schools, and occasionally made money as a musician. During this period, Keilson also met his first wife, graphologist Gertrud Manz (1901). In 1936, the couple went into exile and fled to the Netherlands. During his time here, Keilson wrote a few books in Dutch language, crediting himself under the pseudonym Benjamin Cooper.

2010–11: recognition

In 2010, The New York Timess Francine Prose described Keilson as “one of the world’s greatest writers”. Much media attention, in both the United States and his native Netherlands, was given to the fact that Keilson received this acknowledgement at the age of 100. Keilson was invited to Dutch talkshow De Wereld Draait Door, where he was interviewed by presenter Matthijs van Nieuwkerk. Many more articles and interviews appeared in the following year, world-wide, and by then his Der Tod des Widersachers (“The Death of the Adversary”) had been translated in 20 languages.

He died on 31 May 2011 in Hilversum, at the age of 101.[3]

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