JE MAINTIENDRAI: With Thanks from All Readers

Je Maintiendrai was one of the top five underground periodicals in Holland during the German occupation, according to a book on that subject by Werner Warmbrunn. The French phrase Je Maintiendrai means “I will maintain,” which is the motto of the House of Nassau (the royal family in the Netherlands). The main lettering just below where it says “Je Maintiendrai” on this sheet, which I discovered in the box I got from my grandmother’s house, translates to “With Thanks from All Readers,” according to Google Translate.

Warmbrunn’s “The Dutch, under German Occupation, 1940-1945” talks more about the paper’s history:

“After May 1943 the editorial board of Je Maintiendrai was largely made up of people who have been active in the Netherlands Union or sympathetic to its political concepts. Some of the collaborators were Catholics, but on the whole Je Maintiendrai included a diverse group of people, Protestants, Catholics, and ‘humanists,’ who worked together in harmony…

“The paper suffered two major blows. A number of distributors were arrested in July 1943, but the most important of these were freed from prison. In August 1944, however, the Germans managed to seize two of the founders and key editors. These men were executed in October.”

Of the many names mentioned, I believe N. Siersema was my Opa, Johan Nico Siersema, who was a Dutch Resistance fighter and soldier in the Army, and M. Siersema-Van Erp would have been his step-mother, Maria Wilhelmina.

The original sheet is not in great shape and I spent about an hour working with Photoshop to try to restore the edges for this digital copy. Some parts, I think you can tell, but I tried my best, because I think it’s pretty cool to see a bit of journalism history and my family history intertwine. I especially like the images of people passing the papers from door to door.

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6 comments on “JE MAINTIENDRAI: With Thanks from All Readers

  1. My grandpa, Jacob van Balen and his wife, my great-grandparents were in the Dutch Resistance, and he was in the Dutch Army as well. I know he was in two concentration camps and got out. Shortly after WW2, my family relocated to the U.S with their 3 children. Most of the stories have been lost because my grandfather has Alzheimers. Do you know ANYTHING of the van Balens mentioned? Thank you so much.

    • Hi Jillian,

      I haven’t come across anything else with van Balen that I can remember, but I will keep an eye out! Do you know which camps your grandfather was in by any chance? My grandfather passed away a handful of years ago (before I started looking into my ancestry), so I mostly have a lot of papers left to decipher, and I am not sure yet which camp he was at — but I intend to find out, if I can.

      Best of luck!

      -Christina

  2. Hello Christina,
    Sounds like we have similar backgrounds, my father’s family is Dutch, mother’s is Brit as am I but grew up on the East Coast. My uncle worked for “Het Parool” before escaping to the UK and being trained as an SOE agent. Mu query to you is do you know who founded “Je Maintiendrai”? Apparently from research this paper was originally called “B.C. News” (Burgerlijk Contact News). Jos Gemmeke was a courier for “Je Maintiendrai” and later became an SOE agent too. She never used her own name distributing the paper and used: Els van Dalen, Jos in Zwolle and Nel van den Berg. At some point a man by the name of Cor van Paaschen was the editor his alias was Piet Dekker. However, it still does not help in who the founders were, would you know? Would be glad to send you some of the files we have, many thanks!
    Suzanne

    • Hi Suzanne! Thanks for your comment. I wish I could say I know who started it, but I am afraid I don’t. If I do stumble across anything, though, I will be sure to post it here. …Now I’m curious, too 🙂

  3. I think that N.Siersema is Klaas Siersema. Johan was just to young at the start of the war: only 15 years old. Didn’t Klaas call himself Niek ?

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