Emanuel Boekman

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Emanuel Boekman
Emanuel Boekman (1889-1940).jpg
Boekman in the 1930s
Personal details
Born Emanuel Boekman
(1889-08-15)August 15, 1889
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died May 15, 1940(1940-05-15) (aged 50)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Social Democratic Workers' Party (1921-1940)
Spouse(s) Jansje Nerde (?-1940)
Occupation Politician
Civil servant

Emanuel ("Manus") Boekman (August 15, 1889 in Amsterdam – May 15, 1940 in Amsterdam) was a Dutch social democratic politician, statistician, demographer and typographer. He is remembered for his activities as a municipal executive board member for education and culture (wethouder) in Amsterdam (1931-1933, 1935-1940) and his advocacy for an active state cultural policy.


Boekman was born into a dynasty of Jewish booksellers and was the eldest son of Maurits Boekman (1869-1942), initially a diamond cutter, and Heintje Peereboom. At the age of twelve he started working as a typographer. He was interested in politics and became a chairman of his trade union, the Typografen Jongelingen Vereeniging (Young Typographer's Society). Originally he was a follower of the early Dutch socialist Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis. Boekman's spare time was devoted to study and he qualified for various teacher's degrees including economy.

In 1911 Boekman obtained a position as head of the administration of the Amsterdam Harbour Authority and in 1916 became head of the department for statistics of the Rijksverzekeringsbank (nl), a state insurance bank. In this period he became a prolific author on various subjects, ranging from statistics and economy to unemployment and alcoholism. From 1921 up to his death in 1940 Boekman was a member of the Amsterdam city council for the Dutch Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP). In 1931 he became a municipal executive board member (wethouder) for education and culture at Amsterdam.

On 6 June 1939 Boekman obtained his PhD degree from the University of Amsterdam with professor H.N. ter Veen. His thesis "Overheid en kunst in Nederland" (Government and art in the Netherlands) investigated the 19th and 20th-century history of Dutch cultural policy and projected seminal plans for cultural dissemination by the state and municipalities, e.g., by incorporating art in new building projects and giving the worker class access to art. This thesis was influential and reprinted into the 1970s. When the German army invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, Boekman initially stood by his principle that executives should not flee. Later on, when he had changed his mind, the escape route via IJmuiden to the United Kingdom became intractable. On capitulation day 15 May 1940, Boekman and his wife committed suicide together with their friends, the family of the social democrat professor Bob van Gelderen.

In 1963 the Boekmanstichting (nl) was founded, named after him by the Federatie van Kunstenaarsverenigingen (federation of artist's societies). The Boekmanstichting is an independent center for the study of art, culture and policy.

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