The song is over. The Curtain has fallen.

Mordechai Santilhano was a Dutch Jewish performing artist. He was born on January 11,1905. He was murdered on in or near Auschwitz on October 12.1944. He used the artist name Max Santiel or simply Oom Max-Uncle Max.

I could say quite a lot about him, but I have decided to leave his own words tell his story of his last days. The title of the blog was taken from the last letter he wrote to his friends.

Ventriloquist “Uncle Max” wrote a last letter to the couple (“Toon and Truus”) with whom he was friends and where he had previously been in hiding. Max and Toon were both artists and had performed together – this is what Max refers to when he talks about the “business side”. There is no date on the letter. Below is a translation of the transcript.

Dear Toon and Truus!

For the first time in all that time I pick up my pen to pour out my heart to you because this is not possible by phone. Now it finally happened that I no longer can come to you, because prior to this the only possibility was by bicycle. Which I don’t have. I am not allowed to borrow one either t from anyone and there is also no one who can help me with their bicycle. What now…….. You know how my nerves are back at me again, although I do everything to stay in control, now my drive in the field of my life force is gone too because, yes, I always have enjoyed freedom with you, devoured ! It was no longer food, I almost choked. Lovely valued Truus Toon I remain grateful to your hospitality..We sometimes had different opinions, but that is the case in every family. And you Toon always said that you treated me like your eldest son, but aside from those litlle arguments , you made me hiccup many times! So that I fell down. Truus made me feast on her fine cooking skills! This is in recognition of our friendship.

Now the business side what you want to .Continue to do what your heart tells you to, and act thinking how you would treat me, I only wish that which you cannot justify yourself, but also always think of my good and honest companionship, this you thought of me at all times. I don’t know how it goes, but I now feel compelled to also give a rating on paper because the light goes out so gently, but a light still shines and this still gives me strength and that is the sun, they cannot take it away from us! Let me seek my strength here, although much more strength was in your kidney bean soup and ham. When again! Well, dear fellows, excuse me for being such an old man again, you know, but this time you’ll allow it, won’t you? It gives me strength, I will call, but I can’t say much in the receiver!
My door is open to you!!
and hope for the best!!
health to you all your friend,



Han van Meegeren-The Forger who fooled Göring.


Today 71 years ago one of the Netherlands’s most controversial artists passed away. He went from collaborator to hero in the same criminal trial.

Henricus Antonius “Han” van Meegeren ( 10 October 1889 – 30 December 1947) was a Dutch painter and portraitist and is considered to be one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century.

Forgers, by nature, prefer anonymity and therefore are rarely remembered. An exception is Han van Meegeren .His story is absolutely unique and may be justly considered the most dramatic art scam of the 20th century.

As a child, he developed an enthusiasm for the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, and later set out to become an artist himself. Art critics, however, decried his work as tired and derivative, and van Meegeren felt that they had destroyed his career. He decided to prove his talent to the critics by forging paintings of some of the world’s most famous artists, including Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch, and Johannes Vermeer. He so well replicated the styles and colours of the artists that the best art critics and experts of the time regarded his paintings as genuine and sometimes exquisite. His most successful forgery was Supper at Emmaus, created in 1937 while living in the south of France.


This painting was hailed as a real Vermeer by famous art experts such as Abraham Bredius. Bredius acclaimed it as “the masterpiece of Johannes Vermeer of Delft” and wrote of the “wonderful moment” of being “confronted with a hitherto unknown painting by a great master”.

During World War II, wealthy Dutchmen wanted to prevent a sellout of Dutch art to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, and they avidly bought van Meegeren’s forgeries, thinking them the work of the masters. Nevertheless, a falsified “Vermeer” ended up in the possession of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring.


During World War II, Hermann Goerring traded 137 paintings for van Meegeren’s forgery “Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery.”


Unfortunately for van Meegeren, Goerring kept meticulous papers regarding his transactions. At the end of World War II, van Meegeren’s name was found next to the trade for the Vermeer, and he was arrested in  May 1945 for “collaborating with the enemy.”

The allegations might have carried a death sentence, and so van Meegeren was forced to out himself as a forger. He claimed responsibility for the painting of the Vermeer that Goerring had bought, along with five other Vermeer paintings and two Pieter de Hooghs, all of which had been “discovered” after 1937. The astonished court room had him paint another forgery in front of them to prove it, and when he passed the test his charges were changed to forgery and he was sentenced to just one year in prison, which was the minimum prison sentence for such a crime.

The trial of Han van Meegeren began on 29 October 1947 in Room 4 of the Regional Court in Amsterdam. In order to demonstrate his case, it was arranged that, under police guard before the court, he would paint another “Vermeer,” Jesus Among the Doctors, using the materials and techniques he had employed for the other forgery


Rather than be angry with van Meegeren, the Dutch public largely lauded him as a hero. During his trial, he presented himself as a patriot—he had, after all, secured 137 paintings that had been unlawfully seized by Goerring by duping the famous Nazi into thinking he’d purchased a real Vermeer. As van Meegeren said, “How could a person demonstrate his patriotism, his love of Holland more than I did by conning the great enemy of the Dutch people?

Van Meegeren suffered a heart attack on 26 November 1947, the last day to appeal the ruling, and was rushed to the Valeriuskliniek hospital in Amsterdam. While at the hospital, he suffered a second heart attack on 29 December, and was pronounced dead at 5:00 pm on 30 December 1947 at the age of 58. His family and several hundred of his friends attended his funeral at the Driehuis Westerveld Crematorium chapel. In 1948, his urn was buried in the general cemetery in the village of Diepenveen (municipality of Deventer).


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