Academic journal article Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics

A Conversation with Henri (Hans) Theil: His Experiences in the Netherlands during the Second World War

Academic journal article Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics

A Conversation with Henri (Hans) Theil: His Experiences in the Netherlands during the Second World War

Article excerpt

It has long been rumored among European economists that Theil had a difficult time in The Netherlands during the Second World War, but few, if any, economists knew what actually happened to him. Even Arnold Zellner, who knew Theil very well for years in Rotterdam and later at the University of Chicago, told me that he did not know what happened to Theil during the Second World War. Following Theil's retirement from the University of Florida, I visited with him in St. Augustine, where Hans and his wife, Lore, were living. I asked him about his experiences during the Second World War, and he told me the following.

He was a student at a university in The Netherlands while the country was occupied by the German Army (the Wehrmacht). The Wehrmacht required that all students and professors sign a loyalty oath-to Germany. As is well known to everyone who was close to Hans, he was a very patriotic Dutchman. He refused to sign the loyalty oath. The penalty was deportation to Germany to work in forced labor in a military factory. To avoid that fate, he went into hiding in the crawl space under his parents' house.

He wanted to have a radio in that crawl space so that he could listen to the BBC. But the Wehrmacht was confiscating all radios to prevent that. The Wehrmacht assumed that every home had one radio. More than one radio was considered an unreasonable luxury in The Netherlands in those days. So the Wehrmacht was satisfied if each home gave one radio to the German authorities. …

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