I first met Rudy Bremer in the early October of 1960 when I went up to the University of Birmingham (England) to begin my BA course in English and History. Rudy had been sent there, having completed his Candidaats in the University of Amsterdam, to study for one year. We became friends – and for some time more than friends, though Rudy had several other girlfiends during that year. One of them was Mina Maleki, a girl from Iran. By the end of the year I was deeply in love with Rudy and ‘ran away’ to join him in Amsterdam.
My mother secured an interview with Professor TJB Spencer, Head of the English Department in Birmingham and he agreed to the almost unheard of concession of granting me a year’s leave of absence, so that I could study English in Amsterdam University. My father agreed to finance me and I went to Amsterdam, to live in a bedsit, close to the Holendrechtstraat, where Rudy lived with his aunt and uncle. (I actually spent one night in the bedsit, I remember, living for the rest of the time with Rudy and his family.)
It was then that I learned Rudy’s family background. His mother and father were taken away by the Nazis – and never heard of again. Rudy was put into an orphanage for Jewish children. His mother’s sister, Sophia Maria van Agen Zegerius (known to everyone as Fie), was married to a non-
So Rudy was brought up from the age of about five by Fie and Age. It was a very happy household. Fie was a wonderful woman – a great cook, who taught me a lot, with a wonderful sense of humour. She was also very courageous. I was told that, during the German occupation, she would go out into the streets of Amsterdam with anti-
At the end of that academic year, 1962, I returned to Birmingham to finish my degree course, very much enriched by living with Rudy and his family. And during that time Rudy and I went on many hitchhiking trips around Europe and also Turkey. We hitchhiked round Turkey, from Istanbul, down the west coast, along the south coast, up the eastern border, where we were arrested for being in a prohibited area – we didn’t know it was – and they put us in a hotel room, guarded by someone who had our passports of his desk. Rudy calmly picked up the passports and we escaped. We met the son of the local headman of a village on the south coast. We sat with him and some of his servants, drinking raki. We later went to ‘bed’ on the beach. Rudy had carefully poured most of his drink into the sand, so was awake when the head man crawled over to us and started to unzip my sleeping bag, some of his followers surrounding us at a distance. Rudy leapt to his feet pointing a knife at one person and a (damp) starting pistol at the man doing the unzipping and shouting (in Turkish), ‘If that man moves then that man gets shot!’ Fortunately, the bluff worked and the offending man came over the next morning to apologise.
When I obtained my degree, in 1964, Rudy and I decided to go to Iran, a country which fascinated us both. So we set off, together with another girl friend of Rudy, a girl called Loukie, in an old Citroen 2CV, with a tent. On the shores of the Black Sea in Turkey we encountered a half-
Rudy was an amazing person. He had many girl friends and married twice – first to Mieneke van Eek, then to Renee den Hartog and at the time of his death he was officially engaged to Noriko Ishida-
This account has been condensed to give a flavour of Rudy, but I have many more memories to recount.
Rudy was a very special person and scarcely a day goes by without me thinking of him and regretting that I shall never meet him again.