Rotary

As we saw, Farwerck had certain social idea(l)s. It seems that the Rotary Club was perfect for him in this regard. I hope to find the information to investigate this aspect of Farwerck more properly, but for now I will just ‘open the subject’.

In the biography I say that Farwerck was one of the people who started a Club in Hilversum in 1928. According to Hoogenboom (see note 1 of the biography) some of the others were Geert van Mesdag (who would later help with the museum) and A.M. Jaarsma (dito).

“Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.” says Wikipedia (accessed 7/9/19) about Rotary International.

There we have Farwerck in a nutshell. A business leader who wants to “work for the fellow man” and has already done so in numerous workers’ committees. I totally understand how he saw opportunities when in 1924 the first Rotary Clubs in the Netherlands were started in 1924 in Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Hoogenboom places the Rotary very central in Farwerck’s life and network. He refers to a book published in 1954 about the first years of the Hilversum Club. I would love to find a copy of this book, but I haven’t yet. What I did find is a book about “Rotary before, during and after the Second World War” (1). Farwerck bound to be in it, right?

Not so much as I hoped. The first time he is mentioned is as a Freemason, nothing about him being a “Rotarian”. The author also writes about the NSB without mentioning that the founder of this movement, Anton Mussert, was a “Rotarian” too. Both points are made later though.

Unfortunately, the book starts around 1934. Would the author have picked a decade before, he could have started at the beginning. There is nothing about the foundation of the Hilversum Club. The club is written about for having serious problems when the NSB was founded. Even though Mussert and Farwerck, two main men of the early NSB, were members, “fortunately” but a few Rotarians joined the NSB, but of course there were some. Hilversum had three and this pretty much sickened the club. People stayed away trying to avoid these members, there were arguments at lunches. Even though the chairman was of the opinion that no actions should be taken against members of the NSB “no matter how close they are to the leader” (obviously referring to Farwerck), the rest of the board disagreed. All this caused one member to leave the NSB because he preferred to remain a “Rotarian”, another did the opposite, he left the Club to remain within the NSB, the third did nothing: Farwerck “who kept playing a remarkable role in the club” (p. 38).

Farwerck gave an introduction during a New Year’s meeting, for example, in January 1938 and had ‘many appreciated talks’. In spite his political preference he was highly regarded as a person and because of his capacities, ‘a blinded, but not an evil man’. He remained a member until early June 1940.

As with Freemasonry, the Rotary was shortly after forbidden and hunted down by the occupier. Also, this was just two months before Farwerck was removed from the NSB. I don’t know if Farwerck tried to join again after the war, but De Jaeger describes how the Rotary tried to start things up again after the war. There were ‘cleansings’ and refusals for members to return, so my guess is that Farwerck wouldn’t have been allowed to, had he wanted to return.

In the second issue of the third year of the periodical Bouwsteenen (see bibliography) Farwerck wrote about the Rotary. This was in 1928, the year that he help to start the Hilversum Club. He calls the members “idealistic” “businessmen”.

He describes how mankind became more and more materialistic, especially after the French Revolution and when this “crisis” was deep, people started to find appeal in the mottos “Service above self” and “He profits most, who serves best.” He gives a history of the Rotary, writes about the ten duties and his enthusiastic writing makes clear that he wholeheartedly endorses the principles of the Rotary.

It seems he really was an idealistic business man. Too bad that he misjudged the political party that he joined, which almost eight years of membership, ruined most of his other efforts.

When you look at it, Farwerck’s membership of the Rotary was also only 12 years. It is true, his Rotary network got him into the NSB, allowed him to work for troubled children and his fellow man, brought the network that created the local museum that he so much wanted and probably brought him some lifelong friends, but 12 years of membership, how big an effect on his life can they have been?

And why did he leave in 1940 after having been a “Rotarian” and NSB-member for eight years? Was he afraid that his former membership of Freemasonry was hard enough on him and he was afraid that when his Rotary membership would come out, it would be even harder?
Or did he perhaps already saw the prohibition of September 1940 coming? And when he did, did he inform his fellow Rotarians?

More can be said about Farwerck’s membership of the Rotary, but I’ll have to find more information in order to do so.


(1) Rotary vóór tijdens en ná de Tweede Wereldoorlog by D.M. de Jaeger, Amsterdam 2003

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