The Reincarnation of Erasmus (1942)
Early in january 1942, a week before van Loon’s sixtieth birthday, the New York Times reported that the works of Hendrik Willem van Loon, Thomas Mann, and Erich Maria Remarque were on a list of 120 books whose sale had been banned in the Netherlands by the Nazis. This sad news was counterbalanced by a surprise on 13 January: a cable from Alexander Loudon announcing that Queen Wilhelmina had decided to bestow on van Loon the Order of Knight of the Netherlands Lion, the highest honor he could receive from the Dutch government, in recognition of his important work since the outbreak of the war. On 14 January, the very day Hendrik Willem turned sixty, this news broke in the New York Times, which led to a stream of congratulation cables and letters, including one from Princess Juliana. Columbia University’s Professor Adriaan Barnouw was among the well-wishers, writing van Loon, “Better late than never! [It] is more than deserved.”1
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