Obituaries

Dries van Dantzig

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7528.1341 (Published 01 December 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1341

Concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist who became a high profile campaigner on child abuse

The Dutch psychiatrist and psychotherapy professor Dries van Dantzig once confessed to a colleague that he survived Neuengamme concentration camp “by making myself invisible”—which makes his survival seem all the more remarkable, as later he was rarely out of the public arena as a tireless and hard hitting promoter of mental health care. Imprisonment followed by years in a tuberculosis sanatorium may have sharpened the sense of injustice that reportedly drove Van Dantzig in his later public life.

Today he is remembered as a merciless debater, publicist, political lobbyist, and film critic. His refusal to take “no for an answer” ensured that mental health and especially child abuse had a higher place on the political agenda of postwar Holland than it otherwise might have had. Van Dantzig was renowned for glaring from the front row at conference speakers with whom he disagreed. He made countless television appearances, and seemed to know a remarkable number of government ministers personally.

The simple theme that underpinned his …

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