Partner Niek Engelschman
Noorderstraat 62, 1017 TW Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ripperdastraat 15C, 2011 KG Haarlem, Netherlands
Johann Heinrich "Han" Diekmann (July 29, 1896 - November 12, 1989) together with Jaap van Leeuwen (Arent van Santhorst) and Niek Engelschman (aka Bob Angelo), published the homosexual magazine 'Levensrecht' (Life Right); the first issue appeared in March 1940. Diekmann was the only one with his real name in the magazine. When the Netherlands was occupied by the Germans two months later, the third issue of Levensrecht had just been distributed. The magazine could not be continued until after the war. Diekmann went underground, was caught and worked as a forced labourer in Germany. Without his money, his house and his stencil machine the creation and publication of the magazine 'Life Right', was hardly possible. Diekmann, friend of the much younger Engelschmann at the time, was able to do this because of his economic independence.
Johann Heinrich Diekmann was the son of Johann Heinrich Diekmann and Elisabeth Geertruida Christina Lampe. His father was German. His mother, who at one point is alone, took him to an orphanage of the Salvation Army in 1903. He went to primary school there, received an education, but chose to become a soldier. When he fell in love with a sixteen-year-old boy at the age of 27, in 1923, he stopped working for the Salvation Army. The relationship with the underage friend continued, but was against the law (Article 248a). Diekmann's landlady reported him. He was heard by the Amsterdam vice squad without any further consequences. But the boy was sent to an educational institution by his parents. Han Diekmann struggled with his homosexual feelings. He learnt to accept them while remaining a convinced Christian. However, a new relationship with an underage boy ended badly. The friend got him into financial trouble and a new declaration is made because of 248a. Diekmann received a three-month prison sentence plus TBS, which is carried out in the psychopath department of a Leiden institution (1928). After a while he indicated that he did not want to be gay but a "normal person", and his practitioners no longer considered him sick. Han Diekmann was released in 1930. He immediately left the country, to Belgium, where he became into a successful businessman. He would remain silent for the rest of his life about his imprisonment.
The threat of war was reason for Diekmann to return to the Netherlands, deemed safe in 1938. He settled in Amsterdam, in Reguliersdwarsstraat. After an intermediate address, he rented from April 1939 a house in Noorderstraat 62, between Reguliers- and Vijzelgracht. In August 1939 Han Diekmann met Nico Engelschman through a young friend. Engelschman was much younger and very passionate about society. Twenty-five-year-old Engelschman and Diekmann, who was almost twenty years older, started a relationship. Diekmann remained in love with Engelman all his life. Their short relationship was of great significance to the Dutch gay movement. Diekmann would later say that the COC was born from this. In the first issue of Levensrecht, dated March 1, 1940, only Diekmann has his own name, with address and house number in the title description. Nico is featured as Bob Angelo, editor. This also applies to the two issues that follow. Diekmann can therefore be regarded as the publisher of Levensrecht. The vice squad kept an eye on both him and Nico. Their personal data and a copy of Levensrecht were sent to the Attorney General Engelschman. The sex department requested advice from the Ministry of Justice. At the end of March, the official in question replied: “This gay body is anxiously within the limits of criminal law. It is not possible to intervene on the basis of the existing provisions”. Not long after the release of the first issue, the relationship between Diekmann and Engelschman broke up. This led to controversy in the circle of employees and threatened the existence of Levensrecht.
However, the outside threat was greater. The German invasion on May 10 mamade kes the survival of the magazine virtually impossible. It is Han Diekmann who declared to the Amsterdam vice squad on August 5, 1940 that the publication of the magazine had stopped. The traces of the magazine had already been largely erased by then. On the day of the German invasion, the editors had burned the third issue, which had just been printed, with the remnants of the earlier issues and the membership records. Only after the war contacts would be made again between Diekmann and the other employees of Levensrecht.
Han moved to Haarlem in October 1941, where he lived at Ripperdastraat 15c. Systematic actions to employ not only unemployed people, but also Dutch workers in Germany, started in April 1942. In 1943, students and ex-military personnel were forced to go. Many managed to evade the measures. In August of that year, Generalbevollmächtigter Fritz Sauckel demanded 150,000 Dutch men. Initially, the maximum age was set at 45 years, later it was extended to 50. Han Diekmann decided to go into hiding, probably in Amsterdam. There, on June 6, 1944, when the Allies landed in Normandy, he was arrested during a raid. His red tie and his remark that he did not think it was necessary to work in Germany raised the suspicion that he was a communist. After a brief imprisonment in Amersfoort camp, Diekmann was employed at the Messerschmitt aircraft factories in Stuttgart. He worked there as a cook and administrator and managed to survive. In June 1945 he was back in Haarlem.
When Nico Engelschman re-issues the magazine Levensrecht in 1946 (number 4), the title caption carried only one name, J.L. van Dijk, with address and street number. Han Diekmann felt passed, but eventually became active in the readership of the magazine, the Scientific, Cultural & Relaxation Center also known as the "Shakespeare Club". When this was converted into the Culture and Relaxation Center (COC) in 1949, Diekmann started a department in Haarlem (January-September 1951). In 1956 he was awarded honorary membership by the COC. Han Diekmann died in Heemstede in 1989.
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