Partner Berthe Edersheim

Queer Places:
Woensel General Cemetery Woensel, Eindhoven Municipality, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands

Josepha Mendels (born Josepha Judica Mendels; born July 18, 1902 in Groningen - died September 10, 1995 in Eindhoven) was a Dutch writer, journalist and, in her later years, actress. Because of her independent and open attitude to life, especially with regard to female sexuality, Josepha Mendels was considered a precursor to feminism in the 1980s. [1]

Josepha "Jos" Mendels was born – after Edith and Ada – into an Orthodox Jewish family in Groningen, the youngest of three daughters of Emma Levi (died 1942/1945) and the teacher[2] Isidore Mendels (1861-1928). She was denied her professional wish – actress – and she graduated from Middelbare Meisjesschool, a privately run five-year secondary school in Deventer,which she left in 1920 with a moderate degree. [3] Back in Groningen, she attended a household school, which she dropped out of[3] followed by Kweekschool, a teacher training college for primary education.[4] She moved with her parents to The Hague, where she worked from 1923 not as a teacher, but as a governess. Since 1927, she led an educational and counselling facility for disadvantaged Jewish girls for nearly ten years. Here she met her longtime friend, the painter Berthe Edersheim,, who encouraged her to write. [2][4][1] In 1936 she went to Paris as a freelance journalist and, after some initial difficulties, worked under several pseudonyms as a correspondent for various Dutch media on the topics of fashion, nightlife and culture. She also worked as a travel guide at the 1937 World's Fair. [5] After the outbreak of the war in 1940, however, she refused to be published under a pseudonym in the Netherlands, which was occupied by Germany. She began working on her first novel, Rolien and Ralien, which was not published until 1947[4] and whose manuscript she had deposited with friends on the run, where it was preserved through the war.[3] Shortly after the start of the anti-Jewish raids in Paris, Mendels fled to London via Spain and Portugal. There she worked for the interception service of the Dutch Exile Intelligence Service (Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst) in Straton House and had a relationship with the diplomat Sadi de Gorter, who was also a Dutch-Jewish refugee. He had to leave his wife and family in the Netherlands.[4] In 1945, Josepha Mendels returned to Paris and worked for the intelligence service of the Dutch embassy. Her parents, siblings, other relatives and the children of her institution in The Hague had all been deported and murdered by the Germans.[2][4] In 1949, Josepha Mendels planned and wanted to have a son, Eric, whose father was Sadi de Gorter. She decided to raise the boy alone, but in the first two years she had to give him into foster care with a family in the countryside, where she visited him regularly.[6] She returned to work as a correspondent for Dutch newspapers and magazines, including Vrij Nederland. In 1958 Berthe Edersheim moved with Josepha Mendels in Paris, where they lived together until 1992.[2] At the age of 72, her youthful dream of becoming an actress came true. Director Pierre Sala cast Josepha Mendels as the leading role in the avant-garde play Grenouille (Frog) in the Theatre des Mathurins. She also appeared in several French films and television series. A hip operation at the age of 90 severely affected Josepha Mendels, so her son took her to a nursing home in Eindhoven. Berthe Edersheim also returned to Eindhoven shortly afterwards – she died there three months later in April 1993. Eric's father, Sadie de Gorter, ended his life by suicide on December 24, 1994, after suffering severe throat cancer. Josepha Mendels did not consciously experience the deaths of the two persons close to her; she died in September 1995[6] and was buried in the municipal cemetery Woensel in Eindhoven. "Society does not prescribe anything to me. I just do what I want to do. I'm going to die as an untidy lady." – Josepha Mendels[7]

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