Partner Gezina van der Molen

Mies and Gesina: A Public Secret – Public History AmsterdamMaria Elisabeth "Mies" Nolte (July 3, 1899 - March 13, 1986) was a Roman Catholic teacher of German and art history. Gezina van der Molen and Mies met in the late 1920s, started living together in 1930, and would continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Van der Molen was influenced by Nolte to a significant degree. Both were forced to spend the last part of the occupation time at different hiding places.

During WWII Van der Molen and Nolte took part in the resistance. They also saved the lives of numerous Jewish children. They managed to smuggle them out of the Jewish nursery on the Plantage Middenlaan in Amsterdam.

After the war, Mies pursued her own PhD in history and was involved in local government. But for all of their political engagement and activism, Gesina and Mies never publically talked about or acknowledged their relationship. Jan van der Molen, Gesina’s father, called Mies his ‘youngest daughter.’ Piet Meerburg, a fellow resistance worker, said he knew immediately that Gesina was lesbian, and old student and friend of Gesina’s, Pieter Kooijmans, described her relationship with Mies as ‘very intimate and warm.’

Mies and Gesina: A Public Secret – Public History Amsterdam
Gesina (left) and Mies at an anniversary party of Jan van der Molen, 1931. (Gelders Archief)

In 1943 Mies and Gesina even threw a special party to celebrate the fact they had been together for 12.5 years; one of the only times they publically acknowledged their relationship. After the war they would never bring attention to their relationship like this again. They kept to a strict code of conduct that included not showing physical affection. Aside from their celebration of 1943, they only broke this code when travelling abroad.


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