A conversation with Dr Frits Bernard - Pioneer

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By: Marthijn Uittenbogaard

Frits Bernard

Short course of life

Year of birth 1920.
Visited the International German School in Barcelona.
Master's exam psychology (psychopathology and criminology), University of Amsterdam.
After that, teaching analysis (Freudian).
Doctoral's degree University of Nijmegen; supervisor prof dr F.J.Th. Rutten; psychology professor and former Minister of Education.
First publications 1945
Did scientific sexuological and psychological research.
Has been working in several countries; was, a.o., psychologist at the BVS Parsi High School in Karachi, Pakistan, has been advisor in Barcelona, etc.
Member of the board of various associations and organizations, home and abroad.
Advocate of a more humane moral legislation.

Frits Bernard, the man who has known many prominent persons personally - from the world of sexual science and the sexual emancipation movements - is more than noted to pedophiles. Together with Edward Brongersma (deceased in 1998), he is the founder of the pedophile emancipation movement in the Netherlands.


Where does sexuality start?

By: Frits Bernard

Ever since birth children experience pleasant bodily feelings. A well-known example is sucking by breastfeeding. Children will soon try to rouse this pleasant feeling by f.e. sucking their thumbs: without the need for feeding. Body cavities and certain parts of the skin are important sources for pleasant feelings in children. Soon most children will discover their sexual organs and from the first weeks on children are known to masturbate. This, what I call primary masturbation, is not at all comparable with the conscious masturbation of slightly older children. It's free of any association with certain comprehensions and is not accompanied by erotic fantasies. This happens later. For the small child masturbation isn't a tool but a way to gratification which itself is the goal. There is no focus on a sexual subject (another child or grown-up), i.e.being focused on the goal itself. In extreme cases this may exist an entire lifetime. When children start focusing on others the meaning of sexuality changes, it becoming broader and turning outward. Association with certain comprehensions will arise and this form of masturbation (which I call secondary masturbation) may be accompanied by certain erotic notions and fantasies. Often a focus will develop on another child of the same or other gender. An initiation in love is born. It's an ongoing development that can lead to refinement. Evolution may explain this. Self-preservation and sexual instinct are human (and animal) basic instincts. There isn't much difference between f.e. a lion devouring its prey and the satisfaction man experiences after eating a well-cooked meal. In time the instinct of man became more refined however. More or less the same can be said about sexual instinct. It was Voltaire (1694-1778) who claimed that man, who has the gift of making anything nature offers perfect, has also idealised love (sexuality) (Lettres philosophiques sur les Anglais, 1734). The mystery of sexual development has always occupied man. Especially the period of puberty has and had our attention. Some cultures use magic formulas. Sometimes puberty rituals consist of painful tests and hard-ships. In our western civilisation we also find traces of those ancient customs, like the Holy Communion in Catholicism, taking a youth into Jewish society, ragging university students. In the end they are just refined ancient rites. Adult love may take on many forms, many variations are possible. A discovery that only recently received more attention. These are just some loose thoughts. Sexuality starts at birth (actually before that, in the womb) and ends at death. It's part of the life like the fundamental instinct to survive which is omnipresent in nature. During the shear endless millenniums to come, sexuality (love) will change and be refined many times. Stagnation doesn't exist, change does.

Published earlier in the information leaflet of the RSVH (Rotterdamse Vereniging voor Seksuele Hervorming / Rotterdam Society for Sexual Reformation, ed.)

Can you tell something about your youth and the kind of milieu in which you grew up?
I was born in Rotterdam in 1920. At the age of seven, a couple of days after my birthday, we moved to Spain, where we lived for a long time. My parents even longer than thirty years. I myself went to school in Barcelona, a German international school, a big institute with many, many students. I was lucky to have learned several languages as a result of this. From the beginning I had to speak Spanish, Catalan was spoken in the streets, I had to speak German, because it was a German international school, and, of course, I had to learn English and French.

And what did they speak at your home?
At home, we always spoke Dutch, except when we had guests. My parents liked it very much that we, the children, should learn Dutch properly. To me this was very useful, because later on I started to study at the University of Amsterdam: the Mathematics and Physics Faculty, and Literature and Philosophy, with the main subject psychology. My teachers were, a.o., prof dr Geza Révész (experimental psychology) and prof dr L. van der Horst (medical superintendant of the Valerius clinic). Psychology was a new subject at the time. That was in 1939.

And what did your parents do; they were working in Spain?
My father was the founder/manager of a district (synthetic silk) factory in the surroundings of Barcelona. The factory developed into a large company, which was classified as a model company as well. My father was very active and very social-minded. My mother was careful. Our family consisted of my parents and three children. A small family in those days.

And how was the atmosphere a few years before the war? Did you feel all that misery coming on or was it a big surprise?
Did the war come as a surprise?... Yes and no. The Netherlands had been a neutral country in World War I and we hoped that it would be the same now. On the other hand, we had the feeling that it could go terribly wrong too. People lived under a certain strain. On 1 September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by the Germans, and on 10 May 1940 the Netherlands was attacked. I was hardly living in Amsterdam-South, when the first German airplanes flew into our airspace. I was studying in a very difficult time. During the occupation of our country, the students were not exactly popular with the Nazis. Eventually, universities had to close their gates and raids and deportations followed.

The National Socialists also made advantage of the negative feelings among the population in regard to Jews and homos. And these feelings existed in the Netherlands too, of course. Did you notice anything of this or was not it really something you were occupied with at the time?
I positively noticed something of it. We had – I was a member of the 'Amsterdam Student Corps' – Jewish members who disappeared one after another; gone underground or deported to Germany to never return... I remember very well, that in one of my fellow students' home, also in Amsterdam-South, the situation became very critical. We took the valuable things out of his parental home then, loaded them onto a cart and accommodated them somewhere, before the Germans or the NSB'ers (Dutch Nazis. Transl.), or plunderers, would confiscate the goods. A very beautiful library also belonged to them. By the way, this action was not without danger. Negative feelings towards Jews were strongly fed by the nazi-propaganda at the time. Homos did not stay out of range either. Some days after the capitulation, somewhere in the middle of May 1940, I called Mr Schorer from a telephone booth. He told me that the library of the 'Scientific Humanitarian Committee', of which he was the chairman, had just been destroyed as a precaution. So, right away, there obviously was agitation all around and precautionary measures were taken, if possible. During the years of war, homosexual contacts were punishable, therefore also over the age of 21. The occupier introduced this new law, which was withdrawn again with some difficulty after the war.

You also studied together with Jan Hanlo.
Yes, that was a very remarkable encounter. One day, the lecture had not started yet, an older student came in which none of us knew. About ten years older than we, a bit eccentrically dressed. A striking figure with red hair and a beard and that was Jan Hanlo. He was called Barbarossa at once, because of his red beard. The contact came about soon. He looked a very interesting man to me, a bit peculiar, but very friendly. Sometimes he walked with a walking stick, that was more or less a habit of Leiden students at the time. Jan Hanlo came to the lectures several times, not always. He studied psychology for a very short time. I do not know for how many months, but it was not for long. I lived on the Leidsegracht then, together with another student. Jan Hanlo visited me quite frequently and most of the time he had drunk some beers. One day, I was with him in his room in the 2e Helmerstraat, that is close to the Leidseplein, he had a room there at the back of the house, on the third or fourth floor, with a balcony. Somewhat insecure, he mumbled, "I made a few poems, shall I read them to you?" The affection for boys revealed itself in them...

And was this the first time that you found out that he went for boys?
No, I already knew it. We already had had a lot of conversations and he was open towards me. The affection for young boys has been a very big problem for him. Psychologically interesting, because he was someone who did not accept his sexuality in any respect. To return to these poems. "Can I write this?" These were his words: "Can I write this?" "Jan, you should publish them," this left my mouth spontaneously. A historical moment on the balcony. His room was small, it was always a bit disorderly there, but cosy. He often went to father confessors too, it was a kind of compulsion: "I feel very relieved, because I have been to a father confessor who said: "Above the waist, everything is permitted, not underneath it." He already thought that quite something. After a week: "Nevertheless, I will go to another father confessor, because I don't like the last advice." He was told what he actually wanted to hear: "Nothing is permitted, it is forbidden, it is sinful." Particularly this last thing was decisive. Hanlo felt very cheerful then, felt relieved. But it did not last long.

Jan Hanlo wrote about you too, once in a while; he studied with someone who did accept his feelings. What about you yourself?
I told Jan: "It is no problem for me at all." His answer was remarkable: "No, of course not, because you are not a Catholic." My reply: "The solution will be that you say goodbye to Catholicism." But he did not want to do this; he could not, because he came from a very Catholic family from Limburg (Dutch southern province. Transl.). In his opinion, it was very normal that someone who was not Catholic had no problems with it. I often saw him. However, Hanlo was not very sensible, because during the occupation he was pacing up and down through town with this red beard and with his walking stick, and I even think that sometimes he wore white gloves. "You attract so much attention that the first German who feels like arresting you, will do it too." But he did not give a damn. He was an ardent smoker, took walks through the Kalverstraat, I still remember that, and gathered small butts that were lying on the street. More people did this in those days, cigarettes were scarce. Later on, a cigarette was rolled with them. He needed alcohol and he needed tobacco. He dedicated his largest and best poem, Wij komen ter wereld (We Come into the World), to me. I found out only later. One certain moment it did all go wrong, he was admitted to the Valerius clinic. He stayed there for a short time. "We will bring you over to Heiloo, because that is a Catholic institution and you will feel much more at home there than in this Protestant surroundings where you are in now." And so it happened. He was in Heiloo for a very long time. With hallucinations and all kinds of nasty obsessions. In Heiloo, they naturally were very anti to everything that did not relate to marriage. You had to be married decently and you were not allowed to commit adultery and, of course, to be homosexual. You knew exactly what you were up too. Then the question came up how to go on with the therapy. He seems to have been castrated there. Heiloo was the place where people were castrated. In the Netherlands, castrations were carried out on homosexuals, on exhibitionists, etc., up to 1969. In 1970, they put an end to it. But Jan Hanlo was still close to the end of the period in which this all happened. It never became clear to me if this operation took place. According to his biographer Hans Renders, it did. I hardly saw him again after his stay in Heiloo; we lost sight of each other. Meanwhile I had finished my study and occupied myself with other things and not in Amsterdam anymore, but elsewhere abroad. I still have very pleasant memories of Jan Hanlo.

Castration in the Netherlands and elsewhere - A dark chapter

By: Frits Bernard

Since 1970 no more homosexuals were castrated in the Netherlands, the last cases date from 1969. We're speaking of surgically removing testicles. Sterilization (vasectomy, ed.) only means severing the sperm ducts of the sexual glands to prevent pregnancy. Most castrations were performed in a catholic psychiatric institution in Heiloo. According to Hans Renders one of the most well-known victims of this radical 'treatment' was author and poet Jan Hanlo. Psychiatrist A.J.A.M. Wijffels was a convinced advocate of castration (Lat. castratio. From castus; purity), propagating this operation for years. How many homosexuals (and others) were concerned here is unknown, because statistics weren't kept accurately. Patients were manipulated and underwent the procedure 'voluntarily'. These cases weren't made public. It will always be a dark page in our history.
Castration is as old as humanity however and served all sorts of purposes. The medical aspect only became known of late. Possibly the first castrations were performed on prisoners of war for they diminished pugnacity. Castrated warriors became willing slaves. The amputated sexual organs from dead or living enemies were evenly important as victory tokens. The Egyptians used another method. They cut off penis or hand from prisoners of war. Queen Semiramis had the scrotum removed of sickly men to prevent the birth of inferior offspring. In Beijing a factory existed for 'making' castrates for the benefit of the Court. The emperor had three thousand castrates (eunuchs) at his disposal. Princes and princesses had to make do with a 'mere thirty'. Physicians in Europe all too quickly concluded that castration was a good remedy for many different ailments: epilepsy, moral feeble-mindedness, pseudologia phantastica, fetishism, even exhibitionism are mentioned, as well as paedophilia and bisexuality. Prof. dr. E.D. Wiersma described the following case. A patient of about thirty was constantly occupied by thoughts of a sexual nature. He became unfit for his job, masturbated profusely, tended to exhibitionism, went to prostitutes, harassed women in the street. He asked lots of doctors for advise but to no avail. At last he went to Germany, where he was castrated. After that he did his job cheerfully, led a regular life and was cured of his earlier sickly inclinations (Nederlandsch tijdschift voor Geneeskunde, Dutch Journal of Medicine, ed., 16 March 1935, page 1074). It's doubtful whether the same conclusions would be drawn nowadays. It seems too good to be true.
In the sixties I visited Ethiopia, a land known for its quick castrations. Typically during those days an American was found in a country road next to his car, bleeding. He had been the victim of an attack and had been castrated. I stayed at the hotel Roma, it couldn't have been more Italian, with pictures from the Mussolini era on the wall. During a trip in the region of Addis Abeba I discovered in the middle of nowhere a Ristorante Napoli. It wasn't far from a desolated railway. The menu was endless, I doubted all those dishes were available. They were, though. The Sicilian owner opened the sliding door to a cupboard covering the whole wall and my eye caught an infinite number of Italian food tins. He only needed to heat them! I was the only guest. In the area a group of elder Italians sat under some trees, soldiers remaining from the Italian colonial war, never to return to the fatherland. In that war Abyssinians castrated all prisoners of war. Maybe they didn't want to return home out of shame? It was a sad afternoon.
Castration was performed out of religious convictions also, and last but not least boys (choirboys) were castrated before puberty to preserve their boy soprano. The 17th and first part of the 18th century are considered to be the hay day of castrates, specially in Italy. Farinelli, Vittori and Senesino are the most famous. It was Leo XIII who ended this custom for the clergy.

You have become active too in the gay movement, in the COC (Dutch gay lobby). How did this come about?
Actually, that is also quite a story, because the COC appeared hard to trace in the fifties. During the war, all activities were ceased, there was nothing at all then. After the war, in the fifties, there was a new start on the Damrak (in Amsterdam), somewhere on the fourth floor. Bob Angelo (Niek Engelschman) became chairman of the COC. But the address of the COC was not in the telephone book, nor in the lists of assistance organizations. That is the way it was at the time. During a short stay in Paris, I saw a special bookstore on the Place de Pigalle. Today, we should say a kind of sex shop, but without sex attributes, only books, like, a.o., Geschlecht und Sünde: Die Krisis der Sexualität, by Heinz Schmeidler. I bought some books and went to my hotel-room and read a bit, slept a bit and walked across the Champs Elysées the next day. At the side of a kiosk, behind glass, a paper was hanging which was totally unknown to me and was called Futur. I don't know why, but I thought that Futur would be an interesting magazine. "Oh, monsieur, you'd better go to my colleague, because there is the new issue, this is a very old instalment." The paper appeared to be a discovery. (By the way, the magazine does not exist anymore since a very long time). There were very small ads in Futur and they included the ad: COC, telephone number, Amsterdam, nothing else, neither what COC meant. Back in Holland, I called the telephone number and then got a very enthusiastic Bob Angelo, chairman of the COC, on the line, who promptly said, "Why don't you come this way, so that we can talk?" That is how this contact came into being. He immediately asked, "Do you want to write something for Vriendschap (= Friendship, the monthly magazine of the COC in those days)?" It did not last long before I was a member of the editorial staff. They were very enthusiastic about my effort there, until the opposition came. That must have been in 1962 or so. We had pseudonyms at the time: nobody wrote by his own name, because you could not do that then. Yes, it sounds very strange now, but that's how it was. My writer's name was Victor Servatius. Jef Last signed with Ohira, etc. In Vriendschap a number of texts, written by me, were published, like Ephebophilie en wetenschap I en II (Ephebophilia and Science I and II), Schlegel's analytisch constitutie-onderzoek (Schlegel's Analytical Constitution Investigation), many messages and book reviews and an extended research report. Een onderzoek onder homofielen (An Investigation among Homos) in ten instalments with many statistic data. The largest investigation so far. Een centrum voor pedofielen (A Center for Pedophiles) and Zin der pedofilie (Sense of Pedophilia) were the first attempts to make the subject debatable within the COC. After 1964, there was a change. Vriendschap was replaced by the monthly magazine Dialoog (= Dialogue).

But that there are people now who use their own names in OK Magazine?
In a certain respect we have become much more open. The sixties and seventies contributed to this.

Does it mean that it was more difficult for homos in 1960 than for pedophiles in 2004?
I do not believe that you can compare it. The significant difference is in the being punishable: gay contacts are (and were in 1960) not punishable, pedophile contacts, however, are, then and now. The homos, in 1960, had more problems with society than they have today, their status in the community was different, people looked more negatively at the phenomenon. The comparison falls short. Despite everything, the homos were in a significantly better position than the pedophiles in 2004.

One given moment, the editorial staff of Vriendschap started to meet somewhere else without you and Brongersma.

Edward Brongersma

Most of the time, the editorial meetings under supervision of Bob Angelo, were held in the office on the Damrak, sometimes somewhere else too. The atmosphere during the discussions was very good and relaxed. Edward and I were friendly with each other and one day we were sitting and waiting for the other members of the staff. However, no one else came. Had we made a mistake? After more than half an hour, we decided to go and have a cup of coffee in the town, and we spent the evening usefully and made plans for a journey to Portugal in summer. Brongersma was an authority on Portugal, author of the book Portrait of Portugal. Our joint journey by car through the country became a big success and was very instructive. In the next Vriendschap we were no longer members of the editorial staff, but members of the "editorial council". A promotion? It was like that at first sight, but not really, we were put on the sidelines. A counter movement had come into being against us. It was never pronounced, but the subject of pedophilia was difficult. Was pedophilia a threat? Did fear play a role?

They are afraid, because in the back of their minds they know for sure that it is a bit true that there are many, many homos who go for young kids.
This is very delicate and difficult to discuss. Today even more than in those days. This is caused too by the extremely negative atmosphere in which pedophilia has ended now. Indeed, some homos go for young kids too. This is really nothing special, after all we see that many a hetero does as well. It is understandable that homos find this aspect difficult and also threatening. To protect themselves, they want to separate themselves from the pedophiles.

It may be just interesting to point this out to the gay movement.
I don't think that is necessary, they know it terrifically well.

How was Edward Brongersma as a private person?
I have got to know Edward Brongersma as a very pleasant man, as a reliable and friendly person. We became friendly with each other and did a lot of things together. We exchanged messages and data and by that we were kept informed about the developments. He was very well read. One day, that was in the middle of the seventies - the emancipation was in full swing - I received a long letter from him. This was certainly peculiar, because, actually, he never wrote letters to me, we always completed everything orally. The letter said: "You must take the book Pedofilie (Pedophilia) (this book was very successful right then!) out off the market and publish a statement in the press that you will come with a better edition in due course." A very nasty business which touched me deeply. It never became clear to me what the reason was. Unfortunately, the relationship between us never became like it used to be. When he fell seriously ill, years after that, I never visited him anymore and, actually, I should have done that.

And was his death a shock to you?
Everyone around him saw it already coming. He had virtually said goodbye to life since his first suicide attempt in 1991. His sight was failing. During his last television appearance he was mentally still very lucid. A brave old man and a fighter. It is always a shock when someone you have known well, suddenly is not there anymore.

Homo was a word you never heard in public spaces?
Actually no, only as a term of abuse. The gay integration still had to take place and it took, as we know, many, many years. The following incident may make clear how strangely people looked at publications about homosexuality and at sex in general in the early forties. I was 21 or 22 years old and wanted to borrow the scientific book by Magnus Hirschfeld Die Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes from the University library. I was promptly told that this was not possible. When I left the building, the librarian came to me personally and asked what I needed the book for. It was all very mysterious. "For my study." I just needed to take a letter from my professor in which it was made clear that I was allowed to read this book. It sounds very odd and bizarre now, and yet it was like that. My problem was quickly solved: in the Oudemanhuispoort I bought an antiquarian copy. By the way, dr B. Premsela, psychiatrist, once lent me this book already before. I think that was in 1941. Shortly after this, he was deported (he was Jewish).

And he never came back anymore?
No, he never came back anymore. Possibly, I was one of the last persons who saw him in Amsterdam during the war. His sons survived. Benno Premsela, who became chairman of the COC later on, had gone underground. He died not so long ago. And his brother, who had a bookstore, or still has, in the Van Baerlestraat in Amsterdam, returned from the war unharmed. After the war, the reconstruction of the Netherlands had begun. A center for pedophiles within the COC did not come about. And apart from the COC, it did not either. The time was not yet ripe for it. I was walking too fast. At the end of 1969/in the beginning of 1970, exactly 35 years ago, a small group of people within the NVSH (Dutch association for sexual reformation) came together which started conversations about pedophilia. They were looking for practical solutions. How could they tackle the problem? It was decided that a book about the subject would be written. This book was already edited in 1972 (Frits Bernard, Edward Brongersma, Wijnand Sengers, Peter van Eeten en Ids Haagsma: Sex met kinderen (Sex with Children), edited by Bert Bakker and the NVSH.

And this book was received very well?
Yes, it was, there were no problems. Later on, there was talk of a second edition, but it never came to it. This book gave an impulse to the emancipation that had started. The first study group within the NVSH had already been formed, namely in Rotterdam. Later, a whole series of study groups were added to it. Then five international meetings in Breda were organized, which gave me the occasion to do research. These congresses also had a decisive influence on the pedophile emancipation abroad. At the end of the seventies, reports appeared in the American papers that in Amsterdam markets existed where children could be bought. The press in America criticized the developments in Holland. From this moment on it went downhill.

To what extent are your books Costa Brava and Vervolgde minderheid (Persecuted Minority) autobiographical?
A book is always, anyway partly, autobiographical, that's what you must assume. However, the framework in which the story has been placed, is biographical: the Spanish Civil War 1936 – 1939. The story is fantasy, it never happened. Of course, the plot has been made up too. It caused quite a stir too, especially in France. "This author is even worse than the devil, because he lets a young man say in the end, "If only something more had happened in the early days." I was very glad with this, because you hit something here. When you write, you always want to hit something, so it was dead on target. Costa Brava had to be taken away from the Salons de l'érotisme, big annual sex fairs in Paris, by order of the police. Pasteur Doucé did not do this deliberately, which caused him a lot of trouble.

This Doucé was, let's say, a kind of minister Visser (Hans Visser, Dutch minister, who stands up for, a.o., homeless people, drug addicts and pedophiles. Transl.), but earlier.
Pasteur Joseph Doucé governed an association in Paris, with the goal to offer assistance to sexual minorities (exhibitionists, pedophiles, homos, sadomasochistic people, etc.). At his special invitation I gave a lecture once or twice within this scope, a very interesting experience. After that, a discussion took place. Doucé did a very good job. He was also in the Netherlands during the first sex fair in Ahoy (Rotterdam). The NVSH was present with a stand with, a.o., information material in relation to pedophilia and, very generally, in sexualibus, Christine le Duc sold porn, father Koopmans agitated against abortion, etc.

Pasteur Joseph Doucé

By: Frits Bernard

During a large sexfair in Rotterdam, mid seventies, I made acquaintance with the legendary, then very young vicar Joseph Doucé who had a stand there with literature concerning his pastoral work in Paris. He had purposely made his journey to the then much more liberal Netherlands to propagate his ideas. I would only meet him again some years later.

Joseph Doucé, born 13 April 1945 in St. Truiden, was a born Fleming who settled in France and later obtained the French nationality. He belonged to the Baptists and did his pastoral work within the Center du Christ Libérateur, 3bis, Rue Clairaut, in Paris.

The Center (founded in 1976) concerned itself with helping sexual minorities and published a small magazine under the name of ILIA, from il libère, il aime (he liberates, he loves). There were monthly meetings in small groups for transsexuals, transvestites, homosexuals, lesbians and paedophiles.

Attention also went to people who needed to stay in prison for short or long terms. The work was difficult in a very repressive France, but Doucé never gave up.
He was a fighter concerned with his suppressed fellow man. It was a pleasure to converse and discuss with him. He came to the Netherlands from time to time and always broke off his train journey in Rotterdam; we took lunch in restaurant Engels, mostly in the conservatory opposite the Central Station. Sometimes he was accompanied by his younger friend Guy. The topic paedophilia had much attention in a broader perspective. After the always much too short visit he went to Utrecht or Amsterdam where he had contacts in the clergy. He also had plans to visit the Pauluskerk in Rotterdam (church known for its broadmindedness and a safe haven for anyone, ed.). He was restless and always busy, always active and alert. We had become friends.

March 1988 I visited him for the last time in Paris. He had opened a specialised bookstore called Autres Cultures (other cultures), in the center of the city, in the Rue Sauffroy, number 46. Lots of interesting sexuological literature in different languages, not available elsewhere. I still remember well that a big stone had been hurled through the window of his front door... (There was animosity against him.)

I gave a lecture at the Center and would later address the public and autograph one of my French books in the Théatre de l'art. It concerned Costa Brava, nouvelle pédophile, published by Lumière et Justice, a publisher's founded by Doucé.

The meeting in the Théatre de l'art was no success, almost no-one turned up, fear ruled, great fear, March 8th a great razzia was held in France en overseas territories and the consequences remained long after.
I was warned not to go to Paris at the time. But when I was young I wasn't concerned about that. I had had the luck to meet Eric Jourdan, author of Les mauvais anges (bad angels) et al. who would present his play Drapeau Noir (black flag) in the Théatre de l'art that night.

Doucé had been threatened many times before. He was forced by the government to remove Costa Brava, nouvelle pédophile from the stand of publishing-firm Lumière et Justice, during the Salons de l'Erotisme.
It became even more severe. 19 July 1990 Doucé was taken away by two policemen, who identified themselves as such. A long silence and many rumours followed.
18 October 1990 his mortal remains were discovered in the forest of Rambouillet. How had he come to his end? Big question mark. The mystery has never been solved completely. His friend now lives in the Netherlands. Had Doucé stuck out his neck too far? Had he been too pushing? It might be so. Until his death Joseph Doucé most of all remained a vicar. His passing away meant a great loss for many. The majority of the French didn't weep over him; they only thought him to be a nuisance. The Center went into an uncertain future. The bookstore, led by his friend, had to close. Books published by Doucé, mostly readers, remained, such as Couples Homosexuels et lesbiens: juridique et quotidien, Le sadomasochisme en question, La question transsexuelle and of course La pédophile en question (The question of paedophilia), containing many interesting facts about the Netherlands. These books were published by Lumière et Justice during the eighties.
In 1990 pasteur Doucé passed away. In October 2000, ten years after his death, the Rotterdam Pauluskerk commemorated him.

Who saw that these men identified themselves as policemen?
His friend. They rang at his door one night unexpectedly. Doucé and his friend Guy were both at home when it happened. Guy, who lives and works in Holland now, was a close witness to the arrest. Doucé had to give his address book. "You will be home again soon," but it turned out quite differently.

And how was the media attention for this in France and in Holland?
In Holland it was minimal. But, of course, they should have paid more attention to it. Nobody knows how he was killed. The chef de police of the third arrondissement was put on the spot though, and there seems to have been a trial too, with a short imprisonment as the result.

Do you think that the discrimination of pedophiles is often forgotten when people talk about discrimination?
The theme discrimination and pedophilia is not an issue at the moment. Discrimination is not connected with pedophilia. The opinions have been formed, it is a disturbance which needs to be treated. Pedophiles are dangerous people who actually should not be here. They form a big threat. The concept of discrimination is not applicable here, after all, pedophiles cannot be compared with certain groupings like white people, Jews, homos, etc. According to the present prevailing view. However, they cannot claim rights. You can write about it, but gladly in a negative way. It is not a subject that is being discussed. The judgment has been passed.

Do you think that the witch hunt on pedophiles will only grow stronger in future?
I have thought all the time that the witch hunt cannot get worse, but over and over again it appears to be possible. The population does not see the witch hunt as a persecution, on the contrary. That the attitude towards pedophiles can be different too, is proven by studying the history. I fear indeed, that the negative attitude will not belong to the past too soon. But nothing is forever.

As long as the media do not make any neutral or positive sound, that they really always cut this off, it will be getting worse.
That is the point. You hit the nail on the head, it is the fault of the media, they are very powerful. They write what the readers like to read, they think they are supposed to do this to be able to keep on going. I cannot predict the future attitude of the media. However, views can change suddenly, we have seen that in the past more often.

And science?
The results of scientific research are acceptable for society as long as they fit in the framework of the train of thoughts of the moment. We think all the time that this problem can be solved with the help of science, but eventually it is not a scientific problem, but a problem of ethics and morals. We have seen this so clearly recently, with the sizable investigation in America by Rind, Bauserman and Tromovitch, which showed that, in general, there appear to be no harmful consequences of desired pedophile contacts. The investigation was judged as carried out correctly. For society, it is virtually not about the question whether something is harmful or not, but whether it can be morally accepted, which does not mean that scientific research is superfluous. Rüdiger Lautmann's book Die Lust am Kind is interesting, because, as far as the harmfulness is concerned, he comes to the same conclusions as said American investigators. The plan to extend his research was made impossible, because, in my opinion, the results were inconsistent with the prevailing views of today.

What exactly must be permitted then, because there are a lot of people who say: yes, these pedophiles say, all kinds of things should be permitted, but how are they supposed to see this really?
Yes, of course everything should not be permitted, that's what it already starts with. Heterosexuality also knows many rules and laws about what is allowed and what is not. For example, in America anal contact between married people is not allowed. But the slogan from the sixties that everything must be possible and everyone can do everything, proved to be wrong. I have been through that with the NVSH in the sixties and seventies, everyone had to be able to do everything and everyone is equal.

In the sixties, the idea that we are born neutrally and that the genes play no role, was very strong. Everyone starts equally, was more or less the idea. Do you know that I have never believed this? Here and there, I have hinted at it in my writings, but only very carefully, otherwise I could have made the same impression as Buikhuisen *1). That is the way how science is curtailed too. There too, taboos can be of influence.

Should the age limit for sexual contacts be zero?

The age of twelve seems a reasonable limit to me in the present time.
That would be an option. Within the NVSH, the view came up in the seventies that the moral legislation is actually superfluous, because the common legislation is effective enough. Then sexuality would not be in a separate pigeon-hole any longer, would no longer bear the stamp of being something special and something which should be treated separately.

Then you can really look at the case itself. Then you do not need to look at an age limit: if it is over or under it.
The individual approach is the only right one, in my opinion. Anyway, it is difficult, like every situation is different. People have thought a lot about age limits, and had discussions without ever having found a solution. Every country and every era has its own borderlines, or no age limits at all. The age limit of twelve from the early days as 'an offense of complaint' (you can only be charged of abuse when the parents complain about your relationship with their child. Transl.) was a step in the right direction (Melai commission).

Can society prevent that dangerous people are walking around?
I do not think so. How do they want to determine whether someone is dangerous in germ or can become dangerous? Too many factors play a role here, it is too complex. Circumstances can change, with the result that people are going to react differently. Whether science will ever be able to solve this? If the answer is yes, what do you do with all these people who may have a negative prognosis?

Did the pedophile movement make mistakes too, looking back afterwards?
I often thought about this and wondered every now and then whether we did not exercise too much pressure at the time. Did not we want to attain everything too soon? Did we make mistakes? Yes, afterwards, certainly. For instance, in several publications, everything was represented too beautifully at the time, and at once people reacted negatively to this.

Kindervuist (Children's Fist) was a children's emancipation movement.
That was a typical experiment which fitted in the turbulent seventies, when everything was tried. I followed Kindervuist with interest and appreciated the positive aspects too. However, to make children walk with big banners with texts like "We also want this and that" did not have a good aura. It has been inspired by adults; it does not come from the children themselves. That is exactly the same when a nursery school needs more money and then send the pre-schoolers onto the street with banners. It is too transparent. Eventually, the renewals here in the country were curbed by America.

And how does this happen? Did feminism play a big role in this in America?
Also. Feminism has never been good to the pedophile emancipation, of course. The Christian background of many Americans certainly played a role. A few things have been published about the history of the stormy developments in the seventies. A survey can be found in Paidika. De Koning wrote in the Belgian magazine Humo: "The pedophiles almost attained their goal." This could possibly be true.

But then the follow-up question: what will eventually be the cause that pedophilia will be accepted?
Time. Nothing lasts. There may come new possibilities in future, and just like during the turning point in 1969/1970, you will need to break into that. You do not need to start from scratch again, it has all been recorded in books and magazine articles. Whether pedophilia will be ever accepted is doubtful. It will possibly be tolerated.

But there is hardly anyone who is active, or do you expect that these people will come as a matter of course from every nook and cranny?
We cannot expect this, in these days of repression. There is a lot of fear and that is understandable. It is not about numbers, but about some active people. Actually, this has been the case too in the early days: it was only a few people who did the dirty work, not the entire group.

You also did an interview in America once.
Yes, that was in the 'Donahue Talk Show' in America in 1987. I received a request from New York, from the secretary of Phil Donahue, with the question if I wanted to cooperate as an expert to a big program about pedophilia, which was in preparation. Donahue presented his program like Oprah Winfrey did later on. In a way, she is Donahue's successor. NAMBLA would be at the center. I would not be in Holland at the moment of the broadcast, but "That is no problem at all, we fly you in from any part of the world". You must imagine, this program is being broadcast live by more than three hundred stations in America, and in Canada and Great Britain as well. The compensation was generous, it was neatly in an envelope in my suite, about 250 dollars a day. All further expenses were compensated, of course. I was collected from the airport in a limousine. During the drive through dazzling New York, I could see the activity in the television studio on the television screens in front of me. Right before the broadcast - I had already been made up – some problems came up. NAMBLA administrators did not want to sit on the front row, but dispersed through the hall. Some other demands were not granted by Donahue either. A tensed atmosphere came up, a stalemate. The canceling of a program like that is a big financial disaster, think alone of the commercials. The NAMBLA administrators refused to cooperate! The chairs had already been removed from the stage... the program had already been announced... It all depended on me now. Exactly on the moment that Phil took his microphone in hand, I walked onto the stage, accompanied by a young man who would participate as a victim. At a great pace, two armchairs were brought in, the announcement of the program appeared on the screen already, I saw grand New York slide by from the air. Questions and answers followed at a great pace, the young man knew how to bring his story well, but, of course, he received criticism too: "You will see later what negative consequences your relationship with an adult has." I received ample opportunity to give my view. I had difficulty separating pedophilia from child abuse, that was to be expected. Together we saved the program. Eventually, it became a broadcast which made NAMBLA very happy. The videotape was viewed another hundred times during all kinds of meetings. And it still is, today.

In 1986, I was interviewed in California. This interview was broadcast live by radio. That same year, in November, I was presented The Lifetime Achievement Award for a lifetime devoted to liberating children and future adults. At the end of my short speech in the Sheraton Hotel in Los Angeles, a long, standing ovation followed.

  • 1) Professor Buikhuisen had the theory that criminal behavior has been genetically determined, and was discredited for this. Transl.

source: Interview 'A Conversation with Dr Frits Bernard - Pioneer' by Marthijn Uittenbogaard; Translated from Dutch; OK Magazine, no. 92, July 2005