In the newspaper of Haarlem of may 3 and 4, 1983 there were two pages dedicated to my father as a victim of the nazi terror.

I translate these articles here, illustrated with other material.




article local newspaper may 3, 1983  by Jan de Roos.



van Tongeren, engineer from Heemstede, victim of german terror (part 1)


‘I had to have more bodies and a never ending long life’



Hermannus van Tongeren jr. as student, 1923



One of the countless victims is the engineer Hermannus van Tongeren, who lived in Heemstede( a place just south of Haarlem).

He was taken away from his wife and five children on the 7th september 1944, a few days after ‘mad Tuesday’.

The germans took him away during a housesearch after they had found in his home on the Herstlaan 20 illegal lecture and a radioreceiver which with he could receive the BBC News about the war which he mul­tiplied then and distributed.

Herman van Tongeren was on this 7th september not confronted for the first time with the german terror system. Three years earlier is his father, a high ex KNIL military man and Grandmaster of the Free Ma­sonry Order arrested by the germans and after a half year of imprisonment put on a transport to Sachsenhausen where he died, not long after his arrival.

It is nearly midnight when van Tongeren junior has to leave his home with the germans in a blinded car(he did not need his toilet-bag he was told) On the way, not far from the ‘House with the Statues’ he is thrown out of the fast going car. He makes a movement trying to get up. The germans see this and come back, thrust him in the verge and give him a lung and a neck shot. Totally paralysed Herman van Ton­geren falls backwards. A policeman finds him five hours later at the side of the road and lets an ambulance come. His taking in in the E­lisabeth's Hospital is kept secret for the germans. But his woman is warned. She talks for an hour with him. In the early morning of 9 september Herman van Tongeren dies of his severe wounds.

Why, nearly forty years later do we pay attention to this inhabitant of Heemstede?

First there is the fact that his 81 year old sister Charlotte has ma­de known that the german warcriminal Klaus Barbie was directly com­mitted in the execution of Herman van Tongeren and in the interroga­tiom of Hermans father in 1940-1941. A remarkable case: The same man who in the beginning of the war dealt with the old KNIL officer on the office of the SD (security Service) came back to Holland after some years in France where his cruel actions made him the nickname of ‘Butcher of Lyon’ to liquidate Herman van Tongeren on an evening in the fall of 1944,  a deed committed together with some other ger­mans. Barbie is waiting a long imprisonment in France for his actions there.

Herman van Tongeren was not a real member of the resistance movement. He was one of the victims of the war, also in his place of residence. The way in which he was shot down and left behind helplessly, a vic­tim of the german terror is in the last period of the war not even unique. A case that is only of historical importance? No! Herman van Tongeren was in many aspects a very remarkable man, alrea­dy far before the war. He was _far ahead of his time. And in the war years his person is a strong symbol for how the idealistic longing to work for a better future after the liberation is kept alive.

He was one of the dutchman who in these terrible years kept their hope and enriched themselves in spiritual respect without ever to be able to enjoy the experience of the liberation.

So it is meaningful to know more about him and his work.

What follows is a result of the talks with an employee of him, M.J. Bouwer, lady Charlotte van Tongeren and the two daughters and three sons of Herman van Tongeren, Ellen, Ingrid, Herman, Ben and Paul who had sought out some letters and documents.







fragment of the Helicopter-study

by H. van Tongeren jr.

fragment of the astrology-course

 by H. van Tongeren jr., 1925




van Tongeren, engineer from Heemstede, victim of german terror (part 1 cont.)



Hermannus van Tongeren is born on 6 october 1899 in Kota Radja on Sumatra in the former Dutch East Indies. His father who is called Her­mannus too and was born in 1876, arrived there three years earlier.


Hermannus van Tongeren sr., 1903


After a study at the Royal Military Academy in Breda as an engineer­officer in the service of the Royal Indien Army(KNIL).

Van Tongeren senior takes part in long exhausting expeditions under the leadership of  van Heutz against the inland leader Toekoe Oemar who is held responsible for a slaughter among dutchman in Northern Sumatra.


Hermannus van Tongeren sr. and family, 1907


In 1906 Van Tongeren sr. gets a furlough for two years. In Berlin, Vienna and Delft he follows courses in wireless telegraphy and concrete building. In the beginning of 1908 the family departs again to the East ­Indies. Hermannus jr., eight years old stays behind in Holland with his grandparents, who lead a reformed old people's home in Rotterdam.

Not earlier than in 1916, this because of the first world war, his parents and two sisters Charlotte and Jacoba come back to the Netherlands for good. Herman jr. is then already for some years on the secondary school in the city of the Maas river. Together with friends he has made a loftroom equip­ped for physics and chemistry experiments. Herman's father left the army at the age of forty as a lieutenant colonel. In 1939 he is made general for his valuable works. He gets a pension.

The family van Tongeren settles itself in Amsterdam in the Johannus Ver­hulststraat 129, a street behind the Concerthall building. Herman's father earns his living in the capital city as deputy manager and later as one of the directors of the firm Fuchs and Rens who sell expensive cars in the Indies. Herman jr. does his final examinations of the secondary school in 1917.

In September of that year he starts studying in Delft at the Technical Highschool for Mechanical Engineer. The first two years he lives again with his grandparents in Rotterdam. He nearly never attends to the lectures. He thinks he can learn much more by studying books by himself. He shuns the traditional sociable clubs but develops a great amount of other activi­ties. The young student is clearly many sided. He is absorbed in the most different technical subjects, from the development of steamboilers till the designing of helicopters. As a student Herman van Tongeren makes a treatise and holds lectures about Einstein's relativity theory. His father who didn't know of these activities gets to his great surprise compliments for the clear explanation. Herman is also intensively busy in his study years with theosophy,sufism, free masonry and the rosecrusians. He also makes a very ex­panding study of the astrology, is member of the editorial office of the astrological magazine ‘Urania’. and makes horoscopes to earn a bit extra.

Hermannus van Tongeren jr., 1917

He is leading an astrological course in 1925 in the Free Religious Temple in Amsterdam. He wants to write a trilogy about the philosophy of the astrology, the elements of the practical astrology and the applicated astro­logy. Of the first part what he gives the title ‘The Message of the Stars’ are the corrected proof sheets still saved. Why it is not published is not known. Probably he wanted to do this in own management and abandonded he his project because of the high costs. In 1923 discovers the 24 year old student  to his surprise that he is a member of 23 clubs or societies. Among them two nature science societies, an ethical society, a trade union, a debating club and an organisation that is against the use of dogs as draught animal. Regularly he holds lectures for the societies of which he is a member and he does not shrink for organisational work as well. Furthermore he writes articles, gives extra lessons and devours books on a great number of topics.

As a student he has already a library of thousands of books. For himself he has the idea that he permanently lacks time: ‘ I should have more corp­ses and a never ending life’. From letters that remain from his study years one finds that he thinks that his spiritual development is more important than the getting of his engineer's diploma. He is intensively searching for ‘The Mysteries of Life’. In a letter of 1923 he writes: ‘I do not yet know anything, not of myself and not of others. I am tormenting myself sometimes to know what the human being is, what the world is, what I am’. He does not want to follow the traditio­nal paths, in his student years, nor after. At the end of 1923, he is then already six years busy in Delft, he writes: ‘I believe not a se­cond that I will go the same ordinary road as all others when I have my diploma’.

The study of steam boilers, locomotives, wind turbines and helicopters he does not see as a pure technical but as a nearly philosophical work, in which it is important to investigate and fathom as much as possible by himself. So he writes after an evening of studying the steam boiler:

‘One has really to be omniscient to be able to design and calculate a steam boiler and to make the best one in every special case. My study of the steam boiler becomes a sort of philosophy as well. I am busy to write down all sorts of propositions and to prove them to hand them in together with my design of a steam boiler. That is not more work, they a­re the waste products of the work and these have as good a value as the principal product. All knowledge is essentially one. The number reigns over all things. Nothing forms an exception to that. Only mankind is not yet so far that they can calculate every thing. And they will never come so far. For at that same moment they are standing equally at the same height in science as God and would be able to create a world by them­selves. I have this evening had the same experience studying the steam ­boilers as I had with the helicopters and projectors, etc. I am really seeing that my field of activity is borderless’.

His ideal is the foundation of a spiritual centre, a sort of ‘Muidercircle’ of professionals in the fields of arts, techniques, biology and philosophy, but attempts to get this from the ground in 1926 fail.

Herman van Tongeren finds in the end, being strongly religious, but not in a churchly way, his greatest inspiration in the theosophy and the sufism. He is committed to the freemasonry as well but not as much as his father, who has been the Grandmaster of the freemasons.

For some time the father van Tongeren sees with regret that the study of engineer of his son seems never ending. At last he takes action and gives Herman a year of home arrest in Amsterdam. He has to concentrate himself now fully on his examination. Herman is only allowed to go out­side from seven till eight in the evening. In october 1927 he does his bachelors examination and a year later he passes his examination of en­gineer ‘cum laude’. His most important invention, the dust collector or cyclone with which he will become famous later, he has done already at that moment.





article local newspaper may 4, 1983 by Jan de Roos.



van Tongeren, engineer from Heemstede, victim of german terror (part 2)


Eleven years have gone when Herman van Tongeren in 1928 with his engi­neers diploma in his pocket leaves the Technical Highschool in Delft.

They were well-spent years, in which he occupied himself intensively with the technique but as well with religious and spiritual subjects.


the van Tongeren Cyclone


In the last phase of his study he has concentrated himself on the de­signing of a cyclone or dust collector, an order of one of his profess­ors. This becomes an invention to which his name will be connected in the future.


Hermannus van Tongeren jr., 1938/39


Worried as he already in the twenties about the pollution of our environment and being a nature lover and environmentalist, he develops this appliance with which dirt and other our environment polluting dusts can be collected and with which in addition dusts can be regained in industries, oil refineries, bakeries, blast furnaces and goldmines, valuable dusts that would have been lost otherwise.

The ‘Van Tongeren-Cyclone’ as this appliance will be called already soon, is found to be a valuable apparatus and is in a few years appli­cated on a grand scale. With it the dust-problem in the industrial re­gions can be fought again effectively. The percentage of the collected dust of some cyclones comes by further perfecting of the apparatus at last near the 100% (97,5%).

It is a discovery from which Herman van Tongeren never lets loose.

When he establishes himself as a consulting engineer after his study, he is specialising himself in the field of the fight against fly ash. So he measures the smoke-gasses that come out of the chimneys of the Amsterdam town sanitation. It is there that his first dust recovery system is placed.

In april 1930 he is going to live on the Postlaan 26 in Heemetede. He starts there his office with the assistance of a secretary. In the fol­lowing years this will grow till an enterprise with about 45 co-workers. The first dust tests are done in the bathroom and in a shed. Two years later Herman van Tongeren moves to the Johannes Verhulstlaan 32-34.

He is married then and has two children. On this new address two other children are born. In that double house he pulls down a part of the wall that separate them. In a barn comes a little laboratory. Soon the­re comes a testing place on the Kanaalweg and later on the Industrieweg. Van Tongeren's enterprise is officially called ‘Aerodyne, Office for application of aerodynamics and for Research in the field of Physics’. As the name indicates, it is the application of aerodynamics, that is the theory of currents, in the technique. This happens particularly by means of doing experiments by researching in the testing place where models in scale are build of the real future constructions for the phe­nomenens that occur in them.

Patents are requested in Holland and abroad on the experimentally developed or improved constructions. After that licences are given to the factories that fabricate the ‘real’ systems.

The many thousands of guilders that are spent each year to the tests in the lab are paid with the money of the exploitation of the licenses. Aerodyne occupies itself mostly with the developing of different sorts of dry and wet dust recovery systems but as well with the separation of floating water and oil particles that are present in gasses and va­pours. Also are made spark collectors and noise-dempers for ships diesel engines. The bureau has aside from the model-making part an elaborate dust lab where by means of wind-sifters dust is analysed. Costumers from in­land or abroad send pots with dust; after research of this dust one can start working on the designing of a dust recovery system exactly applicable for a certain part of industry.         .

In 1940 Aerodyne has already thirteen license holders, that means firms or factories which may build and deliver the constructions designed by the bureau. In the Netherlands are these ‘De Kennemer’ in Beverwijk and ‘Stork’ in Hengelo. Abroad among others ‘Büttner Werke’ in Germany and ‘Buell’ in the USA. Constructions of Aerodyne are in the beginning of the war licensed in sixteen countries.

A special department of Aerodyne is ‘Docufilm’ where tests on photo and film are recorded. In 1935 Docufilm has become already a full grown film business, working also commission of others to make concern- and industrial films with and without sound and lending them out. Docufilm has a great collection of films: naturefilms, sportfilms, cartoons, featurefilms and films over countries and cul­tural anthropology.

The number of coworkers of the Van Tongeren bureau is growing fast. This is remarkable in a period of economical crises in which many other businesses are discharging countless people. When the war breaks out there are about forty persons employed by the bureau in Heemstede. The atmosphere is extraordinary good. M.J. Brouwer who is working there since 1937 as a jack of all trades describes Herman van Tongeren as an amiable and inspiring man who was in fact the father of one

great family. Van Tongeren is a good businessman who is conducting a very social policy for that time. So the bureau has already a free saturday in the thirties.

Herman van Tongeren is ever more abroad. Half of the year he is traveling around the world to visit his license holders. Four till five times a year he has to go to Berlin to defend his patents. He gives there lectures on his dust collector. In the end of 1935 - beginning 1936 he has to go to Australia where his invention is applicated among other things in the goldmines of Kalgoorlie. In the United States he visits the great industrial cities and holds lectures about his dust collector. The american factory directors look up strangely to this dutch engineer with his length of 1,93 meter an impressive fi­gure. In knee breeches the sporty and non conformistic van Tongeren gives his hearing text and explanation about his inventions.

Again at home the usual pressure of business bustle on the bureau is awaiting him. A real holiday is impossible. In the little spare time that he has he prefers to be in nature. As the nature friend that he is he does not hesitate to send his people to the Groenendaal forest to think there in all quietness about improvements of a certain ap­paratus.

Then there dawns the war years. The engineers office in Heemstede immediately gets in the problems. The financial position is detiora­ting because there is from the earliest start of the war no money co­ming in from the license holders in the allied countries. Yet van Ton­geren tries nevertheless to keep his people working as much as possible. The germans know that the bureau of van Tongeren occupies itself not only with dust collectors but with the development of gasoline sa­ving apparatus as well. They give him the commission to make tests with gas generators for cars and other objects. Herman van Tongeren takes care to it of not letting them have any real profit of it.

In the mean time he makes use of the car the germans gave him for the tests. He uses the vehicule, a truck amongst other things for driving to Zeeland where he helps to find accomodation for evacuees. In the Betuwe he gets fruit, patatoes and vegetables to distribute amongst people who need help. At the same time he is keeping his eyes wide open when he is underway. The data about what he sees he passes on to his sister Jacoba who is leading the illegal underground group 2000.

The germans come once in a while to the lab to give a commission.

Herman is not what you call friendly to them. He is not afraid to show his contempt for Hitler for his german visitors. Bouwer remembers that someone gave Herman a kick under the table to warn him that he has to restrain himself. The engineer who made many tours through Germany even thinks of it as his second fatherland can not understand as he writes it in one letter that ‘this people through blindness and shortness of self-knowledge is busy to work on its own destruction’.

The germans arrested already in october 1940 Hermans father van Ton­geren sr. He is interrogated in the Amsterdam House of Imprisonment about his ‘international contacts’ as grandmaster of the Order of Free Masonry. Herman visits his father several times in the company of his mother and his sisters. In march'41 van Tongeren sr. is put on a transport to Sachsenhausen where he dies the same month.

In contrast to his sister Jacoba is Herman van Tongeren not in a direct way participating in the underground activities against the germans. This would have been too great a risk for his bureau and all his em­ployees. But his typewriter and stencil machine are used by the boys of an illegal group. They come to his home to the loft to listen regu­larly to Radio-Oranje and the english sender.

Herfstlaan 20, Heemstede

This happens in the Herfst­laan 20 where the family van Tongeren lives since 1937 in a house with a view on the wood Groenendaal. The house is designed by Herman himself. So the radio news can be typed out and multiplied. Brouwer remembers that on the testing station all sorts of illegal material is multiplied as well.

Herman van Tongeren is working in the mean time on a fascinating project for after the liberation. Probably at the end of 1943 -beginning of 1944 he brings his coworkers these ideas in a circular titled:’Plan or Phantasy, Plan or Illusion?’.

In this he writes:" I did never play such a nice play as this. It is so fascinating, that I try to win every minute so to speak in the last year for this play and can show no more interest in other things. As soon as I walk to my home or to the bureau I am busy with this play and do not bo­re me for a moment. When I am travelling I play this play. It is the chea­pest play and the most interesting hobby that I ever had. It costs only a bit of paper, a pencil and a pen. Since I am so intensely busy with this play the second world war became less important to me. The depressing feeling of the being disappointed all the time by the slow progressing and the date of peace that is again postponed has disappeared. Once when the peace will come Herman van Tongeren wants to travel through the who­le of Europe to make films of the journeys, nature films, films about the culture and way of living of all kinds of people. He designs a column of cars, consisting of a trailer, a tractor, a caravan and a car for eight persons.


One of the designs of the transport units for the planned (film)expeditions, 1944  


He works feverish on the realising of this film ideal. He notes down what and how one is going to film, what it will cost and he even makes a precise description of an expedition he wants to make to the Scandinavian countries. The members who take part in this film expeditions have to be all-round people with above all a love for the creation. A close team, rich in spiritual knowledge, that is to live actually with strange peoples in far countries for a longer period. Only than, So he thinks can films be made that fascinate and move people, films in which that what looks ordinary gets colour and contents. In tens of very detailled drawings and calculations he works out precisely to what requirements the means of transport have to fullfill.

The great filmplan takes already very concrete forms when that day in the fall of 1944 comes. In the afternoon at about three the germans do a raid in the house on the Herftlaan. Illegal pamphlets are found. Her­man, who is at that time in his testing place gets a telephon that he has to go home. The germans found in the mean time in a boxcase a memorial volume of the Free-Masonry Order with a photo of his father in it. The german authorities in Amsterdam are informed. They come to fetch him. How many plans he still wanted to realise when the end came on that nineth of september 1944 we see in the "Taak 1945-1960, a notice he made short­ly before his death.





In this note ‘Taak:  1945 – 1960’ van Tongeren sums up, shortly before his death, his plans for the period after the war.



planned tasks for the period 1945-1960



TASK : 1945 - 1960


  • Aerodyne on a broader base (sifters, dampers, kettles, BV)


  • Reborn Docufilm brings expedition films, science films, religious films


  • The building of the continental cruiser, a driving headquarter ­


  • The Stoa Religious center


  • Regeneration VLK, naturopathy, homeopathy


  • A camper Center


  • Reform kitchen; reform house


  • Reform book shop and Publishing House



‘Through this play the war has become less important for me’.





the part of van Tongeren in the resistance movement was perhaps greater than one thought.



Haarlem-Heemstede. Ir. H,van Tongeren from Heemstede presumably has been more connected with the resistance movement than his near family members knew till now. This one can conclude from what a german officer who was stationed in Heemstede in september 1944 has said during his interrogation in 1948. The official report of this interrogation is one of the documents that the national criminal investigation department has found during her research in the case van Tongeren.

It was known that van Tongeren was hospitable to young people who could listen to the english sender in his house and produced there illegal pam­phlets. By a house search on the 7th of september 1944 is a great number of illegal pamphlets found and a radio receiver was confiscated. From the statement of the german it was apparent that phototechnical material was found as well. The german saw this material himself. It consisted he said amongst other things detailed photos of the building of pillboxes for the coast defence.

The photo material is probably made with the extensive apparatus at van Tongeren's disposal. He had in the thirties his own firm called ‘Docufilm’ where photo's and films were made for industrial purposes. It is known that van Tongeren was visited now and then by a courier of the ille­gal resistance group led by his sister Jacoba, a group active in the whole country. Also a declaration of a than 18 year old man from Heemstede points out that engineer van Tongeren was more involved in illegal activities than was known till now.

This witness says that he made a number of drives to Apeldoorn in the au­tumn and winter of 1943 - 1944. He says jewish persons in hiding were col­lected to be brought to addresses in Heemstede and neighbourhood. This trans­ports took place in a truck with which ir. van Tongeren made testdrives in commission of the germans to test gas generators. During this transport of jews there were inspections by the germans but there were no difficulties because the documents of the car were perfect in order, so this witness remembered. He says that with this transports totally tens of jews were brought to the west of the country. He did not know why this happened. Van Tongeren himself was never present during these transports but the witness thinks that the transport were acted under his order. What he did for the jews was a touch of genius this spokesman said.





the van Tongeren Cyclone invention (click here for opening the Buell brochure  (pdf format))


Buell was the factory in New York that produced my father’s inventions in the U.S.A.

In about 1967 Gold Fields bought Buell and the contracts were no longer renewed.


van Tongeren CYCLONE