A click with Mussolini – The Green Amsterdammer

Wouter Lutkie, date unknown

Catholic Documentation Center, Nijmegen / AFBK-2a19503

Each group has its secret tips: people or things that say nothing to outsiders but insiders so much the more. Among Catholics interested in twentieth-century culture and fascism, Pastor Wouter Lutkie is one such tip. At least I’ve known his name pretty much my whole life. My parents corresponded with him, my mother visited him at a young age, and as far as I can remember, he did the same with us later – just like countless others who had been in the Catholic-fascist corner before the war.

After the war, all these people were rejected as wrong, while this was not always the case: for many (Catholic, Mediterranean), fascism and (German, Central European) National Socialism were completely different things. The outsiders, however, did not see it that way and threw everything and everyone in one pile. Therefore, the ‘Catholic-fascistoid errors’ kept looking for each other, even when they did not want to know more about fascism and in some cases Catholicism. At the same time, and in part because of the relative isolation, Catholic fascism retained something special, if not attractive, to them. Few dared to say so. No one could explain it. And to outsiders, it was inevitably and emphatically rejected.

The ‘ideology’ that permeated every fiber of his person: Catholicism

Wouter Lutkie was one of the few who never did the latter. He dared to do so all the more because he had been a radical opponent of National Socialism, had not cooperated and had even saved many – the estimates go to more than two hundred people – from the clutches of the Nazis. Nevertheless, almost no one understood how he, even a priest, could continue to defend the Nazi accomplice ideology called fascism. That alone made him persona non grata after the war, which resulted in accusations and controversy.

The explanation for Lutkie’s persistent fascination with fascism lies solely in the ‘ideology’ that permeated every fiber of his person: Catholicism. Much has been written about the connection between the two phenomena, especially in the Netherlands in Leo (LMH) Joosten’s almost sixty year old dissertation: Catholics and fascism in the Netherlands, 1920-1940† At the time, this book was discussed in a rather bad way: ‘You could just as well – or just as badly – get a PhD. about something as incoherent as ‘Anglicans and nudism in Cameroon’, wrote The Telegraph just as funny as it’s silly. For Joosten was absolutely right in his statement: There is a straight line between fascism and Catholicism; which is obviously different from saying that all Catholics are fascists, let alone vice versa. Yet. Recent research has illustrated this repeatedly.

Wouter Lutkie

Catholic Documentation Center

For Lutkie, according to cinematographer Willem Huberts, fascism was eminently suited to create a society in which the Catholic faith again would dominate ‘. The emphasis on “again” is mine and points to a number of beliefs that are characteristic of Lutkie and many other Catholic fascists. To begin with, the idea that a society that is not permeated by (Catholic) faith is not worth living. Hence faith number two, the longing for a (I would say: largely imaginary) world where faith was still central, at least before the French Revolution, preferably before the Reformation: the Middle Ages in other words.

With this, Lutkie became convinced of a revolutionary in the original sense: one who back wanted to go into the past. Today we call such a one a reactionary. Also believe number three, Lutkie was a man who believed wholeheartedly in a vertical society – exactly the kind of society the Catholic Church was until about half a century ago, with a motionless pope at the helm and then a layered system. the lower regions. Within this vertical context, everyone had a function, but only a few had the floor. Exactly the opposite of what modern democracy aims for.

Other beliefs of Lutkie, such as corporatism, were often derived from these three. The same goes for his political activities, choice of friends, authorship and admiration. They can all be traced back to Catholicism, reaction and ‘verticalism’ and thus his opposition to democracy.

Remarkable in Lutkie’s life story is the special bond with Mussolini. I think he was the only Dutchman received in private audience no less than seven times by the Italian dictator. Why did Mussolini do that? In his eyes, Lutkie could not have been more than an insignificant Dutch priest. Huberts provides a plausible explanation. Mussolini and Lutkie met at a very early stage, when fascism was still almost exclusively an Italian phenomenon and certainly not what he calls an ‘export product’. It formed a bond. And as fascism seemed to become an international phenomenon, Lutkie Mussolini’s main connection with the Netherlands remained. In addition, he had stolen the man’s heart by giving him a series of drawings inspired by him, Jan Toorop, also a Mussolini adept, and even publishing a book in 1928 about the connection between the Italian dictator and the Dutch painter. When he was so far, he could not crack any more.

The fact that Lutkie was an incredibly active and extraordinarily colorful figure is widely recognized by supporters and opponents. Combined with the clear structure and equally clear style, it makes this biography a beautiful whole. Finally, one of the countless stories and stories from it should not be missing. It is the magazine that Lutkie published throughout the second half of his life, from 1930 to 1965. It bore the telling title Aristotle† Before the war, it enjoyed some fame in a small circle. After the war, none of this was left. It did not bother Lutkie, not really. He continued. The unsold copies ended up in the attic of his house in Nuland and were eventually, reportedly, sold for a price of scrap paper.

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