Klaas Schilder (1890-1952): A Short Biography


by Rudolf van Reest

(Originally published in: Gedenkt Uw Voorgangeren [Memorial volume for
Schilder by various authors], Goes:  Oosterbaan & Le Cointre, 1952.)

Dr. K. SchilderKlaas Schilder was born on December 19, 1890 in Kampen, a son for  Johannes Schilder and his wife Grietje (nee Leydekker).  He attended the Reformed Grammar School (Gymnasium) and after  completing his final exams, he began his studies at the Theological  College of the Reformed Churches on September 17, 1909.  At this school he  was taught by the professors L. Lindeboom, M. Noordtzij, Dr. A.G. Honig,  Dr. H. Bouwman, Dr. J. Ridderbos, Dr. T. Hoekstra and the lecturers Dr.  J.J. Esser and Dr. A. Noordtzij, who later became professor of Theology at  the State University in Utrecht.

At the Theological College he took his preliminary exam on June  24, 1910, the first part of the candidate exam on October 11, 1912 and the  second part (which granted him the candidate degree in theology) on  January 23, 1914 (with honours -- cum laude).  After the customary two  ecclesiastical exams, the preparatory and the peremptory, he was installed  as Minister of the Word in the Reformed Churches.  He began his career in  the church at Ambt-Vollenhove.  There he also married Anna Johanna Walter  on June 21, 1914.  Afterwards, he served the churches at Vlaardingen,  Gorinchem, Delft, Oegstgeest and then on June 27, 1928 he became preacher  in the church at Rotterdam-Delfshaven.

During his time in office in that place, he received a leave of  absence so he could study at the Frederick-Alexander University in  Erlangen, Germany.  There he followed the course of studies in the faculty  of Philosophy, studying under Dr. E. Herrigel, Dr. O. Stahlin, and Dr. J.  Hell.  At the same time he took the courses (as an auditor) of Dr. W.  Vollrath in the faculty of Theology at this university.  He did the oral exam for the doctoral degree on March 3, 1933 and  he passed it with great honours (summa cum laude).  He wrote a  dissertation entitled, "Zur Begriffgeschichte Des 'Paradoxon'" ("the  Historical Concept of Paradox") which was published in 1933 by J.H. Kok in  Kampen.

On September 26, 1933, he became emeritus minister of the church  at Delfshaven, pending his appointment as professor at the Theological  College in Kampen.  There on January 17, 1934 he began the course of  studies with an inaugural lecture, taking a stand against Dr. Haitjema and  through him also the errors of the theology of Karl Barth.  He would give  lectures daily and he only interrupted this schedule during his travels to  America in 1939 and 1947.  The lectures also continued, for shorter and  longer times, during the years of the German occupation.

On August 22, 1940, while living in Kampen, Prof. Schilder was  arrested by the Germans and transported to the prison at Arnhem where he  was held in confinement until December 6, 1940.  Upon his release he was  informed that he was not to take part in any activities of the  Anti-Revolutionary Party or to do any writing, and if he did not comply he  would be placed on the road to a concentration camp.

Although Prof. Schilder repeatedly had to go underground, because  he was sought by the Germans anew, the ecclesiastical action of General  Synod Sneek-Utrecht continued against him. During this time, Prof.  Schilder was hiding with his friend P. Jasperse, a doctor in Leiden, where  he was known by his housemates as Mr. De Priester.  He was there when he  was first suspended and then four months later when he was deposed as  emeritus-minister of Delfshaven and professor at the Theological College.  The suspension took place on March 23, 1944 and after the  suspension was extended by a month (on June 23), the deposition occurred  on August 3, 1944.

After that, on August 11, 1944, there was a meeting of the  oppressed in the Lutheran church in 's-Gravenhage in which the Act of  Secession and Return was passed and the liberation of the churches became  an accomplished fact.  There the Liberated churches from the Northern  regions asked Prof. Schilder to train the students of theology, so Prof.  Schilder maintained the office of professor at the Theological College, an  office which he has held to this day [Van Reest seems to be writing before  the time of Schilder's unexpected death in 1952].

Almost from the beginning of the weekly paper "De Reformatie",  Prof. Schilder was a regular contributor and wrote in nearly every column.  Later, along with Dr. C. Tazelaar and Dr. J. Waterink, he became editor of  this paper.  On account of different ideas concerning the editorial  direction, which we Reformed people needed, it was no longer possible to  work together and the end result was that Prof. Schilder was given the  office of head editor all for himself.  This was conveyed to the readers  on April 12, 1935.

Through this paper, Prof. Schilder has exercised a great influence  on the Reformed people.  He has given his positive and principled leadership in this paper,  also over and against the dangers of the National Socialist movement in  Germany and the Dutch National Socialist party in our own country.  He  continued this leadership undaunted, even after the Germans occupied our  country in May of 1940.  This led to his capture mentioned earlier.  At  the same time as he was imprisoned, his weekly "De Reformatie" was  prevented from being published and the archives of the publisher were  seized.

After the Liberation of our country from the Germans on July 6, 1945, it was possible once again for "De Reformatie" to be published.


(Slightly abridged translation by Wes Bredenhof)