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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Els Euwe

Els with her father
  Elisabeth Maria (Els) Euwe,
the eldest daughter of Max Euwe, died in the Leendert Meath House in Bilthoven, The Netherlands, at the age of 85 on May 12, 2012.

     She was around 75 when she began to suffer from dementia and her son, Machgiel Bakker, found it unbearable to see how his sweet, funny mother's mental capacity was deteriorating. That's when he decided to make her listen to music from her youth. There had been a kind of music therapy in her nursing home and someone had tried letting the patients hit drums, but Bakker observed that when his mother hit the drums there was no emotional effect. However, when he came up with the idea of letting his mother listen to songs from her youth, she seemed to remember them. This lead him to develop Radio Remember, an online station for elderly people with dementia. The station plays music that can be linked to the elderly's institution or home and consists of a wide variety of music genres, popular in the 1945-1965. The service is available by annual subscription.
     Oddly enough though, she remembered her connection with chess. When the young nurses who knew nothing about chess would pronounce her name incorrectly she would always correct them with, "My name is Euwe!" There were a few patients in the home that played chess and she would remind them who she was and point to her father's pictures on her bedside table.
     When Max Euwe became world champion in 1935, Els was eight years old and she first heard of her father's defeat of Alekhine on the morning of December 16, 1935 when she woke up and asked Euwe, "Father have you won?" Her memories of the victory included stacks of letters, telegrams, flowers and the phone ringing continuously. Journalists, cameramen, family members, acquaintances, neighborhood residents, everyone came by and filled the house. She remembered that while it was all very special, she still had to go to school the next day.
     Euwe had two other daughters. Caroline (July 27, 1928 - November 3, 2001) who was married in 1956 to Johan Christiaan Lammers a journalist, mayor and commissioner of the Queen. Two daughters were born from this marriage and they were divorced in 1966.
     The youngest daughter, Fietie, learned to play chess, but did not enjoy it. She told a journalist during the unveiling of her father's statue on May 7, 2004 at the Max Euweplein in Amsterdam, "He was a good teacher, and had a lot of patience with us," but added that she was not interested in the game.
     After the death of her father in 1981, Els with her two sisters, were often invited to attend the many ceremonies organized in honor of her father such as a stamp of Euwe in 2001 and an exhibition of the Amsterdam Historical Museum about the heroes of Amsterdam.

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