Balkenende didn't say that: Book of Dutch speeches pulled

Jan_Peter_Balkenende,_2011_(cropped)
Jan Peter Balkende (Photo: Minister-president Rutte/Wikimedia Commons). (Jan Peter Balkende (Photo: Minister-president Rutte/Wikimedia Commons))

The book De 50 mooiste, beste en meest inspirerende Nederlandse toespraken was pulled from the market with immediate effect because only 49 of the speeches in the book are real. A speech about the mentality of the Dutch East India Company attributed to former Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, turned out to actually be a satirical column first published on left-wing activist website Doorbraak.eu in 2006, newspaper Trouw discovered.

The book was complied by Denise Parengkuan. The historian admitted that she made a mistake. "I did not check thoroughly enough that the text of this speech is correct", she said to the newspaper. 

A passage from the column reads: "Jan Pieterszoon Coen, Michiel de Ruyter. They had that entrepreneurial spirit and business sense, that VOC [Dutch East India Company] mentality: if you want to own something, you make it yours."

In 2006 Balkenende did actually speak about the VOC mentality several times, referring to the entrepreneurial spirit of the trading company. But this speech was not one of his. Critics considered his references to entrepreneurial spirit unfortunate, because the Dutch East India Company is also associated with violence and colonization.

Publisher Hans van Maar of Just Publishers called the error a major downer. "Apparently the author did not check her facts enough. That makes me doubt the rest of the book. So we pulled it", he said to Trouw. The publisher will send Balkenende flowers with a letter of apology. 

This is the second time that this column was attributed to Balkenende in a book. A passage from the column also appeared in the book Tot hier en nu verder by Cees van Lotringen, which was published earlier this year. That book was also pulled from the market and rewritten.

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