Truus van Aalten

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Her Life (3)

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As her train drew into the station in Amsterdam that chilly evening, Truus was astonished to find a huge crowd waiting for her. She was probably the Netherland's best-loved actress, and people had turned out in droves to see her. Her mother met her on the platform, and they had to make their way through the crowd of well-wishers, across the station and to their car. At a function at the Stadsschouwburg theatre later, Truus - truly delighted by her reception - spent the rest of the evening signing autographs.

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Her parents had returned to Amsterdam some time before, and Frans junior had left even earlier for Arnhem to be near the girl he loved (and would eventually marry). Truus settled in at home, taking time to talk with her parents, visit friends, just relax. She had time to herself - walked the family dog in the countryside, and had her hair bobbed extra short.

"I was tired of the struggle to find work," she remembered later. "Film production was in a slump, and with the addition of the quota rules, working in German films became so much more difficult for foreigners... Months passed without my getting any work at all, though I tried hard. Eventually it looked as though I'd best return to Holland. I hadn't been home for seven years, and the joy of being with my family replaced my work, which I love."

After a long time in the doldrums, the Dutch film industry was doing well - surely she could find work near home? She was very popular in Holland, and it wasn't long before a local company offered her a part in a new movie - but she turned it down, feeling that the role just wasn't her type.

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But what was her type? She realized that she had to review her situation. Her whole career was based on playing mischievous young girlies, but she just couldn't do that any more, even though it paid so well. She would have to reinvent herself. First of all her bobbed hair, even though she loved it, would have to go. Changing it was a gamble - it was her trademark, nobody else in films looked like her - and worst of all: what if the public simply didn't want to see a grown-up Truus? But she had to escape from her own image.

Truus was away from Berlin for so long that the film magazines reassured their readers that she hadn't died, but was just staying with her family while waiting for work. "Truus will be back from Holland in the next few days!" Filmwoche revealed at the end of May.

And than came a phone call from Vienna.

Director Georg Jacoby was about to shoot a film, G'schichten aus dem Wienerwald ("Tales From The Vienna Woods"), about an ordinary girl who swaps places with an American millionaire's daughter. Magda Schneider was on board as

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the girl, and the cast included handsome leading man Wolf Albach-Retty and the very popular actor and singer, Leo Slezak. Jacoby had worked with Truus before, and wanted her for the rich girl - but where was she? A frantic search ensued, and eventually she was located in Holland. "I hadn't been looking for work outside Holland - but I was still hoping," she said later. In fact, several offers had come in at once, but not only was the Vienna film the best, it was guaranteed a release all across Europe and in America too. Truus accepted the part over the phone and arrived in Vienna a week later. One thing worried her - Mondial, the production company, had engaged her without seeing her new look.

Truus nervously set off to meet her director. "I was a bit worried that my new hairstyle would cause a problem," she recalled later. "But when Mr Jacoby saw me, he immediately said, 'That's great! In fact, you fit the part even better! Only, it would be super if you were blonde!'" Truus' hair bleached perfectly, and she started work at once with a new optimism - she was still Truus but no longer Truusje.

G'schichten... was a musical with tunes by Johann Strauss (though Truus didn't sing in it). Musicals were extremely popular, and Viennese operettas could always find an enthusiastic German audience. The Nazi government didn�t encourage the production of propaganda movies - they knew that the public would best be reassured by comfy subjects.

Dutch journalists were delighted to see Truus working again, and were very impressed by her new, mature look. "Truus van Aalten returns!" one magazine announced when Truus visited Amsterdam. "She's back, sitting on the terrace of the Caf� American. Unpretentious as always, not at all the great Film Star, but otherwise she seems completely different. Her new hairstyle is Truus� pride. It symbolises a point she's reached in her career, changing "Truusje" into this blonde lady sitting here on the terrace. Who would have believed that she could successfully break away from the character so many producers and directors have demanded she play? In Hollywood, Berlin or anywhere else, actors have to accept the roles they're given - teenage girls have to remain teenagers until they reach their grandmother's age, the 'young couple' have to stay exactly that, well after their fortieth divorce. But Truus wasn't going to stay the same for the rest of her life. It seems that this young lady is a lot more serious than the light-hearted girl we thought we knew..."

Truus worked for Mondial again, then took a holiday in the Veluwe national park near her birthplace, Arnhem. Life was looking up.


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Back in Germany, President Hindenburg died on August 2nd 1934. People were astounded when the cabinet announced that all Presidential powers had been inherited by Adolf Hitler, which also put the Nazi leader in control of the Army, Navy and Air Force. A more sinister body was gaining power, too - Hitler had dumped his bully-boy SA army for a much more sophisticated secret police force - the SS.

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Truus was in Amsterdam, starring in her first-ever film in Dutch, Het meisje met den blauwen hoed ("The Girl In The Blue Hat�), based on Johan Fabricius� 1927 novel. Holland�s film industry was now thriving - the rise of the talkie had increased local demand for Dutch films. Many German technicians now lived in the Netherlands, often arousing resentment among the local workforce, who struggled to compete.

Het meisje... did well in the Netherlands - cinemagoers were delighted to see Truus in a local film at last, and responded to her obvious skill and experience in a not-very sympathetic role. The only fly in the ointment was that Dutch films had no export value - Truus knew that nobody outside the country would see it. "I'm delighted to work at home in Holland, but it really upsets me that Dutch films tend not to be distributed internationally," she told a reporter. "Fans from around the world write to me, and I count many of them as dear friends, but now my main contact with them is interrupted".

In Germany, even movie idols weren�t safe from the Nazis - Lien Deyers was now a huge star, so popular she'd been offered a contract with Paramount's studio in Paris. Now, suddenly, she and her husband Alfred Zieisler left for England. It was true that Zeisler had landed the plum job of directing a Cary Grant film, but only they knew that the move was permanent. Zeisler was a Lutheran, and had little to fear from the Nazis on that score, but Lien was terrified that her family tree would be investigated: her father, a hotel owner in the Hague, was half Jewish. They never returned.

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Germany's film industry now had few places for actresses not prepared to play adoring girlfriends or dutiful, fruitful mothers, and even fewer for foreign girls. 1938 brought Truus no work at all, but one of her wishes came true when she discovered that she was pregnant. The idea of being an unmarried mother was frightening, but Truus was delighted, and determined to have the child. Her hopes were dashed when the baby - a little girl - died at birth. Truus was absolutely devastated. "I was completely depressed," she remembered later. "Some Jewish friends of mine, the owners of the Staar cinema in Berlin, invited me to stay with them for a while to have a rest." Old pals Fritz and Eva Staar did their best to help Truus, but her depression wasn't helped by the fact that she had nothing else to think about. Then, a huge surprise: "While I was there I had an offer to do a film called Ein ganzer Kerl. I didn't want to do it, but I thought it might help..."

Ein ganzer Kerl ("A Good Fellow") was a typical film of the Nazi era. Heidemarie Hatheyer played the lead, Jule, a strong, self willed woman who refuses to be ruled by the men in her life. By the end of the movie she has realized her wrong-headedness, swapped her riding pants for a pretty dress and become the housewife she was destined to be. Truus played a character called Anni, a widow, and brought vivacity and humour to the part.

The Netherlands had stayed neutral during recent wars. Her people were determined not to take part in the sort of carnage caused during the 1914-18 conflict. Holland and Germany had always enjoyed close political friendship - while the Dutch had stayed out of the Great War, they had tended to quietly support the German cause. They'd never seen the rise of the Nazis as a threat, and Hitler had guaranteed Holland's neutrality. The Dutch armed forces were nowhere near as well equipped nor trained as their German counterparts. Now, positioned between Germany and Britain, it was becoming pretty plain that Hitler might well invade Holland. Defensive plans were quickly updated, but nobody really thought that German forces could be held back if they wanted to cross the border.

Ein ganzer Kerl had its premiere at Berlin's grand Tauentzien-Palast cinema on January 11, 1940. Truus attended as one of the stars, but it was the last time she would ever do so. She didn�t know it, but her film career was now over. She was just 29 years old.


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On the 10th of May 1940, listening to German radio news, Truus learned that attacks had begun on Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium. Soon after, cinema newsreels showed Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe forces attacking her homeland. German people in general weren�t terribly happy about their country�s aggression. Dutch nationals living there were horrified and astounded - more so when soon after, the Germans unleashed a fierce bombing attack on Rotterdam. Four days later the Dutch government surrendered. Queen Wilhelmina and her family fled to England, where she hoped to lead a government-in-exile.

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Desperate to escape the madhouse that Germany had become, Truus was horrified to find that she was not allowed to go home (her pleas for a visa were to be ignored for six harrowing months). Her fears increased when the radio announced that Dutch civilians living in Germany would be punished if any harm came to the troops currently invading the Netherlands. Days later, cinema newsreels showed the Wehrmacht racing into Holland, destroying any opposition. "Thus do we deal death and destruction on our enemies!" the commentary ran.

August brought the first air-raids on Berlin, and the stress of late-night bombing frayed the nerves of everyone in the city. It wasn't until September of 1940 that Truus was permitted to return to a Holland under German occupation. Only now did she really learn how the country had suffered during the invasion. Blitzkrieg had swept Dutch forces aside - the Germans had parachuted into key areas while troop convoys moved at huge speed down Dutch roads. Anyone who'd opposed them was shot.

The Netherlands� own Nazi party (which had enjoyed minor success during the Depression) had become the only legal political party during the occupation. The government was headed by the loathsome Reichkommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart, a strong supporter of Hitler�s concepts of racial purity. Now ordinary citizens' lives were placed under intense scrutiny by the authorities, and most people lived in fear of informers, sympathizers and sneaks. Nobody knew who would win the war - nobody could plan anything, and Truus soon found that the Dutch film industry (so buoyant when she'd made Het meisje...) was practically in mothballs.

The new government set up a Dutch Kulturkammer, a copy of Berlin's office for the supervision of culture and art. Now every aspect of creativity was monitored to ensure it complied with Nazi values, and all writers, artists and actors had to join - or face unemployment and exclusion. Truus made a decision: to hell with them - she just wasn't going to play that game, whatever the consequences. As time passed, a new temptation arose - she found herself being offered film work, to appear in Dutch films controlled and censored by the government. She refused, seeing that they only wanted to use her for propaganda. As she turned the repeated requests down, she knew she was destroying any hope of rekindling her movie career.

The government tightened its grip. The Dutch army was disbanded, and for anyone caught attempting sabotage, punishment was fast and vicious. As identity and ration cards were issued, curfews established and radios confiscated, a strong movement dedicated to resistance started to form. There wasn't much its members could do beyond spying on their new masters, and they were hamstrung by the fact that most Dutch people generally wanted to avoid any confrontation with their new masters.


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As the war progressed, Dutch people found themselves being treated increasingly badly. Reports appeared in underground newspapers like Vrij Nederland and Het Parool about terrible places somewhere in Poland, where prisoners were sent but never came back. The entire Jewish community in Arnhem, Truus' birthplace, was rounded up and - as people learned later - exterminated.

On June 6th 1944, word spread that British and American troops were landing in Normandy. The Allies worked their way slowly up the country, and that September they fought - and lost - a huge battle at the bridge over the Rhein at Arnhem, where Truus had been born.

That same month, the last deportation train left the Netherlands for Auschwitz. On board were more than 1,000 men, women and children, amongst them a family of German Jews who'd been caught hiding in a house in Amsterdam - Anne Frank, her sister and parents.

The winter of 1944 brought frightful weather, an added misery to a population weakened and demoralized by the Occupation. The exiled Queen Wilhelmina asked the population to support a railway strike to disrupt German war traffic, at which point Prime Minister Seyss-Inquart, furious, stopped movement of food, electricity and fuel from the eastern Netherlands to the cities of the West. People named that time the hongerwinter or Hunger Winter. Householders burned their furniture, doors and belongings for heat. Droves of starving people took to the roads, walking for miles to search for food. An estimated 30,000 people died of cold and starvation.

The Allies advanced slowly. Arnhem was liberated on April 14th, 1945. On May 1st, Berlin announced that the F�hrer was dead. Four days later the Germans in Holland surrendered to the Allies.


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This war, like all wars, left more than physical devastation after it. People were displaced, people were missing, people hid. Wills and land deeds had been destroyed, jobs were gone, lives were ruined. Dutch people tried to recreate the old days, and failed. Desperate families sought relatives who'd been taken away and never came back. Old hatreds ran wild - Nazi collaborators were judged by vigilante courts and punished.

Germany was in utter disarray - every aspect of government and life in general had to be re-thought. Worst of all was the growing international knowledge of the Nazi genocide programmes - figures gathered over months revealed that 6,000,000 Jewish people had been murdered, along with nearly as many Poles, disabled people, Gipsies, Jehovah�s Witnesses, homosexuals and anyone else the Nazis hadn�t liked.

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For Truus van Aalten, the movie industry as she�d known it was dead. Berlin was divided, surrounded by the Soviets and kept in essential supplies only by the Allied Airlift. Ufa was gone, as were many of the people with whom she�d worked - her Selige Exzellenz director, William Thiele was in Hollywood, as was Eine Liebesnacht director Joe May, Max Mack (dynamic helmer of her 1930 film Nur Am Rhein) was in Britain, Meisje met den blauwen Hoed director Rudolf Meinert had just died in London, Sechs M�dchen... director Hans Behrendt had (along with many others) disappeared into Auschwitz. Worse than that, it was in the Allies� interest to squash German film-making, mainly to guarantee a market for their own movies.

Before the war, the Netherlands had had two film studios - Filmstad ("Film City") in the Hague and Cinetone in Amsterdam. The Nazis had seized the Filmstad lot to use it as a V2 rocket base, and now it was a bombed-out ruin. Cinetone still stood, but wouldn't re-open until 1948 - and besides, there were no films to make.

As Truus tried to find acting work in Holland, she ran into another difficulty: her fame now worked against her. Everyone knew she'd lived in Berlin through the Nazis' rise, that she'd worked under their rule... The fact that she'd appeared in just two German movies between 1933 and '39 was ignored - Truus met with a frustrating cold indifference which masked suspicion and distrust.

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Having moved into a comfortable building on Amsterdam's Cliostraat, Truus weighed up her options. Film-making in Europe was a dead duck. What was to stop her trying her luck in Hollywood?

During 1946 she spent as much money as she could afford on a trip to America. She spoke enough English to be understood, and was able to contact as many film-people from the old days as she could find. Comedian Felix Bressart (Germany�s favourite actor in 1933) was now in Los Angeles, as were her Kopf�ber ins Gl�ck co-star Sz�eke Szakall, Adolf Licho, who'd been in Die Selige Exzellenz, and many others she'd known. After an exhausting and fruitless four weeks she returned to the Netherlands, but made the long trip several more times the following year.

The British film industry was in comparatively good shape, with several studios producing feature films (including Ealing Studios near London, which specialized in comedies). Truus gritted her teeth and crossed the Channel, hoping to impress the British movie people. She'd had an English-language publicity leaflet printed, but she deserved better than its sad-looking photographs and filmography full of spelling mistakes. In London's depressed post-war atmosphere, nobody was interested in an unknown foreign actress. She travelled to England at least four more times during 1947 before admitting defeat.

Truus was still trying to find work in Germany's film industry in 1949, but she never acted again.

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Life after the war wasn't easy for Truus. She'd spent nearly twenty years in another country and had had to leave her whole life behind - by now, she even preferred to express herself in German than in Dutch. She'd spent her growing-up years in a whirl of movie sets and surface glamour, of lines to learn and marks to hit, of being asked for her autograph, of praise and flattery in an industry where looking good was more important than being good, where reality was only welcome if it brought cash to make the next movie. Truus had a lot of growing up to do. It was lonely, and it wasn't much fun.

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By 1952, aged just 42, Truus embarked on a new life. She was in a relationship now, and it was time to put the old days behind her. She and her boyfriend, an architect, decided to move to Voorhout, a country village in the western Netherlands. They found a new housing estate, the Kievitspark, still being built, a quiet place with a small river running behind it. They put money down for a house - but by the time local people realized that their new neighbour was the actress from Het meisje met den blauwe hoed, Truus was on her own again.

Two years later she was well-established and popular in Voorhout, and had set up a wholesale business importing and exporting Dutch souvenirs and promotional items, Handelsonderneming T. van Aalten. She ran the company from home, storing her goods in a garage opposite her house - fireplaces all over the Kievitspark were soon merrily burning packing cases from the distant Far East.

Truus was an attractive single woman, but living in the countryside made it difficult to meet eligible men, and she was lonely. Handsome Gerard Zoet, working as a milkman in the Kievitspark area, caught her eye, but he turned out to be married. Gerard realized that Truus' invitations to come in for a coffee could end in trouble, so he took to making Truus' weekly cream deliveries with his young son, Nico, as a chaperone. All three would sit in Truus' living room, Nico unaware of the sexual tension in the air as he drank his lemonade.

Truus was a good businesswoman, and Handelsonderneming T. van Aalten did very well, selling porcelain, enamel, dolls, silver items and even Dutch traditional costumes for children. She hired a friendly young man named Henricus (Henk) Godwaldt, formerly a florist in The Hague, to work as her trade rep and delivery driver.

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In 1963 a married couple, Janny and Koos, moved into the house next door and struck up a friendship with Truus. Janny was intrigued to discover that her neighbour had been a movie star (the people of Voorhout had nicknamed her "The Dutch Shirley Temple"), but Truus repeatedly told her that she had no desire to appear in public again. Janny could see that time and experience had changed Truus a little - people who remembered the giggly Backfisch of a quarter-century before might not have recognised the older, more serious-minded woman they met now, though Truus had certainly kept her good looks. Still, nothing could persuade her to pose for a camera.

It became obvious that Truus and Henk Godwaldt had started a relationship. Truus' petite and youthful appearance meant that the difference in their ages (he was six years younger) was hardly noticeable. One September day in 1964, Janny saw the couple walking happily back from the Town Hall, Truus holding a bouquet of flowers - they had been married in secret.

Film stardom was a long way behind Truus now, but she was still doing better (though she didn�t know it) than the �other� Dutch film star, cheeky blonde Lien Deyers. She and Alfred Zeisler had reached England, where he'd directed his Cary Grant picture. They�d moved on to Los Angeles where he'd found employment as a producer, but Lien - even with her history of stardom in Europe, and with such important friends as Marlene Dietrich to help her - couldn�t find a job there either. Having tried running a business selling novelties, she�d drifted into alcoholism and multiple divorces. Her life ruined, she spent time in custody for violent behaviour and she died, forgotten by all but her closest friends, in 1965.


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Janny and Koos got on well with Truus, but they were well aware that her temper was best avoided. They became particularly fond of Henk, who served Truus faithfully not only in his job as sales rep and driver, but also in the home, doing all the cooking and cleaning. Truus ran the business from an office they'd had built at the back of the house, and when off-duty, Henk could often be seen tending their garden or heading off for a workshop he'd rented some distance away, where he practiced his hobby: making copper items which he then enamelled.

In 1972, Dutch TV transmitted a four-part version of Het meisje met den blauwen hoed, an update of Truus� 1934 film. Watching Jenny Arean play Betsy must have been a strange experience for Truus, whose film career was now almost totally forgotten by the general public. As the years passed, textbooks on German film like the BFI's Companion to German Cinema, Curt Reiss' Das gab�s nur einmal and The German Cinema Book simply left her out.

Even her name seemed out of date - very few people called their daughters Geertruida these days.

Truus� friend from her first Ufa days, Olga Tschechowa, died during 1980. She�d led an amazing life, made all the more entertaining by her endlessly embellishing it. On her deathbed, she�d asked for a glass of champagne, declared that �Life is beautiful!� and expired.

As the years passed, Janny and Koos noticed that Truus was becoming increasingly bad-tempered and bossy. Her and Henk's daily arguments could be heard next door, yet nothing seemed to break their complete dependence on each other. Always careful with money, Truus now became downright stingy - she decided that her father's nursing home was too expensive and brought him to live with her (where he occasionally accepted a cigar from Koos over the hedge - a forbidden pleasure). To save on the rent for Henk's little workshop, she made him give it up and work from home. He rarely spoke to others about his frustrations, but as time passed he did occasionally snap, talking about Truus in public, pointing out her lack of education - she knew a lot about her stupid old movies, he said, but not much about anything else.

In 1982 Truus was contacted by Kathinka Dittrich, an expert in European culture with a deep interest in the history of Dutch and German cinema between the wars. Dittrich, who was planning a film festival which was to screen many of the most important films made in the two countries, managed to overcome Truus' initial chilliness and visited her at home. Experience had taught Truus to be cautious when talking about herself, but when she realized that Dittrich was sincerely interested in her career, she opened up, telling stories of her carefree life in the lost movie world of sinful Berlin, the glamour, the excitement.

Kathinka Dittrich could see that Truus enjoyed talking about her past. For years she'd put it behind her, partly because there had been nobody to tell about it (Henk had made it plain that he wasn't interested). She'd kept a large archive of her own memorabilia, but hardly anyone had ever asked to see it. She brought out her scrapbooks, so full of memories - stacks of photos and film magazines, press handouts, clippings, postcards, even her old Berlin address book, packed with the names of Germany's top stars and movie potentates. Kathinka Dittrich felt great sympathy for Truus, seeing her almost child-like enthusiasm, sensing her isolation: "She was certainly lonely," she says now. "She couldn't share her lost, golden past...".

As part of the film festival, Berlijn/Amsterdam 1920-40, Kathinka Dittrich had found a print of Truus' 1927 film Geheime Macht. Truus was pleased to hear about it, but refused to attend. She felt ambivalent about the past - Handelsonderneming T. van Aalten was successful (though she was tired of running it) - she didn't need "ex-movie star" publicity to fuel her life... yet she had to admit to a hunger for recognition, a real desire for her work in films to be remembered and recognized. She sounded out Kathinka Dittrich for her opinion on the possibility of a film retrospective, and possibly, after that, an autobiography...

During 1987 Kathinka Dittrich's book Achter het doek ("Behind The Screen�), was published. It contained her research into Dutch movie history of the 1920s and 30s, and helped bring Truus' name back to public knowledge.

Forty years after her career had been destroyed, Truus found that people were beginning to recognize her for what she�d been - a movie star who�d brought pleasure to millions. Still, she couldn't shrug off some bitterness at how her life had been changed by the Nazis, and how blandly uninterested in her the Dutch film industry had been when she'd come home.

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People started to avoid Truus and Henk's house. Truus had become more and more cantankerous, prone to getting into arguments for almost no reason, but she could swing back to being the friendly neighbour Janny and Koos knew. Visits from family and friends tailed off - even Truus' nephew and her two nieces hardly came to the Kievitspark any more. Janny smuggled the occasional forbidden drink over the hedge to Henk and hoped things would improve, but she could see that Truus was having problems dealing with the reality of her life.

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Frenzied knocking brought Janny to her door on the morning of November 24th, 1988. There stood Truus, now nearly 80, and in great distress. She and Henk had had an argument two hours earlier, and she'd gone upstairs to calm down. When she'd returned to the office she'd found Henk dead at the desk.

Should they have married each other at all? It was hard to say, but one thing was obvious to Truus: "I hadn't realized that I still loved him", she sadly told a friend.

After Henk's death, Truus tried to fill the emptiness of her life, but found depression impossible to throw off. Janny, trying to help as much as she could, saw that Truus was becoming disorientated. Handelsonderneming T. van Aalten was closed down in 1994 and local volunteers started bringing Truus her meals, though they were often confused when the old lady spoke to them in German.

While she absolutely refused to go to a nursing home, by June 1996 it was obvious that Truus could no longer look after herself. Her mind wandered, and she’d started to lose the use of her legs.

“Who’s the lady with the old photo over her bed?” carer Sandra Driebergen asked her co-workers at the Mariënhaven psychiatric home for the elderly in Warmond, a village near Voorhout. The woman was attractive and lively, but had dementia and seemed to live mainly in the past. She suffered great pain from her legs and had lost a lot of weight, but this, Sandra learned, was Truus van Aalten, former movie star. “It was incredible that she should end up there, old and lonely,” Sandra says now. “Truus lived in her memories, and her dementia sometimes prevented her speaking, but when she did talk to me, her stories always centred around her as a famous actress in Germany. I felt so sorry for her, but also great admiration.” Truus’ condition made it difficult to communicate with her, but Sandra developed a way to get through: “I treated her as a film star,” she says. “That made her come to life! She was a lovely, warm, lonely woman. I shall never forget her and I’m grateful that I could care for her in her last days.”

Occasionally autograph collectors would send an old movie postcard to Truus’ home address, but her brother's son, Frans, would reply, telling them that Truus was too ill to sign anything.

On the 27th of June 1999, Truus died, aged 88. She'd had no children with Henk, so Frans and Riny, her nephew and niece, were the ones who sent her friends a letter: "The curtain has fallen on the film star Truus van Aalten," it read. "Strengthened by the idea that death can be a liberation, we must inform you that after being cared for lovingly at the Mariënhaven home, our aunt Truus van Aalten has died. Her cremation ceremony was held privately. With every goodbye a memory is born".

Truus was cremated five days later at the Rhijnhof cemetery in Leiden. Frans and Riny tidied the house and disposed of Truus' belongings. Coping with the old lady in her final, confused years had been difficult, and Riny felt ambivalent about one thing she'd brought away from the Voorhout house - Truus' archive.

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During 2009 Riny reached a decision. The archive boxes, after a decade unopened in her attic, were retrieved and donated to the Dutch Film Museum in Amsterdam. When Keeper of the Records Piet Dirkx opened them, he found a treasure trove of Truus' life in the movies: stacks of letters, of photographs, of magazine cuttings. Here was a handbill advertising a public appearance by "the charming, uninhibited, wild young Truus van Aalten" - here a box with her collection of ribbons - here a publicity cutout of her in caricature, wearing the famous Blue Hat - and here, amazingly, was the advertisement from De Rolprent that had started it all.

She is remembered fondly.

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