Bonger, Willem Adriaan

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Bonger, Willem Adriaan Gender: M
born on 16 September 1876 at 14:30 (= 2:30 PM )
Place Amsterdam, Netherlands, 52n22, 4e54
Timezone LST m4e53 (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Gauquelin
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_vircol.18.gif 24°01' s_mo.18.gif s_vircol.18.gif 06°33 Asc.s_sagcol.18.gif 29°12'


Dutch jurist, sociologist, statistician, criminologist and eminent Marxist scholar.

Bonger was the youngest of child of Hendrik Christiaan Bonger (5 June 1828, Haarlem - 1904), insurances seller and Hermine Louise Weissman (19 February 1831, Amsterdam - 18 June 1905). They married 5 July 1855 in Amsterdam and got four girls and six boys. His brother André and sister Jo became intimately acquainted with the Van Gogh brothers.

After finishing the the Barlaeus Gymnasium in Amsterdam, he studied Law at the UvA (Sept 1895). He became member of the dispute CLIO, where he met many socialistic intellectuals. He published about social affairs in Propria Cures. He became a member of the socialistic SDAP Party in 1887. In 1900 he published about the relation between criminality and economical circumstances. He got some honours for it, but not the first price. He dissertated at age 29 with a 750 pages book under professor G.A. van Hamel: "Criminalité et conditions économiques" (3 March 1905 4 PM, A'dam) in which he pleaded for "la sociologie criminelle", sociology dedicated to criminality. It became his main work (compare to "Das Kapital").

As an advocate of Marxist historical materialism Bonger was opposed to biological positivism of Cesare Lombroso as the explanation of criminology. Socio-economic factors could better explain the aetiology of crime. He was the first to apply Marxian concepts to explore the aetiology of crime as a manifestation of capitalism. Poverty alone could not explain crime. Survival in primitive societies required selfless altruism and community sense. But pressure for survival in unequal Capitalistic societies, where the poor had as a sense of alienation, lived in miserable conditions and had to compete with each other was a soil for criminality.

Between 1916 and 1938 he was an editor of the "De Socialistische Gids" and got influenced on the SDAP workers party. He opposed to dogmatism and pleaded for step by step reformation, to prevent the destabilisation of society.

In 1913 he published the study "Geloof en misdaad" (Belief and criminality) in which he debunked the by Christians popular idea the criminality was caused by secularisation.

In 1922 he was elected as the first professor of Criminology at the UVA. His inaugural speech dealt with: "Over de evolutie der moraliteit" (About the eveolution of morality). He was convinced that a minimal amount of social justice and economic equality were needed to guarantee stable societies.

In 1934 he published "Problemen der democratie" in which he dealt with the then very actual problem that anti-democratic movements (fascists, communists) could be democratically elected to constitute their autocracies. At that time he was optimistic: Autocracies were doomed to fail in complex modern Industrial societies with their vulnerable production lines. At that time only 200 million of the 500 million European inhabitants lived in democracies, but that would change he optimistically believed.

After the Nazi's invaded the Netherlands, Bonger was faced with the sociological phenomenon of state terror, structural criminality of unimaginable magnitude that used violence, genocide and forced labour to impose its ways. He knew he would be on the death list and decided to terminate his life. During his last walk in nightly Amsterdam (14 May 1940) he met the Jewish writer Etty Hillesum, who asked him what to do: "Hello Professor Bonger, I thought a lot of you recently. Do you mind if I walk a little way with you (....) That afternoon there was just that flight race to England and I asked: Do you think it makes sense to flee or leave? And then he said: Youth is here to stay. And I asked: Do you believe that democracy will win? And he: it surely will win, but it will be at the expense of some generations.

Esther "Etty" Hillesum (15 January 1914, Middelburg – 30 November 1943, Auschwitz) described in letters and diaries her plain "sociological" descriptions of Jewish life in Amsterdam during the German occupation ( -1943).

Personal and family matters

His brother Andries "André" Bonger (20 May 1861 noon, Amsterdam – 20 January 1936, A'dam) became a friend of Theo van Gogh in 1882 and got in the insurance business like his father. But he also became a major avant garde art collector of the work of his friend Odilon Redon, Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne and Émile Bernard. The now famous collection "Bonger collection" is Dutch "Nationaal Cultuurbezit" that is not allowed to leave the country. Most works are in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

His sister, the teacher Johanna Gezina "Jo" Bonger (4 October 1862 2 AM, A'dam – 2 September 1925, A'dam) married Theodore van Gogh on 17 April 1889 in Amsterdam. They got a son Vincent Willem van Gogh (31 Jan 1890, Paris - 28 Jan 1978, Laren) who would become an engineer and organisation advisor. When Theo died 18 November 1891 Jo, and later Vincent Willem van Gogh inherited some 200 paintings of Vincent that were then of little value. But Jo worked hard to promote the Van Gogh's via exhibitions and the publishing and translation of of their letters in English. Her heritage is now part of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Some say Bob Dylan dedicated the song Visions of Johanna to Jo (Blonde On Blonde, 1966).

On 9 March 1905 Bonger married Maria Hendrika Adriana van Heteren (1876) and got two sons with her. They divorced 20 March 1908, but remarried 24 May 1922 again.

On 15 May 1940 Bonger and his wife committed suicide in Amsterdam. It was 5 days after the Dutch capitulation for Nazi Germany. In his last letter he wrote: "Ik zie voor mij geen toekomst meer, en ik kan niet bukken voor dat tuig, dat nu gaat heersen" (I see no future, and I cannot bend for that riff-raff that will rule now).

The multidisciplinary Bonger Instituut of the Law faculty of the University of Amsterdam is named after him.

Link to German Wikipedia


  • opponent/rival/enemy relationship with Lombroso, Cesare (born 6 November 1835). Notes: Sociological versus "born as" criminology.
  • other associate with Hillesum, Etty (born 15 January 1914). Notes: Both victims of the holocaust
  • has other family relationship with Van Gogh, Theo (1857) (born 1 May 1857). Notes: Brother-in-law via Johanna Gezina "Jo" Bonger
  • (has as) teacher relationship with Marx, Karl (born 5 May 1818). Notes: applied Marxian concepts to explore the etiology of crime
  • compare to chart of Ter Braak, Menno (born 26 January 1902). Notes: Death by suicide after the Dutch surrender for Nazi Germany


  • Relationship : Marriage 9 March 1905 (Maria Hendrika Adriana van Heteren)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Divorce dates 20 March 1908 (Maria Hendrika Adriana van Heteren)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Marriage 24 May 1922 in Amsterdam (Remarried Maria Hendrika Adriana van Heteren)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death of Sibling 2 September 1925 in Amsterdam (Johanna Gezina "Jo" Van Gogh-Bonger)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death of Sibling 20 January 1936 in Amsterdam (Andries "André" Bonger , avant garde art collector)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Health : Violent trauma 10 May 1940 in Den Haag (Dutch capitulation for Nazi Germany: He felt he would be on the Nazi Death list)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death by Suicide 15 May 1940 in Amsterdam (together with his wife after the Dutch capitulation for Nazi Germany.)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Gauquelin Series A Vol 6 #1949 14h30 16-9-1876 Amsterdam

Willem Adriaan Bonger

1st Marxist theory of crime - Willem Adriaan Bonger (1905)


  • Family : Childhood : Order of birth (10th of 10)
  • Personal : Religion/Spirituality : Atheist (Marxist)
  • Personal : Death : Suicide
  • Personal : Death : Suicide Attempt (died)
  • Vocation : Humanities+Social Sciences : Sociologist
  • Vocation : Law : Jurist (jurist, criminologist)
  • Vocation : Writers : Magazine/ newsletter
  • Notable : Famous : First in Field (First Dutch Professor of criminology)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession (Professor of criminology)