Theo van Gogh (director)

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Theo van Gogh, 2004

Theodoor "Theo" van Gogh (born  July 23, 1957 in The Hague ; †  November 2, 2004 in Amsterdam ) was a Dutch film director , publicist and satirist . He was murdered on November 2, 2004 by the Islamic fundamentalist Mohammed Bouyeri . The director was a great-grandson of Theo van Gogh , Vincent van Gogh's brother .

Van Gogh had initially studied law, but after dropping out, decided to become a director. He also worked for radio and television and wrote provocative columns . Van Gogh was a member of the political movement " Republikeins Genootschap " (German Republican Cooperative ).

Van Gogh as a public person

Demonstration on De Dam in Amsterdam after the murder

Van Gogh has long been considered an enfant terrible in the Netherlands . He repeatedly aroused controversy in the media with provocative, even cynical remarks and ridicule. He criticized the multicultural society, which represents an attack on the “norms and values ​​of Western society” and defends “aggressive and backward Islam”. He referred to Muslims more often as geitenneukers (German: goat fuckers ). Van Gogh accused the writer Leon de Winter of “marketing his Judaism” and provoked him and his wife in this context with sexual indecentities. He also described the social democratic politician Job Cohen , who came from a Jewish family, as one of “Allah's butchers” who “as a Jew is responsible for the dirty work” because of his intercultural efforts to reach understanding. On the other hand, he demanded liberality and freedom, distinguished himself as an interviewer and director through sensitivity and patience in dealing with interlocutors and actors. The press also described him as a loving family man.

In 1984, tasteless jokes and the cartoon “two yellow stars copulating in the gas chamber” brought him a lawsuit for anti-Semitism ; in the appeal hearing he was acquitted. Van Gogh by no means limited himself to Jewish or Islamic topics; he also attacked Christian values ​​and symbols.

He made one of his last films, Submission , in collaboration with the Islamic critic and former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali . The film is about four Muslim women who talk about their experiences of abuse. You can see the veiled faces of the narrators and their transparently clad bodies, described with five suras from the Koran, which call the woman to submission to her husband, and marked by blows and welts from lashes. The television broadcast on August 29, 2004 caused violent reactions among Muslims, whereupon Hirsi Ali was temporarily placed under police protection because of multiple death threats , but Van Gogh was not.

Van Gogh as a director

The cry of Jeroen Henneman - memorial for Theo van Gogh and freedom of expression

Van Gogh's debut was in 1981 with the release of the film Luger . He received the Dutch film award Gouden Kalf (Golden Calf) for his films Blind Date (1996) and In het belang van de state (1997, German “Out of State” ). His film Submission caused controversial discussions in the summer of 2004 after it was broadcast on television. Until his death he worked on a film about the murder of the politician Pim Fortuyn (working title 06/05 ) and on a film about Moroccan youths (working title Cool ). As an actor he could be seen in De Noorderlingen (1992, Eng. “The People from the North”).

Van Gogh was a typical “action director”. The quality of his films was primarily based on the story and the performance of his actors. Most of his productions were low-budget productions and in six cases (out of a total of 19 completed films) were also self-financed. While he often took extreme standpoints in his columns and debates and acted aggressively, he was - according to statements from his staff - a calm and friendly director on the film set. Van Gogh claimed that this attitude was calculated because he has observed that actors work better when they are treated nicely.

In the 1980s, Van Gogh switched to restrained literary adaptations. From the 1990s on, he seemed to specialize in exciting relationship films. Authors such as Theodor Holman , Justus van Oel and Tomas Ross provided him with the templates.

After the success of 06 and Blind Date , film producers were more inclined to pour money into their productions.

Van Gogh in the theater

The stage version of van Gogh's The interview was premiered on May 28, 2003 at the TUSCHINSKI Theater in Amsterdam; the German version was premiered on February 17, 2006 in the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm .


Place where van Gogh was murdered
Linnaeusstraat 22: Ten years after the murder, the bullet holes are still visible on the bike path. Image November 2nd, 2014

Van Gogh received death threats after broadcasting the film Submission on the oppression of women by Islam . He was murdered on November 2, 2004 at around 8:45 a.m. in Amsterdam's Linnaeusstraat.

Van Gogh was on his bike to the film studio to approve his feature film 06/05 (about the partly fictional background to the murder of the politician Pim Fortuyn on May 6, 2002), when, according to eyewitness reports, he was overtaken by a man on a bike, who immediately started shooting at him. Van Gogh tried to flee across the street, but was continued to be shot at by the same man. When Van Gogh was already on the ground, the assassin cut his throat and stabbed a five-page letter of confession on his body with two knife stabs, which also contained a death threat to Ayaan Hirsi Ali . After the crime, the perpetrator fled towards Oosterpark, where he was arrested by the police injured after an exchange of fire.

The assassin Mohammed Bouyeri , who was born and raised in the Netherlands, is a Moroccan and Dutch citizen . Both the letter of confession left on the victim and a suicide note that the assassin carried with him indicated that the perpetrator acted out of a radical Islamist motivation. According to reports from the Ministry of Justice, the perpetrator was already known to the Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (AIVD) , the Dutch secret service, in connection with an investigation into Samir A. He was arrested in the middle of the year for preparing terrorist attacks.

After the murder of Theo van Gogh, there were arson attacks on Islamic and Christian institutions in the Netherlands. These unrest sparked a broad discussion about the coexistence between Europeans and Muslim immigrants, both in the Netherlands and in other European countries. According to his family, Van Gogh's son was victim of multiple attacks by Muslim youth.

Bouyeri told the judge at the trial against the Hofstad group, of which he was a member, in 2006 that he considered the act to be justified in the fight against the "infidels". He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2005. Even with good leadership, he cannot be released earlier.

Reflection in Pop Culture

The Dutch pop band Nits treats the murder of van Gogh in a song trilogy in their album Les Nuits, which was released at the end of 2005 .

In his partial biographical novel A Good Heart (VSV) , published in 2012, Leon de Winter processes his experiences with Theo van Gogh, turns the murdered person into a guardian angel and lets his murderer lecture on the duty to murder blasphemers and the existence of jinn .



  • Luger , 1982
  • Een dagje naar het strand , 1984
  • Charley , 1986
  • Terug naar Oegstgeest , 1987
  • Loos , 1989
  • Vals light , 1993
  • Ilse verandert de geschiedenis , 1993
  • 06 , 1994
  • Reunie , 1994
  • Eva , 1994
  • Een galerij: De wanhoop van de sirene , 1994
  • De Eenzame Oorlog Van Koos Tak , 1995
  • Blind Date , 1996
  • Hoe ik mijn moeder vermoordde , 1996
  • In het belang van de state , 1997
  • Au , 1997
  • De Pijnbank , 1998
  • De Kampioen , 1999
  • Baby Blue , 2001
  • De Nacht van Aalbers , 2001
  • Najib en Julia , 2002
  • The interview ( interview ), 2003
  • Zien , 2004
  • Submission , 2004
  • Cool , 2004
  • The sixth of May ( 06/05 ), December 2004




  • Julia Dolfen: Globalized violence: how the fear of terror changed Germany and the Netherlands (= scientific articles from Tectum-Verlag , series: Political Science , Volume 11). Tectum, Marburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8288-9547-8 .
  • Ian Buruma : The Limits of Tolerance. The murder of Theo van Gogh . Translation Wiebke Meier, Hanser, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-446-20836-0 . (Original title: Murder in Amsterdam. The death of Theo van Gogh and the limits of tolerance. London 2006.)
  • Wiebke Scharathow: Discourse, power, foreignness: social polarization tendencies and the media construction of "foreignness"; the Dutch debate after the murder of Theo van Gogh . BIS-Verlag of the Carl-von-Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8142-2094-9 .
  • Katharina Berstermann: “Submission” ( Ayaan Hirsi Ali , Theo van Gogh) - theory or reality? Experiences from German women's shelters , Hildesheim 2007, OCLC 551814662 (Bachelor thesis University of Hildesheim , Faculty 3 - Language and Information Sciences, 2007, 70 pages, supervisor: Francis Jarman).
  • Geert Mak : The murder of Theo van Gogh. Story of a moral panic . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-518-12463-3
  • Carolin Ködel: Anti-integrative integration discourses in the German press using the example of the debate about the murder of Theo van Gogh. In: Siegfried Jäger, Dirk Halm (Hrsg.): Medial barriers. Racism as an obstacle to integration (= Duisburg Institute for Language and Social Research: Edition DISS, Volume 13), Unrast, Münster 2007, ISBN 978-3-89771-742-8 .

Web links

Commons : Theo van Gogh  - Collection of images, videos and audio files



Individual evidence

  1. ^ Internet Movie Data Base on Theo van Gogh
  2. The woman behind ... Theo van Gogh. In: Der Tagesspiegel from November 22, 2004
  3. The interview ,
  4. jk: Van Gogh murderer considers assassination a weapon in the religious war. In: . February 2, 2006, accessed October 7, 2018 .
  5. ^ "Life for van Gogh killer fails to ease Dutch fears" . The Telegraph , July 27, 2005. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  6. Review by Reinhard Mohr: Amsterdams Nightmare Documentary on Van Gogh Assassination , Spiegel , June 12, 2007
  7. Review