“I was always that little boy who had to put in something extra to be accepted.”
Gerard Hendrik Hofstede was born on the 2nd of October 1928 in Haarlem.
Gerrit Hofstede and Eefje Veenhoven married in 1920, when she was 23 and he was 36. She worked as medical analyst and he was professor at the Technical University in Delft. He went on to become Inspector General of Vocational Education at the Department of Education in The Hague.
The relationship between my parents was cool. I never saw any intimacy, but also no fighting. They did respect each other. And we never spoke about sex!
Baby Geert with his mother: I received my technical talent from my mother; if anything needed repairing in the home, she was the one to do it. She was a religious woman and a board member of the Protestant Union for a long time.
Geert with his father: He was not a person who played with us. From him I inherited my feeling for languages. He was a law-abiding citizen, he tried to be an honest civil servant until the middle of the 2nd World War, when he discovered he just couldn’t do it anymore.
Geert’s sister, Geert, his mother and big brother Peter: I was the youngest and more or less on my own.
Geert with his big brother Peter in the sandbox.
Geert’s paternal grandparents. His grandfather Barend Peter Hofstede died 9 months before Geert was born. Geert feels a deep affinity with his grandfather’s educational work: If you want to believe in spirits that transfer, then maybe I have my grandfather’s.
Geert was highly intelligent, and jumped two classes in school, which was a challenge for him socially. Listen to Geert reflect on his childhood.
Geert felt alone in his own family that he describes as “intellectual” and “lacking intimacy”. But at age 6 he meets Aad Ledeboer, who became his lifelong friend. The Ledeboer’s become his second family. Geert credits his biological family for his intellectual development and the Ledeboer family for his emotional development.
Geert and Aad remained friend throughout their lives. “We have not changed!”, they told each other when meeting again at 85. “He is like my twin brother,” Aad described their relationship.
Together with Aad, Geert became a member of the scouts. He was fanatic about earning badges. One of the things we hade to promise was to always do our best, and I think I still have that in me, to always do my best. To me scouting meant a lot. I had to learn things which I wouldn’t otherwise have learned, mostly practical thing but also a social element.