The Netherlands / Museum
Jacques (Jac) Maris is known for the many memorials and monuments he designed, but what many people do not know is that he was also an active resistance fighter during WWII.
Jac Maris was born in 1900 in Magdeburg, Germany. After having lived in Kleve (Cleves) for a while, his family settled in Nijmegen in 1917. From there, Jac Maris travelled around for a number of years before settling in Heumen in 1926, in the same house where the museum is located today.
Though numerous rumours and accusations circulated during and after the war alleging that Maris collaborated with the occupying forces, the opposite was actually true. Under the pseudonym Wendel, he was the leader of a regional resistance group in Heumen and a member of the Dutch national resistance movement aimed at helping people who were hiding from the Germans. Together with his wife Wilhelmina Elisabeth Vermeer, he hid people in his house and helped others to find places to hide. He also spread anti-German propaganda and, like many artists during the war, forged receipts and stamps. He played a key role in the liberation too. He drew German military installations and helped the Allies liberate the villages around Heumen; for this he later received a personal letter of gratitude from General James Gavin.
After the war, Maris designed various war memorials and monuments in the Nijmegen area. His works include the war memorial on Plein 1944, the memorial stone for Jan van Hoof on the Waal bridge in Nijmegen, and the Airborne Memorial in Oosterbeek.
The Jac Maris Studio Museum in Heumen, one of the few remaining studio museums in the Netherlands, houses hundreds of sculptures and other artworks by the artist. The museum organises several temporary exhibitions each year, highlighting certain aspects of Maris’ life and his significance to the region.