What was in the envelope that the wealthy Haastrecht mayor Paulina Bisdom van Vliet (1840-1923) had placed in a safe with a notary shortly before her death? The taped, tied and five-fold sealed envelope should not be opened until a hundred years after her death, she determined. Did it say anything about an illegitimate child, about amounts of money that could be distributed? Or was there gold somewhere in the garden?
None of that was evident this afternoon when the content was announced. The envelope contained a diary of hers from the year 1882. These are her personal thoughts and feelings, especially those about her husband Johan Le Fèvre de Montigny who died in September 1881. 1882 was therefore the most difficult year of her life, wrote the mayor’s wife.
The contents of the envelope were announced amid great interest:
“For us this is of great historical significance,” says chairman Ancora Dupain of the Diocese of Vliet Foundation. “It cannot be expressed in money. Paulina gives us a glimpse into her personal life. She actually preferred to die, but she finds comfort in nature and her trust in God.”
The contents of the diary will not be made public. “The sorrow it expresses must be respected,” says Dupain. “We don’t do that by letting others read it.”
An exception is made for a few pages. These were placed on panels in her former home. It is now a museum, as Paulina decided after her husband’s early death. It is still furnished exactly as it was when she still lived there.
- After 100 years of guessing, Haastrecht’s secret is revealed today