Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Biography of Frits Eisenloeffel

Journalist and photographer Frits Eisenloeffel (1944 - 2001) studied International Relations at the Political and Social Science Faculty of the University of Amsterdam where he graduated in 1974 on a subject on "Critical Peace and Conflict Studies".  After an educational trip to the Egypt of Nasser in 1965 he became interested in liberation movements in Latin-America and the struggles for independence in Africa. He published articles about this subject from time to time in the weekend section of the newspaper Het Algemeen Handelsblad

In his student days he had met with a group of radical Portuguese deserters and conscientious objectors in Paris who opposed the colonial wars in which their government was entangled. He organized hiding addresses for deserters and smuggled illegal publications for them. By writing about his involvement he became active as a Freelance journalist. He made TV-documentaries, wrote and translated articles about the liberation struggles in the Third World and made photos. 

Gradually he professionalized as an independent photographer. Eisenloeffel felt politically involved in his subject: radical movements who stood up for autonomy and against oppression and the dominance of the Western World. He supported the armed struggle if he deemed it necessary in the interest of a just cause.  He appraised the radical approach of the young African Republics. For him the combination of journalism and engagement was not a taboo.  Yet he never joined any party or action committee of any sort and tried to steer his own course in the left-wing movement.

His work comprises three main areas: Africa and the Portuguese ex-colonies, Portugal after the Carnation Revolution, and, in the last phase of his working life, the struggle for independence in Eritrea.  While documenting the refugee crises in the Sudan/Eritrea border area in February 1986, he became so weakened by exhaustion and dehydration that he suffered an apoplexy which made him an invalid. The last years of his life he spent recuperating and tacking stock of his extensive journalistic inheritance. He died of a second stroke in 2001.

This page is part of a online exhibition of a selection of photos of Eisenloeffel. Click here for an overview of his photojournalistic travels in Africa.