It’s no small thing to be called the ‘Angel of Death’ during and after your life. This dubious honor is mostly reserved for war criminals and serial killers, Josef Mengele no doubt being the most famous of them all.
But a Dutch citizen who was neither war criminal nor serial killer is also outlived by her legacy as ‘Angel of Death’; I’m speaking of former D66 politician Els Borst (1932-2014). There’s a well-known Dutch proverb that says Over the doden niets dan goeds, which means as much as “Only say good things of those who are dead.” There probably are sayings that are violated more often than this one, but at the moment, I cannot for the life of me think of examples.
Case in point: this week, a protestant reverend by the name of Van Andel lashed out at Borst in a church journal, stating in no uncertain terms that it was no coincidence that Borst did not die a natural death. In February this year, Borst was found dead in her living room and even though the police investigations remain inconclusive, it seems evident that she was murdered. Van Andel took the opportunity in this tragedy to state that “She had to meet her Judge, whom she has offended deeply through her godless statements.” This of course proves that the Wrath of God is both terrifying and incredibly slow, possibly because Heavenly bureaucracy takes about two decades to approve of a “kill the heathen by seemingly non-divine methods” proposal. Also, wasn’t the Angel of Death from the Bible send by Yahweh to smite the enemies of His chosen people? That practically makes calling someone an ‘Angel of Death’ a compliment, coming from a religious person.
But let’s take a step back from these sad words and look at how Els became the controversial face of the D66 party. After an impressive career as a doctor, hospital director, and professor, Borst became Minister of Health in the Wim Kok cabinet, which lasted from 1994 until 1998. During this time, she earned praise for her dedication in making health care better. During the nineties, the Dutch were foreseeing problems with the rapidly aging population due to the extremely high birth rate shortly after World War II. At the same time, Borst also made a lot of enemies for her liberal points of view.
Borst most prominent political activities were in the legislation of euthanasia, perhaps the Dutchest of topics together with cheese, wooden shoes, and tulips. DutchReview gave a crash course in Dutch euthanasia last year for those who want to bypass going to wikipedia. A law known as the “Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act” was passed in 2001 and took effect in 2002. In what proved to be perhaps the most controversial thing she ever uttered, Els Borst responded to the passing of this law by stating “Het is volbracht“, the Dutch translation of Jesus’ final words on the Cross: “It is done.” Borst, who was already a rather unpopular figure in religious circles (biggest understatement in the history of DutchReview?) was now pretty much Satan incarnate to a lot of people. It was in these times that her enemies started to openly refer to Els Borst as ‘The Angel of Death’.
Els Borst retired from politics in 2002 and held an impressive amount of positions in health care and received many honorary awards. On February 10, 2014, she was found dead in her home in Bilthoven. Though the investigations are still inconclusive, the police have confirmed that she died an unnatural death.