Monday 18 March 2024

Podcast series 'Jan van Leiden' listened to more than 133k times.

Podcast series 'Jan van Leiden' listened to more than 133k times.

The podcast series Jan van Leiden and the End of Times has now been listened to more than 133.000 times, leading the podcast charts on Spotify and Apple for several weeks. In the podcast, journalist and podcast creator Max Boogaard delves into the story of Jan van Leiden and the mechanisms of radicalization throughout the ages. Max was inspired by the opera J.S. Bach – The Apocalypse, currently being performed in Dutch theaters, which portrays the mechanisms that can lead to radicalization and polarization through the life story of Jan van Leiden. The podcast is available for free on your favorite podcast app.

The story of Jan van Leiden unfolds in Münster around the year 1530. Jan van Leiden - actor, pub owner, and tailor - becomes the leader of a movement proclaiming the apocalypse: they believed the end of the world was imminent. In the German city of Münster, he establishes a utopia in 1531 that quickly radicalizes into tyranny. The opera J.S. Bach – The Apocalypse follows Jan from his initial fervor, through his equally flamboyant and ruthless kingship, to his final confession in a death cell. The opera illustrates how people radicalize out of dissatisfaction with abuse of power and injustice around them, and how radicalization escalates and ends in violence. According to artistic director Serge van Veggel, this story needs to be brought to a wider audience, even beyond the walls of the theater:

"In the creation of this opera, we conducted extensive research into the themes of polarization, radicalization, and apocalyptic thinking. How do these mechanisms work, what drives someone who radicalizes, and how do we view this story in today's context? Open the newspaper, and you see these mechanisms recurring everywhere: whether it's about climate, migration, or politics. It was surprising how these mechanisms have remained unchanged for five hundred years. Every person is often unwittingly susceptible to them. The knowledge we gained helped us create the opera. But it also helped us as individuals in this time. And that's precisely why we want to share that knowledge more broadly outside the opera. With On the Record Media, we have produced a podcast series in which we, together with experts, delve deeper into these themes."


In the podcast "Jan van Leiden and the End of Times," journalist Max Boogaard takes listeners on a journey to explore the story of Jan van Leiden. In a narrative style reminiscent of a 'true crime' podcast, he investigates how Jan van Leiden's story serves as an example of universal radicalization processes and explores Jan's intentions. Did he believe he was doing the right thing? Boogaard delves deeper into the process of radicalization that Jan and his associates underwent. Additionally, it is a story about apocalyptic thinking: the Anabaptists believed that the end times were imminent. The podcast illustrates how the idea of the world ending is timeless and fuels radicalization.


The podcast features various experts. Historian and journalist Luc Panhuysen, terrorism professor Bob de Graaff, New Testament professor Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, and Tower Keeper Martje Thalmann from the St. Lambert's Church in Münster shed light on Jan van Leiden's story. Podcast creator Max Boogaard says, "The most remarkable moment was the conversation in the tower of St. Lambert's Church. The tower where the iron cages still hang, in which Jan van Leiden's body was displayed back then. The body remained in the cage until 1585 when it had decayed. The tower keeper still blows the peace horn over the city every evening. Everything fell into place there." The podcast also includes a discussion with Serge van Veggel about the creation of the opera, why he chose to make an opera about this particular story, and what he learned during his research on Jan.

All episodes now available.

All four episodes are now available on your favorite podcast app and are free to listen to.

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    One striking performance after the other

  • Theaterkrant
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