The History of the Jews in the Netherlands

BookThe History of the Jews in the Netherlands

The History of the Jews in the Netherlands

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


December 1st, 2001

Access Token


Other Formats



This history of the Jews of the Netherlands and the role they have played in Dutch society was originally published in Dutch and widely acclaimed for the breadth of its coverage. It covers both the internal evolution of the Jewish community and its social, cultural, and economic interaction with the wider population.

From the first Jewish settlements in the medieval duchies of Gelderland, Brabant, and Limburg to the Jewish community of today, the interaction between Dutch Jews and Dutch Christians has mostly been one of fruitful collaboration which only the period of German occupation from 1940 to 1945 was seriously able to disrupt. The contribution that Dutch Jews have made, and continue to make, to cultural life, to the economy, and to science is recognized as being of central importance to the Netherlands as a whole.

The ten eminent scholars contributing to this book each describe Jewish life in a particular period, from the Middle Ages to the present. In doing so they consider the strains caused within the Jewish community by the effort to play a full part in Dutch society while maintaining Jewish culture, setting the discussion in the context of trends and tensions within Dutch society in the period in question. The circumstances of the Jews under German occupation and in the immediate post-war period are also discussed.

The History of the Jews in the Netherlands is a definitive, indispensable work for the study of both European Jewish and Dutch history.
CONTRIBUTORS J. C. H. Blom, F. Chaya Brasz, Joel J. Cahen, Renate G. Fuks-Mansfeld, Jonathan I. Israel, Yosef Kaplan, Peter Romijn, Ivo Schöffer, B. M. J. Speet, Daniel M. Swetschinski

'Comprehensive... a useful introduction to the main social, political, economic, and communal issues shaping Dutch Jewish history.'
J. Haus, Choice
'The balanced judgements, the seamless transition between individual essays, and the exemplary translation make it a joy to read this book.'
Wim Klooster, H-Judaic
'A sweeping, comprehensive survey of Dutch Jewish history... warmly to be welcomed... the most authoritative survey of this field, filling a sorely felt gap in the pre-existing historiography... The interpretations offered here... are uniformly sound, and are supported by an admirably comprehensive conceptualization of this historical narrative within the wider framework of Dutch and European history. While rich in detail, all chapters of the book retain a lively readability. Of particular value are the detailed and judicious bibliographic essays that are provided for each essay... excellently illustrated... all scholars of Dutch Jewish history will find this volume an indispensable addition to their library.'
Adam Sutcliffe, Journal of Jewish Studies
'A very good compendium that will prove to be of lasting value to scholars and interested laymen. In a fine translation, this volume spans the entire history of Jews in the Netherlands from the Middle Ages to today. Its contributors have produced a work of considerable depth, detail, and scope: important trends and events affecting European Jewry elsewhere are incorporated in broad strokes but also in terms of specific consequences in the Netherlands... Such comparative strands add considerably to the book's value... ambitious and thorough... an always informative and often impressive tour de force.'
G. Jan Colijn, Shofar

'The History of the Jews in the Netherlands is a definitive, indispensable work for the study of both European Jewish and Dutch history.'
Israel Book Review

'Presents a clear picture of the longer-term developments without any sacrifice of living history. Much space is devoted to social and religious life, to culture and to the economy ... Particularly impressive ... does honour to its status as a general survey.'
Frank van Vree, De Volkskrant
'Thanks to its wealth of anecdotes and readable style, this general survey should appeal to a wide public interested in the history of the Jews in the Netherlands.'
Julika Vermolen, Het Parool

Author Information

Hans Blom is Emeritus Professor of Dutch History at the University of Amsterdam, and the former director of the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation. R. G. Fuks-Mansfeld is Emeritus Professor Extraordinary in the History and Culture of Modern Jewry at the University of Amsterdam. Her publications include 'De Sefardim in Amsterdam tot 1795: Aspecten van een Joodse Minderheid in een Hollandse Stad' (1989). I. Schöffer is Emeritus Professor of Dutch History at the University of Leiden. Previously he taught history at the University of Amsterdam, and from 1958 to 1961 was a fellow of the University of Western Australia. His publications include a number of studies of the history of Dutch Jewry, among them 'Veelvuldig Verleden: Seventien Studies in der Vaderlandse Geschiedenis' (1987).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
List of Illustrations12
Editorial Note17
List of Abbreviations18
1. The Middle Ages32
First Signs of a Jewish Presence32
The Northern Netherlands35
Violent Persecution37
Gelderland in the Fifteenth Century42
Discrimination and Expulsion45
The Christian Origins of Antisemitism49
Fresh Accusations54
In Search of an Explanation60
2. From the Middle Ages to the Golden Age, 1516–162163
Jews in the Holy Roman Empire63
The Iberian Background76
Portuguese New Christians in Antwerp79
The Attitude of Humanists and Reformers to Jews and Judaism82
The Toleration Debate and the Jews86
Portuguese New Christians in Holland91
Four Christian Views of Jews98
The Growth of the Sephardi Colony in Amsterdam104
The Future Still Uncertain108
3. The Republic of the United Netherlands until about 1750: Demography and Economic Activity112
The Early Decades (1595–1648)112
Expansion and Colonization116
The Burgeoning of Commerce and of the Credit System (1648–1713)126
Growing Population Figures During the Period of Economic Decline (1713–1750)147
4. The Jews in the Republic until about 1750: Religious, Cultural, and Social Life151
The Organization of the Community151
Three Congregations152
The Influx of Paupers155
The Power of the Mahamad156
New Synagogues160
Sephardim and Ashkenazim outside Amsterdam163
Religious Life: Tradition and Change167
A Good Education169
Ashkenazi Life172
Jewish Printers in Amsterdam173
The Shabbatean Movement in Amsterdam176
Influential Rabbis177
Culture and Secular Creativity179
Literature and the Stage182
Everyday Life186
Ideological Conflicts188
Relations between Jews and Christians190
Jewish Stereotypes196
5. Enlightenment and Emancipation, from c.1750 to 1814199
Good Citizens202
Demographic Changes and Emigration205
Economic Changes208
The Administration of the Jewish Communities219
Administrative Changes after 1796221
Religious and Cultural Life228
6. Arduous Adaptation, 1814–1870235
The Government and the Jews239
The Reorganization of the Jewish Communities after 1848244
The Government and Jews Under Threat Abroad246
Dutch Jews as Citizens258
Economic and Social Changes263
The Attitude of Protestants and Catholics towards Jews268
Cultural and Religious Trends270
Reactions to the New Jewish Fellow Citizens277
7. Jewish Netherlanders, Netherlands Jews, and Jews in the Netherlands, 1870–1940281
Occupations, Economic Role, and Poverty292
Religious Life, (Sub)culture, and Pillarization300
Assimilation, Integration, and Antisemitism311
Solidarity with International Jewry and Zionism330
Refugees from Germany338
Jews in the Dutch Colonies346
Jew and Netherlander352
8. The War, 1940–1945355
The German Invasion358
New Regulations367
Deportations and the Yellow Star373
Forced Removal and Labour Camps375
Organization and Selection377
Flight, Going into Hiding, and Resistance382
The Transit Camps385
Deportation and Murder389
9. After the Second World War: From ‘Jewish Church’ to Cultural Minority407
The First Few Months408
The Jewish Co-ordination Committee410
Religious Congregations417
The Struggle for the Jewish War Orphans424
The Purges431
Jews in Modern Dutch Society after 1950432
Numbers and Distribution433
A Cultural Minority435
Religious Developments439
The Colonies445
Jews and Christians448
Middle East Policy454
The Holocaust456
Bibliographical Essays464
Notes on Contributors552
Index of Names554
General Index561