The Jewish Community of Bronkhorst, Steenderen, Brummen.
The oldest known Jewish inhabitant of the three places Steenderen ,Brummen and Bronkhorst was Benyamin Salomons, who was allowed to settle in Bronkhorst from April first, 1717, after approval of Sir Johan Peter van Raesfelt, Chancellor of the Duchy Cleves and the Earldom Marck and Lord of Bronkhorst.
Benyamin had to pay for this, four times a year, two guilders and ten five-cent pieces. He had in his pocket a piece of evidence (a kind of “protection-letter”) with the following text:
Jew Benyamin Salomons
By showing this, he will have permission to live in Bronkhorst and to trade there in an entirely honest way, as far as the laws of the land allow and this allowance will start on April 1, 1727 and it will last till termination. Cleves, August 26, 1726.”
On a second paper (on which the before mentioned sum stood, to be paid to the land-agent), published in Cleves as well on 26-8-1726, is the signature of the probable first Jewish inhabitant of Bronkhorst.
In 1769 we find something similar in Gendringen. There Abraham was allowed to stay in the place and settle there, if he paid 12 Dutch guilders a year, lived according to the laws of the county and if he were not injurious to Jacob Salomons (a competitor) while slaughtering, buying and selling cattle.
In Bronkhorst Levy Marcus and his wife Isabelle Franken borrowed 455 guilders on 20-10-1757 from. their brother in law, Jacob Salomons. Only in 1780 the son of Levy, Marcus Levy, could acquit that debt. Jacob Salomons lived afterwards in Gendringen. Maybe Jacob was the son of the first mentioned Jew in Bronkhorst, Benyamin Salomons? No clarity can be obtained about this, as only in 1812, with the obliged adoption of surnames, family-relations became “visible”.
Marcus Levy together with his brothers Hertz Levy and Aron Levy sold on 21-2-1780, a house with a piece of land and a court-yard behind the house in Bronkhorst to Gerret Boerswinkel. The Levy’s apparently had landed in the housing-business. All we know about those first Jewish inhabitants in Bronkhorst is only from legal certificates. Halas, their personal lives remain a closed book.
On 11-8-1773 we again find the names of Isabelle Franken and her son Marcus in a legal certificate. The text was as follows (abridged): “Appeared before me and men of the law (Jan Peters, Hendrik Spaan and Hendrik Keurschot (is substitute judge)), Isabelle Franken, widow of the late Levy Markes, assisted by Gerrit Oortgiessen and out of special love she gives as result of her marriage and other reasons all her possessions and goods, including some furniture, to her son Markes Levy. This under condition that Markes Levy will be obliged to upkeep his mother for her whole life, as far as the household enables this, and the comp. wants this gift to have its effect, in all parts…”
Isabelle secured herself for her old day! She apparently came to live in Bronkhorst before 1757. We are not able to find how both Marcus’brothers, Hertz and Aron have reacted to the arrangement of their mother.
In 1792 there is a mentioning of “a court near the graveyard” of Bronkhorst. Probably the Jews had a part in that as well?
In the beginning of the 19th century, in about 1802, Samuel Philip Weijel and his wife Clara Kets came to live in the small town. They came from Steenderen but they had also lived for a while in Brummen. On 4-8-1802 they bought a courtyard in an auction from Gerrit Starink and Kunneke ter Stege, named the Straalmans-court, “situated apparently in Bronkhorst at the Bargstreet” as described in the document.
In 1802 Samuel Philip and his wife borrowed from Evert Addink and Jenneken Breukink “a capital of the sum of hundred and fifty ‘Carolus’ guilders, with the promise to put interest on this a year from now and yearly afterwards, a sum of five guilders of equal value respectively for each hundred guilders and this until the total discharge”. Weijel’s Straalmans-court at the Bargstreet would be a pledge as well in the coming years, when he for example borrowed again 690 guilders from Marcus Benjamin, on 4-2-1803. Thus it appears in the document: “ there was a request of impounding and affectation to and on all ready goods, actions and credits which belong to Samuel Philip and his wife, is it by ordinate or a not based manner, as well as for real estate which are in this jurisdiction, especially the house and the lot (a piece of land between two ditches; sometimes a wall) here, as also a small piece of court-land, named Straalman’s Court, of which it is known that it is in this place.” In July 1805 Samuel Philip had already paid part of his debt. In the same year the Weijels bought goods again and borrowed from Evert Addink and his wife Jenneken Breukink 150 Carolus guilders. They gave as guarantee their house and court, which was situated between the house of Count van Stirum and of Jan Wessels. Philip did not live on the ground of the Straalmans-court. The latter Samuel Philips and his wife sold on 27-12-1805 to Jan Hendrik Lagniet and Hendrica Jansen, who lived in Bronkhorst.
On 17-6-1807 Samuel Philip appeared again before “H. Keurschot, judge and men of the law G. Jan Garretsen and Gerrit Breukink” to lay down a loan of 260 guilders in a treaty from Levy Kets and Sara Arons, who lived in Bronkhorst in house no.16. Levy Kets was the brother in law of Samuel Philip. The last one had begotten as guarantee house and court, as well as “life-stock, cattle, household effects, copper, pewter, tin, iron, ceramics, linen and wool, beds and bed-clothes, crops, manure and claim on manure…..”.
On 11-1-1809 Levy Aron de Haas, as plenipotentiary of the German firm J. W. Korten and sons in Eberfeld, demanded 190 guilders from Samuel Philips for woolen goods which had been supplied. Samuel once in a while traded in houses, or he gave his house as guarantee for loans and he probably scraped along by trading in material and metals.
A clever guy.
Brother in law Levy Kets, 35 years of age in 1809 and his wife Sara Arons, made their will on April 29 and they appointed Isaac Moses as guardian over their children, “with honorable but explicit exclusion of their inheritance”. On 9-1-1811 Samuel Philip and Klara Kets received from Aron Levy Haas from Arnhem a mortgage of 750 guilders for their house and court at the Veerstreet.
Development of the kille
On the 25th of January 1811 an important transfer was made in Bronkhorst, under supervision of Judge H. Keurschot and the men of the law Gerret Jan Garretsen and Gerret Breukink.
The small piece of court-land, the Straalmans-court, which had served the years before as guarantee and which apparently between 1805 and 1811 came again into the ownership of Samuel Philip Weijel and which was sold on the 15th of December 1810, became collective property of Levy Kets (de Vries), Samuel Philip (Weijel), Salomon IJzak (Sanders), Kets Jacob (de Vries), Aaron Levy (Polak) and Salomon Simon (Sterneveld). The surnames can be derived from the several lists of name-adoptions, which will come up later.
The costs of transfer of the Straalmans-court were fixed on 120 guilders. The before mentioned men were the founders of the kehillot Steenderen, Bronkhorst and Brummen. Salomon Simon Sterneveld lived in Rhienderen near Brummen, Salomon IJzak Sanders in Steenderen, Levy and Jacob Kets de Vries in Bronkhorst, as did Samuel Philip. Aaron Levy Polak lived in Rhienderen in House no. 236. The Jew who lived in Rhienderen as well, Meijer Salomon Goldsmid was not present at the transaction.
On December 21, 1818 Samuel Philip Weijel appeared before notary Jan Isaac Valckenier in Brummen to accept an old Jewish church and graveyard in Bronkhorst, named Straalmans-court, for 60 guilders from the Jews of Brummen, S.S.Sterneveld, Levy Kets de Vries and A.L.Polak. The small cemetery had the seize of 100 decameters.(Dutch- a unit of length equal to 10 meters) and at its southern and
northern border was the ground of the alms-house of Bronkhorst, at the west-border was the ground of Berend Peters and at its east border was the Bergstreet. Samuel Philip was allowed to manage the small synagogue (sjul). According to the certificate of transfer he was supposed to allow burial of Jews from Brummen at the Straalmans-court. The small sjul, which possibly existed already in the beginning of the 19th century, was probably the same type of building as the one that was built in Didam in about 1770 at the Weemstreet. Of that first little house-sjul in Bronkhorst no details are known. It is recorded, however, in August 1816, in a “General Regulation for the management of the Jewish synagogue circles or church attendance in the Monarchy of the Netherlands”, that in the province of Gelderland, called the eleventh resort, there exists the kehilla Heenderen, wrongly spelled. This mentioning tends to suggest the early existence of a modest little sjul in Bronkhorst. According to the above meant Regulation, there were usually two administrators or manhigim, respectively called “superintendent and treasurer”. Sometimes an elder was added in addition to them.
In December 1810 the situation in the three little places was as follows: in Brummen lived three Jews, in Rhienderen 14 and in Tonden three. In Bronkhorst there lived 17 Jews at that date ( out of the 300 inhabitants) and in Steenderen eleven, out of a total population of 2200. All together about 50 souls in six families. The Jews of Steenderen together with those of Bronkhorst formed a kille. The Jews of Brummen practiced their religion in Bronkhorst or in Zutphen, where since 1810 a small sjul was built in the Rosmolenalley, which was soon too small to hold all the churchgoers. At that time the Jews of Bronkhorst had to pay five guilders for the Consistorial Church, “…otherwise legal action would be taken”.
Before 1818 the Jews of the three little villages had already a communal cemetery, as said before. Afterwards the Weijels were proprietors. In 1821 the Weijel family moved to Zutphen. Initially Samuel Philip was innkeeper there and later he became veterinary surgeon (he had gotten a lot of experience as “horse-surgeon” in the cavalry) and sometimes he was a cattle-salesman. Samuel Philip knew to fix matters, in such way that from the year 1829 he got a yearly allowance of 50 guilders from the municipality of Zutphen, under the definition: “that he would serve the needy ones as well as the better situated cattle-dealers and that he would not leave the town without permission of Sir Mayor”.
The founder of the Weijel-family, Samuel Philip, born in Derkheim (probably Turckheim in the Alsace) in about 1764, passed away in Zutphen on 24-7-1840, seventy years of age. His wife, Clara Kets de Vries outlived him almost eighteen years.
We know from the Steenderen Register of names-adoption of Jewish inhabitants, that on 19-9-1812 the family of Samuel Weijel was composed as follows: his sons were Philip (10 years), Jacob (9 years) and his daughters Jantje (15 years), Mientje (13 years) plus the six years old Rebecca, who got the name Reinira and at last Grietje who was a year and a half.
Samuel Philip, the (Dutch) ancestor married on 9-11-1796 in ‘s Heerenberg the 25 year old Clara Kets, the daughter of Kets Jacob de Vries and Berendina Abrahams, rabbi Levy Marcus officiating in the sjul existing since 1793. Samuel Philips’ parents were named: Philip Michel and Jente (or Schoene-, meaning the Beautiful one). There is a nice legend circling among the descendants of the Weijels: one of the ancestors was supposed to have been king of Poland for a few days…..!
Kets de Vries
Kets Jacob (born in about 1720 in Nassau-Dietz) was the ancestor of quite a large family, which, according to the text of the names-adoption on 19-9-1812, consisted of the following members: “Before us, Mayor of the Community Steenderen, Area of Doesborgh, district of Zutphen, Department of the Upper-IJssel, has appeared Kets Jacob living in Bronkhorst under Steenderen and he declared to adopt as surname the name of de Vries and as first name Kets Jacob, which he will have to carry continuously. That he has three sons and four daughters by the names Jacob Kets, forty one years old, Levy Kets, thirty seven years old and Herts Kets, five years of age (*-remark), whose addresses are unknown to him; Maria Kets, forty five years old; Hendrina Kets, forty three years old and living in Zutphen, Clara Kets, thirty nine years old and living in Steenderen, and Sara Kets, thirty two years old and living in Driebergen, for whom he will keep these names, which they always have born, as first names. About all this we have made a document written in both registers and signed after having been read, while the person that appeared before me declared not being able to write, in Steenderen on the nineteenth of September eighteen hundred and twelve. Signed by W.H. Rasch”.
The fact that Kets Jacob could not write is certainly not sure. He probably had learned the Hebrew writing, but according to the then sometimes ruling opinions, that script was too holy to be used for signing a civil document?
(*-remark:-thus in the original in Dutch. Considering the age of the other children, this may be a mistake in copying or in the original document).
In about the same time that each civilian person had to register a family name, every difference existing between Jew and none-Jew disappeared, by order of the French administration.
Until 1811 the Jews were committed to all kinds of restrictions. Their none-Jewish fellow-citizens sometimes added to that. Thus we read the following sentences in a tract from 1795 by the members of the Civil Society in Harderwijk : “…. if actually the Jews who are among those entitled to vote, should be explicitly excluded? About which we only want to observe that this Nation has different expectations and so also different interests from those in a Christian Society”.
According to a publication of 2-2-1811, which had to be published and posted in the “Department of Upper-IJssel”, to which the districts Zutphen, Tiel and Arnhem belonged, the official cancellation of certain restrictions came in force. The publication states among others:
To allow all Dutch High-German Jewish communities to hold a yearly collection for their poor people, in all places where they are situated, (yearly) on at a fixed time and date.
2. To do away with and remove all differences still existing in the State between Jews and other Citizens.
Besides, it is mentioned in that decision, “that the Dutch High-German Jewish Communities will enjoy the same rights as the other Citizens by authority of the French laws.
Signed by A.J.J.H. Verhijen, the Secretary of the Command of the Governor General”. It must have pleased the small kehillot in Bronkhorst, Steenderen and Brummen that from February 1911 on, the cancellation of annoying rules officially became a fact. Nevertheless, in practice there probably still existed difficulties.
There were quite a number of small Jewish communities like these in Gelderland. A total of 2337 Jews lived in 1816 in the following places: Nijmegen, Zaltbommel, Kuilenburg, Buren, Tiel, Arnhem, Wageningen, Nijkerk, Harderwijk, Elburg, Hattem, Zutphen, Lochem Borculo Eibergen, Doesborgh, Hengelo, Doetinchem, Aalten, Groenlo, Winterswijk, Bergh, Gendringen, Wisch and in the before mentioned H(St)eenderen. Besides those, additional small groups also lived in Didam, Westervoort, Zevenaar, Dinxperlo and Bredevoort, not included in the before mentioned list of 1816. From lists made in 1810, we know that Jews lived all over the Veluwe, in the River-area, in the Achterhoek, and even in still smaller places.
Around 1810 there were so called little house-sjuls everywhere in the Achterhoek and in the Liemers. That was usually a room (a part of a house accommodated as a church), rented at a private person's house, where sometimes the chazzan of such a small kille lived. In Didam (already in 1770) a small house-sjul was created already in 1770, in 1793 in Bergh, in Gendringen in 1800 and in Doesborgh in about 1808 and even in the century before. Furthermore, there were little sjuls like that around 1810 in Doetinchem, Groenlo, Bredevoort, Aalten, Wisch, Winterswijk, Hengelo, Dinxperlo, Eibergen, Neede and Borculo.
We go back to Bronkhorst. Hertz Kets de Vries, son of Kets Jacob was registered over there as butcher (“on his own account”) in the Patent-register of Steenderen between 1806 and 1809. In September 1816 his father declared not to know where Hertz' residence was. Kets Jacob also appeared in 1808 in the Patent-register as shopkeeper / hawker with a sale of goods of less than 1500 guilders for each year. His other son, Levy Kets, who lived in 1809 in Bronkhorst and in 1816 in Brummen, got into trouble with his brother in law, Samuel Philip Weijel, who was registered as a proprietary salesman as well. Both Jews appeared on 12-9-1816 before the justice of the peace of Brummen W. G. J. van Rhenen and clerk J. I. Valckenier. Samuel Philip demanded from Levy Kets a return of his money advanced to Levy Kets in 1813: twenty guilders, five five-cent pieces and eight pennies for the purchase of cattle. The last one admitted his debt, but he objected by saying that he had delivered Weijel calfskins and other goods, and thus he had settled the issue. It did not help; Levy Kets had to pay off his debt within one month. Levy Kets died on 26-11-1833 in Brummen.
In August 1811 Samuel Philip Weijel started procedures against Harmen Lettink, a butcher in Brummen. Weijel had delivered clothes but had not received any payment: five guilders and fourteen five-cent pieces. Weijel won the lawsuit and Lettink had to pay his debt and the costs: nine francs and forty-six centimes.
The family of Weijel was not doing badly in those years, because for example in 1814 Samuel Philip bought a house and court from Salomon Simon Sterneveld for sixty guilders. In 1817 Weijel bought a house again, in Rhienderen from Gerret Teunissen and Hendrina Berendsen for 125 guilders. The trade in houses appeared to be going extremely well. Samuel Philip was an all-round man; an active guy. From a description of a traveling-pass from 1812 we know what he looked like at the age of 47: height 167 cm. black hair, black eye-brows, normal nose, brown beard, narrow face, broad forehead, grey eyes, big mouth, pointed chin, and a pale skin. The traveling-pass allowed Weijel a short journey to Amsterdam.
In 1818 Samuel Philip had to solve a difficult problem. He became responsible for the Jew David Levy, who had arrived at the house of farmer Kraayvanger in Baak on 11-3-1818. The last one had brought the ill man to the town Bronkhorst the day after because the road to Zutphen was in a too bad condition.
The Weijels housed the poor ill David until the 19th of March. Samuel Philip had knocked in vain at the doors of the Reformed Poor-relief board, the mayor and the land agent, but he did not get a cent. Dejected he took his ill fellow-believer to Zutphen. Because of article 48 of the “General Rule for the Church-management of the Synagogue circles etc.” then in force, the Jewish church leaders were ordered “that no poor people within their community can reside and be a burden on the community; they should take care that these people will not stay, or sojourn longer than twice or three times 24 hours over there, and then they will be obliged to report this to the civil management”.
Samuel Philips also knocked in vain on the doors of the kille-members in Zutphen. Nobody wanted to be put up with David Levy. The parnas (manager), also called superintendent in those days, sent the ill man from Zutphen to the manhigim of Deventer, who did not want him either. On March 24 schlemazzel David Levy arrived again in Zutphen. It really was a disgraceful running around with the ill Jew. From Zutphen they moved him again to the home of the Weijels, the parents not being at home at that moment. The oldest daughter had refused to let the sick Jew inside, but the sheriff had forced her to take the ill man in. All the children burst out in tears and Samuel Philip and his wife Clara were at their wit's end when they came back, as they had to feed nine children between 1 and 20 and they of course had but little room in their house to spare and besides that, too little money to take care of an ill person for so long. What a lot of tsores!
David Levy, who had adopted the surname Polak in Brummen in 1812 and who lived in Rhienderen, was born in Bronkhorst. He was registered already since about 1796 in Brummen, and he apparently was a peddler (a so-called “pack Jew”) who traveled among the farmers with a pack of goods.
On 3-4-1818 Samuel Philips filed a complaint at the justice of the peace in the canton of Doesborgh, J. P. L. Gezelschap, as he had been forced by the sheriff-mayor to take care of David Polak. He raised objections pointing to his large family, and he advanced the argument “that the stay-over of this sick Jew is very harmful to his business, as he has the care of the delivery of meat and among the others, the Baak and Suideras House informed him, that they will in no way receive meat from him, which had been slaughtered in his own house, as long as he has that sick Jew with him, and so he is obliged to slaughter outside the house and somewhere else.” Unfortunately, we do not know how the mentioned troubles developed.
About the Weijel family some more small news item are registered. Jantje, the oldest daughter, married the German Jew Aaron Schwarts ( Swarts), butcher by profession, on 27-8-1819 in Hengelo ( Gld). Later, in August 1824, they moved to Utrecht. In Hengelo their daughter Josephien was born on 10-4-1820 and in Steenderen their second child Hendrina came into the world on 22-9-1822.
In 1821 the Weijels moved to Zutphen with their seven children. Mientje Weijel was married on 18-1-1821 in Wisch, with the butcher, David van Gelder, born in Terborg.
Geertje Weijel married in 1840 with the marine-store dealer (salesman in old iron) Koppel Koppel. Samuel Philip's youngest son, Hartog, born in Steenderen on 23-12-1816, made himself known in 1845 in Zutphen. He had not been able to acquire a very good position in life. He was whipped and branded on the scaffold (then used for the last time) in Zutphen at the‘s-Gravenhof. He was arrested in 1844 and because of an attempt of murder he was sentenced to death and to a fine of a thousand guilders. After a Royal Decision this punishment was changed into whipping and branding (with the rope around his neck) plus a joined sentence of twenty years convict prison. The unhappy Hartog Weijel - who must have had something over him like the French master-rascal Cartouche - died in Utrecht in 1852. Father Samuel Philip did not have to go through all these events concerning his youngest son; he died on 24-7-1840, his mother Clara Kets though died only in 1858….
Except for a gravestone with the name of Hanna Weijel- Zilversmit no remnants remain in Bronkhorst reminding the descendants of the French “horse-physician” and the later salesman Samuel Philip. At the Jewish graveyard in Zutphen many Weijels are buried. Descendants settled after the middle of the last century in Groningen, Zutphen, London, Brummen and in some other places, and later on in the Achterhoek.
The Jews call their cemeteries ‘house of the living', as if already by this naming they want to crush death and thus want to declare that there is a life after death. Such a cemetery is certainly not a sinister place, where you should better never come back to after the funeral of a relative. The Jewish cemeteries are characterized, - and not they alone - by the quiet atmosphere and the characteristic, usually simple gravestones with Hebrew inscriptions. Once the Jews also called a cemetery Gedort (gut Ort), meaning ‘a good place' which is Yiddish for cemetery.
Now we return to Bronkhorst. The small cemetery over there is the central source of information for a historian. The gravestones, which sometimes differ very much in size and workmanship, make a picturesque impression. The cemetery became a strange scene in the summer of 1976, when the shooting of the impressive film “One bridge too far”, took place under supervision of the producer Joseph Levine (of Jewish origin). In the background of the small cemetery villas were put up which during the shooting of the film changed into rubble. Never before the small acre of God draw so much attention. See the “The Gelderlander” of 19-8-1976. Now the noise of the film-making has disappeared, all is quiet again, as it should naturally be at a Jewish cemetery.
In a part of the Straalmans-court, the history of the acre of God found its beginning. The six Jews, mentioned before, came in 1811 in the possession of a part of the Straalmans-court .It was originally a hundred decameter large, as appears from the document of 1818, in which the Straalmans-court was transferred and sold to Samuel Philip Weijel, by S. S. Sterneveld, Levy Kets de Vries and Aaron Levy Polak.
They also acquired “an old Jewish church, standing in Bronkhorst on the ground of the purchaser”.
On 25-10-1858 the heirs of Samuel Philip Weijel: Jantje, Miena, Gertruida, Roosje, Reiniera en Abraham, plus the children of the late Jacob Weijel and Elsjen van Gelder: Joseph, Philip, Abraham and Betje, sold the farm-land plot, called the Jews-cemetery (= Straalmans-court), situated in Bronkhorst, Section A, no 318 to butcher Abraham Weijel and to farmer Willem Starink. Abraham Weijel got one decameter and sixty ell (one ell=69, 4 cm) and farmer William got seven decameters. The part of Abraham was demarcated as the cemetery of the kehila. On 11-12-1859 Abraham Weijel transferred the small cemetery (section A, numbers 318 and 319) in his turn to Simon Salomon Sternfeld, church-warden in Brummen, for twenty guilders. Joseph Sternfeld Aaronszoon, salesman in Brummen and Albert Neijenhuis, clog-maker in Steenderen, signed the document as witnesses.
According to notes made in 1950 by gentlemen of the kehila of Zutphen, Emanuel Vomberg and Abraham Grunberg, the size of the cemetery of Bronkhorst in 1861 was 195 square meters , exceeding the 160 square meters which were mentioned in the document of transfer of 1859. Apparently the cemetery was enlarged after 1859, or the fence had been moved a little, which would match the present situation. The oldest gravestone is namely from April 1859, and it does not stand at the edge, but in the middle. According to the details of the land-registry of the municipality-archive of Steenderen, the cemetery was in 1861 one decameter and 95 ells, which is 195 square meters.
On 25-11-1919 the registered lots, section A 416 seize 195 square meters and section A 417 (708 square meters of farmland ) belonging to the Jewish community in Brummen, were officially registered in the name of the Jewish community of Zutphen. Witnesses at the registration , in the presence of notary J. A. Beker, were Abraham Vromen and Joseph Cohen (religion-teacher) in Zutphen.
The beautiful small metaheir-house (= House for purification) has probably been built after 1859. It has been repaired once in 1932, it suffered from war-damage in
1940-’45 and it was fixed up again in 1949. Almost certainly the fence and the gate have been shifted around the year 1876 and it was moved once more for quite a part
in 1921 . In 1977 the size of the graveyard was 26 x 22 ½ meters. It is surrounded by poles and wire-netting and a nice wrought-iron gate provides the entrance. In 1963 the cemetery was placed on the list of protected monuments. A nice gesture, an obviously omitted failure at some picturesque Jewish cemeteries in Gelderland, such as in Terborg, (Silvoldseweg), Gendringen, (in the outskirts of the village), and the once existing cemetery in Doesburg, where much history was lost because of pure vandalism. More of these cemeteries should simply be protected because the stones have a lot of historical information and it would radiate at least some piety towards the Jewish part of the population, which had been hit so badly.
Presently there are 17 matsevoth (grave-stones), one broken part and eight posts without text. The oldest stone is from 1859; the last one was placed in 1963.
On graves nos. 13, 14, 16 and 17 stand stone posts without texts. Four other little posts stand on un-identified graves.
The names of the most important Jewish families, who lived in the three villages around the IJssel, form an important starting-point for further research. Presently there are no descendants in the area anymore.
Thus there were the Mansfelds, the Sternfelds, the widely discussed Weijels, the Aussens, the Goldsmids, Polaks, Meijers and Philipsen.
At the oldest part of the cemetery (1811-1859) no grave-stones are to be found. Nevertheless about a dozen Jews from the kehilloth Brummen and Steenderen must be buried there. There is also quite a lot of space between the tombstone of Nathan Mansfeld and the tombstone of Betje Sternfeld- Cohen. Either the Jews did not have the money to place matsevoth or posts, or the stone (or wooden) memorials disappeared during the years. It cannot be ascertained anymore.
On 29-7-1859 Bernhard Aussen and Hanna Heimans (who was widowed from Nathan Haim Mansfeld three years before), asked for an allowance of twenty guilders from the municipality of Steenderen, to be able to cover the expenses to buy more farm-land in order to expand the cemetery. On 31-8-1859 the municipal council decided not to give a subsidy, but it did give permission to make a collection in Steenderen. The same decision was made by the members of the municipal council of Brummen, for a similar request made by the Jewish church-council there. And so, apparently by means of two actions in two places, money was assembled to buy some ground and to build the metaher-house.
In Steenderen Asser Benjamin Aussen married the servant Sophia Vroom who lived in Hengelo (Gld.) on the 16th of May 1872 . Asser settled in Bronkhorst, after first having lived in Steenderen and Hummelo. As far as the story goes, his father Bernard Aussen was recruited at young age, for military service in the East. His private name, Osjer, Asser, had been corrupted to Aussen, as a surname. His real name was supposed to be Mannheim. But Bernard, for inscrutable reasons stuck to the name Aussen. His parents were Joseph and Gelukkele (Glueckele) Wijnberg. When Bernard married Schoontje
in 1841, he was a discharged soldier (honorably dismissed and placed on the retired list).
That was a not very common profession for Jews, certainly not in the 19th century. Bernard and Schoontje had ten children, of which nine stayed alive. The first two were born in Zutphen and the others in Steenderen: Carolina, Mietje, Marianne, Asser, Grietje, Rosetta, Mozes, Jetjen, Benjamin and Bertha. The eldest son Asser Benjamin settled, after his marriage, in Bronkhorst, in House no. B 22, now Kasteelweg 1, next to the inn. Asser and Antje would live there all their lives. Asser traded in eggs, metal, rags etc. and he was butcher in poultry. His oldest son, Meijer, (born in 1874) went about 1890 to the Dutch Indies, more or less in the footsteps of his grandfather Bernard. Meijer was killed in Atjeh, at the North-coast of Sumatra, near the place Lho Seumawe, on August 4, 1899. A tragic end of a military career. In 1975 a very aged inhabitant of Bronkhorst , could still remember that Asser Benjamin, after the death of Meijer, got a yearly allowance of 175 guilders from the Ministry of Colonies. Meijer had been a sergeant and shortly before his death he had sent several things to his parents in tiny Bronkhorst. A small bag of rice that the young Aussens showed at grammar-school (then situated in the chapel), was sensational, as rice at that time was a rare article.
The other Aussens, Bernard and Michiel became master-copper-workers. Herman got a training in Oberhausen and Simon became a benchman. Mozes became a butcher in Zelhem, Abraham became a baker and Jacob a smith. The fifth son stayed with his parents for a long time. He was a barber for a few years and guild-master of the Big Civic Guard in Bronkhorst. Only Mozes, Abraham and Bernard succeeded to survive all the way through the Nazi-period 1940-’45. Abraham had been in the annihilation camp Birkenau but he survived. The other children were sent via Westerbork to Poland, to their annihilation.
Relying on sundry conversations and information obtained from letters received, it appears that the Aussens in Bronkhorst had a very cozy family. The grown-up children and the grandchildren loved to visit the family. Once there was a threat of a thunderstorm (that was before 1914), all the kids and the visitors had to go outside. A beautiful box with jewelry and family-papers was taken as well and the clapper was taken out from the chiffonier (furniture with drawers)! The clapper was an attribute of Asser Benjamin, the family-father, who was watchman, night watch and lamplighter of the little town Bronkhorst between 1884 and 1924. In about 1891 the little town consisted of:
63 houses and 354 inhabitants. Asser Benjamin was one of the few Jewish officially appointed watchmen in the country in that period. Ten Kate (1819-1889), a poet-preacher, once wrote: “It is a pleasant thought, that when we helplessly lie in the arms of sleep, there is somebody outside watching over us, so that as many dangers as possible are turned away and we can enjoy our rest without being disturbed. How nice it is, before we go to sleep, to go outside and look at the starry sky, while we then can hear the restful “clipclap” of the clapper of the watchman”. In 1800 there was already a watchman in Bronkhorst. The clapper of the watchman was a small hammer on a piece of wood. With that devise Asser struck the hours from 4 P.M. on and he then called: “The clock strikes four, four strikes the clock”. He also warned when a thunderstorm was threatening. The watchman of Bronkhorst wore a leather belt across his shirt as sign of his dignity. The East-European Shul-clapper bore some similarity with the Dutch watchman; but the first one called for going to the synagogue. How Asser matched his profession with the celebration of the Sabbat (the Sabbat starts on Friday-night over an hour before sunset), is not easy to be traced. As night watch Asser received 77 guilders per year between 1884 and 1914. Between 1915 and 1924 he was an official lamp-lighter of six lanterns, for 95 guilders per year.
Asser Benjamin was during 28 years “bieleman” as well (Biel = bijl = axe) of the (small) citizen soldiery of Bronkhorst. He then wore a cuirassier-helmet or some sort of party-hat, an axe (thence ‘bieleman’) and a kind of a clown-outfit. During the festivities of the citizen soldiery, at the beginning of September, two ‘bielemen’ had to go in front of the procession with small dance-paces, while singing, and on their way they cut down three barriers (with posts decorated in green). According to some people the ritual action of cutting down these posts goes back to Germanic times.
Asser Benjamin got as compensation for his performance as bieleman, one guilder a year, as he was poor and he had to feed many children’s mouths.
It is also known that on the Yamim Ha’nora’im (the Awe-inspiring Days) in September, the Aussens went to the synagogue in Brummen, on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) with inky black hands from picking walnuts. Later apparently, dispensation was given to cross the river on Shabbat by ferry-boat , to the synagogue of Brummen. Officially this has nowhere been recorded.
Many Aussens died in the annihilation camps while some others survived the occupation-years.
Mrs. Lina van Leeuwen-Aussen (born in Steenderen, daughter of Bernard Aussen) has been caretaker of the synagogue-complex in Utrecht since 1958. Another remarkable descendant of the Aussens (Hengelo,O.) is Bert M. Aussen, who was born on 23-3-1943 in Enschede. He was the last of the 2040 children of the War Orphans Foundation. He knew from a great-aunt and from some far relatives that his parents were Nannie Cauveren and Kurt Aussen, who let him go into hiding at the home of elderly people in Enschede. His parents did not return. They were respectively killed in 1943 and in 1944 in Auschwitz. Bert stayed with many foster-families.
The sources, used by the author are given in detail on pages 30 – 32 of his book and they are not published here, but can be sent as a scan upon request.
The original pages in Dutch can be scanned upon request.
(For both services a fee for copying and office expenses will be requested)
|Asser and Antje Aussen, Bronkhorst, ca. 1890|
|Asser and Antje Vroom, Bronkhorst, ca. 1900|