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  • The Jewish Community of Zutphen and Voorst

    List of (sur)names of genealogical relevance mentioned in the Article (in order of appearance-part of the names appear more than once):
    Joost Sweitzer, Meijers(*), Christiaen(**), Levie, Vles, Sterneveld, Cohen,Joels, Spier, (Rabbi) Tal, (Chazzan) Frank, Sneyer, (Rabbi )Salomon Gombrecht(*), Kleyn, Staal, Vomberg, Gobes ,van Essen, Israels, Laufer, de Leeuw, Levisson, Liefman Herz (*), Abraham Salomons(*), Levi Hartog(*), Krukziener, Snatager, Walewijk, Lipschits, Danser, Weijel, Levison, Vromen, De Haas, Hanouer, Dormits, Philips,Solomon ,Koppel ,Noach ,Turksma,Winter, (Chazzan) de Metz, Leeraar, van Gelder, Elzas, Meijers,Groen, Mozes, De Beer, De Wolf, Windmuller, Meijer, Knoop, Mansfeldt , Aaron, Grunberg, Gunzburger, Korner, Menco, Neuman, Siesel, Stern, Vyth, (Chief Rabbi) Berlinger, (Rabbi) Jacobs, Aussen, Steinbach., van Spiegel, Samuel, Vredenburg, Polak, Lowenstein, van Spiegel, de Jonge.

    (*)-Patronimic or supposed to be patronimic names.

    It seems that a Jew, named Saulus, settled in Zutphen around 1340. In 1364 he paid a tax to the Duke of Gelre. Other details about his life are unknown. During the plague epidemic of the 14th century, members of the kehila of Zutphen were persecuted, expelled and probably even murdered. In 1404 the Jewish doctor Simon from Cologne was summoned at the request of the Duke of Gelre to examine the Jongheer of Borculo. In 1546 no Jews were allowed to stay anymore in the duchy of Gelre. However, Master Joost Sweitzer, doctor as well as loan banker, who had already been living in the Netherlands since 1550, did get a letter of protection and was allowed to live in Zutphen as from 1567.
    Through the doings of the Duke of Alva, doctor Joost Sweitzer and his family had to leave town again in 1570. After 1570 there is no mention of Zutphen Jews for about a century. Juda Meijers, a Jew originating from Bredevoort, asked the city administration to allow him to live in Zutphen in 1687. This was refused. In 1690 Ephraim Christiaen arrived in Zutphen from Groenlo and one year later he was baptized in the Reformed Church. Ephraim did not behave very well. He drank, was a womanizer and was guilty of theft. He was caught, imprisoned and charged. In June he was lashed for his crimes and banished from the city. During the 18th century, in 1717, 1743, 1750, 1778 and 1780, six Jews were arrested as they were accused of theft. The penalties for non-Jews as well as Jews were sometimes rather harsh; sentencing to imprisonment, lashings and banishment. Jews, who stayed the night at a tavern, had to inform the magistrate accordingly. On the other hand Jews in Zutphen were allowed to offer their goods at the annual fairs; they were assigned a place at the Zaadmarkt for this purpose. The small community was active. It leased a parcel of land for their cemetery and bought a house to be used as their meeting place. A yearly collection was held for the Rabbi of Nijmegen, which brought in 14 guilders.

    The synagogues
    In May 1798, about a year after settling, Asser Levie and Simon Vles, already bought "a house in Zutphen in the Nieuwstad (new part of the town) on the square next to the Eekmole, which came out behind the Judicial Building". The small kehilla, consisting at that time of about 60 members, could now meet in their own synagogue.
    Around 1810 the number of Jews had risen to about 100, so the building had become too small. The kehilla, therefore, asked for help from the Government, which put neither any money nor a location at their disposal and so they decided to build a bigger synagogue by themselves.
    Preparations therefore took place on November 19th, 1814 in the house of Samuel David Sterneveld. The old synagogue was torn down and the old materials were used as much as possible for the new one. Money was collected one way or another and for the amount of about 8300 guilders a nice synagogue was erected. In September 1815 the building was ceremoniously consecrated.
    Around 1810 Isaak Cohen was the chazzan and so was Philip Joels (as well as shammash) in 1815. The 50-year jubilee of the synagogue in Rosmolensteeg was celebrated in 1865 with a special service. Both the Chief Rabbi of Nijmegen and the Chazzan of Arnhem were present. On this occasion a new Tora Scroll was inaugurated.
    The first regulations of the synagogue, in Jiddish, were drawn up already in 1822. Neither the original nor copies were preserved. Improved regulations were issued in 1862, 1888 and 1945. The kehilla grew steadily in numbers, from 200 in 1815 to 600 in 1875 and a short time after the 60-year celebration of the existence of the synagogue it was decided to build a larger one. In 1876 the kehilla bought two buildings and a plot for around 12000 guilders in Halter Street. The synagogue was planned to be built in the garden and the two buildings were intended for a meeting hall and religious education. In the basement of one of the buildings a Mikveh was installed. The stone-laying ceremony of the synagogue was held on July 17th, 1878 by Joseph Spier and the simple synagogue was inaugurated a year later with a solemn ceremony. Rabbi Tal held the inaugurating speech and Chazzan Frank led the prayer. The new synagogue has a characteristic front with the two tables of Moses above the window in the middle. In 1904 its 25th anniversary was celebrated.

    Religious education
    By Royal Decree of May 10th, 1817 it was stipulated that close to all main synagogues religious schools for the poor should be established. In these schools lessons should be given in Dutch and Hebrew, but especially not in Jiddish. Around 1810 the 35-year old Isaak Cohen taught Hebrew at the Jewish school to children aged between 5 and 13 years. In 1814 teacher Philip Joels gave lessons and in 1820 Salomon LevijSneyer. On February 6th, 1825 Rabbi Salomon Gombrecht received permission to teach Jewish children the Dutch and Hebrew languages. In 1837 37 children went to the Jewish school. In 1842 the inspector of Jewish tuition reported that the result of the education was exceptionally good. The Rabbi registered good results. In 1866 DavidKleyn came in and taught the children during ten years. Benjamin Frank came to Zutphen in 1876. Frank was Chazzan and teacher for about 40 years and passed away in 1919. LevieStaal was Chazzan and headmaster at the Jewish school. He wrote several schoolbooks, among which "Israel amongst the Nations". In 1929 he was appointed chief editor of the N.I.W. in Amsterdam. Josef Cohen succeeded Levie Staal in 1919. After the liberation in 1945 Adolf Vomberg gave Jewish lessons.
    M. Gobes gave Jewish lessons in Zutphen during the period of 1949-1954. After that L. van Essen, L. Israels and the ladies Laufer taught lessons in religion until 1960. The first chupa after World War II took place in June 1998. It was the first wedding ceremony in 56 years.

    The male society "Gemilut Chasadim" takes care to visit sick people, to support the dying and to burry the dead. The first chairman of this society was J.H.de Leeuw, Chazzan B. Frank was secretary. In 1885 each member of the kehilla paid 10 cents a week and the unmarried, widowers and widows paid 5 cents.
    A management of a society for the care of the poor saw to it that matzot were distributed to the poor, sick soldiers and prisoners. Every year a collection was organized for the poor. The yields made it also possible to pay for the chupa of those who could not afford it. They founded in this town a society as well which engaged in the study of the Talmud and the Tora, thus "Heskat Hatora" flourished; a society for Jewish Studies. The Jewish women had two societies, one engaged in holding lectures and study meetings and the other took care of maintenance of the cloths, carpets and ritual objects of the synagogue. There also existed societies for the care of orphans and the reception of guests, and furthermore there was the relaxation society "for the benefit of Society ". In 1940David Levisson established the first department of the Netherlands Zionist Association. This department also kept in touch with the chalutsim (pioneers to Palestine) in Deventer.
    On the whole Zionists in Zutphen were not held in high regard.

    The Cemetery
    In the spring of 1797 Joseph Levie,Liefman Herz and Abraham Salomons, as representatives of the kehilla, submitted a request to the Mayor and Municipal administrators to be allowed to buy a small piece of land to be used as a cemetery. A small lot of 40 “roeden” was leased to the kehilla for 4 guilders a year. One of the first funerals was that of the chairman of the kehilla, Levi Hartog, who was buried in May 1800. The oldest gravestone was the one erected on the grave of Moses Spier who died on March 30th, 1811. The one before last funeral was the one of AnnieKrukziener who was buried on May 11th, 1995.
    Only in 1883 the kehilla became owner of a parcel of land of 6 meters next to the cemetery. In 1887 the kehilla received permission to build a metaher house. On the entrance doors the following is painted: "The dust returns to the earth from which it came and the soul returns to the God who gave it". In 1902 a proper road was built. Now the Zutphen Jewish Cemerery is situated at the edge of the town. There are 400 tombstones but many more Jews lie buried there. Many matsevoth/tombstones disappeared during the war years. Also, the N.S.B. (Nazi sympathizers) people took tombstones away. A monument has been erected in memory of the Jews who were murdered.

    Merchants, bankers and shopkeepers
    A register from 1840 of Zutphen residents shows a variety of occupations regarding the 400 Jewish inhabitants. Most Jewish families lived in the neighborhoods of Barlheze and Polsbroek. Apart from the most common occupations of merchants and butchers (kosher butchers such as Snatager and Panhuis), there were those who had stalls, second-hand dealers, a saddle maker, an innkeeper, a shopkeeper, a hotelkeeper, a teacher, a chazzan, a solicitor and a silversmith. Noticeable was the occupation of loan-banker, who had leased the loan-bank in Lombardsteeg. This pawnbroker's shop flourished under Jewish management until 1875. The largest Jewish families were those of Levie, Spier,Walewijk and Lipschits, an Amsterdammer who came to Zutphen in 1866. Lipschits was a colorful character who made a living for his wife SaraDanser and his nine children by going down the streets to buy second-hand goods. He sang his own special tune during his forty-year career, just like most market tradesmen did in order to attract the attention of the buyers.
    Around 1900 the Jewish family Krukziener came from Oldenzaal to settle in Zutphen. There were hat/cap makers and they transported their products from Twente by towboat to Amsterdam, a trip that took three days. They went to the Achterhoek because they wanted to live in a somewhat larger Jewish community and wanted to be a bit nearer to the area of their outlets.
    The shopkeepers of Zutphen purchased many hats/caps. Before 1940 there were two hat manufacturers, namely the small one of Aron Krukziener and the big one of Alex Krukziener. After the war Aron resumed the production of hats and caps.
    Levi Moses Snattiger (Snatager), a butcher, was one of the Jews who prepared the necessary documents for a notary in order to be able to build a synagogue. One of the descendants was Emanuel, who established a wholesale haberdashery business. Before 1940 a member of the Snatager family also had a kosher bakery on Nieuwstad, where Miss Weijel also kept her small drapery shop. Another kosher baker was Levison on Rozengracht. The shops of Vromen Second-Hand Goods and Vromen Paper/Old Metal were very well known. Vromen was parnas over a long period. Family doctorDe Haas of Deventerweg had of course many Jewish members of the community as his patients. Many traders like Hanouer, Weijel, Dormits and Philips, got up early on Thursday mornings in order to herd their cattle to the Cattle Market in Havenstraat. The butchers from Zutphen and surroundings just had to choose their animals. Jacob Dormits praised his wares in an original way by advertising: "Let flowers be your mouthpiece and Dormits your butcher". Many members of the above mentioned families would be taken away during the war years and did not return.
    Publisher W.J. Thieme & Cie published the well-known book by Simon de Vries "Jewish Rituals and Symbols" in two parts in 1929 and 1932. The Judaica Fund contained more than a dozen titles. In memory of the erstwhile flourishing kehillot in Gelderland and elsewhere, the Zutphen publishers De Walburg Pers also established in 1977 a Judaica series. The first book by Sjoerd Laansma dealt with kehilla Zutphen. Thereafter many books appeared in this series, a number of which regretfully are of a lower standard.

    The years 1940-1945
    457 Dutch Jews with 3 Jewish grandparents and 80 with 2 or less Jewish grandparents were registered in Zutphen in October 1941. There also lived in Zutphen at that time 61 foreign Jews (85% German, as well as Hungarian and Czech). In total 598 persons in a population of 21,553 (2.7%). To compare with the figure at the end 1940: there were 558 “proper” Jews and 78 Jews with one or two Jewish grandparents.
    On October 8th, 1941 the Gruene Polizei held a razia, as well as elsewhere in the Achterhoek and Twente. Not everyone got in time into hiding and 8 Zutphen families were picked up and brought to raid-wagons on the Zaadmarkt: Hartog Solomon (51 years old) Louis Samuel Koppel (66 years), Eduard Salomon Noach (35 years), Leon Karel Philips (51 years), Leo Alexander Philips (31 years), Marcus Eliazer Turksma (42 years) and Adolph Levie Winter (25 years). They were deported to Mauthausen, where they all died between October 14th and November 9th, 1942. Chazzan De Metz received letters from the SD via the Jewish Council in which their deaths were announced. The passages "brain damage" and "auf der Flucht erschossen" appeared many times.
    In January 1942 Juda Leeraar and his sons Harrie and Salomon, Bram Noach, Jopie van Gelder, the second-hand dealer Meier Lipschitz and Cohen (Polsbroek) were put into prison because of trading in the black market. The year after that they, together with their families were murdered in Poland.
    In February 1942, several shops and businesses were expropriated, such as those of Elzas, Snatager, Noach and Krukziener. In the factory of Krukziener kepi's for the Wehrmacht were still manufactured for some time. Sally Noach, nicknamed "De Engelandvaarder", born before 1914, has written down his war experiences in Belgium, France and England in the booklet: "It had to be done".
    With his headstrong/stubborn acts he made many Government officials in London very angry; this continued until long after the war.
    Because of this he was honored only after a considerable delay, on his 60th birthday in 1969, with the cross of honor of the House of Orange Nassau and which he received from the hands of Queen Juliana herself.
    Through a misunderstanding baker David Izak Levison (of German origin, 41 years old) had kept his bakery's bicycle after the authorities' request to hand over all bicycles for the Germans in June 1942. He was arrested and ended up in Mauthausen, where he was murdered on January 27th, 1943.
    Roosje Meijers, born in Hengelo, got married on April 10th, 1942 in the synagogue in Zutphen to Meijer Groen who later became very famous. During the first year after her wedding she established a Jewish school – first in Maspoort Street and later on in Halter Street. In August 1940 she had already started giving lessons to Jewish children on a porch in Frans Hals Boulevard.
    In July 1942 seven Zutphen Jews responded to a call of the occupiers to depart to a Jewish work camp in Lievelde. At the end of 1942 increasingly more Jews were picked up and dumped in trains to the work camp in Lievelde and later to Westerbork (amongs those were members of the following families: Leeraar, Cohen, Hanouer, Dormits, Lipschitz, Mozes, De Beer, Vomberg, De Wolf, Windmuller, Meijer, Knoop, Mansfeldt and Noach). Police Officer Annink wrote on April 12, 1943: "On April 6th the evacuation to Westerbork was arranged by ambulances and taxies of those staying in mental institutions and on April 7th 1943 of those Jews staying in hospitals (the patients were temporarily accommodated in the building of the Jewish community)". On April 7th, 1943 about 50 Jews left by train to Vught with the help of the Jewish Council. Two days later the members of the Jewish Council and those who had had until then a “Sperr-”letter of release - were also sent to Vught.
    Almost 600 Zutphen Jews (including those from Brummen, Steenderen, Warnsveld and Voorst) did not return. This includes seven German refugees who were brought to Zutphen in September 1940 and members of families who lived there since 1930's like Aaron, Grunberg, Gunzburger, Korner, Menco, Neuman, Siesel, Stern, Vyth and others. At least fifteen Jews who were born in Zutphen but lived elsewhere also perished.

    After the liberation:
    Of the 580 Jews who lived in Zutphen in 1941 about 60 returned after the war, to mention the families Groen, (Jo) Spier, Levisson, Grunberg and Meijers. During the war-years tora scrolls, tora turrets, a tora crown and silver ritual objects were stored in a safe of the Nederlandsche Handelsmaatschappij (Dutch Trading Company). The synagogue and the community building were destroyed, windows smashed, floors and woodwork dismantled (destroyed). The synagogue served during the war-years as a depot for car and airplane spareparts.
    In 1945 the upper floor of the community building was made suitable for synagogue services and meetings. The first service after the war was held in the community building on August 15th, 1945. On the day before, a new kehilla board was chosen. In the cemetery a monument in memory of the more than 400 Zutphen victims of the Holocaust was inaugurated on October 30th, 1949 amidst much interest. The monument consists of a pylon on top of which is a Star of David with years 1940/1945 and a stone lying next to is inscribed in Hebrew and Dutch.
    On April 8th 1950 the Mayor of Zutphen unveiled next to the Broeder church a war monument showing Gideon, judge in Israel. Several male choirs as well as the choir of the NIG of Enschede added luster to the ceremony. It was attended by hundreds of interested people.
    In the fall of 1985 Meijer Groen was handed the title of chaver by Chief Rabbi Eliezer Berlinger for his indefatigable work for the Jewish community: "M. Groen: an honorable man who has earned the honor (cavod)", as expressed by the journal Kontakt of the kehillot in Gelderland.
    On December 15th, 1985 on the eighth day of Chanuka the candles were lit in the newly restored synagogue of Zutphen. The building was handed over exactly in time by the Groningen architects Bugel and Dubbeling. Speeches were held by Rabbi Jacobs, Meijer Groen and Ad ten Bosch.
    On Sunday, September 7th, 1986 the synagogue was opened to visitors. About 200 interested persons visited the beautifully restored building.
    Still many years later synagogue services for Chanuka and Purim were held. Meijer Groen led an interdenominational study group and held lectures about Judaism for those interested. Hebrew lessons were also given. On March 21st, 1955 decorations were awarded in the Yad Vashem synagogue to three men and two women who saved the lives of Jewish citizens during the war years.
    An impressive memorial exposition with the motto "One way only" was held in Zutphen from April 13th until and including May 1955, showing a picture of four railway compartments ending in a dead-end. On the railroad ties are the names of places and numbers of Jewish victims on small signboards belongside rows of candles in memory of the Holocaust in Overijssel and Gelderland. The exposition was designed by treasurer F.H. Goorhuis of the Meijer Groen Society. In the spring of 1996 the much-visited exhibition "The Star of David, token of revilement defamation – symbol of hope" was held. In December 1996 three foreign students of the Rietveld Academy held an exhibition in the "Green Dome", the lower part of the synagogue.
    End September 1998 photographers Marcel Blok and Bram van Gelderen displayed pictures of people and cities in Israel under the auspices of the Meijer Groen Society. This was held within the framework of the celebration of the 50-years' existence of the State of Israel.
    Jewish life still continued for several years, among others through renewed cooperation with the kehillot of Deventer and Apeldoorn. Jewish lessons, conducted tours and courses were given modestly. End 1998 further cooperation with Jewish organizations in the region (social work, Jewish coffee shop Ha Makor, WIZO and the Etty Hillesum Centre) was planned and contact was taken up with the kehillot of Arnhem, Nijmegen and Hengelo.
    At the end of 1998 about 25 orthodox Jewish families, altogether 35 members still lived in Zutphen and surrounding villages.
    On November 19, 20 and 21st, 1999 the Zutphen kehilla celebrated the 120 years' existence of the synagogue. From far and near guests came to celebrate, among others by holding ceremonial services and a reception.

    Voorst, Brummen and suburbs
    Of the Jews who lived in Brummen, Steenderen, Bronkhorst, Voorst and Warnsveld (mainly patients of the institution Het Groot Graffel), resorting under the kehilla of Zutphen – at least 95 did not return. Most of these non-resident members perished in Auschwitz and Sobibor.
    De small synagogue situated until 1962 in Tuinstraat in Brummen was during the last years of its existence after 1945 among others a delousing station, a Red Cross post and a bathhouse. The Jews of Brummen were rather outraged by this. Of the small synagogue only the mikve and the basement were left. On May 3rd, 1988 the Mayor of Brummen unveiled a monument on the lawn that grew on its foundations, in memory of the kehilla that had disappeared.
    This took place through the initiative of the Headmaster of Brummen, Gerard Schockman, who in cooperation with the local Church Council collected five thousand guilders for a simple monument. Bricked into the monument, made by the artist A. van Gelderen, is the first stone laid in the synagogue of 1889, which was kept by Mr. Grotenhuis in the basement of his shop. The following moving text is chiseled into it: "Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more" (Jeremiah 31-15). In Memoriam to the Jews of the kehilla Brummen who were taken away.
    From Brummen, Steenderen and Bronkhorst among others, members of the following families were murdered:Aussen, Mansfeld, Meijers, Philips, Weijel and the 22 year old German refugee Walter Steinbach.
    The non-resident members who lived in Voorst also belonged to the kehilla Zutphen since about 1825. Before that year they belonged to the Ring of Arnhem. The oldest families wereVan Spiegel, Samuel, Vredenburg and later Winter.
    In Gorssel and Voorst together lived in 1849 11, 1860 15 Jewish inhabitants and in 1913 9 Jewish men and 18 Jewish women. In October 1941 stayed and lived in Voorst 34 Dutch, 22 German and 6 Jews of another nationality; 62 Jews from a total amount of inhabitants of 15,313. Many Jews went into hiding in Voorst. Probably through betrayal 21hiding Jews were picked up and transported. Twelve Jews from Voorst who were born locally, perished in Auschwitz and Sobibor: Josephine Polak, Aron, Mozes and Samuel Samuel, Antje van Creveld-Samuel, Clara and Hartog Vredenburg, Elsa, Eva, Maria and Mordechai Winter. Alexander Winter died in Schoppenitz, Israel and Izaak van Gelder, Mietje Lowenstein and Marie van Gelder-Polak, who still lived in Voorst in 1942, were also deported and perished in concentration camps.
    In October 1942 the children born in Voorst, Roosje, Meyer and Arnold de Jonge were deported from Deventer and murdered in Auschwitz. Valk van Spiegel, born in 1892 in Voorst – a resistance fighter of a mixed marriage – was shot dead by the Germans together with 10 other prisoners, one day before the liberation of Deventer, on Sunday, April 8th, 1945, on the Oxerhof near Colmschate. The booming of the cannons of the advancing Canadians was already audible. Their bodies were found on that evening by the liberating troops who had meanwhile arrived.
    Only one surviving male returned to Voorst after the war.

    Hans Kooger – "Het Oude Volk", pages 270-280
    Published by "Staring Instituut"/Mr. H.J. Steenbergenstichting", Doetinchem, 2001 (Slightly revised)
    By permission of the author.
    63 sources and research references used by the author are specified on pages 280-281 of the source.
    (available in the genealogical library: - Index No. 8528 Location code D132)

    Sjoerd Laansma – "De Joodse Gemeente te Zutphen", Walburg Pers, Zutphen, 1977
    (available in the genealogical library: - Index No. 2778 Location code D79)

    Extracted and edited in Dutch:Bob Engelsman & Berrie Asscher
    Reviewed in Dutch:Trudi Asscher & Ben Noach
    Translated into English:Nina Mayer
    End editing of English version:Trudi Asscher

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