Todays images are of some of the signposts to the history of The Hague’s Jewish Quarter.
Prior to the second world war and the Holocaust there was an established Jewish Community in The Hague, one of the least persecuted and open Jewish communities in Europe. The Jewish quarter extended from the Gedempte Gracht to the north, the Paviljoensgracht to the west, the Spui to the east and the (Dunne) Bierkade to the South, a similar area now covered by the current China Town.
The Holocaust Memorial (below) remembers the Jewish residents of The Hague, those that suffered and those that perished. The monument is inscribed with the words “Remember what Amalek did to you…… do not forget”. The memorial was created by Haagse sculptor Dick Stins.
The memorial is now located on the rear wall of the building of the C&A Department Store on the Gedempte Gracht next to the entrance to a snack bar of all places. Without the context of history this might be considered an irreverent place to locate such an significant memorial. However, the building that previously occupied the same lot was part of a redevelopment of the area after the devastation of the second world war by Jewish businessman Jacques Levi Lassen. It was his wish upon his death that a Holocaust memorial be created.
A replica plaque of ‘Rachel Weeps’ created by sculptor Theo van de Nahamer can found on the churchyard wall of the Nieuwe Kerk. It’s no coincidence that the plaque overlooks the Rabbijn Maarsenplein. Rabbijn Maarsenplein is the location of the school yard of a former Jewish Childrens School, the school site is now occupied by an apartment complex. The inscription on the plaque of ‘Rachel Weeps’ refers to the Book of Jeremiah 31:15 where there is mention of Rachel weeping for her children, this is interpreted in Judaism as Rachel crying for an end to her descendants’ sufferings.
“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”
The original plaque of ‘Rachel Weeps’ can be seen in the Museon Museum.
MONUMENT TO THE JEWISH CHILDREN OF THE HAGUE
From 1942 Jewish children were prohibited from attending school. In 1943 1700 children from the school were deported to the concentration camps none of them returned.
The Monument to the Jewish Children of The Hague who were murdered in the holocaust (below) was created by Eric de Vries and Sara Benhamou. This monument is located in the childrens playground of the Rabbijn Maarsenplein and represents a collection of chairs from the former Jewish Childrens School. Childrens names and ages can be found inscribed on each of the chairs. It is suggested that the struts of the chairs represent steps or stairs to heaven. There were originally 7 chairs but one was stolen.
In 2006 the Bezemplein was renamed to the Rabbijn Maarsenplein. Isaac Maarsen was the Rabbi of The Hague from 1925 until 1943 when he and his family were deported to Sobibór concentration camp.
A Jewish Orphange on the Paviljoensgracht was one of the gathering points in The Hague for the deportation of the Jews to the concentration camps. The former Orphanage has now been replaced by a new building containing a community centre. This is one of the few information plaques that does not include an English translation and is not on any of the walking tours.
The Jewish Orphanage
Paviljoensgracht 27A was in 1942 – 1943
The starting point of the Deportation of +/-14,000 of the 17,000 Jewish Hagenaars to the German Concentration Camps
The (now) mosque on the Wagenstraat was originally the Grand Synagogue (1844 to 1974). The Grand Synagogue also had a Mikva. In 1979 it was converted to a mosque. The minaret was added at some later date.
Benedictus Spinoza was a dutch jewish philosopher of portuguese descent who was born and spent his formative years growing up in the jewish quarter of Amsterdam before residing in The Hague. See blog article Baruch Spinoza.
There are still signs of a Jewish past, the frontage of one of the shops in the Wagenstraat has a facade depicting two rams heads, the sign of a Jewish Butcher. Many of the facades of other Jewish shops have long since disappeared having being made of wood.
All around the former Jewish quarter can be seen signposts to a Jewish past, these include Synagogues, Jewish Orphanages, old age person homes, schools, Torah Schools and administrative buildings.
Todays photographs were taken during the months of February and March 2011. Additional images of Signposts to a Jewish History