Groningen has always been the largest town in the northern part of the Netherlands, attracting large numbers of Jews because of it throughout the history of the city. The community reached a high of some 2,700 members at the beginning of the 20th century. Only a small part of the 2,400-strong community in 1941 managed to survive the Holocaust. Jewish life nevertheless continued after the war, and there is still a Jewish community present, aligned to the NIK.

Early Jewish settlement

The first Jews in Groningen were reported in the 16th century, but due to opposition from the city council and religious authorities it lasted until the end of the 17th century before Jews could permanently live in the city[1]. There were some 50 Jews in the city around 1700, mostly hailing from Appingedam. In the vicinity of Groningen several towns and villages had full-grown Jewish communities, a consequence of the policy of forbidding Jews to settle in Groningen itself. The small Jewish community was banned from the city already in 1710 after accusations of theft, but some nevertheless stayed in the city. The community grew again from the 1730s onwards; there were 90 Jews living in the city in 1744. In 1776 this number had grown to 260. A full-grown synagogue is inaugurated in 1756 in the future Kleine Folkingestraat, which would become the center of Jewish life in the city in the 200 years following[2].

19th century and early 20th century

The emancipation degrees of 1796 gave Jews the same rights in the Netherlands as all other civilians, as they were no longer seen as a separate nation living in the Netherlands[3]. Instead of being called "Dutch Jews" they were now given the name of "Israelite Dutchmen". At that time there were 396 Jews living in the city. In the years following the city was named a "head synagogue" or central community, meaning the community was responsible for monitoring all the other smaller Jewish communities in Groningen province. The community grew to 754 persons in 1815, a growth of 90.4% in no more than two decades. Jewish life started to flourish. Due to assimilation tendencies from the Dutch government (due to the emancipation degrees Jews were for example no longer allowed to teach Yiddish in their schools), a split occurred within the community in 1851 between the more liberal elements, supporting these assimiliationist tendencies, and the modern traditional elements, opposing it. In 1881 however the two groups were unified again. Meanwhile, the number of Jews in Groningen didn't stop growing, reaching 1,645 individuals in 1869 and 2,628 individuals in 1899 (an increase of some 564% in one century). This tremendous growth had two causes: a high birthrate; and the settlement of many Jews from small Jewish communities in Groningen province in the city. Many Jews were working as salesman, hawker, trader of livestock or shopkeeper. Some Jews became very successful, like Aletta Jacobs (first female doctor in the Netherlands and well-known fighter for women rights) and Jozef Israëls (famous impressionist painter). The community in Groningen managed to stay large and numerous despite the moving of many Jews to the western part of the country (most notably Amsterdam).

Number of Jews in Groningen 1700–2006
YearNumber of JewsSource
18401,200Jewish Historical Museum[4]
19302,408Jewish Historical Museum
19412,724 / 2,843Groningen University[5] /
1945120Groningen University
1948293Groningen University
1951225Jewish Historical Museum
1971128Jewish Historical Museum
199853Jewish Historical Museum
200660 familiesFriesch Dagblad[6]


Joods monument Groningen

Jewish monument at Hereweg, Groningen

The Nazi authorities counted 2,724[7] (other sources say 2,843[1]) Jews or Volljuden in Groningen in February 1941, when Jews were forced to register with Dutch authorities. Another 463 persons had at least one Jewish grandparent but were not considered Volljuden, bringing the total number of people in Groningen with at least one Jewish grandparent to 3,187. Most Jewish men, some 600 in total, were deported on July 10 1942; another 110 men were deported on September 30 1942. A razzia in the night of October 2 to October 3 1942 saw the deportation of some 650 Jewish women and children. They were sent to the Westerbork concentration camp nearby, and from thereon deported to Auschwitz, Sobibor, Bergen-Belsen or Theresienstadt. The Jews who were left in the city after the deportations in July, September and October 1942 were mostly deported throughout the remaining months of 1942 and the first months of 1943. The last Jews were deported in December 1943. A total of 2,550 Jews were deported to concentration camps (93.6% of the Jewish population)[7]. Only 10 survived. With more than 93% of the Jewish population killed, Jewish life in Groningen was completely destroyed. It was assumed that some 120 Jews returned to the city in 1945. There were an estimated 293 Jews present in 1948[8].

Contemporary Jewish life

There is currently a functioning Jewish community in Groningen – the Nederlands Israëlitische Gemeente Groningen or NIG Groningen – aligned to the NIK. As of 2006 some 60 Jewish families are member of this congregation.

Notable Groningen Jews


  1. 1.0 1.1 History of Jewish Groningen. Accessed 1 January 2008 (Dutch)
  2. A short history on Jews in Groningen province. Accessed 1 January 2008 (Dutch)
  3. The Jewish community of the city Groningen 1796-1945. University of Groningen. Accessed 1 January 2008 (Dutch)
  4. Jews in Groningen. Jewish Historical Museum. Accessed 4th January 2008
  5. Jews of Groningen during the Second World War. University of Groningen. Accessed 4th January 2008 (Dutch)
  6. 'Showing the synagogue: we have not vanished'. Friesch Dagblad, March 8th 2006. Accessed January 1, 2008 (Dutch)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jews of Groningen during the Second World War. University of Groningen. Accessed 1 January 2008 (Dutch)
  8. 'The Folkingestraat was sort of a Jewish ghetto'. Groningen University Magazine. Accessed 1 January 2008 (Dutch)

External links

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