International Jewish Cemetery Project - Netherlands
: 52º06' 02º06
- Joodse Begraafplaats Meppel: The town is in the (county/province) Drenthe -- Address: Steenwijkerstraatweg, Meppel. Telephone: area code 0522, number 251182 or 0522-259288 (Mrs. E. van der Horst, Vice Chairman, Beth Chaim Foundation) Current Population: city 26,000 people, in the whole county 30,000 people. The number of Jewish people is unknown. The cemetery is about 3-4 miles outside of Meppel, next to a B-road from Meppel to Steenwijk. It is separate with a field on one side, a few (2-3) houses, and another small road leading to a very small lake with about twenty houseboats. The property is only used as a Jewish cemetery. The cemetery burials were Jews and Jewish people outside Meppel. The cemetery dates from 1766, with the last burial, Mr. Stoppelman, in 1965. Jewish community in Meppel, before WWII, was around 250 people. The first Jewish community in Meppel existed before 1766. Because Meppel had two steamships sailing from Meppel to Amsterdam, the 19th century Jewish community was large. Of 6,000 inhabitants, around 600 were Jewish. Meppel was one of the ten rabbinates in the Netherlands when, around 1880, The Netherlands was divided in ten different rabbinate sections. In 1900-1920, many Jews moved to Amsterdam. In 1942, the Germans deported the entire Jewish population of the city of Meppel (243 people). In 1945, only eight people came back from the concentration camps. The Jewish community ceased to exist 1964. The synagogue was demolished in 1960. After W.W.II, many Jewish communities in the Netherlands disappeared with nobody left to care for the graves of their ancestors. The Beth Chaim Foundation secretary office: Dhr. R. van Diejen, Zuiderlaan 127, 7944 EC Meppel, The Netherlands is charge of this site and may have additional information. This foundation will create a computerized burial list from an existing register. Elsbeth v.d. Horst has been asked to the map of the cemetery to be included here later. The Council of Meppel probably has some archival information that needs to be researched and added. Documents from the Jewish community of Meppel are at the NIK in Amsterdam.
Access is always open; traditional, no flowers. NIK in Amsterdam has owned the Jewish Cemetery in Meppel since 1945. The cemetery contains 320 stones and is undergoing restoration started in 1998. The Jewish community that used this cemetery was Orthodox and Reform/Liberal. The cemetery is on flat land with a sign in Dutch: "Jewish Cemetery Meppel" and a Mogen David. Neighbors have the key to the gate. The cemetery was divided into sections: parnassim, rich people, poor people, people from outside Meppel, and children. Inscriptions are in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Dutch. 320 gravestones are in original location. Many of the stones are Belgium soft sandstone or Belgium hard sandstone with one or two of marble. There are single and double gravestones, some with Cohen (blessing hands) or Levite (jug) symbols. The cemetery is still active (i.e., available upon request.) The cemetery is visited rarely by organized Jewish groups. (In 2000, a group of 25 people from the north of Holland visited the cemetery). Since the Beth Chaim Foundation began restoration, more than 200 people have visited the cemetery. There should be 600 people buried in total but many stones have disappeared. Before 1990, there was vandalism. The missing stones probably result, not because of demolition, but because twenty to forty years ago, it was normal in The Netherlands to take stones from abandoned or unused cemeteries and use them for backyards, gardens, and roads. Inside the cemetery is a "Metaheir-house" (pre-burial house) dating from 1895, now a monument. Inside the Metaheir house is a wooden board with Jewish inscriptions that still require translation.
Repair/maintenance: repairing broken gravestones, replacing gravestones that had fallen down, cleaning gravestones, repainting text and symbols in black, removing moss done since Summer 1998. (Planned for 2001 is restoration of the 1895 entrance gate.) Restoration is done by a group of Beth Chaim Foundation volunteers. Dhr. R. van Diejen, Secretary of the Beth Chaim Foundation, Meppel, The Netherlands, Europe completed this survey on 10-Mar-2000: e-mail