A few Jews resided in Dwingeloo as early as 1750. By the start of the nineteenth century, during the Napoleonic occupation of the Netherlands, an organized and officially recognized Jewish community was in place. Of the roughly ten families that comprised the community, approximately fifty percent were destitute. During the nineteenth century, the Dwingeloo community also included the Jews of the nearby town of Beilen and the village of Ruinen.

Synagogue in Dwingelo, around 1910. Photograph by E.J. Boneschanscher.In 1821, the Jewish central consistory (NIK) designated Dwingeloo as a local community (Bijkerk) within the district (Ring) of the town of Hoogeveen.

Prior to 1835, the Dwingeloo community held religious services in a room in a local inn. After 1835, the community set up a synagogue in a building that also housed a smith. This synagogue was renovated in 1846 and remained in use until 1923 when the building was destroyed by fire. No synagogue was established to replace it. From 1830 on, the Dwingeloo community had a cemetery of its own, located in the Dwingelerzand (also called the Dwingeler Duinen). A burial society was the only communal organization the community maintained.

Jewish cemetery Dwingeloo (photo Arie ten Cate)The Jews of Dwingeloo lived in close proximity to one another and played no important role in the life of the town. Dwingeloo's Jewish population reached its apogee in about 1870. From the beginning of the twentieth century until the eve of the Second World War, membership in the community steadily declined.

During the Second World War almost all the Jews of Dwingeloo were deported and by the Germans and murdered in Nazi death camps.

The Jewish community of Dwingeloo was officially dissolved and merged into the Hoogeveen community in 1950. The cemetery is maintained by local authorities. The authorities attempted to gain National Monument status for the cemetery but their request was denied.

In 2004, a parokhet stolen from the Dwingeloo synagogue during the war was unexpectedly recovered. The parokhet is now in the collection of the Jewish Historical Museum Amsterdam.

Jewish population of Dwingeloo and surroundings:

1809 84
1840 63
1869 75
1899 47
1930 21


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