History of the Jews in the Netherlands 1900-The Present Day

Foto: Liselore KampingIn the galleries of the New Synagogue, the new permanent exhibition on the history of the Jews in the Netherlands from 1900 to the present day is now open to the public. This exhibition is the sequel to the one in the galleries of the Great Synagogue, which spans the period 1600-1900. This fulfils the Jewish Historical Museum's wish to display the history of the Jews from their arrival in the Netherlands until the present day. The profusion of stories, objects, historical film material and interviews conducted especially for this purpose, together with the design produced by KOSSMANN.DEJONG exhibition architects, provides a sure formula for a spectacular exhibition.

The exhibition has been divided into three periods: before, during, and after the war. On three walls, uninterrupted loops of film material from these periods will be projected in a large format. On a total of fourteen screens, each theme will be elaborated with an interview, archival film material, a 'primary object', and photographs and documents. A wealth of exhibits will bring the history to life. Visitors can use touchscreens to obtain information about each item.

The twentieth century brought the Jews in the Netherlands prosperity followed by untold grief. The first few decades witnessed the continuation of a process of emancipation that had begun in the nineteenth century. The rise of socialism was one factor that helped the lower social classes of the Jewish population to better their lives. With the Second World War, the relatively safe existence of the Dutch Jews came to an end. By routes including internment in Camp Westerbork, three-quarters of them were deported to death camps and murdered by the Nazis. After the war, most Jews believed that Judaism no longer had a future in the Netherlands. Yet the year 1948 brought fresh hope and joy, with the proclamation of a Jewish state, Israel. Today, the Netherlands once again has a strong and vibrant Jewish community.

KOSSMANN.DEJONG exhibition architects have given the exhibition space an open atmosphere, providing a clear view of the monumental building. As a result of the impressive film projections on the walls, the building is incorporated into the exhibition space, right up to the ceiling. The exhibition provides numerous opportunities to explore topics in more depth, and takes account of visitors with diverse preferences: those with little or ample time, those with little or a great deal of prior foreknowledge, Dutch and non-Dutch, Jewish and not-Jewish.