The Digital Jewish Monument is an initiative of the History in Perspective Foundation (SHiP), which was founded in 2001. It is a non-profit foundation aimed at:
'Drawing the attention of a wide audience of all ages to history as a coherent whole, from a cultural-historical point of view.’
The initiators Thijs Rinsema and Conny Weide both cultural scientists are trying to realize this by producing photos, books and electronic visual material about complete parts of history.
The Jews in Meppel (1940-1945) Project
The Digital Jewish Monument is part of a project called ‘Jews in Meppel 1940-1945’, which consists of five parts. It is concerned with the history of the persecution of the Jews in Meppel. Few days in the history of this town have caused such great changes as October 3rd 1942. That day the last of the 250 Jewish citizens who were living in Meppel at the beginning of World War II were abducted to Camp Westerbork. Oddly enough few inhabitants of Meppel remember that day. It seems to be a case of collective loss of memory…
The five parts of the project
*The Second World War and the Jews in Meppel
A 24-page illustrated booklet for primary schools about what happened to the Jews in Meppel during the German occupation of The Netherlands in WWII.
(Author T.J. Rinsema, published by SHiP in co-operation with the municipality of Meppel)
*The Jewish community in Meppel and … what was left
This 30-page publication is a tour of Jewish ‘monuments’ in Meppel; of course not monuments in the proper sense of the word, but e.g. streets where many Jews used to live, their houses, shop-premises, the synagogue, the Jewish cemetery etc.
In short a tour to keep the memory alive.
(Author T.J. Rinsema, published by SHiP)
*Jews in Meppel 1940-1945
In the 564 page-book ‘Jews in Meppel’ the ups and downs of the Jewish community in this town after the outbreak of the war are described. The richly illustrated book is a chronological report of what happened to the Jews between 1940 and 1945, from the exclusion of civil functions, robbery of their possessions to their deportation to Westerbork. Also the completion of the inheritance proceedings after the war, and the slow administrative process are dealt with.
As the community was relatively limited, it was possible to show the effect of these measures on this particular group of people. On the other hand the group of Jews in Meppel was large enough to be able to apply to them all the measures taken in the Netherlands. This makes the impact of all those anti-Jewish measures on a group of Jews clearly visible.
(Author T.J. Rinsema, published by Walburg Press)
*Eighty houses were empty all at once
When the book ‘Jews in Meppel 1940-1945 was published, a photo exhibition was organized and the book ‘Eighty Houses were Empty all at once’ was compiled.
This was a project especially intended for primary- and secondary schools.
In 84 pages the houses are shown, which the Jewish inhabitants were forced to leave in the night of 3 October 1942. From one day to the next about 80 houses in Meppel were empty. All over the town one could see them: residences put under seal, where only the furniture reminded of the people who had lived there only recently. Nearly 250 people had inhabited those places and had worked there. They left behind a very tangible void.
In spite of the urban renewal plans many ‘Jewish residences’ are still there; they are in fact the only trace left of Jewish Meppel before 1942, so for children, and not only for them, they are a tangible memory of that awful period.
(Author T.J. Rinsema, a SHiP publication in co-operation with the municipality of Meppel)
*Digital Jewish Monument
The final step was the realization of the Digital Jewish Monument. When the research for the book about the Jewish community in Meppel had been completed, there was still a lot of material left.
With all this information the book would have become twice as thick. Therefore it was decided to realize the Jewish Digital Monument.
This created an opportunity to make available all the valuable information and photographs to lots of people and to start a dialogue as well.