THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF NIJMEGEN,
HOLLAND, AND THE CITY OF NIJMEGEN:
The Jewish community in Nijmegen was once the biggest and oldest
Jewish community in the Netherlands, already in existence in the
first part of the 14th century. The community was destroyed in 1349
after accusations that Jews had spread the
Black Plague, but several Jews resettled in the town again
already in 1386. This community lasted some 100 years. At the
beginning of the 17th century Jewish life was again established. The
community grew to some 530 persons in 1940. In the five years
following however, the community was largely destroyed by the Nazis.
This didn't prevent the survivors to restart the community again
after the war had ended. In 2000, the community returned to its
original 17th century synagogue and left the 19th century building
adjacent to what was once the synagogue. The Jewish community is
growing since the move to the ancient synagogue, attracting new
interested Jewish people. It holds services and all kind of
cultural, social and religious events.
Old Nijmegen Synagogue.
Destroyed by the Nazis
Nijmegen (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈnɛɪmeːɣə(n)]
listen)) is a
municipality and a
city in the
east of the
Netherlands, near the
border. It is considered to be the oldest city in the Netherlands and
celebrated its 2000th year of existence in 2005. The municipality is
part of the "Stadsregio
Arnhem-Nijmegen", a metropolitan area with 736,107 inhabitants
The city of Nijmegen
The first mention of Nijmegen in history is in the
1st century BCE, when the
Romans built a military camp on the place where Nijmegen was to
appear; the location had great strategic value because of the
surrounding hills, which gave (and continues to give) a good view over
the Waal and
By 69, when the
Batavians, the original inhabitants of the Rhine and
Maas valley, revolted, a village called Oppidum Batavorum had
formed near the Roman camp. This village was destroyed in the revolt,
but when the revolt had ended the Romans built another, bigger camp
Legio X Gemina was stationed. Soon after, another village
formed around this camp.
In 98 Nijmegen was the first of two settlements in
what is now the Kingdom of the Netherlands to receive
Roman city rights.
In 103 the X Gemina was restationed to
which may have been a major blow to the economy of the village around
the camp. In 104 Emperor
renamed the town, which now became known as Ulpia Noviomagus
Batavorum, Noviomagus for short (the origin of the current name
In the 4th century, Roman power decreased and
Nijmegen became part of the
kingdom. It has been contended that in the 8th century Emperor
Charlemagne maintained his palatium in Nijmegen on at least
four occasions. During his brief deposition of 830, the emperor
Louis the Pious was sent to Nijmegen by his son
Lothar I. Thanks to the Waal river, trade flourished.
Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor was born at Nijmegen in 1165. In 1230
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor granted Nijmegen
city rights. In 1247, the city was ceded to the count of
collateral for a loan. The loan was never repaid, and Nijmegen has
been a part of Gelderland ever since. This did not hamper trade;
Nijmegen even became part of the
Hanseatic League in 1364.
The arts also flourished in this period. Famous
medieval painters like the
Limbourg brothers were born and educated in Nijmegen.
Dutch Revolt, trade came to a halt and even though Nijmegen became a
part of the Republic of United Provinces in 1585, it remained a border
town and had to endure multiple sieges.
In 1678 Nijmegen was host to the negotiations between
the European powers that aimed to put an end to the constant warfare
that had ravaged the continent for years. The result was the
Treaty of Nijmegen that, unfortunately, failed to provide for a
In the second half of the
19th century, the fortifications around the city became a major problem.
There were too many inhabitants inside the walls, but the fortifications
could not be demolished because Nijmegen was deemed as being of vital
importance to the defence of the Netherlands. When events in the
Franco-Prussian war proved that old-fashioned fortifications were no
more of use, this policy was changed and the fortifications were
dismantled in 1874. The old castle had already been demolished in 1797,
so that its bricks could be sold.
Through the second half of the 19th century and the
first half of the 20th century, Nijmegen grew steadily. The Waal was
bridged in 1878 by a
rail bridge and in 1936 by a car bridge, which was claimed to be
Europe's biggest bridge at the time. In 1923 the current
Radboud University Nijmegen was founded and in 1927 a channel was
dug between the Waal and Maas rivers.
1940, the Netherlands were invaded by
with Nijmegen being the first Dutch city to fall into German hands. On
February 22, 1944, Nijmegen was heavily bombed by
American planes, causing great damage to the city centre. The
American pilots thought they were bombing the German city of
Alleged by the Germans to have been a deliberate act, the
NIOD announced in January 2005 that its study of the incident
confirmed that it was an accident caused by poor communications and
chaos in the airspace. Over 750 people died in the incident.
During September 1944, the city saw heavy fighting
Operation Market Garden. The objective in Nijmegen was mainly to
prevent the Germans from destroying the bridges. Capturing the road
bridge allowed the
Corps to attempt to reach the
1st British Airborne Division in
The bridge was heavily defended by over 300 German troops on both the
north and south sides with close to 20
anti-tank guns and two
anti-aircraft guns, supported with artillery.
The Germans' late attempt to blow the road bridge
was probably foiled by a local Dutch resistance hero,
Jan van Hoof, who is said to have cut the wires to the bridge.
The Germans made repeated attacks on the bridge
using bombs attached to driftwood, midget submarines and later resorted
to shelling the bridge with
88mm barrages. Troops were positioned on the bridge giving an
excellent arc of fire in case of attack. Troops that couldn't fit onto
the bridge were positioned in a bombed out house slightly upstream of
the bridge. During the shelling, the house was hit, killing six soldiers
and wounding one more.
Nijmegen was liberated from German captivity by
Grenadier Guards of the
Guards Armoured Division, as well as elements of the American
82nd Airborne Division in September 1944. This city would later be
used as a springboard for
Operation Veritable, the invasion across the Rhine River by Allied
More recently, on February 23, 1981, the Nijmegen
Police Department and the Dutch
Zeigelhof, a squatted housing block in the city centre of Nijmegen.
Using two hundred
riot vans, three
Leopard MBTs, three
armoured personnel carriers, a
helicopter, twelve hundred policemen, and seven hundred fifty
members of the
armed forces, they evicted the squatters and demolished the block,
while clouding the entire area in
This had an enormous backlash in local politics. While the city
government wanted the squatters out to build a parking garage, most of
the population wanted affordable housing to be built in the area.
As of this date, Nijmegen is still known as
Waal among some
Socialist Party, the
Labour have a solid two-third majority in
City Council, making Nijmegen the only major city in the
Netherlands with a solely
Left-wing government. The current mayor is
Thom de Graaf.
Nijmegen celebrated its 2000th year of existence
in 2005. It is considered the oldest city in the Netherlands. In gaining
this qualification, it has competed with the city of
In November 2005, the city centre of Nijmegen was
the site of the assassination of political activist
Louis Sévèke by a former activist (Marcel T.). Marcel T. was
arrested in 2007 in Spain and extradited to the Netherlands. Marcel T.
was also accused of bank robbery. Marcel T. committed his acts out of
revenge for a forcible eviction from the squatter scene by Louis Sévèke.
Few Roman remains are visible today; a fragment of
the old city wall can be seen near the
and the foundations of the
amphitheatre are traced in the paving of the present-day
Valkhof museum, on the Valkhof, has a permanent display of the
history of Nijmegen, including artifacts from the Roman era.
Additionally, they usually have temporary exhibitions of more and less
famous artists. Unfortunately not a whole lot of very old buildings are
left in town: first the Americans carpet bombed it in February 1944,
later the Germans shelled it for about five months after the liberation
in September 1944, and finally there were a lot of very rigorous city
planners in the 1950s, 60's and 70's who finished what the Americans and
There are still a few noteworthy sights, however.
Valkhof hill downtown features a Carolingian chapel (eight, ninth
century AD) and a small remainder of an imperial castle that was
demolished in 1798. From Valkhof hill walk west through the Burchtstraat.
Here you will see, on your left hand, the fifteenth century town hall.
If you've finished admiring its exterior (there's nothing of note
inside) continue walking west to the Grote Markt (Great Market) on the
north side is a sixteenth-century weighing hall that now serves as a
restaurant. On the west side you will see the entrance to the St.
Stevenskerk courtyard. On the left is a fifteenth-century Latin school.
On the right stands the thirteenth century St. Stevenskerk, the interior
of which was destroyed during the Dutch revolution of the sixteenth
century. To the north of the church is a series of small
seventeenth-century houses that now serve as trinket shops
Nijmegen is generally speaking the warmest area of
the Netherlands, especially during summer, when the highest temperatures
in the country are usually measured in the triangle Roermond – Nijmegen
– Eindhoven. The lack of north-south oriented mountain ranges in Europe
make this area prone to sudden shifts in weather, giving the region a
Some of the northernmost wineries in the world are
found just outside of Nijmegen, around
Groesbeek, a suburban village south-east of Nijmegen.
2006 European heat wave, Kalkar reached a high of 38.6°C (101.5°F)
on July 19, and a Weather Underground station in Nijmegen-Dukenburg
reached a high of 38.7°C (101.7°F), which, if accepted by the KNMI,
would have been a record high for the Netherlands. The
KNMI does not consider data from stations operated by others,
however. The heat wave coincided with that year's Four Day Marches,
which were cancelled after the first day, when two people died of
hyperthermia-related causes. Temperatures on that day, the 18th of
July, reached around 36°C (97°F).
On the night of January 6, 2009, an all-time
record low of −17.5°C was reached at Weeze airport, and many other
stations around Nijmegen reached record or near-record low temperatures,
as low as −21°C (−5°F) at some places. Raeren in Belgium recorded
−25.9°C (−15°F), making this cold spell the coldest in at least 60
Nijmegen is host to
Radboud University Nijmegen. Founded in 1923 as the first
Catholic university in the Netherlands. It used to be called
(Catholic) University of Nijmegen until 2004, when it took its
current name. As of 2006 it had 17,627 students 4,336 staff. Radboud
University runs the High Field Magnetic Laboratory which is able to
achieve some of the highest fields available in Europe at 33
teslas (continuous) and 60 teslas (pulsed). The facility is
available to outside users, primarily for research purposes.
The education and social work departments of the
Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen school for higher level vocational
training are also located in Nijmegen, as are that school's medical
In addition to these institutions, there is also
an intermediate level vocational school (ROC
Nijmegen) and a number of secondary schools: Groenschool Nijmegen,
Kandinsky College, Nijmeegse Scholengemeenschap Groenewoud (NSG),
Citadel College, Stedelijke Scholengemeenschap Nijmegen (SSGN), Canisius
College, St. Jorisschool, Lindenholt College, the Stedelijk Gymnasium
(formally the "Latijnse school", founded in the 16th century), the Karel
de Grote College, Montessori College and the Dominicus College. Of note
Leefwerkschool Eigenwijs, which caters to students from all over the
Netherlands who have been repeatedly expelled from "regular" high
schools. Leefwerkschool Eigenwijs has its roots in the local activist
movement of the early 1980s and is the only school of its kind
recognised in the Netherlands.
Nijmegen is also an important centre of
Psycholinguistics, home to the
Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics and the
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour.
Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 awarded to
Andre Geim and
Konstantin Novoselov while at Radboud University "for groundbreaking
experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene."
Nijmegen has four train stations:
Nijmegen Heyendaal and
Nijmegen Lent. The central station is connected to the national
Intercity network. The bus company Breng (a subsidiary of Connexxion)
operates the city buses in the Arnhem-Nijmegen metropolitan area.
and around Nijmegen
International Four Day March Nijmegen
Nijmegen is famous for the
International Four Day March Nijmegen (Dutch:
Afstandsmarsen Nijmegen, informally Nijmeegse Vierdaagse),
an annual event starting on the third Tuesday in July, comprising four
walking (distances ranging from 30 to 50 km a day), and the
accompanying festivities (the Vierdaagsefeesten including rock
de-Affaire), which have been drawing the largest crowds for any
Dutch event in the past few years.
invites WWII allied veterans to help celebrate their participation in
the liberation of the Netherlands from German occupation. Participants
from Britain, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand have attended
the event. Nowadays, the event is international, inviting teams from all
countries to attention.
During the Vierdaagse of 2006 two people
died due to the extreme hot weather (note that the deceased had other
health issues that added up to the death cause). It caused the
organisation to cancel the rest of the walk. This resulted in extra
safety measures during the 2007 Vierdaagse; for instance, a
professional weatherman was added to the organisation staff, more free
water refill stations were added along the route and an extensive
research program was developed to monitor the effects of hiking long
distances on the human body.
In 1968 prominent liberal theologians in the Roman
Catholic Church issued what is now known as the
Nijmegen Statement, demanding sweeping reforms in the Vatican's Holy
Office, previously known as The Inquisition, and calling for greater
scope for theological inquiry. Among its signatories was the then
progressive theologian Fr.
Joseph Ratzinger, then a member of the faculty at the
University of Tübingen but later a much more conservative figure as
the head of the successor to the
Holy Office, the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and later still
Pope Benedict XVI.
Statement said: "Any form of Inquisition however subtle, not only harms
the development of sound theology, it also causes irreparable damage to
the credibility of the church". The signatories, a group of
predominantly German-speaking theologians asserted that "the freedom of
theologians, and theology in the service of the church, regained by
Vatican II, must not be jeopardized again." The signatories pledged
their loyalty to the pope, but argued that the teaching office of pope
and bishops "cannot and must not supersede, hamper and impede the
teaching task of theologians as scholars."
There are several English spoken Religious
meetings in Nijmegen. See the
external link for a list of Church services in English (link from
the official site is obsolete and not being updated for long).
The municipality is formed by the city of Nijmegen,
incorporating the former villages of
Neerbosch, as well as the urban expansion project of
Waalsprong, situated north of the river
Waal and including the village of
Lent and the hamlet of
't Zand, as well as the new suburbs of Nijmegen-Oosterhout and
The city council has 39 seats. After the 2002
municipal elections, the three major parties,
GroenLinks (9 seats),
PvdA (8 seats) and
SP (6 seats) formed a coalition. Because these are all left-wing
parties, Nijmegen received the nickname 'Havana
on the Waal'. Although such majorities are no exception (compare
Amsterdam) and sometimes also form coalitions (see
Muntendam), this is unusual for a city this size. Since such a
left-wing coalition might be possible at a national level after the 2006
general election, the achievements of this council are often scrutinised.
After the 2006 municipal election such a coalition became possible in
many more municipalities, making the example even more interesting.
municipal elections of 7 March 2006 saw an increase of 4,6% of the
votes for these three parties taken together, which could be seen as
increased support for the coalition. However, nationally these parties
scored much better, recovering from an electoral blow of the 2002
elections. Then again, the
Leefbaar parties that caused the loss then and lost most of their
votes this time have no branch in Nijmegen, which makes this comparison
less valid. Among the three big parties, there was a shift from
GroenLinks, who lost 6.5%, to PvdA, who won 6.4% and SP, who won 2.3%.
As a result it is no longer the biggest party. The seat assignment is
now as shown in the table. The three-party coalition was returned to
After the 2010 Dutch municipal election, the PvdA
lost three of its eleven seats. Short before the elections, there were
problems with the SP. Therefore, GroenLinks and the PvdA formed a
coalition with the social-liberal D66.
Sport in the city is principally focussed on its
N.E.C. Nijmegen or just NEC, short for Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie,
who play at the 12,500 seat
McDOS Goffertstadion. The club is in the top division, the
Eredivisie, and qualified for the 2008-9
Bandy Vereniging Nijmegen is
bandy club in the country.
The city is also home to one of the country's
Quick 1888, a current member of the
KNCB. Formed in 1888,the club is the largest cricket club in the
east of the country and was formed 13 years after the first club, Utile
Deventer. Moreover the
Nijmegen Devils, is an
hockey club from Nijmegen.
JEWISH AND KOSHER NETHERLANDS: