Sole Remnant of Dutch Town’s Jewish Community on Display at Yad Vashem
JNS.org – Stained glass from the synagogue that served the Jews of the Dutch city of Assen, almost all of whom were killed in the Holocaust, is now displayed at the synagogue of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center.
The glass windows of the now-destroyed synagogue feature symbols related to the Jewish holidays, including a shofar, a sukkah and the four species used in Sukkot rituals. The windows were designed by the local Jewish architect Abraham van Oosten, who died in 1937.
According to Yad Vashem’s website, the windows “were completed and installed in 1932, as attested to by the inscription engraved upon them. Five years later, van Oosten died at the untimely age of 40. His widow, Heintje, and their three children, Gunda, Leo and Johanna, remained in the town.”
In 1940, after Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands, Leo was deported to Auschwitz, where he was killed. Heintje, Gunda and Johanna were sent to the Westerbork transit camp. During her time there, Gunda married Asher Gerlich, a Zionist activist, and they were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They both survived and made it to British-controlled Palestine in 1946, settling in Kibbutz Beit Keshet and joining the Palmach, a pre-state Zionist militia.