The Netherlands / Story

Survival, despite everything: Jacob and Eddy van de Rhoer




The Van de Rhoer brothers are one of the stories of the Jewish people of Meppel, and were among the few to survive.

Even though Van de Rhoer brothers emigrated to Israel long ago, they kept reminiscing about their childhood:  "It was all about Meppel all their lives," said a contemporary from their second homeland. Growing up on Stationsweg 6 as sons of a cattle trader, they did not follow in the footsteps of their father, who had a reputation in the region for trading with integrity.   

Jacob became a lawyer-procurator and established his practice in a specially constructed extension, which still stands today. His brother Eddy worked in textile manufacturing and, naively, as a conscript soldier in Westerbork with his unit as early as 1939.   

The brothers were forced to stop working in 1942 and in August, like most young Jewish men, they were called up to work camps, which were prevalent in Drenthe. This culminated in the mass departure from all those camps to Westerbork on 3 October 1942.  

The first to escape was Jacob, who escaped with help from his brother, who could walk around reasonably freely as a kitchen help. Jacob was hidden in a vegetable van from the Meppel company Ter Bruggen, which delivered to the camp. NSB member and owner of Ter Bruggen was a supporter of the new order and had therefore secured supplies of fruit and vegetables. His employees did not share his views, however, and Jacob went into hiding in Meppel at Zuideinde.  

Eddy also escaped using fruit. He travelled with a crate of apples to a Westerbork outpost camp, which was a fairly frequent trip, but then cycled on to the village. Disguised by a family contact, he got on the train to Meppel in Hooghalen, where he was able to join the family's hiding place in the dark on Zuideinde in Meppel. Both brothers and their families survived the war in various places in the region, and they left for Israel after the war. 

Author: Wim Sagel