The Netherlands / Monument

Bitter tears




'Bitter Tears' is a literal speaking monument. It was placed on the wall of Tiel's former synagogue in 1996. The monument was crafted by Willem den Ouden and Johan Goedhart. It is a teardrop commemorating the 41 members of Tiel's Jewish community who were murdered during the Second World War.

Jews lived in Tiel from the seventeenth century onwards. The local Jewish community flourished mainly in the nineteenth century. The standing synagogue was built in 1839. Ten years earlier, the Tiel Jews had their own - still existing - cemetery on the Voor de Kijkuit. The building to the left of the monument housed an internationally renowned Jewish boarding school in the nineteenth century. From about 1900 onwards, the number of Jewish residents of Tiel declined as livelihoods were better in the larger cities. In 1940, Tiel still had sixty Jewish residents.

After the German occupation, life for Dutch Jews was made increasingly difficult. In Tiel, the first major razzia was planned for 17 November 1942. Because the Tiel police commander, J.S. de Jong, refused to arrest innocent people and let the Jews be warned, there was only one casualty then. In the months that followed, many went into hiding, but for some there was no option. On 9 April, the last eight Jews from Tiel, along with 13 more peers from surrounding villages, went by van to the Vught concentration camp. Of these 21 people, only two survived.

Hardly any Jews returned to Tiel after the war, but the Blijdesteijn family did. The synagogue was converted into a mosque in 1978 and Tiel's Jewish community was formally disbanded in 1987.

Small speakers are located in the tears of the monument, from which the names of the victims can be heard. These names are followed by the statement in many languages: "I say: never again!"