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Meijer, Berthe

Meijer, Berthe (1938-2012), author and Holocaust survivor whose life intersected with that of Anne Frank. She lived on the same Amsterdam street in a Jewish neighborhood where Frank attended a Montessori school. Both families both attempted to hide during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, but were caught and deported. They were imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen at the same time, though Meijer was several years younger. While Frank died just two weeks before the camp was liberated in 1945, Meijer survived. Meijer grew up in a Jewish orphanage and had uncomfortable relationships with relatives who survived. As a young adult, she married.

She became a newspaper columnist and a collection of her recipes were published as a popular cookbook in the 1980s. Her life was not easy, she divorced her husband and find it difficult to maintain relationships. Her experiences during World War II traumatized her until her death.

In 2010, Meijer published a memoir titled "Life After Anne Frank," with the intention of comparing her own post-war fortunes as perhaps resembling what might have happened to Frank, had she lived. She decided to write the book after a visit to Bergen-Belsen. Meijer's decision to compare herself to Frank overshadowed the rest of Meijer's memoir, at least initially. Meijer endured skepticism over claims in the book that Frank had once attempted to write fairytales and had for a time helped to entertain and look after other Dutch Jewish children at the camp.
Date of birth:
1938
Date of death:
2012
Place of birth:
Amsterdam
Place of death:
Amsterdam
Personality type:
author
ID Number:
131619
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Related items:
MEIJER

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname derived from a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

Meijer, as a Jewish family names, is a Dutch variant of the Hebrew male personal name Meir. In talmudic times, people credited with bringing light or intellectual clarity to their subject were given the name Meir (Hebrew for "illuminates or radiates" or "one who sheds light"). A 2nd century, disciple of Rabbi Akiva, believed to have been named Mesha or Nehorai (the Aramaic forms), was known as Rabbi Meir because of his keenness in shedding light on the Halacha (the Jewish code of law). Associated Jewish family names are Yair ("will illuminate") and the Aramaic Nehorai ("light") or their variants and patronymics. Similarly, the names Uri and Shraga (literally "fire"). Meir is documented as a Jewish family name in Arles, France, in the 13th century. It appears as Meiger and Meyger in the 14th century in Strassbourg, as Meyr in 15th century France, as Meyer in the 17th century in Germany, and as Maier in Germany in the 18th century. Other variants include May in Germany and Poland, Major in Turkey, both in the 16th century, Mayer in France and Germany, and M'riro and Merito in Morocco. Named for their forefathers, families were called Meyerson, Meyerovitch, Meyrowitz, Merovic and Ben-Meir, all meaning "son of Meir".

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Meijer include the 20th century Dutch-born Israeli child psychiatrist, Alexander Meijer.

Amsterdam

The most populous city and the constitutional capital of the Netherlands.

After the northern provinces of the Netherlands proclaimed their independence of Catholic Spain (1579), Crypto-Jews ("Marranos") of Spanish and Portuguese origin were attracted to Amsterdam where little inquiry was made as to their religious beliefs.

Portuguese Jewish merchants began to settle in Amsterdam in about 1590.

The intellectual life of the community, in both its religious and secular aspects, attained a high level. As a center of Jewish learning throughout the Marrano Diaspora, Amsterdam Jewry wielded a powerful influence and became a focus of intellectual ferment. It flourished during the 17th century under the leadership of Saul Levi Morteira, and subsequently under the Chakham Isaac Aboab de Fonseca.

Pupils from the Talmud Torah school officiated as rabbis in numerous Sephardim communities in western Europe and the Mediterranean countries. Most of the religious literature in Spanish and Portuguese intended for the guidance of the Sephardi communities was composed and printed in Amsterdam.

The first Jewish printer there was Manasseh Ben Israel, who began printing in 1627 and produced more than 70 books. The community included such diverse personalities as the rabbis Manasseh Ben Israel, Jacob Sasportas, the physicians Abraham Zacutus Lusitanus and Ephraim Bueno, the Kabbalist Abraham Cohen Herrera, the playwright Antonio Enriquez Gomez, the physician and thinker Isaac Orobio de Castro, the poet Daniel Levi de Barrios, and the rebel-philosophers Uriel da Costa and Baruch Spinoza. Jewish attachment to messianic hopes and yearning for a change from exile existence were powerfully demonstrated in the ferment aroused by Shabbetai Tzevi in the middle of the 17th century. The majority of the community in Amsterdam became ardent followers of the pseudo-messiah, and the leadership of the community remained for a long time in the hands of former Shabbateans.

Jewish merchants in Amsterdam were one of the first groups to engage in recognizably modern capitalist-type activities. Their foreign interests included trade with the Iberian Peninsula, England, Italy, Africa, India, and the east and west Indies. Jews in Amsterdam also engaged in industry, especially in the tobacco, printing, and diamond industries. By the end of the 17th century many Portuguese Jews in Amsterdam were active in the stock market, owning a quarter of the shares of the east India company. The economic position of the Sephardi Jews was jeopardized during economic crises in the republic, especially critical in 1763. After the French conquest of the Netherlands in of the 3,000 members depended on relief.

The first Ashkenazi settlers in Amsterdam arrived in the 1620s and their first synagogue was acquired in 1640. Their number rapidly increased and soon exceeded the Sephardi community. Jews from Poland found their way to Amsterdam after the Chmielnicki massacres in 1648-49, and after the Swedish invasion in 1655. The Polish Jews founded their own congregation in 1660, which maintained ties with the Council of the Four Lands. In 1671 a large and luxurious synagogue was built, and to meet the needs of the growing population, additional Ashkenazi synagogues were built in 1686, 1700, and 1730. Prominent Ashkenazi rabbis included David Ben Aryeh Leib of Lida, Eleazar Ben Samuel of Brody, Tzevi Hirsch Ben Jacob Ashkenazi ("Chakham Tzevi"), his grandson Saul Loewenstamm, and Saul's son Moses. At first the Ashkenazi Jews were in poor economic circumstances, and some became peddlers and old clothes dealers. Later, they developed trade with eastern Europe and Germany. Many served as agents in
procuring loans for the German states from Dutch banks on comparatively cheap terms. Others acted as diamond brokers for foreign courts. The cultural activity of the Ashkenazi Jews followed traditional Ashkenazi patterns of religious learning. Of special interest were publications in Yiddish, including a newspaper, the first in Yiddish that appeared twice weekly, the "Dienstagische und Freitagishe Kurant" (1686-87). The first newspaper for Jews was the Spanish weekly "Gazeta de Amsterdam" (1675-90).

After Holland was conquered by the French in 1795, Jewish civic emancipation was granted. In 1798 Moses Moresco became the first Jew to sit on the municipal council of Amsterdam. As the leaders of the community refused to permit revolutionaries to conduct propaganda among their members, the revolutionaries left the community and established a new "Adass Jeshurun" congregation (1797-1808).

King Louis Napoleon (1806-10) ordered the two Ashkenazi communities to reunite, and the leadership was henceforward retained by supporters of emancipation. The reestablished Dutch monarchy (1815) left the question of Jewish emancipation unaffected.

After the struggle for emancipation, the trend toward assimilation among the upper classes was intensified. Many, especially among the Portuguese community, adopted Christianity, notably Isaac da Costa. Leaders of the Ashkenazi community endeavored to introduce use of the Dutch language among their members and to uproot Yiddish.

Religious differences intensified. An attempt was made to introduce Reform Judaism. The appointment of Joseph Hirsh duenner to the directorship of the rabbinical seminary, and in 1874 as chief rabbi, inaugurated a marked change. Although strictly preserving the orthodox character of the community, he raised the academic level of the college and educated a group of rabbis who achieved a high standard of scholarship. He also included representatives from all sectors in the leadership, even the nonobservant such as the banker A.C. Wertheim. Jews now began to occupy important positions in Holland. Noted was the jurist Jonas Daniel Meyer (1780-1834), the Asser family, M.H. Godefroi, who became minister of justice, and the physician and economist Samuel Sarphati (1813-66), who contributed much to the industrial and cultural development of Amsterdam.

From the end of the 19th century, Amsterdam became a cultural center of the Netherlands. Writers included Herman Heyermans (1864-1924), Israel Guerido (1872-1932), J.I. de Haan (1881-1924), and Carry Van Bruggen de Haan (1881- 1932). The jurist T.M.C. Asser (1838-1913) won the Nobel Prize.

The favorable economic conditions after 1870, migration from the provinces to Amsterdam, and a high birth rate led to the growth of the Jewish population in Amsterdam from 30,000 in 1870 to 60,000 in 1900. Between 1905 and 1932, a sharp decline occurred in the birth rate.

The Holocaust Period

The Nazi rise to power in Germany immediately affected the Jews of Amsterdam by the influx of refugees to the city. On May 16, 1940 the Germans entered Amsterdam. In November, 1940, Dutch Nazis supported by German soldiers started demonstrations and riots in the Jewish quarter. These demonstrations were accompanied by violence against the inhabitants. Jewish resistance came into being. The civil governor of Amsterdam then appointed a Jewish council for Amsterdam. Their first task was to encourage the Jews to surrender their weapons. On February 22-23, 1941, a reprisal raid for resisting the riots was carried out on Himmler's Buchenwald. A few months later those who survived were sent to Mauthausen. On February 25, as a protest against the raid, a strike was carried out by almost all public employees and many private enterprises in Amsterdam and in several outlying districts. The Germans were interested in concentrating the Jews as far as possible into one city, Amsterdam, and in Amsterdam itself they concentrated the Jews into certain sections. When the "final solution" was to be implemented, the Jews were asked to volunteer for transport to the "east", supposedly in order to work there. In three massive raids (in May, June, and September 1943) approximately 13,000 people were arrested and transported to Westerbork from where almost all were sent to the extermination camps Auschwitz and Sobibor. During the last winter of the war many of the oldest Jewish buildings were severely damaged by the population, which used all available material as fuel for stoves, including the Ashkenazi "great synagogue" (built 1671) and the "new synagogue" (built 1750).

In recent years, practically the entire "Jewish quarter" has been demolished by the municipal authorities in the interest of modern traffic requirements. At the Jonas Daniel Meyer square, three synagogues are still standing, but the Ashkenazi great synagogue and the new synagogue were not reopened after the war and in 1955 were sold to the municipality. The Portuguese synagogue is still in use. The adjoining "Etz Chayyim" library is also still extant.

Of the estimated 12,000 Jewish inhabitants of Amsterdam, 5,000 are members of the Ashkenazi congregation, about 600 are affiliated with the Sephardi congregation, and some 750 are in the liberal congregation.

Amsterdam is the only city in Holland with Jewish day schools, all of which are owned by a private foundation, Joods Bijzonder Onderwijs (J.B.O.), with four day nurseries, two elementary schools, and a high school - the Maimonides Lyceum. Together, these seven schools had 450 pupils in 1969.

The only Jewish weekly in Holland, the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, is published in Amsterdam and has a circulation of about 4,000. The diamond industry, which was predominantly in Jewish hands before the war, is now largely owned and run by non-Jews. Jews are well-represented in the textile industry. In addition, many Jews are found in the professions, especially in medicine. The Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, the Judaica and Hebraica department of the University of Amsterdam library, is not maintained by Jewish auspices. The Hollandse Schouwburg, the monument to the 80,000 Jews who were deported from this place, is maintained by the municipality, and the Anne Frank house is supported by a private foundation.

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Meijer, Berthe
Meijer, Berthe (1938-2012), author and Holocaust survivor whose life intersected with that of Anne Frank. She lived on the same Amsterdam street in a Jewish neighborhood where Frank attended a Montessori school. Both families both attempted to hide during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, but were caught and deported. They were imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen at the same time, though Meijer was several years younger. While Frank died just two weeks before the camp was liberated in 1945, Meijer survived. Meijer grew up in a Jewish orphanage and had uncomfortable relationships with relatives who survived. As a young adult, she married.

She became a newspaper columnist and a collection of her recipes were published as a popular cookbook in the 1980s. Her life was not easy, she divorced her husband and find it difficult to maintain relationships. Her experiences during World War II traumatized her until her death.

In 2010, Meijer published a memoir titled "Life After Anne Frank," with the intention of comparing her own post-war fortunes as perhaps resembling what might have happened to Frank, had she lived. She decided to write the book after a visit to Bergen-Belsen. Meijer's decision to compare herself to Frank overshadowed the rest of Meijer's memoir, at least initially. Meijer endured skepticism over claims in the book that Frank had once attempted to write fairytales and had for a time helped to entertain and look after other Dutch Jewish children at the camp.
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The most populous city and the constitutional capital of the Netherlands.

After the northern provinces of the Netherlands proclaimed their independence of Catholic Spain (1579), Crypto-Jews ("Marranos") of Spanish and Portuguese origin were attracted to Amsterdam where little inquiry was made as to their religious beliefs.

Portuguese Jewish merchants began to settle in Amsterdam in about 1590.

The intellectual life of the community, in both its religious and secular aspects, attained a high level. As a center of Jewish learning throughout the Marrano Diaspora, Amsterdam Jewry wielded a powerful influence and became a focus of intellectual ferment. It flourished during the 17th century under the leadership of Saul Levi Morteira, and subsequently under the Chakham Isaac Aboab de Fonseca.

Pupils from the Talmud Torah school officiated as rabbis in numerous Sephardim communities in western Europe and the Mediterranean countries. Most of the religious literature in Spanish and Portuguese intended for the guidance of the Sephardi communities was composed and printed in Amsterdam.

The first Jewish printer there was Manasseh Ben Israel, who began printing in 1627 and produced more than 70 books. The community included such diverse personalities as the rabbis Manasseh Ben Israel, Jacob Sasportas, the physicians Abraham Zacutus Lusitanus and Ephraim Bueno, the Kabbalist Abraham Cohen Herrera, the playwright Antonio Enriquez Gomez, the physician and thinker Isaac Orobio de Castro, the poet Daniel Levi de Barrios, and the rebel-philosophers Uriel da Costa and Baruch Spinoza. Jewish attachment to messianic hopes and yearning for a change from exile existence were powerfully demonstrated in the ferment aroused by Shabbetai Tzevi in the middle of the 17th century. The majority of the community in Amsterdam became ardent followers of the pseudo-messiah, and the leadership of the community remained for a long time in the hands of former Shabbateans.

Jewish merchants in Amsterdam were one of the first groups to engage in recognizably modern capitalist-type activities. Their foreign interests included trade with the Iberian Peninsula, England, Italy, Africa, India, and the east and west Indies. Jews in Amsterdam also engaged in industry, especially in the tobacco, printing, and diamond industries. By the end of the 17th century many Portuguese Jews in Amsterdam were active in the stock market, owning a quarter of the shares of the east India company. The economic position of the Sephardi Jews was jeopardized during economic crises in the republic, especially critical in 1763. After the French conquest of the Netherlands in of the 3,000 members depended on relief.

The first Ashkenazi settlers in Amsterdam arrived in the 1620s and their first synagogue was acquired in 1640. Their number rapidly increased and soon exceeded the Sephardi community. Jews from Poland found their way to Amsterdam after the Chmielnicki massacres in 1648-49, and after the Swedish invasion in 1655. The Polish Jews founded their own congregation in 1660, which maintained ties with the Council of the Four Lands. In 1671 a large and luxurious synagogue was built, and to meet the needs of the growing population, additional Ashkenazi synagogues were built in 1686, 1700, and 1730. Prominent Ashkenazi rabbis included David Ben Aryeh Leib of Lida, Eleazar Ben Samuel of Brody, Tzevi Hirsch Ben Jacob Ashkenazi ("Chakham Tzevi"), his grandson Saul Loewenstamm, and Saul's son Moses. At first the Ashkenazi Jews were in poor economic circumstances, and some became peddlers and old clothes dealers. Later, they developed trade with eastern Europe and Germany. Many served as agents in
procuring loans for the German states from Dutch banks on comparatively cheap terms. Others acted as diamond brokers for foreign courts. The cultural activity of the Ashkenazi Jews followed traditional Ashkenazi patterns of religious learning. Of special interest were publications in Yiddish, including a newspaper, the first in Yiddish that appeared twice weekly, the "Dienstagische und Freitagishe Kurant" (1686-87). The first newspaper for Jews was the Spanish weekly "Gazeta de Amsterdam" (1675-90).

After Holland was conquered by the French in 1795, Jewish civic emancipation was granted. In 1798 Moses Moresco became the first Jew to sit on the municipal council of Amsterdam. As the leaders of the community refused to permit revolutionaries to conduct propaganda among their members, the revolutionaries left the community and established a new "Adass Jeshurun" congregation (1797-1808).

King Louis Napoleon (1806-10) ordered the two Ashkenazi communities to reunite, and the leadership was henceforward retained by supporters of emancipation. The reestablished Dutch monarchy (1815) left the question of Jewish emancipation unaffected.

After the struggle for emancipation, the trend toward assimilation among the upper classes was intensified. Many, especially among the Portuguese community, adopted Christianity, notably Isaac da Costa. Leaders of the Ashkenazi community endeavored to introduce use of the Dutch language among their members and to uproot Yiddish.

Religious differences intensified. An attempt was made to introduce Reform Judaism. The appointment of Joseph Hirsh duenner to the directorship of the rabbinical seminary, and in 1874 as chief rabbi, inaugurated a marked change. Although strictly preserving the orthodox character of the community, he raised the academic level of the college and educated a group of rabbis who achieved a high standard of scholarship. He also included representatives from all sectors in the leadership, even the nonobservant such as the banker A.C. Wertheim. Jews now began to occupy important positions in Holland. Noted was the jurist Jonas Daniel Meyer (1780-1834), the Asser family, M.H. Godefroi, who became minister of justice, and the physician and economist Samuel Sarphati (1813-66), who contributed much to the industrial and cultural development of Amsterdam.

From the end of the 19th century, Amsterdam became a cultural center of the Netherlands. Writers included Herman Heyermans (1864-1924), Israel Guerido (1872-1932), J.I. de Haan (1881-1924), and Carry Van Bruggen de Haan (1881- 1932). The jurist T.M.C. Asser (1838-1913) won the Nobel Prize.

The favorable economic conditions after 1870, migration from the provinces to Amsterdam, and a high birth rate led to the growth of the Jewish population in Amsterdam from 30,000 in 1870 to 60,000 in 1900. Between 1905 and 1932, a sharp decline occurred in the birth rate.

The Holocaust Period

The Nazi rise to power in Germany immediately affected the Jews of Amsterdam by the influx of refugees to the city. On May 16, 1940 the Germans entered Amsterdam. In November, 1940, Dutch Nazis supported by German soldiers started demonstrations and riots in the Jewish quarter. These demonstrations were accompanied by violence against the inhabitants. Jewish resistance came into being. The civil governor of Amsterdam then appointed a Jewish council for Amsterdam. Their first task was to encourage the Jews to surrender their weapons. On February 22-23, 1941, a reprisal raid for resisting the riots was carried out on Himmler's Buchenwald. A few months later those who survived were sent to Mauthausen. On February 25, as a protest against the raid, a strike was carried out by almost all public employees and many private enterprises in Amsterdam and in several outlying districts. The Germans were interested in concentrating the Jews as far as possible into one city, Amsterdam, and in Amsterdam itself they concentrated the Jews into certain sections. When the "final solution" was to be implemented, the Jews were asked to volunteer for transport to the "east", supposedly in order to work there. In three massive raids (in May, June, and September 1943) approximately 13,000 people were arrested and transported to Westerbork from where almost all were sent to the extermination camps Auschwitz and Sobibor. During the last winter of the war many of the oldest Jewish buildings were severely damaged by the population, which used all available material as fuel for stoves, including the Ashkenazi "great synagogue" (built 1671) and the "new synagogue" (built 1750).

In recent years, practically the entire "Jewish quarter" has been demolished by the municipal authorities in the interest of modern traffic requirements. At the Jonas Daniel Meyer square, three synagogues are still standing, but the Ashkenazi great synagogue and the new synagogue were not reopened after the war and in 1955 were sold to the municipality. The Portuguese synagogue is still in use. The adjoining "Etz Chayyim" library is also still extant.

Of the estimated 12,000 Jewish inhabitants of Amsterdam, 5,000 are members of the Ashkenazi congregation, about 600 are affiliated with the Sephardi congregation, and some 750 are in the liberal congregation.

Amsterdam is the only city in Holland with Jewish day schools, all of which are owned by a private foundation, Joods Bijzonder Onderwijs (J.B.O.), with four day nurseries, two elementary schools, and a high school - the Maimonides Lyceum. Together, these seven schools had 450 pupils in 1969.

The only Jewish weekly in Holland, the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, is published in Amsterdam and has a circulation of about 4,000. The diamond industry, which was predominantly in Jewish hands before the war, is now largely owned and run by non-Jews. Jews are well-represented in the textile industry. In addition, many Jews are found in the professions, especially in medicine. The Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, the Judaica and Hebraica department of the University of Amsterdam library, is not maintained by Jewish auspices. The Hollandse Schouwburg, the monument to the 80,000 Jews who were deported from this place, is maintained by the municipality, and the Anne Frank house is supported by a private foundation.

MEIJER
MEIJER

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname derived from a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

Meijer, as a Jewish family names, is a Dutch variant of the Hebrew male personal name Meir. In talmudic times, people credited with bringing light or intellectual clarity to their subject were given the name Meir (Hebrew for "illuminates or radiates" or "one who sheds light"). A 2nd century, disciple of Rabbi Akiva, believed to have been named Mesha or Nehorai (the Aramaic forms), was known as Rabbi Meir because of his keenness in shedding light on the Halacha (the Jewish code of law). Associated Jewish family names are Yair ("will illuminate") and the Aramaic Nehorai ("light") or their variants and patronymics. Similarly, the names Uri and Shraga (literally "fire"). Meir is documented as a Jewish family name in Arles, France, in the 13th century. It appears as Meiger and Meyger in the 14th century in Strassbourg, as Meyr in 15th century France, as Meyer in the 17th century in Germany, and as Maier in Germany in the 18th century. Other variants include May in Germany and Poland, Major in Turkey, both in the 16th century, Mayer in France and Germany, and M'riro and Merito in Morocco. Named for their forefathers, families were called Meyerson, Meyerovitch, Meyrowitz, Merovic and Ben-Meir, all meaning "son of Meir".

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Meijer include the 20th century Dutch-born Israeli child psychiatrist, Alexander Meijer.