Film plan ‘Cross in the dunes’

In the August newsletter, we already mentioned this project of the Zeeland Documentary Foundation:

“The Zeeland Documentary Foundation has submitted a request to the Family Fund for financial aid for the film plan ‘Cross in the dunes’. The aim of the Foundation is to make documentaries in and about Zeeland. Because the Foundation is known for its thorough research, which results in great documentaries, the administrators have decided to grant a contribution from the Family Fund.

The film plan ‘Cross in the dunes’ concerns a concrete cross on a dune top in the Walcheren dunes near Valkenisse. This cross commemorates the execution by firing squad of six people: three Belgian resistance fighters and three people from Zeeland, who were killed here by the German occupying forces. The cross is in a pitiful state and a number of volunteers, including MBO students, want to make a new cross to replace it.

The Zeeland Documentary Foundation wants to show this unique cooperation of initiators, historians, Belgian stakeholders, inhabitants and pupils of the school in question, and at the same time bring the history behind this memorial to the attention of a wide audience.

Curious about the documentary? Then watch the teaser. The Foundation has also created a website for the documentary.”

Last month we received the following message from the Foundation which we are happy to share with you:

As you may have already seen on our website or through our socials, we are busy creating the documentary. We still have two days of shooting scheduled in Belgium and then the final editing can take place.

On 28 December at 8 p.m. you can watch the documentary from the comfort of your own home. We will send you a link and through that link you can watch the documentary. The documentary will remain online for a few days and on 30 December it will have its premiere on Omroep Zeeland.

The film poster is already out! You can find it here. And we have recently shot many beautiful images. We filmed at the old cross, the new cross, in Vlissingen, in Middelburg, in Fort Rammekens and in the Museum in Arnemuiden.

Follow us on, and the Facebook page of the Zeeland Documentary Foundation not to miss any updates.

Realisation Etty Hillesum House, Middelburg

Who doesn’t know her diary, published under the title “An Interrupted Life”? Etty Hillesum (1914-1943) was an exceptional writer who unfortunately never knew that her diary was considered a historical and literary work of importance. It was first published 38 years after her death in Auschwitz (Poland) and has been translated into 18 languages.

On 19 May 2020, the Etty Hillesum House Middelburg Foundation was founded. The birth house at the Molenwater 77, came up for sale in May 2019. A unique opportunity to realise something very beautiful and socially relevant at this tangible location of remembrance. It concerns historical heritage.

The foundation says:
“From four pillars: science, education, art & culture we wish to keep the memory of the Jewish diarist and her fellow victims alive and to portray the ideas of this extraordinary writer from different disciplines and secure them for future generations.

We also want to:

  • showcase historical knowledge about the Jewish history of Middelburg and Zeeland,
  • inform about a period of dictatorship, persecution and oppression, and
  • contribute to raising awareness and to combating contemporary anti-Semitism.

To this end, we develop artistic and cultural activities and educational programmes.

The Etty Hillesum Research Centre (EHOC), now still in the Zeeland Archives, will also move to Molenwater 77. We have started a crowdfunding campaign to finance this relocation.

The renovation started on Thursday 2 December (3 days later than planned). The schedule is that the renovation (the rough work) will be finished by the end of January and then the refurbishment of the house and the installation of the exhibition will start. This will take about three months. We hope to be able to open the doors in early May.

For more information, please visit our website

Plaque Etty Hillesum House

The Administrators have committed to a financial contribution.

Restoration of memorial monument Hieronymus van Tuyll van Serooskerke, Lord of Stavenisse

The Reformed community of Stavenisse, a village on the island of Tholen, holds a very special listed monument in its church. It is the extremely valuable mausoleum of Hieronymus van Tuyll van Serooskerke, lord of Stavenisse. This grave is in urgent need of a very expensive restoration.

In 1953, the village was hit by the flood which killed 10% of the inhabitants and destroyed many buildings. The church did not escape the flood either and stood in the water. It now appears that the tomb is slowly being “eaten” away by the salty water.

The mausoleum with its back wall is made of white marble from Carrera (Italy), black marble, blue stone and black natural stone from Belgium. It was restored in 1878/79 and in 1959. At the last restoration, the crack in the left pilaster was already present, probably caused by rusty iron connections in the brick wall behind the marble. In the centre front of the tomb, a brownish-red discolouration can be seen, which has the same cause. More seriously, in several places the marble has become dull and very white, and is flaking off. This indicates that the rock has been saccharified, probably by a high salt load as a result of the flood of 1953. It is not clear how fast this degeneration proceeds, but the National Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) advocates tackling it as soon as possible.

A plan has been drafted for this purpose. It provides for the parts of the tomb to be transported to a workshop in Amsterdam, where the salt is removed from the stone by rinsing it in a fresh water bath. This rinsing process takes one and a half to two years. It has to be checked daily, which is why it cannot take place in the church, where there is too little space. To remove the parts of the tomb, a wooden fence and the stairs near the pulpit will be temporarily removed. A work floor will then be laid, over which a small crane can gain access to the monument.

The State Service for Cultural Heritage describes the monument as follows:

“It was designed and executed by Rombout Verhulst, who alongside Artus Quellinus is probably the most famous Dutch sculptor of the 17th century. This memorial grave is mentioned in many publications and it is therefore clear that this is an extremely valuable piece of heritage.”

Prof. Dr. Frits Scholten, senior curator of sculpture at the Rijksmuseum and professor of History of Western Sculpture at the University of Amsterdam states:

“The funerary monument in the church of Stavenisse can without a doubt be counted among the best 17th-century sculpture in our country, but also belongs to the highly valuable funerary heritage from an international perspective. It is now clear that the decay goes much deeper than is visible to the naked eye and that intervention is therefore much more urgent than a general impression of the exterior might suggest.

The administrators have decided on a financial contribution to make the restoration of this special monument possible.

The youth project of the Royal Zeeland Science Society is gaining momentum thanks to support from the Hurgronje Family Fund

Since 2019, the Hurgronje Family Fund supports the youth activities of the Zeeuws Genootschap. In return, members of the fund can apply for membership.

The Zeeuws Genootschap was founded in 1769. A rock in a stormy sea with the seven muses became its symbol. The muses stand for the liberal arts and sciences. The rock is their safe workplace and the motto can be (very freely) translated as: They shine amidst the waves’. The 1,400 members and the 80 volunteers of the Zeeuws Genootschap carry Zeeland in their hearts and together they constitute the rock of the muses. The impressive Zeeland culture and history is made accessible both within the province and far beyond by means of the collections (more than 200,000 objects), books, magazines, exhibitions, lectures, concerts, videos and congresses. The Society is the authority on Zeeland’s arts and sciences.

After the great success of our educational project YESC in 2019, the Youth Committee of the Zeeland Society has continued at full throttle to develop a new, contemporary and interactive youth programme: WIJZ. The aim: to cultivate interest and enthusiasm among Zeeland’s youth for the Society’s collection and for Zeeland’s history past and present. The project has been given the name WIJZ (Wetenschap (science), Interactiviteit (interactivity), Jongeren (youth), Zeeland). One of the spearheads is the development of a ‘dating-app’ with which a pupil/student can arrange a ‘date’ with an object from the collection and with other pupils/students who are working on the same subject via the Collection Online ( The app will also contain a number of ‘game elements’ for treasure hunts, for example, and will be ready by the end of 2022. At the same time, a lot of time will be invested in getting students and teachers in the Zeeland education system enthusiastic.

Youth activities are one of the two spearheads of the Zeeland Society’s strategy. The second spearhead is the accelerated digitisation of our collections to create an online museum that can compete in size with the largest in the world and which forms the basis of the youth app.

On behalf of the Hurgronje Family Fund, become a member of the Royal Zeeland Scientific Society and help make Zeeland shine!

Members of the Hurgronje Family Fund can become members of the Zeeland Society free of charge and receive the Zeeland magazine (4 times a year), the two-volume yearbook Archief and a 50% discount on admission to the Zeeuws Museum. They will also receive a discount on attending lectures and purchasing publications. You can also become a digital member. This is the same as the ordinary membership, only you will receive all the Society’s publications as PDFs or eBooks.

With kind regards,
Peter van Druenen, Chairman

The life of Frans Naerebout and Vlissingen in his time, by Prof. Dr. D.H.A. Kolff

Everyone knows the statue of Frans Naerebout (1748-1818), the pilot who saved the lives of 87 people on board the VOC ship ‘Woestduyn’, which ran into trouble off the coast of Zoutelande, on 24 July 1779.

Professor D.H.A. Kolff, son of B. Kolff (mayor and first honorary citizen of Vlissingen from 1946 to 1967), has asked the Family Fund for financial aid for the publication of his manuscript about the life of Frans Naerebout and Vlissingen in his time. In the introduction to the manuscript Dirk H.A. Kolff beautifully describes why he chose this subject: “Frans Naerebout has remained a hero in our country. A multitude of boys’ books told his life story and presented him, reduced to a role model of sincerity, modesty and daring, to young readers for more than a century.

He has been sung about in the Zeeland national anthem, received a statue in Vlissingen and was proclaimed the ‘Father of the Dutch Pilotage’. Thus, justice has been done to him. But not completely. His life was intertwined with that of many others and above all with the city of Vlissingen, a society subject to drastic, violent changes of fortune, both before, during and after the Batavian-French era. The story of the Naerebouten cannot be told without that context. And the history of Vlissingen cannot be told any more closely than through their eyes. Together they provide a window on a period of time.”

Meanwhile, in view of the cultural-historical importance of this book, the Administrators have granted financial support for its publication. For more information see the Preface and Introduction (in Dutch) enclosed with the application.

Documentary ‘The suitcase of Marlow Moss’ by Studio Haak en Visser

Fifi Visser, from Studio Haak en Visser in Middelburg, has submitted an application to the Family Fund for a financial contribution to her latest documentary: ‘The Suitcase of Marlow Moss’. The documentary will be produced in cooperation with the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, de Vleeshal in Middelburg, Omroep Zeeland and filmmaker André van der Hout.

It is a short documentary about the writer Netty Nijhoff (the wife of Martinus Nijhoff) and her lover, the paintress Marlow Moss. The film is about the period that they lived (sometimes all three of them) in Groot-Valkenisse (then still municipality Biggekerke) and devoted themselves to art: painting and writing. Earlier, the Family Fund supported the documentary ‘Tijdgravers’ by Studio Haak and Visser, a film about the Royal Zeeland Scientific Society.

Because the application fits within the objectives of the Family Fund, the Administrators have recently approved the application.

Interested? Watch the prologue of the documentary here (in Dutch).

Contribution wood storage Stichting Behoud Hoogaars

The Stichting Behoud Hoogaars (SBH) has filed a request with the Family Fund for a financial contribution towards the realisation of a wood storage facility on the site of the SBH Shed in Vlissingen. The Foundation depends for its existence and activities on the generosity of sponsors. Because the Machinefabriek in Vlissingen was no longer available for the maintenance work and winter storage of the ships as of 2020, the SBH was able to build a new warehouse at Jachthavenweg 6 in Vlissingen, thanks to the conservative policy regarding the use of donations. However, because the ships are all made of (oak) wood, there is still an urgent need for a timber storage area in the warehouse, where the wood can dry after sawing.

Because the application certainly fits within the objective, the Administrators have now decided to make a financial contribution available from the Family Fund.

Family member Digna Sweerts de Landas-Sprenger is very supportive of the Foundation and says the following: “As soon as I heard that there were plans to establish a foundation for the preservation of the Hoogaarsen, I was interested. At the founding meeting, I became a sponsor and I still am. Unfortunately, I never had the time to actively participate, but sailing along is always a nice experience, during sponsor days or for a daytrip with family and/or friends. I am therefore very pleased that the Family Fund regularly contributes to projects. The first years at Meerman’s shipyard in Arnemuiden, then to winter maintenance and restoration in the old Schelde machine factory in Vlissingen and recently to wood storage at the new, private warehouse in Vlissingen.”

Biography of Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje

From the press you have learned that Professor Wim van den Doel has written a hefty biography Snouck of 650 pages. On April 29, at 20.30, an interview with Wim van den Doel about this biography of Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje will be broadcast from the Leiden University Library.

At the request of the Administrators, I have attached a brief summary of the biography of Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, as it appears on the website of the Stichting Historische Begraafplaats Groenesteeg in Leiden, where Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje is buried in the family plot. I am a board member of this foundation, which is responsible for the management of this cemetery.

On the cemetery’s website, a biography we composed is included in the section Beschreven personen.

To support this lecture, film recordings were made for a teaser at the Groenesteeg cemetery. This lecture is accessible to the public. The teaser is already available on YouTube.

The online book presentation will take place on April 29 at 8.30 p.m. and can be followed via this page.

Matthijs Snouck Hurgronje,
Board member Stichting Historische Begraafplaats Groenesteeg

Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936): basement tomb 168B, box B Arabist, Islamologist, anthropologist, adventurer, but also ‘undercover agent avant la lettre’

Personal details
Born: February 8, 1857 at Oosterhout
Son of: Jacob Julianus Snouck Hurgronje and Anna Maria de Visser
– On Java: with Sankana in 1890 and with Siti Sadijah in 1898
– in the Netherlands: with Ida Maria Oort on 8 July 1910 in Zutphen
Deceased: June 26, 1936 in Leiden. Buried: June 29, 1936 in Leiden

Biography summary

Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje was born in Oosterhout in Brabant. In 1874, he begins to study theology in Leiden. After his final exams, he continues with Semitic languages and specialises in Arabic. In 1880, aged just 23, he obtains his doctorate cum laude. His dissertation is titled ‘The Meccan Feast’.

He then goes on to study Arabic and is able to understand the language, the culture and the religion thoroughly. In 1881, he becomes a teacher at the municipal institute in Leiden, which provides education for East Indies civil servants.

In the study of Arabic, Snouck Hurgronje goes his own way from the very beginning. His main interest is in the language of Islam. He learns Acehs, Malay, Javanese and several other languages and dialects.

Snouck Hurgronje focuses on the study of Islam, in particular Muslim law. Snouck Hurgronje did pioneering work with his articles on the foundations and content of these laws. Partly because of this, he is one of the founders of contemporary international scholarship on Islam.

Snouck Hurgronje wants to go to Mecca. In 1884, he sets foot on Arab soil in Jeddah. In Jedda, he is a guest of the Dutch consulate and from there he wants to embark on a pilgrimage to Mecca. His aim is to master the regional dialect as quickly as possible. Snouck Hurgronje also had himself circumcised, takes the Arabic name Abd al-Ghaffar and becomes a Muslim, because only Muslims have access to the Haj, the Islamic pilgrimage.

He succeeds in forging alliances within the Muslim world, with Arab scholars and dignitaries. He acquires information that no other Westerner would be able to get. He is ready for the pilgrimage.

He travels to Mecca and stays there for about six months, but then disaster strikes. In an affair surrounding a memorial stone with Aramaic inscriptions, Snouck Hurgronje becomes suspect of theft and his position becomes untenable. He has to leave the country, leaving all his photos and notes behind. Fortunately, these are saved and were later sent to him. They are the first pictures ever taken in Mecca.

After returning to the Netherlands, Snouck Hurgronje commences a book with many – mostly self-made – photographs about his stays in Jiddah and Mecca. With this, he achieves great renown. In 1887, he becomes a lecturer at the State University of Leiden, where he teaches ‘Institutions of Islam’. Meanwhile, he prepares for another faraway journey. Snouck Hurgronje leaves for the Dutch East Indies in 1889, with Aceh as his final destination.

It has been very turbulent there for several years. Since 1873, the Netherlands has been at war with the ‘rebellious’ Acehnese. In May 1892 Snouck submits a report on his stay in Aceh, which serves as a starting point for his two-volume work ‘The Acehnese’. In 1896, he is appointed advisor to military governor Van Heutsz and in that capacity makes an important contribution to a bloody war, after which the Acehnese surrender. In this function, Snouck Hurgronje is of great value to the Netherlands for many years, until a disagreement with Van Heutsz makes a longer stay in the Dutch East Indies impossible and he sets foot on Dutch soil again in 1906, ’embittered’.

Snouck Hurgronje’s return is taken as an opportunity by Leiden University to appoint him as Professor of Arabic. In addition, he remains consultant for Indonesian Affairs. He goes to live at Witte Singel and marries Ida Maria Oort in 1910. They have a daughter (Christien) and move to Rapenburg 61 in 1919, a stately mansion with an 18th-century façade and balcony. Meetings and lectures are also held in this building. In 1927, Snouck Hurgronje turns seventy and resigns as a professor. Then, together with his successor Prof. Dr. A.J. Wensinck, he founds the Oriental Institute.

Aged almost 80, he dies in his home on Rapenburg. After his death, the entire collection of the Oriental Institute, including the extensive library, is housed in his home at Rapenburg 61. Since then, this house has been known as the Snouck Hurgronje House, where the Leiden University Fund has been housed for over eighty years since his death. It currently (2019) houses the Institute for the Dutch Language. Leiden has a Snouck Hurgronjestraat in the Professorenwijk.

‘t Hof Ravestein, more than a garden

Late in 1998, we bought ‘t Hof Ravestein, a farm in the middle of Walcheren. A stone farmhouse, a dilapidated carriage house and a large traditional barn.

In that first summer, the former owner came by with a picture of a map from around 1770. A beautiful farm map from that period, with a precise indication of the somewhat higher located sowing fields and meadows. Also mentioned are a ford, a square island, an area with tall trees, an orchard, a playground and a farmhouse with a farmyard.

When we bought Ravestein, all the land up to the house was in use as agricultural land.

Through the land consolidation that was underway at the time, we succeeded in acquiring the core of the old estate, 3.2 hectares. The whole area has now been included in the archaeological map of assets. Some of the “old” elements shown on the map have been reinstated by us, including the water features, the moat and tree-lined avenues around the island, the tall trees (oaks, set with willows). Closer to the house and barn, we have created a garden.

The work has been supported by the Zeeland Landscape Foundation, the archaeological community and many others. The history of habitation has been traced back to the early 16th century. A few years ago, a booklet about the whole project was published, Ravestein, boerderij, buitenplaats, by Tiny Polderman. The garden is included in the Open Garden Guide of the Dutch Garden Foundation and is open several days a year.

Two years ago we asked Jaap de Bussy, family member and professional photographer, to come and take pictures. The intention was: to create a beautiful, artistic impression of what has been achieved. It has happened, through many visits, in summer, in winter, with rain, with storm, with snow. The result is a beautiful photo book – it will be printed shortly.

Jaap is from a family of printers and publishers in Amsterdam and is very sensitive to design, quality and everything that is involved in a really well-crafted publication. That was also the reason to try and get some funding, because with a modest circulation, the fixed costs are of course relatively high.

Picture book 't Hof Ravestein

Finally, we are pleased that the Commisioner of the King for Zeeland, Han Polman, has written an enthusiastic foreword for this photo book. Corona Volente, there will be a small-scale presentation of it at De Drukkery in Middelburg on 19 May – if not, then at a later date. The title of the book is ‘t Hof Ravestein- meer dan een tuin, ISBN 9 789464 028287.

More information can be found on the website of the Tuinen Foundation and photographer Jaap de Bussy.

Willemien and Henk van Montfrans
’t Hof Ravestein, Grijpskerke

Three books published with the financial aid of the Family Fund

Partly thanks to a financial contribution from the Family Fund, 3 books have recently been published that the Administrators would like to bring to the attention.

‘Zeeuwse regenten in Parijs’ by Irene Storm van Leeuwen-van der Horst
After the publication of the Reisjournaal naar Engeland (Reislustige Zeeuwse regenten, 2017), Irene Storm van Leeuwen-van der Horst, librarian of castle Duivenvoorde, investigated the Reisjournaal naar Parijs. In her latest book she talks about the journey that the Zeeland regent and admiral Johan Steengracht made to Paris in 1722 with his son Nicolaas and his friend Daniel Radermacher, admirer of Voltaire.

During the day, the company visited many city palaces and country estates. In the evenings they were often to be found in theaters and amusement parks. Father Steengracht introduced his recently graduated son to French culture and introduced him to the world of diplomacy. The three travelers did not hide their criticism of the French king.

In addition to a transcription of the text, this book includes all the engravings, as well as an after-telling and an introduction to historical backgrounds.
ISBN: 9789087048389

‘Cristóbal de Mondragón, de goede Spanjaard’ by Raymond Fagel
Raymond Fagel, university lecturer in General History, researched the Spanish commander Mondragon who spared Zierikzee during the 80-year war and is considered ‘the good Spaniard’.

Mondragon and his troops managed to break all resistance on Duiveland and Schouwen, but Zierikzee defended itself to the utmost. Because Schouwen was flooded, the Spanish troops were unable to shoot at the city from close range and all that remained was to shut Zierikzee off from the outside world and starve it to death. Despite Prince William of Orange’s attempts to relieve the city, this tactic was ultimately successful.

The publication contains exceptionally beautiful illustrations. The book has been specially published for the exhibition by the same name, which can be seen in the Town Hall Museum in Zierikzee until 22 November.
ISBN 9789492583109

‘Wacherse ketens, de trans-Atlantische slavenhandel en de economie van Walcheren 1755-1780’ by Gerhard de Kok
The Dutch participation in the transatlantic slave trade unleashes a lot of tongues. One question that recurs regularly: what influence did this human trafficking have on the Dutch economy?

This book focuses on Walcheren in Zeeland in the second half of the eighteenth century. Vlissingen and Middelburg were at the time the most important slave trading cities in the Netherlands. Between 1730 and 1800, about 500 slave ships left one of the two cities, loaded with valuable export goods to trade against humans in West Africa.

In this book Gerhard de Kok discusses the trading offices that took part in the transatlantic slave trade. He investigates the slave traders, the investors and the activities involved in the running of slave ships. De Kok arrives at new and startling conclusions about the local impact of this trade sector. He also shows how Walcheren could grow into the most important center of the slave trade in the Netherlands.
ISBN 9789462494657