The first report of Jews residing in Hoogeveen dates to the end of the seventeenth century. Continuous settlement of Jews in Hoogeveen began early in the eighteenth century, this despite the efforts of the local authorities to impede the arrival and residence of Jews.
An organized Jewish community was founded at Hoogeveen in 1755. Beginning in the same year, religious services were held in a private residence located on the present-day Hoofdstraat. A synagogue was consecrated in the present-day Schutstraat in 1799. The building was razed in 1865 or 1866 and a new synagogue was built in its place.
The oldest Jewish cemetery in Hoogeveen, located near the Grote Kerk, still contains a number of gravestones dating to the eighteenth century. A second Jewish cemetery, located in the Krakeelse Opgaande, was used by the community between 1804 and 1831. In 1831, the community established a new cemetery in the Zuiderweg. Jews in the nearby village of Ruinen maintained a cemetery of their own, located on the Monnikenweg.
The Jewish population of Hoogeveen grew rapidly during the first half of the nineteenth century. By mid-century, the Hoogeveen community was the second largest in the province of Drenthe, exceeded in size only by that of the town of Meppel. During this period, the community was plagued by a number of internal conflicts. For a time, there even was talk of a split into two communities. Nevertheless, the community remained united and conflicts were put aside in 1871.
Under the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II, almost all the Jews of Hoogeveen were arrested in the course of a single round-up in October of 1942. Eventually, they were deported to Nazi death camps, following detention at the Dutch transit camp at Westerbork. None of the deported returned alive. Several dozen Hoogeveen Jews did manage to escape deportation and death by going into hiding. A monument at the entrance to the Jewish cemetery on the Zuiderweg commemorates the names of the deported and murdered Jews.
The synagogue in the Schutstraat was plundered and badly damaged by the Germans in 1944. The building was sold in 1948 and for years thereafter housed a Dutch Reformed church. The building was then sold to the Baptist community in 1995. A nearby memorial stone honors the murdered Jews of Hoogeveen.
Today, Hoogeveen is home to an active Jewish community. In 1988, the Hoogeveen community joined with those of Assen and Emmen to form the regional community (NIG) of Drenthe. The Jewish cemetery on the Zuiderweg is maintained by the local authorities.
At Brink in Ruinen in March 2006 a Jewish monument was unveiled commemorating the eleven Jews that were murdered in concentration camps.
A memorial was unveiled in the woods near Gijsselte, on the site of a former labor camp, where 200 Jewish men were forced to labor between January and October 1942.
The Jewish population of Hoogeveen and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time