Jacob Israel de Haan

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Jacob Israel de Haan

Birthplace: Smilde, Midden-Drenthe, Drenthe, The Netherlands
Death: Died in Jerusalem, Israel
Cause of death: murdered
Place of Burial: Jerusalem
Immediate Family:

Son of Izak de Haan and Betje Rubens
Husband of Johanna Belia Cornelia J van Maarseveen
Brother of Rosetta Sara de Haan; Duifje Esther de Haan; Betje de Haan; Jetje de Haan; Barend Juda de Haan and 7 others
Half brother of Joseph de Haan

Managed by: Private User
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About Jacob Israel de Haan

Jacob Israël de Haan (December 31, 1881 – June 30, 1924) was a Dutch Jewish literary writer and journalist who was assassinated in Jerusalem by the Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah for his anti-Zionist political activities and contacts with Arab leaders. He is believed to be the first victim of Zionist political violence.

De Haan was born in the Netherlands, in Smilde, a village in the northern province of Drenthe, and grew up in Zaandam. He was one of eighteen children [citation needed] and received a traditional Jewish education. His father, Yitzchak HaLevi de Haan, was poor and worked as a hazzan and Shochet. His sister, best known under her married name Carry van Bruggen (née, Caroline Lea de Haan), became an important Dutch author.

De Haan worked as a teacher and studied law between 1903 and 1909. He wrote in socialist publications and various other magazines during these years. He was a friend of Frederik van Eeden and Arnold Aletrino, Dutch authors of the Tachtiger school.

In 1907 he married van Maarseveen, a non-Jewish doctor, but this marriage is likely to have been platonic; they separated in 1919 but never officially divorced. He published five volumes of poems between 1914 and 1921 that brought him some acclaim.

In 1912 de Haan made some trips to Czarist Russia, and he visited a number of prisons there, in order to study the situation of political prisoners in Russia. He published his shocking findings in his book "In Russian prisons" (1913). He also founded a committee, together with Dutch writer Frederik van Eeden and Dutch poet Henriette Roland Holst, which aimed at collecting signatures for the sake of inducing especially Russia's then allies France and Great Britain to exert pressure on Russia for alleviating the fate of the prisoners. In a publication of Amnesty International he was, because of these activities, described as "a precursor of Amnesty International".

Prior to his departure for Palestine de Haan is described as being:

In 1919, two years after the Balfour Declaration, this Poet of the Jewish Song took the next logical step and emigrated to Palestine "anxious to work at rebuilding Land, rapidly becoming more religiously committed becoming the spokesperson of the Haredim in Jerusalem and was elected political secretary of the Orthodox community council, Vaad Ha'ir.

De Haan was assassinated on 30 June 1924 in Jerusalem by members of Haganah, and final responsibility was attributed to Zionists alarmed by his political activities in favour of a settlement with Arab leaders.

The 1985 publication of De Haan: The first political assassination in Palestine, by Shlomo Nakdimon and Shaul Mayzlish revived wider interest in his assassination.

Avraham Tehomi was the assassin of Jacob Israël de Haan.

De Haan's murder is considered the first political murder in the Jewish community in Palestine. His activities were perceived as undermining the struggle for the establishment of a Jewish state, but the assassination sparked a controversy and was harshly condemned by some.

German author Arnold Zweig published a book in 1932 based on De Haan's life called "De Vriendt kehrt heim" (English title "De Vriendt Goes Home"). The Israeli writer Haim Beer's book "Notzot" (1979, translated into English as Feathers) also has a character based on De Haan.

In Neturei Karta circles De Haan is considered a martyr, killed by secular Jews while protecting the Jewish religion, nevertheless, most haredim recoil from his homosexuality, his religious questioning and his attempted coalition with the Arab nationalists against his fellow Jews. During the 1980s, the Neturei Karta community in Jerusalem tried to change the name of the Zupnik Garden to commemorate De Haan.


Although De Haan's fame waned after his death, his works have been published and reprinted in a fairly constant stream. Even under the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, David Koker managed to publish his Brieven uit Jeruzalem ('Letters from Jerusalem') in a little book. In 1949, a committee was founded with the object to publish a collected edition of the poems, which duly followed in 1952.

Through the years, in the Netherlands there have been projects, festivals and theatre productions commemorating Jacob Israël de Haan's work and life. A line from De Haan's poem "To a Young Fisherman": "For friendship such a limitless longing...", is inscribed on one of the three sides of the Homomonument in Amsterdam. > "Naar vriendschap zulk een mateloos verlangen"

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Jacob Israel de Haan's Timeline

December 31, 1881
Smilde, Midden-Drenthe, Drenthe, The Netherlands
June 30, 1924
Age 42
Jerusalem, Israel