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Maassluis (About this sound pronunciation ) is a town in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. The municipality had a population of 32,847 in 2004, and covers an area of 10.11 km² (of which 1.51 km² water).

It received city rights in 1811. It was also the setting for the Dutch cult classic, Spetters, filmed by noted director Paul Verhoeven there in 1980.



Maassluis was founded circa 1340, as a settlement next to a lock (in Dutch: sluis) in the sea barrier between the North Sea and Rotterdam. Originally called Maeslandsluys, it was part of Maesland. In 1489 the settlement was sacked. During the Eighty Years' War, Philips of Marnix, lord of Sint-Aldegonde, started to build a defense wall but before its completion, it was captured by the Spanish in 1573 and Philips of Marnix was taken prisoner. A year later Maeslandsluys was looted by mutinous Spanish troops.

On 16 May 1614, Maeslandsluys was separated from Maesland by the counts of Holland and renamed to Maassluis. This separation may have been religiously motivated: Maassluis was predominantly Protestant whereas Maasland catholic. In 1624 the defense wall was demolished to make way for the Great Church, for which construction started in 1629. The construction was stopped for 5 years because privateers from Dunkirk raided many fishing boats from Maassluis and would throw the crew overboard. In 1639 the Great Church was completed. On 4 December 1732, the famous Garrels Organ was inaugurated. Built from 1730 to 1732 by Rudolf Garrels, a pupil of Arp Schnitger, it was a gift by Govert van Wijn, ship-owner from Maassluis.[1]

In 1811 Napoleon Bonaparte granted it city rights.

During World War II, like many other towns in the Netherlands, the active working population of Maassluis was transferred to Germany for working in the war industry. Maassluis' ancient church suffered a lot in the second world war when it was bombed by allied bombers.

Jewish history

The Jewish community in Maassluis had its own synagogue for their religious duties; a teacher, a singer and a ritual butcher. The most common Jewish professions were salesman, (street) trader, and butcher. The community had its own social live and charity. The Jewish economical positions were very vulnerable and community growth seized due to the industrial revolution. The infrastructure improved, so the trading areas became easier to reach for several kinds of tradesmen. The competition became simply too much for the small Jewish tradesman in villages like Maassluis. The Jewish community displays above-mentioned economical problems. The amount of Jews in Maassluis declined between 1892 and 1930 from 92 to 8. An important cause for this decline was the building of a railway in 1881 between Maassluis and Rotterdam. The majority of the Jewish traders moved to cities like Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam. In the last decade of the 19th century, these municipalities enjoyed a steady growing Jewish population.

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