Handwerkers Vriendenkring (Craftsmen Circle of Friends)

The Handwerkers Vriendenkring (HWV), established in 1869, was an organised interest association for Jewish workers and the self-employed. The association also granted Jewish youngsters scholarships that enabled them to learn a trade. In order to have its members develop in a social sense, the HWV regularly organised lectures and training courses; it also owned a well-stocked library.

 

"Handwerkers Vriendenkring" is still posted on the Nieuwe Achtergracht building.

Diamond workers

A large number of the members of the HWV concerned diamond cutters. In 1894, the association significantly contributed to the establishment of the ANDB (General Dutch Diamond Cutters’ Union). The representation of the workers was left to other organisations. The HWV then looked for other ways to fulfil its tasks.

 

Thanks to an extension, the main entrance is on the Roeterstraat, now Kriterion cinema.

Health care and the Building fund

The first health insurance fund in Amsterdam, Ziekenzorg, was initiated in 1895 in order to break down the dependency on charity. Following some initial unaccustomedness, the number of Jewish and non-Jewish members quickly increased. The HWV embarked upon new territory in the sphere of housing as well. It established its own building fund in order to build suitable homes for its members. Starting in 1917, a series of housing units was realised on the island Uilenburg and in the Transvaalbuurt (neighbourhood).

Memorial plaque from "der Handwerkers Vriendenkring", 1937 (collection Joods Historisch Museum).

Kriterion

The main office on the Nieuwe Achtergracht (canal) (1896) was expanded in 1925 in the form of a robust entrance on the Roetersstraat. The HWV was discontinued during the war. The NSB took possession of the building in order to accommodate the Metropool-theatre. Resistance fighter Piet Meerburg established the student Kriterion movie theatre here after the war.