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Jacob van Rees

Jacob van Rees

Tombstone of Jacob van Rees, Bosdrift Cemetery, Hilversum

Tombstone of Jacob van Rees

On the Bosdrift cemetery in Hilversum is a simple cross with the text “Jacobus van Rees 1854-1928”.

Jacob van Rees, as he is known, was histology professor at the university of Amsterdam. He is now largely forgotten, but in his time was a well-known abstainer and vegetarian, who opposed vivisection and smoking, and sympathized with socialism, humanism and anarchism.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, there were many abstainers movements in The Netherlands, usually corresponding to religious and political groups – socialist abstainers, protestant abstainers, catholic abstainers, etc. Because of his anarchist views, Prof. van Rees did not feel at home in any of these movements, so in 1897 he and a friend, Lodewijk van Mierop, founded their own abstainers movement, the ANGOB, Algemeene Nederlandsche Geheelonthoudersbond (General Dutch Abstainers Union). Prof. van Rees was chairman until 1925. It still exists today.

In Hilversum, Prof. van Rees is mostly remembered for the Volksgebouw, Humanitaire School, and the farming commune in Blaricum.

The Volksgebouw (People’s Building) was a lecture hall in Hilversum. Van Rees himself held magic lantern shows for children. Of course, there was no alcohol served in this building. In neighboring town Blaricum he financed a farming commune. In another neighbouring town, Laren, he started a school, the Humanitaire School, based on the principles of humanism.

Prof. van Rees died of pneumonia on 4 January 1928 in Hilversum. He was buried at the Bosdrift cemetery. Pupils of his Humanitaire School sang at his funeral.

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