De Lieme, Nehemia

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DE LIEME, NEHEMIA (1882–1940), Dutch Zionist. Born in The Hague, the son of a shoḥet, De Lieme was largely self-taught, mainly in the field of actuarial mathematics and economics. In 1904 he was one of the founders of the *Centrale Arbeiders Verzekeringsbank, the first Dutch workers' insurance company and bank. Legally still a minor, he became director of the bank, which largely due to him flourished after a difficult start, until his death. Although the Centrale was essentially a social democratic affair, De Lieme was throughout his life a convinced social liberal, at the same time emotionally involved with social problems and coolly business-like in the implementation of their solutions. He had great talent for organization. De Lieme joined the Zionist movement during the Zionist Congress in The Hague (1907). In 1912, after a crisis when its founder Jacobus *Kann endorsed Zionist propaganda among Christians, he became chairman of the Nederlandse Zionistenbond (nzb), the Dutch Zionist Federation. In 1914, when *Jewish National Fund headquarters were moved from Cologne to The Hague, De Lieme became its director. Because he managed the affairs of the jnf well through the difficult war years, he became a member of the Zionist Executive in London in 1920 and was one of the three members of the Zionist Reorganization Commission, which visited Palestine to report on the state of the Jewish settlements. While pioneers proudly wished to show their cattle and fields, De Lieme buried himself in their accounts and cemented his image as an unfeeling bookkeeper. He was highly critical of the financial management of the settlements, especially the delivery of subsidies without looking into the actual needs and into what he considered sound accounting. When the Executive in 1921 purchased the Jezreel Valley against his advice, he resigned. De Lieme's main objections were that the price of the Emek would inflate the land prices in Palestine and that *pica already was negotiating with the owners about a purchase. With Jacobus *Kann and Siegfried *Van Vriesland, De Lieme now formed the "Hague Opposition," whose sentiments against *Weizmann's policies were shared by the *Brandeis Group in the United States: too much propaganda and bureaucracy, too little attention to the productiveness of Zionist enterprises in Palestine. For De Lieme especially the post-Balfour policy of engaging the whole Jewish and also the non-Jewish world in the building of the National Home meant a betrayal of Zionist principles. Though criticism of this opposition was largely shared by many Zionist figures in private, the Hague Opposition led a losing battle in the dynamics of the post-Balfour period, when the weak Zionist movement and scant Zionist funds required a good deal of political window dressing. De Lieme's standing within the nzb remained high despite only a brief chairmanship in 1924. He would strongly influence the Dutch Federation until 1940 in its criticism of Weizmann's policies, especially the establishment of the *Keren Hayesod and the *Jewish Agency, also later the immigration of Jewish refugees into Palestine, as would one of his successors, Fritz *Bernstein. In 1938 De Lieme, while he and his family already were preparing to immigrate to Palestine, publicly resigned from the Zionist Organization in protest against the Executive's decision to negotiate with the British Government on the partition of Palestine. From 1934 he took a great interest, financially and personally, in founding the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam and in enabling it to purchase valuable archival material. De Lieme died shortly after the German invasion of Holland.


De Joodse Wachter (June, 1952), special issue in memoriam; incl. bibl.; L. Giebels, De zionistische beweging in Nederland 1899–1941 (1975); J.L.J.M. van Gerwen, De Centrale Centraal. Geschiedenis van de nv De Centrale Arbeiders- en Verzekerings- en Deposito-Bank vanaf de oprichting in 1904 tot aan de fusie in de Reaal Groep in 1990 (1993).

[Ludy Giebels (2nd ed.)]

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De Lieme, Nehemia

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