Elte, Harry

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ELTE, HARRY (1880–1944), Dutch architect of buildings with a Jewish (ritual) function in the interwar years; also active as a restorer and project developer. He came to prominence when he won a design competition for a stadium that opened in Amsterdam in 1914. His work was influenced by three architectural styles. His early work, including villas and residential complexes in Amsterdam, reflects the influence of the Berlage School (1900–25). Examples of his Amsterdam School style (1910–30) include the Second Synagogue in The Hague, demolished in 1981, and the Amsterdam nursing home De Joodsche Invalide (Jewish Invalid), both dating from 1924–25. International Expressionism (1920–30) influenced his design for the monumental synagogue on Amsterdam's Jacob Obrechtplein (1927–28), considered Elte's finest achievement. Its Cubist architecture, featuring characteristic colors and use of daylight, reflects the influence of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The interior decoration is Art Deco, with beautiful materials and warm colors. While most of the 12 synagogues Elte completed between 1904 and 1932 have since been demolished or converted for some other purpose, the Obrecht Shul continues to serve as a synagogue. It was granted historical monument status and completely restored in 1997. Elte was deported to Theresienstadt in February 1944, where he died on April 1, 1944.


L. van Grieken a.o., in: Negentigste Jaarboek van het Genootschap Amstelodamum (1998), 159–95; R. Wischnitzer, Architecture of the European Synagogue (1964), 99, 232–36, 262.

[Julie-Marthe Cohen (2nd ed.)]