Visser, Lodewijk Ernst

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VISSER, LODEWIJK ERNST (1871–1942), Dutch jurist and communal leader. He was born in Amersfoort into an old Dutch Jewish family. Prevented as a Jew from achieving his ambition of becoming a diplomat, Visser was appointed general prosecutor in Amsterdam and in 1903 became a district court judge in Rotterdam. In 1915 he was raised to the Supreme Court of which he eventually became president in 1939, but was dismissed by the Nazis after they entered Holland. Visser was an authority on commercial law and helped draft the Dutch Company Law of 1928. He also became vice chairman of the Dutch Royal Commission on Civil Legislation and a member of the Privy Council.

A conscious Jew, Visser was instrumental in helping Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe in 1918 and was founder of the Jewish Aid Committee for German Jews after 1933. For many years, he was chairman of the executive of *Keren Hayesod in Holland, and as well chairman of the Permanent Committee of the Ashkenazi community in the Netherlands. During World War ii, Visser opposed the German-appointed "Joodse Raad" (Jewish Council) and refused to accept the degrading identity cards. He tried to intervene for Jews arrested by Germans and participated in general resistance activities, becoming a symbol of Jewish wartime resistance in Holland. His wife and son died in concentration camps. In 1968 a square in front of the Sephardi synagogue in Amsterdam was named after him.


J.A. Polak, Leven en werken van mr. L.E. Visser (1974); J. Michman, in: Studia Rosenthaliana, 8:1 (1974), 107–30.

[Henriette Boas /

Bart Wallet (2nd ed.)]