Walcheren (Zeeland, Netherlands)

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Walcheren, an island belonging to the Dutch province of Zeeland; Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland, is located on this island. Anabaptists were found at Walcheren by 1534, and later there were Mennonite congregations at Middelburg, Vlissingen, both of which still exist, and Veere, which died out shortly after 1671. In the early 17th century the Reformed classis of Walcheren, which was very strict and intolerant, acted against the Mennonites, but nevertheless the Mennonite congregations on Walcheren could develop.

In the early 18th century Walcheren for some years was the refuge for a number of Mennonite families who had been expelled from Lithuania. They came to the Netherlands in December 1732 and were settled partly at Wageningen and partly on the island of Walcheren, where the Fonds voor Buitenlandsche Nooden (Dutch Relief Fund for Foreign Needs) bought farms for them in several villages. The church board of Middelburg administered the farms and aided the refugees in their many needs and difficulties. At first (December 1732) 15 families settled at Walcheren, in the following years some of the refugees from Wageningen also moved to Walcheren, but by 1736 some of them returned to Prussia, followed by the others. Most of them had left Walcheren by 1739; the last of these settlers left in 1744. The settlers did not feel at home and complained of the interference of the Middelburg deacons and the "big bosses" of the Amsterdam committee. The colonization was a failure. The Dutch Mennonites spent about 80,000 Dutch guilders for this adventure.

During World War II Walcheren was badly damaged; the town of Vlissingen was largely destroyed; its Mennonite church was bombed. And in September 1944 nearly the whole island was flooded and the population had to flee. A Mennonite Central Committee reconstruction unit of 11 men served on Walcheren from 28 May 1946, to 22 December 1947. After the flood disaster of 1 February 1953, a Mennonite voluntary service group worked on Walcheren.


Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1883): 88 ff.; (1884): 104 ff.; (1897): 163; (1908): 3 ff., 29.

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: v. I, Nos. 1995-2243.

Mennonite Life I (January 1946): 33-37.

Unruh, J. D. In the Name of Christ. Scottdale: Herald Press, 1952: 115-17.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Walcheren (Zeeland, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 30 Sep 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Walcheren_(Zeeland,_Netherlands)&oldid=134491.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Walcheren (Zeeland, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 September 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Walcheren_(Zeeland,_Netherlands)&oldid=134491.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 873. All rights reserved.

©1996-2023 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.