Van and Von ("fon") are respectively the Dutch and German words for "of" or "from" the place or landholding whose name follows. The French and Spanish equivalents would be "De" or some variant.
Can't speak for the Dutch convention of this term, but Von in a German name usually denotes that the bearer or his ancestors were some degree of gentry or nobility, and had landholdings associated with their family. Historically a "von" German surname is found more in the north and east areas, such as Saxony and Prussia.
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