Het Apeldoornsche Bosch is founded by the ‘Vereeniging Centraal Israëlietisch Krankzinnigengesticht in Nederland’ (Society Central Israelite Mental Asylum in the Netherlands) in 1909. The Jewish psychiatric institution soon becomes a flourishing clinic.
In modern, spacious pavilions, mentally ill patients are treated in accordance with the latest insights, surrounded by nature and far from the big city. There is room for relaxation, sports and games, musical performances and movie showings, but also for work therapy. In Het Apeldoornsche Bosch, residents and staff form a unique, lively community. It is a world in itself, where people follow Jewish traditions and custom. All meals are kosher, there is a synagogue on the premises, the shabbat is observed and Jewish holidays are celebrated.
It houses about 75 children, who live in small groups that resemble a family situation as closely as possible.
Head of the institution is doctor-director Jacques Lobestein. Pedagogue Philip Fuldauer is assistant director and responsible for the Paedagogium Achisomog (Hebrew for ‘a support to my brother’). It houses about 75 children, who live in small groups that resemble a family situation as closely as possible. Supervised by their own, permanent leader, they eat kosher and visit the synagogue. Each child has his or her own tasks. On Friday evenings, Fuldauer personally visits each pavilion to inaugurate the shabbat.
The first two and a half years of the war pass the patients and staff of Het Apeldoornsche Bosch by without much incident. The pavilions and outbuilding are located in the eastern part of Apeldoorn, with its beautiful woods. Despite the news they receive about the war, residents and staff feel safe for a long time, as the harsh Nazi terror that is felt daily in the densely populated West of the Netherlands remains a long way off. But then, on 1 April 1942, all non-Jewish staff members are fired. After Jews are banned from travelling in June 1942, visitors no longer come to Het Bosch. Dark clouds gather, and on 19 January 1943, SS commander Ferdinand aus de Fünten orders the evacuation of the entire complex. In the night of 21/22 January 1943, the German occupiers raid and clear Het Apeldoornsche Bosch. Close to 1300 people, patients and staff, are sent to Auschwitz. None of them return.
‘Veilig in het Bosch’
For their documentary ‘Veilig in het Bosch’ (Safe in Het Bosch) Erik Willems (freelance documentary maker) and Alex Bakker (historian and documentary maker) interviewed people who were present during the raid on Het Apeldoornsche Bosch. The result is a beautiful oral history document for the people of Apeldoorn. The documentary ‘Veilig in het Bosch’ was realised with financial contributions by Monuta, Rabobank, Omroep Gelderland en CODA.