THE PAEDAGOGIUM ACHISOMOG
“The opening of Paedagogium Achisomog, the institute for mentally handicapped Jewish children on the Bas Backerlaan 14 in Apeldoorn, on Sunday August 2nd 1925 was a simple, but moving, inspiring occasion.” Miss E. Klein was acting principal. Among the many present were Councillor Dr Vos on behalf of the Amsterdam district council, Mr A. Prins LL M and Dr D.M. Sluys on behalf of the Organisation of the Jewish Communities in the Netherlands, M.L. Rosenberg, treasurer of the Benefit Fund for Patients in the Apeldoornsche Bosch, Dr H. de Levie, physician of the Health Centre of the Central Jewish Psychiatric Institute Association (Ver. C.I.K.) in the Netherlands, G.A. van Toledo, Head of Special Primary Education in Apeldoorn, members of the Board of Trustees and Board of Directors, and Mr. B. Reens, newly appointed teacher at the Paedagogium.
At eleven in the morning the chairman of the Association, Mr. S. J. W. van Buuren, warmly welcomed all those present in the Trustees’ room of the Apeldoornsche Bosch. In his speech he explained: “On your tour of the paediatric ward you will today still find a group of little children, who are sadly destined to live out their lives in the most dreadful condition until the good Lord has mercy on them and releases them from this life, and little children, who under professional guidance can at least to some extent be lifted out of their present state.” He considered it essential that, as soon as there would be enough money available, these groups should be housed in separate sections. The provision of education, the upbringing, in short all that is necessary for the development of every child, would thus be more effective. But this would require a lot of preparation. For the time being a number of educable children would be accommodated in the boarding school called ‘Paedagogium Achisomog’. Next Doctor J. Kat, head physician, described the growth of the Apeldoornsche Bosch and how very different the treatment of patients was from 25 years ago. He explained that due to the large expansion in the years 1916 to 1921, the institute had been able to organise a separate children’s section, in which education could also receive more attention. He hoped that the division now taking place, would flourish.
After lunch everyone proceeded to the building where the children would be housed temporarily, since the actual boarding school was not yet ready. The classrooms, kitchen, recreation rooms, dormitories etc. were inspected. Every inch of space had been utilised, and the highest standards of hygiene and educational matters appeared to have been met. Mr Van Toledo, an expert on the education of children with special needs, had made various suggestions for the design and planning.
In 1931 the Paedagogium Achisomog was unfortunately still housed in a temporary building. Building plans were however underway, and a target date of 15 July 1933 had been set for occupation. On 10 May 1933 the new Children’s Home, which was to be built on land adjoining the Apeldoornsche Bosch, was put out to tender. The architects were Mr. Jac. S Baars and Joh. Kortlang Fzn. The contract was awarded to the contractors J. Dubbeldam from Voorburg for a building sum of 183.200 guilders. On June 6th the first sod was cut, and on 30 September 1933 a commemorative stone was laid in the children’s home then under construction. Around twelve o’ clock the guests invited for the ceremony gathered in the staff canteen in the main building. Among those present were mayor Mr. W. Roosmale Nepveu LL M, Chief Rabbi J. Vredenburg, rabbi B. I. Ricardo of the Portuguese Jewish Community of Amsterdam, rabbi Ph. Coppenhagen of Amsterdam, the trustees of the foundation and members of the Central Jewish Psychiatric Institute. The meeting was opened by Mr. A. J. Mendes da Costa, as chairman Mr Parser was abroad. “When the institute was founded, care of the mentally handicapped child had to some extent already been catered for. Later a few properties in the centre of Apeldoorn, which were specially equipped for them, had to be expanded gradually. As the large distance made proper monitoring difficult, head physician doctor Kat urged that some buildings for the mentally handicapped should be constructed in the vicinity of the institute, the necessity of which was supported by the trustees. In May this year, after a delay due to financial difficulties, we finally managed to send the construction project, for which the plans had been drawn up by the architects Baars and Kortlang, out to tender.” After Mr. Mendes da Costa’s opening words, all those present made their way to the area where the stone laying ceremony for the Children’s Home was to take place. Here they were treated to songs by the Achisomog children’s choir. Doctor Kat explained how the buildings would be constructed. Each building was to house 24 children and would consist of three separate flats. The ones on the outside would be occupied by 12 children, and the middle flat would be used for both groups.
The provisional plan was to build three pavilions. Mrs L. Hedeman-Wolff proceeded to lay the stone, after which the children played the Dutch national anthem, the Wilhelmus, on their mandolins. The inscription on the stone reads: “This memorial stone was laid by Liberta Hedeman-Wolff 19 Elul 5693 – 10 September 1933”. This stone is still present in Bosduif’s façade (formerly Ruben-Simeon; the Groot-Schuylenburg institute changed the names of the pavilions).
The following observation was made in the Apeldoornsche Bosch magazine (Boschblaadje) of October 1934: “Many people who see Achisomog’s transformation, will shake their heads and wonder whether it was justified to spend round 30.000 guilders to erect such a construction at this time.” But that it was necessary, was fully appreciated. In September the Paedagogium was visited by some hundred members of the benevolent society for Relief of the Poor. Everyone agreed that the architects had produced something special here. Six flats built in pairs in three pavilions, and each flat intended for twelve children, to form a family as much as possible. Bedrooms for not more than four children, and the pavilions situated in large grounds. The girls’ pavilion was called Efraim Manasse, and the boys’ pavilions Ruben Simeon and Naftali Zebulon. In addition there was the Benjamin pavilion, which was meant for very seriously disturbed children.
It was not until 21 May 1935 that the Paedagogium Achisomog was officially opened.
Mr. Parser, chairman of the Central Jewish Psychiatric Institute Association, outlined the history of the Children’s Home, which was started in August 1925 in a rented house. “Only now can the education provided by the school and the family, be closely matched.” Mr Parser thanked the good friends of the Association, without whose donation the construction of the building could not have been achieved. He expressed his extreme gratitude to the people who had given their care and devotion to the children. First and foremost the teachers Miss Klein and Mr. Reens. Miss Klein was succeeded in 1928 by Miss L. Salomons, who in 1930 was succeeded by Mr Ph. Fuldauer. Dr E.C. van der Wal, who had been involved with the children from the very start, should of course not be forgotten. Next Doctor Kat made a speech in which he mentioned the education of the mentally handicapped child and the Paedagogium, and thanked the board of governors for their wonderful support. He presented the architects Baars and Kortlang with a small token of appreciation for their cooperation.
Other speakers were the Inspector of the National Disciplinary and Educational Board, Mr J. van Beek, Chief Rabbi J. Vredenburg, the mayor of Apeldoorn, Jonkheer Dr C. G. C. Quarles van Ufford, Dr L. Heijermans on behalf of Amsterdam city council and Mr A. H. v.d. Giesen LL M, juvenile court judge in Zutphen. During the tour of the buildings and the reception which followed, many more people came to offer their congratulations. During the reception Mrs H. van Son-Kan spoke on behalf of the Lesammeiag Hajeled Association (more about this in a separate chapter) and Mr G. A. van Toledo as head of the special needs primary school in Apeldoorn. After short speeches by Mr Fuldauer, Mr Kortlang and Mr Van Witsen, the girls presented a woven rug for the board room of the Central Jewish Psychiatric Institute Association in Amsterdam.
Mr Ph. Fuldauer, vice-principal of the Paedagogium since 1 June 1930, was also principal of the special needs school housed in the same building. Its pupils ranged from mentally handicapped to normal, for besides being a nursing home, Achisomog also included an observation unit. Apart from education, much attention was paid to handicraft skills, such as netting, weaving, braiding, mat making, cardboard making and book binding. The children took part in many different types of sports and games, and were given swimming and mandolin lessons. There was also a football club with its own committee, and a mouth organ band.
b. Lesammeiag Hajeled (= making the child happy)
This association was founded on 28 January 1926 with the purpose of making the lives of the patients in the Paedagogium Achisomog boarding school and the aftercare of the children more enjoyable.
The association soon attracted many members. A few years after its foundation, the committee was asked to change its status to a guardianship association. This request was accepted, and its statues were amended accordingly. On 8 October 1928 the revamped association received Royal Assent, which meant that it was able to provide permanent care and education for mentally handicapped minors of the Jewish faith. What else did the association do? Every patient received a birthday present and treats were distributed. Every Shabbat and on all Jewish holidays refreshments were provided, and at the annual Chanukah party every child received a present. The children were always very happy and enthusiastic, especially since most of them had never experienced anything like it before. Soon more more guardianship requests were received, and round 1933 at least five pupils were being cared for. This required a lot of money, but new members kept applying for membership which carried an annual fee of 2,50 guilders. Supporters/sponsors paid a yearly donation.
Mrs H. van Son-Kan was president around 1930. Other committee members were the ladies H. Snuyf-Mijerson, L. Elzas-Emanuel, G. Lobstein-v. Rijn and Miss R. v. Oss.
On Wednesday morning 20 November 1935 Her Majesty Princess Juliana paid a visit to the Paedagogium Achisomog. She was accompanied by Baroness M.J. van Heemstra and Baron J. C. Baud LL M. The princess had requested beforehand that the patients should be given a treat on her behalf. Present were Mr G Parser LL M, chairman of the Association, Mr A. J. Mendes da Costa and Mr L. D. Frank LL M, Mrs H. van Son-Kan for the Lesammeiag Hajeled Association, head physician doctor J. Kat and the head of Achisomog Mr Ph. Fuldauer with his wife. The workshop and two of the three pavilions were visited, in which Her Majesty showed great interest. After consultation with the Princess, it was decided that a visit to the pavilion for very severely handicapped children (Benjamin) would be left out. In the observation unit the ladies Dr E. Oppenheimer and Dr E. G. van der Wal described the tests that were used in psychological and psychiatric examinations.
During the visit to the school some preschool children were so fascinated by the bunch of red carnations the Princess had received, that she shared some of her flowers with the little ones. “The Princess was presented with two pieces of handicraft, a rug with the Royal coat of arms and a pouffe with an orange crown in wool on a black background, which she gratefully accepted and later took home unwrapped in her car.” At the end of the visit Her Majesty was offered a cup of tea. Both at the start and the conclusion of the visit the Wilhelmus (the Dutch national anthem) was sung by some twenty children.
The Nielshuis (Niels-house)
On 13 May 1937 the construction of a gymnastics and recreation building was put out to tender. This building belonged to the Paedagogium Achisomog. On 30 June 1937 a stone was placed in the façade, and on December 19th of that year the transfer to the Association took place. The building was named Nielshuis in memory of Niels Menko, a deceased relative of the donor. In addition relatives of the donor completely equipped it with gymnastic apparatus. Mr G. Parser LL M expressed great appreciation for this gift, and Dr J. Lobstein pointed out the great importance of gymnastics and recreation in the education of mentally handicapped children. After the formal acceptance the children were treated to the operetta Droomelaar in the recreation room. Mr P.J.H. Jansen and Mr. J. H. Krudde in particular had worked very hard to put it on.
e. The last years
The birth of Princess Beatrix on 31 January 1938 was an occasion for great celebration. School and work had ceased, everyone listened to the radio and was treated to rusks with aniseed sprinkles. Games were played outside, there was a procession, and the pupils of Achisomog and other schools were given free admission to the cinema, where a film on the House of Orange was shown. In celebration of this festive occasion the Paedagogium sent a beautiful basket of red carnations, accompanied by a neatly written poem, for which a thank-you letter was duly received.
In 1939, when Armageddon had broken out across the border, air-raid precautions were taken in the Apeldoornsche Bosch. The Nielshuis and Benjamin Pavilion were the designated areas for the Paedagogium Achisomog. In the Benjamin pavilion gas decontamination and first aid centres were also set up.
Early in 1940 the annual report was published, including a survey of the number of children admitted since 1930. In 1930 there were 32 children, in 1934 there were 60, and on 31 December 1939 this number had grown to 82: 16 girls and 66 boys. This number would grow to 94 children: 20 girls and 74 boys.
And then on 22 January 1943, the blackest page in the history of the Paedogogium Achisomog was written. So dark, that tears made this page illegible.
May those who perished, have found peace and may their souls be bound in the bundle of eternal life.
f. The post-war period
Thanks to the perseverance of Mr Ph. Fuldauer, the Paedagogium Achisomog was able to function in Apeldoorn again on 1 April 1946, if only with seven children initially.
Mr S. van Buuren, who had been a male nurse in the Apeldoornsche Bosch before the war, became Mr Fuldauer’s second in command. Around 1947 Mr S. Frank and Mr N. Groen arrived as educational civil servants to fill up the ranks.
On 6 July 1948, both the 50-year existence of the Central Jewish Psychiatric Institute Association and the re-opening of Achisomog’s third pavilion were solemnly celebrated. The chairman of the Association, Mr K. Lansberg, and the director of Achisomog, Mr Ph. Fuldauer, both held speeches. Mr N. Groen, the institute’s spiritual leader, led the building dedication ceremony. A choir, composed of the children from Achisomog, sang Dutch and Hebrew songs.
In 1955, when Mr Fuldauer celebrated his 25th anniversary, the number of pupils had increased to 66. In the Nielshuis many came to offer congratulations and presents on the occasion of the director’s silver jubilee. The chairman of the Central Association for Jewish Mental Health, Mr J. Mansfeld, spoke first and stressed the eminent way in which Mr Fuldauer had always acquitted himself of his task. He gave him a book and an envelope with money, while Mrs Fuldauer received a floral tribute. Many speakers followed, amongst whom Mr K. Lansberg, ex-chairman, Dr S. J. Vies on behalf of the Social Educational Office and Aftercare, Mr M. van Son on behalf of the Jewish community in Apeldoorn, Dr C. H. Simons on behalf of the medical staff, and Mr S. van Buuren, who thanked him warmly on behalf of all the workers in the Paedagogium. After a few more speakers Miss P. A. Vomberg, deputy-secretary, was the last person to take the floor.
Just when Mr Fuldauer planned to retire in 1962, as he was entitled to do, he was asked to stay on for a while because of the imminent move to Amersfoort. Which he did.
On 23 April 1965 Her Majesty Queen Juliana rewarded the many good and faithful services of Philip Fuldauer by awarding him the title Companion of the Order of Orange-Nassau. A year later his final farewell followed. After working for 36 years as director, he said goodbye to Achisomog and his many friends on 12 May 1966. It was decided to transfer the children to Amersfoort, where Mr S. van Buuren would be the new director. Many came to say goodbye and talk to Mr and Mrs Fuldauer. Mr Mansfeld spoke again on that occasion, in the Orpheus Cultural Centre in Apeldoorn. Dr J. Veerman, director of Groot-Schuylenburg (this institute had since 1951 been accommodated in the Apeldoornsche Bosch), spoke with admiration of the results which Mr Fuldauer had achieved. Some of the Achisomog buildings would again be taken over by Groot-Schuylenburg. Mr A. de Levie from Amersfoort thanked Mr Fuldauer on behalf of the parents for the pleasant way he had always treated both the children and the parents. Mr Van Buuren spoke on behalf of his colleagues and thanked his teacher. Mr A. Grunewald, cantor of the Jewish community in Apeldoorn, was the last one to speak.
The move of Achisomog and the Benjamin pavilion took place not long afterwards.
A chapter of Jewish history in Apeldoorn had been concluded once again.
Sources and literature:
De Joodse Gemeente te Apeldoorn en Het Apeldoornse Bosch
Walburg Pers-Zutphen, 1979
ISBN 906011.305.5-chapter 8-pag.55-60
G. A. Apeldoorn:
Nieuwe Apeldoornsche Courant of 5.8.1925, 11.9.1933, 31.5.1955
Nieuw Isr. Weekblad of 20.5.1966
Ha-Kehilla, publication of the Jewish community in Amsterdam volume 11 nr 9
Boschblaadjes van 1930 – 1940 (monthly publication of Nieuw Leven)
Reports of the Central Jewish Psychiatric Institute Association (Ver. C.I.K.) in the Netherlands of 1906, 1909 to 1938 inclusive and 1961
Dr J. Presser
De Ondergang, 1965
Prof. Dr L. de Jong
Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, volume 6
Tijdschrift voor Maatschappelijk Werk, dd. 10.8.1948
Translation from main source:Sara Kirby-Nieweg (Cambridge, UK)
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