The Forgotten Crime of Paedagogium Achisomog

Paedagogium Achisomog was an institution for Jewish children with intellectual disabilities. The institution was opened in 1925 and was a subsidiary of the Apeldoornsche Bosch. At Paedagogium Achisomog about 75 children lived in small groups. On the night of 21 to 22 January 1943, Paedagogium Achisomog was evacuated together with the Apeldoornsche Bosch.

On 10 September 1933, next to the Apeldoornsche Bosch, the first stone was laid for the children’s home Paedagogium Achisomog, which consisted of three small pavilions and a pavilion for deeply disturbed children.

‘Benjamin’. 24 children lived in each building. Each child was treated according to his character and disposition. By living together in groups, wanted to approach the atmosphere of a family as much as possible.
The girls’ pavilion was named Ephraim Manasseh, and the two boys’ pavilions were named Reuben Simeon and Naphtali Zebulun. The name Achisomog means ‘My brother for support’. The children who were admitted had an intellectual disability or were difficult to raise. Neglected children or children who were at risk of going astray could also be admitted for observation. Some of the students were taught at their school on the site.

On the night of January 21-22, 1943, all 1250 residents of the Apeldoornse Bosch and the paedagogium; patients and nursing staff, were deported to Auschwitz by the Germans. There they were all killed immediately upon arrival.

Herman van Brakel, a boy from Dordrecht with Down syndrome, had only recently been admitted to Achisomog, the children’s ward of the Jewish psychiatric institution Het Apeldoornsche Bos. Elsewhere in the complex on Zutphensestraat, his sister Coby worked as a nurse.

On the night of 21-22 January 1943, units of the Waffen-SS and the Ordnungspolizei completely unexpectedly drove all patients and fifty staff in trucks to Apeldoorn station to a wait for a freight train with forty wagons.

Coby van Brakel and dozens of other employees escaped just in time. She was forced to leave her 12-year-old brother Herman behind: she could not enter the Achisomog site and did not have a key. The train left at seven in the morning and went straight to Auschwitz, where they were gassed upon arrival.

Coby’s Account
“You just could feel it coming, now or never, and it was just in time. I pulled everything together it was winter, and it was cold. My brother was also in
the vicinity, who was at Achisomog I could reach him there. I didn’t have a key either. That simply wasn’t possible. He WAS there because my
mother couldn’t take him with her when she went into hiding.
I couldn’t take him either, it wasn’t possible. My mother understood.”

Hermanus Mozes van Brakel was born in Dordrecht on 5 October 1930. He was murdered in Auschwitz on 25 January 1943. He reached the age of 12 years.