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The Forgotten Names of the Apeldoornsche Bosch 

by Amber Zijlma

During the night of the 21st and 22nd of January 1943, the patients of the Apeldoornsche Bosch psychiatric institution in the Netherlands were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz. They were all killed on arrival. Many of the staff would follow. Despite the cruel nature of the deportation, this event has largely been forgotten, and when it is recalled, the individual names and stories of those who were deported are frequently omitted or remain unknown. The photograph that forms the focus of the research conducted by Amber Zijlma as part of her internship at the NIOD ImageLab is a telling example: most often the photograph of a group of medical workers appears with the caption ‘staff of the Apeldoornsche Bosch’. But who are they? This research seeks to restore the names of those depicted and begins to tell the stories of their lives.
The image and caption as it appeared in the Beeldbank WO2 in January 2022 when I began this research: "Photograph from 1942 of medical staff of the Jewish psychiatric institution the Apeldoornsche Bosch. Front row, second from the left is Jetty van Geens, who is one of the nurses who was interviewed for the RVU documentary ‘The Apeldoornsche Bosch’ (20 january 1993)." ["Foto uit 1942 van verpleegkundigen van de joodse psychiatrische inrichting Het Apeldoornsche Bosch. Voorste rij 2e van links Jetty van Geens, één van de oud-verpleegkundigen die in de documentaire van RVU educatieve omroep 'Het Apeldoornsche Bos' (20 januari 1993) aan het woord komt."] NIOD Collection.

This is a group portrait taken of some of the staff at the Apeldoornsche Bosch, a Jewish psychiatric institution that was established in 1909 and shut down in 1943 during the Nazi occupation, when the majority of the patients and staff were deported and killed. The institution was located just outside of the centre of Apeldoorn, Gelderland, a province in the eastern part of the Netherlands.

I first came across a scan of this photograph when creating a database of images that are included in the ImageBank managed by NIOD (Beeldbank WO2) depicting people wearing the Yellow Star badge during WWII. As I was born and raised in Apeldoorn, and had never heard of the Apeldoornsche Bosch, I was intrigued by this photograph. It was only after reading a bit about the institution that I found out that I passed the old site of the Apeldoornsche Bosch, where a memorial centre is located now, multiple times a week on my way to my badminton training. I had not realized the historical significance of the place, nor was I aware of the terrible fate of those who were patients there, as well as those who worked there, in January 1943. But this picture takes us back to 1942, likely between May (when the Nazis enforced the requirement for Jewish people in the Netherlands to wear the Yellow Star on their clothing) and November (when it is too cold outside to wear a short-sleeved shirt). The group consists of eight women of different ages, and a middle-aged man standing in the centre – all are smiling.

In the context in which they found themselves, there might even have been a sense of comfort and reassurance behind their smiles. The Apeldoornsche Bosch was nicknamed the ‘Jewish heaven’ during the war, stemming from the conviction that while Jews all over the country were increasingly persecuted, the Nazis would leave this institution alone. It had never been an exclusively Jewish place, but it strongly adhered to the Jewish faith and its customs, as it was part of the pillarized (verzuild) structure of Dutch society, and thus Dutch medical institutions, in this period.[1] The institution was changed from a religious Jewish one to an ethnically Jewish one when the Nazi rulers ordered the segregation of Jewish and non-Jewish institutions and workplaces in April 1942.[2] This meant that Jewish patients and medical staff were not allowed to be admitted to or employed in non-Jewish institutions and vice versa. The consequent staff shortage and the seeming promise of safety for the all of the institution’s inhabitants led many Jews from Amsterdam to come to work in Apeldoorn: these were often very young people, both men and women, who did not have any formal professional qualifications. This photograph includes some of these people who left their home towns for the seeming security of the Apeldoornsche Bosch.

Postcard depicting the Apeldoornsche Bosch. Collectie Joods Historisch Museum Amsterdam - Jaap van Velzen Collection 00002507 -

During the war, Dutch psychiatric institutions were slowly cleared of their inhabitants to make space for German patients.[3] The same fate befell the Apeldoornsche Bosch: during the nights of 21 and 22 January 1943 all the patients – more than a thousand – and fifty staff members were taken and transported by train, as if they were cattle, directly to Auschwitz. They were killed on arrival. The mass-deportation of the Apeldoornsche Bosch had been a topic of discussion amongst the Nazis since November 1941.[4] When SS-Hauptsturmführer Ferdinand aus der Fünten visited the grounds of the Apeldoornsche Bosch at the start of January, the staff feared that they would no longer be safe. Some of them decided, or were persuaded by family members, to flee the institution then; others decided to leave when the Ordedienst[5] from Westerbork concentration camp arrived a day earlier than expected to facilitate the deportation, providing definitive evidence that the Apeldoornsche Bosch would be shut down. Some of the psychiatric patients were able to flee then as well.[6] Those staff who remained, and who were not part of the group of fifty staff members who were transported to Auschwitz with the patients, were taken to Westerbork, leaving the institution completely empty.

The names of the victims were unknown to the public for 70 years. In 2013, the list of 1069 Apeldoornsche Bosch victims who were deported on 22 January 1943 was revealed, filling a gaping hole in the narrative of the Holocaust in the Netherlands.[7] It took researchers from the Westerbork Memorial Centre over five years to compile the list, a search that was prompted by the discovery of administrative documents in the archives in Apeldoorn and Amsterdam in 2008. Despite various initiatives working to revive the memory of this event, such as a monument in 1990 and the opening of a memorial centre in 2020, the history of the Apeldoornsche Bosch regrettably remains largely forgotten among the wider public in Apeldoorn; unknown not only to me, but to many others as well. I felt compelled to shine light on the lives of the people in this photograph – to uncover the stories that lay behind the Stars they were forced to wear.

Searching for Individual Stories

The photograph, as I found it in the WWII ImageBank/Beeldbank WO2, is a scanned copy from the Dutch newspaper the Algemeen Dagblad. The caption identifies where this photo was taken, as well as the name of one of the people depicted. This was a hopeful starting point for figuring out the identities of the other people. A quick Reverse Image Search[8] showed that this photo has been reproduced on many other sites, most of which include the general caption ‘staff of Apeldoornsche Bosch.’ A few sources, however, provide more detail, and also offer the name of a person in the picture: not Jetty, whose name was included in the WWII ImageBank, but the man in the centre, Nico Speijer.[9]

I contacted the memorial centre of the Apeldoornsche Bosch to ask whether they had any more information on this photograph specifically. While waiting for a reply, I read more about the Apeldoornsche Bosch as an institution and the experiences of those who worked and resided there. Maurits Levie’s short films provided crucial visual insight into this, of which the footage is stunning for this time period – some of his films are even in colour!

A reply from the Apeldoornsche Bosch referred me to Stefan Rutten, an archivist at the CODA Archive in Apeldoorn. It was through his email that I found out that the original of this photograph is kept at the CODA Archive, in the private archive of Marianne van Creveld, who was a nurse at the Apeldoornsche Bosch between 1937 and 1943. She does not appear in the picture herself, though Marianne did write the names of those who are depicted on the reverse side of the image. The archivist kindly sent me a scan of this, which made it possible to identify almost everyone in the photograph, except for one person: the woman standing in the back row, second from the left, whose name Marianne did not know.

The back of the photograph of The Apeldoornsche Bosch staff, 1942. CODA Museum Collection

During this time, I had also been in contact with Sabrina De Rita, who had shown interest in the photo on, an online monument that collects stories of Jews in the Netherlands who died during the Holocaust from family members, visitors and editors. Sabrina had reposted this photo, with the comment that one of her relatives was included in the photograph: Veronica Davids-Delaville. Veronica’s name does not appear in the list of names Marianne wrote down, so there is a possibility that Veronica’s is the name she did not know. Sabrina kindly sent me more information, including photographs of her family, among whom was her grandmother’s cousin, Veronica Davids-Delaville.

With a full list of names, together with their faces, it was possible to find out more about the people in the photograph. I would like to emphasize that it is important to be cautious when assigning names to faces in photographs: a name only has to be misread, or the face illuminated differently, and one can wrongly ascribe one person’s identity to another person’s face. It is especially important to be careful when speculating about the identity of the woman who was not identified by Marianne.

All of the research was carried out online, due to the ongoing pandemic and the temporary closure of archives and museums, and so this information is likely not to be complete. Even if I had access to every document in every archive, there would still be gaps to be filled and questions left unanswered. The goal of this work is to collect scattered information about individuals – from crowdsourcing sites like, to digitized collections held by established archives like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, as well as from family collections – and in this way to reconstruct the story of their lives to the best of my abilities in a single place. I hope in this way to remove the anonymity from the people in this photograph, and to emphasize and remind those who see the image that the people it depicts should not be reduced to the symbol of the Yellow Star.

Rita Roza van Stratum

Rita Roza van Stratum.jpg

On the back of the photograph, the first name Marianne van Creveld seems to have written was ‘Rita v. Straaten’. Marianne had apparently misheard Rita’s family name when they were first introduced: the woman on the left in the back row shown hugging the cat is Rita Roza van Stratum. She was born on 15 July 1922 in Groningen, where her childhood home included her father’s dance studio. She was only 17 years old when she started working at the Apeldoornsche Bosch in June 1940. Starting as an ‘aspiring student nurse’, she was quickly promoted to ‘student nurse’.[10] In March 1942, she sat one of the last nursing exams held for nurses at the Apeldoornsche Bosch.[11]

Rita had managed to narrowly escape persecution during the increased razzias on Jews in Apeldoorn in the fall of 1942, and so in that year or the next, she went into hiding. She had various hiding places, in the cities of Zaandam, Amsterdam, Amstelveen and Zutphen – it was from the latter that she was liberated by the Canadian army in April 1945.

After the war in 1947, she married Bernard Granaada, who had been a Jewish resistance fighter. I’m unsure where they settled in this period, though they were most likely around the area of Rotterdam by 1957, considering a newspaper article celebrating Bernard’s promotion as director of the ‘Vereniging Exportcombinatie’ of Northern Netherlands in Rotterdam in 1957.[12] They did not stay in the Netherlands for long: in 1959 they emigrated to the US with their two children, eventually moving to Riverside, California.[13]

Rita settled into her new home, and connected with other Jewish families in the community there. In September 1969, Rita and Bernard performed a musical history of Israel together with their international folk group ‘The Mishpocke’ (The Family).[14]

An interview with Rita Granaada, held at the USC Shoah Foundation (19 September 1995) can be heard here.

Rita survived her husband Bernard (d. 1995), and remained in Riverside until her death on 7 May 2009. 

Veronica Davids-Delaville / Rita Schijveschuurder

Rita Schijveschuurder _ Veronica Davids Delaville _.jpg
Veronica Davids-Delaville _ Rita Schijveschuurder _.jpg
The woman on the left above was not identified by Marianne. The woman on the right above is identified as Rita Schijveschuurder by Marianne. Sabrina believes that her relative Veronica Davids-Delaville is portrayed in the group portrait, and has sent me the images below - some of which include a woman who resembles the woman identified as Rita Schijveschuurder.

Marianne van Creveld did not include the name of one of the people in the photograph: the women on the top row, second from the left. It is possible this might be Veronica Davids-Delaville. The uncertainty of her possible identification must be emphasized, but this information might allow others to conduct further research. However, the uncertainty about whether or not she appears in the photograph should not undermine the significance of her story.

Veronica (circled; as identified by Sabrina) at the wedding of her cousin, Letty Stork Goudsmit. Names of other members of the family are identified above. Private collection of Sabrina De Rita

Veronica was born on 6 June 1921 in Amsterdam. She spent her childhood growing up in the same area of Amsterdam as her aunts, uncles, and cousins – she was able to walk to their houses in less than ten minutes.[15]

From photographs taken during family outings, the impression is that she was part of a big close-knit family.

Photograph of Veronica and her family at the beach. Accompanied by a letter written by Ab Sijes, a family member who survived the war, identifying the names of those in the photograph:  Cato (Catharina) Delaville-Hes, Letty Goudsmit, Jopie Delaville, Heer Hes (Jacob Hes), Ina Delaville, Mirjam Sijes-Delaville, Veronica Delaville, Ab Sijes. Private Collection of Sabrina De Rita

Veronica attended an elementary school close by, where she was best friends with Janny Moffie-Bolle.[16] It seems drawing was a hobby of hers, as she entered the drawing contest in the newspaper Algemeen Handelsblad in 1932. She won a small prize.[17] After finishing elementary school, she went on to a Jewish MULO, the name for certain Dutch secondary schools at the time, from which she graduated in 1936.[18]

While she was working as an office clerk, Veronica got engaged to Elias Davids on 12 December 1941.[19] They married on 25 March 1942. A month after they married, they moved to the Apeldoornsche Bosch, where they both started working: Veronica as a student nurse, Elias as an office clerk.

Veronica and Elias were in Apeldoorn for less than five months before they were put on a transport to Westerbork on 10 September 1942. There was no known razzia on this date in Apeldoorn, though another family who lived in Apeldoorn were also taken away on this date. Veronica and Elias would be placed on a train towards Auschwitz the day after their arrival at Westerbork.[20] This was one of the so-called ‘Cosel-transports’: the Nazis would forcefully pick those they considered able-bodied men from the train roughly 80km from Auschwitz, from where they would be sent to labour camps in the surrounding area. Elias was among these men who were forced out of the train. He died in labour camp Seibersdorf before 31 March 1943 – his exact date of death is unknown. Veronica arrived in Auschwitz on 12 September 1942.

It is likely she was forced to work in the concentration camp until she was

murdered two days later, on 14 September 1942. She was 21 years old.

Document filled out by Letty Stork-Goudsmit after the war. Only Letty, Ab Sijes and Jules Sijes survived the war by going into hiding. The majority of their family was killed in Sobibór.
Private Collection of Sabrina De Rita

Nico Speijer


Nico Speijer (born 19 July 1905, The Hague; his name is also spelt as ‘Speyer’) is standing in the middle and is the only male in this photograph. He started working as a physician at the Apeldoornsche Bosch on 1 May 1936, at the age of 30.[21]

The jubilant exclamation ‘Alive!’ is written, and underlined for good measure, at the top of Nico’s Westerbork registration card in the Arolsen Archive. There is as much relief as there is sorrow behind this statement: it is believed only fourteen of over a thousand deported on the 22 January 1943 from Apeldoorn survived the war – Nico was one of the very few fortunate ones.[22] On that day in January 1943, Nico was taken to camp Westerbork. Owing to his academic and professional credentials, he was assigned to work as a physician in the camp hospital – which was a relatively secure position. Indeed, his registration card states he received exemption from deportation due to his ‘function’. However, Nico also used his position to prevent others from being deported to other camps: when he discovered a rising number of polio cases amongst the camp population, he exaggerated the danger of the infection to the camp guards and commander Gemmeker. The latter became extremely worried about the disease, to the extent that transports from Westerbork stopped almost completely between 21 September and 15 November.[23] Nico was liberated from Westerbork in April 1945.

Nico Speijer - card.jpg
Nico Speijer's Westerbork registration card. Arolsen Archives Collection

Nico had been taken to Westerbork with his wife Renée Speijer-van Kollem and they were liberated together. The reason on the registration card for why Renée was exempted from further transport simply reads ‘husband’. Nico and Renée most likely met through working together at the Apeldoornsche Bosch, where she worked as a medical analyst from 1939.[24] They were married on 18 September 1941.[25] In Renée, Nico had found a life partner – an old student and close friend to Nico described them together as ‘two creatures who can soundlessly and effortlessly read each other’s minds’.[26]

After the war, Nico rarely spoke about his experiences in Westerbork. [27]  He and Renée returned to the Apeldoornsche Bosch for some time, but by 1963 they had moved back to The Hague. Nico resumed his passion for psychiatry, despite – or perhaps because of – the war. His specific area of interest in the field of psychiatry, since the time of his doctoral thesis, was suicidology. He worked as head of the public health at the GGD, the decentralized governmental public health service in the Netherlands, between 1950-1965. After this, he was appointed as a professor at Leiden University and he published papers and books on various topics within his field of specialization.[28] He also set up the Association for Suicide Prevention and Crisis intervention (IASPC) – his continuous contributions eventually made him known as the “grand old man of suicide prevention in the Netherlands”.

In September 1981, Nico and Renée both took their own lives. Nico had been diagnosed with cancer and suffered immensely as a result. They decided to die together, because, in his own words: ‘After 40 years of marriage, she does not want to stay behind by herself.’[29] Nico was 76; Renée was 65.

VPRO-documentary on suicide among young people in which Nico posthumously features (1984). You can hear him speak at 1:25.

Rita Schijveschuurder / Veronica Davids-Delaville

Rita Schijveschuurder _ Veronica Davids Delaville _.jpg
Veronica Davids-Delaville _ Rita Schijveschuurder _.jpg
The woman on the left above was not identified by Marianne. The woman on the right above is identified as Rita Schijveschuurder by Marianne. Sabrina believes that her relative Veronica Davids-Delaville is portrayed in the group portrait, and has sent me the images below - some of which include a woman who resembles the woman identified as Rita Schijveschuurder.

Rita Schijveschuurder is the youngest woman in this photograph. She was born on 24 August 1923 in Amsterdam, and started working at the Apeldoornsche Bosch on 19 March 1942, as a student nurse. In some sources, her first name is also written as ‘Rieka’.

Rita, the eldest of three children, lived at the Cornelis Drebbelstraat 13 in Amsterdam with her family before she started working at the Apeldoornsche Bosch. It is likely she filled up one of the many vacancies opened at the institution as a result of the departure of non-Jewish staff. She was not on the transports that left Apeldoorn in January 1943. In March and April 1945, a list of Holocaust survivors included the names of all the five members of Rita’s family. They were liberated in Twente, at Nieuwstraat 147 in Almelo, where it is most likely that they had been in hiding.[30]

Rita seems to have been in possession of a photograph similar to the one central to this text, depicting the same people but positioned differently, and kept a hold of it throughout the war. She met someone connected to her colleague Ruth Pestachowsky (also depicted in this photograph) in 1946 and provided them with a copy.

In 1951, Rita and her family emigrated to Sydney, Australia.[31] There, she married Jacob Jan (Jaap) de Haan, but they divorced in 1977.[32]

She remained in Australia until her death, on 15 February 2001 at the age of 77.[33]

Jeanette Fanny Zeckendorf

Jeanette Fanny Zeckendorf.jpg

The woman in the top row on the right is Jeanette Fanny Zeckendorf (born 8 July 1906, Amsterdam). She is the longest serving employee of the Apeldoornsche Bosch depicted in this photograph, as she started working at the institution in 1927. It is no wonder then, that she is the only woman in the photo who is identified through her formal title by Marianne: Zr. (Zuster – or Sister) Zeckendorf. Over the years, Jeanette was promoted to a ‘waarnemend eerste verpleegster’, or acting first nurse.[34] By the time this picture was taken, she held the position of ‘nachthoofd’: leading nurse for the evening shifts.[35]

On 22 January 1943, she had worked at the Apeldoornsche Bosch for more than 12 years. It was on this day that she was placed on the transport towards Westerbork. On 13 July of the same year, she was put on the second to last transport from Westerbork towards Sobibór, Transport 18, together with 1.987 other people.[36] None of them survived.

Seven years after her deportation her name and her date of death were published by the Department of Justice in the Staatscourant, part of the official publication of the Dutch government, as part of a long list of ‘missing persons’.[37] Jeanette was killed in Sobibór on 16 July 1943 at the age of 37.

Ruth Pestachowsky

Ruth Pestachowsky.jpg

Born in Berlin on 28 October 1922, Ruth Sara Pestachowsky (also written as ‘Pestachowski’) fled to the Netherlands with her sister Eva as Jewish refugee children from Germany in 1939, after increased threats against Jews in her home country after Kristallnacht.[38] Their mother, Edith Heinemann, remained in Germany until she was deported and killed in Auschwitz in 1943. Their father Erich had died before 1939.

Various households in the Netherlands took Ruth in before she started her position as student nurse at the Apeldoornsche Bosch on 12 May 1942.[39] Among the places in which she stayed are Rijswijk, Den Haag and Amsterdam.[40] After this, she became the fourth member of the Blok household in Apeldoorn until March 1941: the family consisted of father Bernard Blok, mother Carolina Blok-Kan and son Hartog Blok. She developed a romantic relationship with Hartog.

It is possible that Ruth started working at the Apeldoornsche Bosch due to her time spent with the Blok family. Carolina had completed her training as a student nurse at the institution in the late 1910s, and worked there as a head nurse from 1930. Furthermore, Bernard Blok was one of the thirteen Jewish men arrested during the first razzia in Apeldoorn in the fall of 1941. He was killed in Mauthausen in the same year – this was the reason Hartog started working at the Apeldoornsche Bosch shortly after Ruth. After all, the institution was seen as a safe place.

Ruth, Hartog and Carolina were all at the institution on 22 January 1943. Carolina was one of those from the staff who ‘volunteered’ to get on the same transport as the patients.[41] Ruth and Hartog were also on this transport to Auschwitz.[42] Hartog and Carolina seemed to have been killed immediately on arrival.

Ruth was killed on 28 February 1943. She was 20 years old.

*When doing research into Ruth’s story, I came across a photograph in the collection of the Jewish Historical Museum. The image was not available to view on the site, but the caption describes a very similar scene to the staff photograph that this text is about: ‘Group photos of nurses and a physician of the Apeldoornsche Bosch, amongst whom Ruth Pestachowsky, January 1942.’[43] I was sent a scan of the front and back of the photograph. Remarkably, it depicts the same people, but their places are arranged differently – clearly, it was taken in the same period of time as the other staff photo. The inscription on the back of the image is also significant: ‘Ruth during her work at the Apeldoornsche Bosch. 1942. Through meeting Rita Schijveschuurder, who enlarged these pictures for me. Now 1946. 19. March. Amsterdam, Heerengracht 75 is where I received these pictures.’ It is not stated who wrote this text, but I think it could have been Eva Pestachowsky, Ruth’s sister. Eva is the only member of Ruth’s family who survived the war.

The collection of the Jewish Historical Museum includes more photographs and documents of Ruth and the rest of her family. Memorial stones have been laid in front of the house of the Blok family, where Ruth stayed for a while as well (Abrikozenweg 12; now, Wijnruitstraat 62), an initiative of Gedenkstenen Joods Apeldoorn.

Jetty van Geens


Before I began this research, the WWII ImageBank/Beeldbank WO2 caption only spared one person in the photograph from anonymity: sitting second from the left in the front row is Jetty van Geens (later Jetty Giethoorn-van Geens). Born Nelly Henriëtte van Geens on 5 November 1919 in Amsterdam, she came to work at the Apeldoornsche Bosch in 1938 at the age of 18 as an ‘aspiring student nurse’. At the time this photograph was taken, she was 22, and had worked her way up to head nurse.[44] She worked in pavilion ‘Hannah’, which took in female psychiatric patients. Her wide smile reflects how Jetty experienced her time working at the Apeldoornsche Bosch, as she remembered it in an interview conducted in 1990: ‘It was fantastic there. At that time, the Apeldoornsche Bosch was one of the best institutions in Europe. […] We laughed a lot there. Jews have humour after all. Great humour.’[45]

Jetty moved to Apeldoorn on 26 September 1933 with her father Louis van Geens, and her mother Nelly Gerritsen.[46] They first moved to Sophiapark 6 (and later to the Molenstraat), which is a block away from the train station where Jetty’s colleagues and patients would be deported in 1943. She herself evaded their fate and was not taken on a train towards Westerbork and beyond – she recounts: ‘Luckily they couldn’t do anything to me. I am half Jewish. My father was Jewish, my mother wasn’t. That’s why I could leave.’[47] Her civic register indeed states that she was neither ethnically nor religiously Jewish, though it is likely she held connections to the community and beliefs through her father.[48] It might explain why she is not wearing the Yellow Star badge in the photo, yet she was still allowed to work in a Jewish institution. On the day that the Apeldoornsche Bosch was deported, she was allowed to walk home freely. 

Jetty died at the age of 97 in 2017.

The documentary Het Apeldoornsche Bosch (Jan Kelder en Suzette Wyers, 1993), includes an interview with Jetty. She also seems to feature in another photograph held by the CODA Archive, presumably taken earlier, showing Jetty and other female student nurses and their teacher in the middle. Jetty here is in the first row, the second from the right. An image of Jetty is included in Suzette Wijers, Als ik wil kan ik duiken (1995), (p. 108) and there is a photograph of her unveiling a memorial sign at the site of the Apeldoornsche Bosch in 2009 (p. 13).

Jansje Klein

Jansje Klein.jpg

Jansje Klein was born on 18 February 1917 in Stadskanaal, a town in the northern part of the Netherlands.[49]

Notably, Jansje does not appear on any Holocaust survivors- or victims lists.[50] Her name is on the staff list of the Apeldoornsche Bosch, but it is unclear when she started working there. It is known that she had left Apeldoorn by October 1942, as she went into hiding in Friesland, the northern province bordering to the province in which she was born.[51] Her sister Liny also went into hiding, at another address.

Jansje’s parents, Siegfried Klein and Dina Klein-de Vries, had made clear they wanted to go into hiding to evade being transported to Poland.[52] For this reason, it is likely they first found addresses for their daughters to hide at; at the start of November, they were finally told that there was an address that could take them in as well. Six weeks later, however, their bodies were found buried under the ground by men working the field, only a few kilometers from the family home. They had been shot.

Both Jansje and Liny survived the war. It was still unclear who was responsible for the murder of their parents – was the promise of a hiding place only a ruse? Police began to investigate this case shortly after the war, but they never identified the culprit. In a letter sent to Jansje, one of the officers investigating the case writes: ‘It is of your opinion that I withdrew from the relevant case, but this is incorrect. After I put forward a perpetrator, I was duly pulled out of this case, this is the truth.’[53] It thus seems that Jansje was actively following the investigation, but the identity of those responsible for the murder of her parents remains unknown.

Jansje married Antonie Woldhek. In 1951, they moved to Emmen, south of her birth place, where they started a camping farm.[54]

Jansje died on 13 April 2006 in Wijhe, ten years after Antonie passed away.[55] She was 89. 

Josephine Koen

Josephine Koen.jpg

The woman on the right hand side of the bottom row is Josephine Koen (later Josephine Heilbron-Koen), endearingly named ‘Jopie’ by Marianne on the back of the photograph. She was born on 26 September 1920 in Amsterdam.

She held a job as an office clerk in Amsterdam before moving to Apeldoorn on 1 September 1941 to work at the Apeldoornsche Bosch as a student nurse.[56] During her time at the institution, she lost both her sisters and her father: they were killed in Auschwitz in 1942. Her mother, Alida, was taken to Westerbork on 21 January 1943, incidentally on the day when many of the staff of the Apeldoornsche Bosch were transported there as well.[57] Alida’s Westerbork registration card states that she was to be kept in the camp until the arrival of her daughter, of whom it was known that she was a nurse at the Apeldoornsche Bosch.[58] However, Josephine would not be reunited with her mother – it is likely she left the Apeldoornsche Bosch before the deportation. Alida was transported to Auschwitz two days later and killed on arrival.

Josephine returned to Amsterdam and married Emanuel Heilbron on 2 June 1943.[59] A mere eighteen days later they were transported to Westerbork. Emanuel’s cousin Samuel and his wife Eva arrived at Westerbork as well on 3 July 1943, having been transported from the concentration camp in Vught. There was, however, barely time to find any solace in their reunion: Josephine, Emanuel, Samuel and Eva were put on Transport 17 to Sobibór on July 6.[60] They were all killed on arrival.

Like Jeanette Zeckendorf, their deaths were only published in 1950 in the Staatscourant by the Department of Justice.[61] Josephine was killed on 9 July 1943 at the age of 22.

Apeldoornsche Bosch - Staff.png
From left to right: (top) Rita van Stratum, Veronica Davids-Delaville/Rita Schijveschuurder, Nico Speijer, Rita Schijveschuurder/Veronica Davids-Delaville, Jeanette Zeckendorf.
(bottom) Ruth Pestachowsky, Jetty van Geens, Jansje Klein, Josephine Koen
CODA Museum Collection.

A note to end

I have sketched out the lives of nine people, who were members of staff at the Apeldoornsche Bosch between 1927-1943, and by doing so I hope to have contributed to preserving their memory and experiences. But this is not intended to be the end of (research into) their stories. Memorializing names and lives is an ongoing process, especially in the context of the Apeldoornsche Bosch where many of the patients’ fates have not been yet been uncovered. I am aware that in this case the identities and life stories of the staff are relatively well-known compared to those of the patients. This research does not claim to address the ongoing invisibility of the patients – I only hope it has provided a starting point to readers to further explore the stories of the Apeldoornsche Bosch and its residents.


I would like to thank Jet Baruch, Sabrina De Rita, Stefan Rutten (CODA Archives), Apeldoornsche Bosch Memorial Centre, Groninger Archieven, Joods Historisch Museum and Westerbork Memorial Centre for their help and the provision of visual materials for this research.

I am also grateful to prof. Kees Ribbens and dr. Kylie Thomas for the many insightful and helpful comments they provided.


[1] The information on the broader context of psychiatric institutions in the Netherlands was kindly provided to me by prof. dr. Ralf Futselaar of the NIOD. He is working together with dr. Eveline Buchheim on this project:


[3] H. Oosterhuis, M. Gijswijt Hofstra, Verward van geest en ander ongerief: Psychiatrie en geestelijke gezondheidszorg in Nederland (1870-2005) (2008), p. 491.

[4] Ibid., p. 491.

[5] The Ordedienst of Westerbork was the auxiliary police, consisting of Jewish men, in charge of maintaining order within the camp. The Jewish men were part of these troops in exchange for exemption from further deportation. In some cases, they were deployed to assist in evicting places outside the camp, as in the case of the Apeldoornsche Bosch. See

[6] H. Oosterhof, Het Apeldoornsche Bosch: Joodse psychiatrische inrichting 1909-1943 (1989), p. 31, in the Amsterdam city archives:

[7] Since then, more names have been added:

[8] This is a browser extension which allows you to search the internet for visually similar images and websites that feature this exact image:

[9] See for example and; and also exhibitions in museums in Apeldoorn in 1989 and 2003: and respectively. 


[11] H. Oosterhof, Het Apeldoornsche Bosch: Joodse psychiatrische inrichting 1909-1943 (1989), p. 23.

[12], p. 5.


[14] . 

[15] See

[16] Esther Göbel, Een Hemel Zonder Vleugels (2010), p. 20. 

[17], p. 12.

[18], p. 3 

[19], p. 9; Esther Göbel, Een Hemel Zonder Vleugels (2010), p. 167.




[23] A. P. M. Van Liempt, Gemmeker: Commandant van kamp Westerbork. Thesis, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (2019), p. 137-8. Only one train left on 19 October. These were passengers that almost all had come from concentration camp Vught the previous day.



[26] ‘twee wezens die geluidloos moeiteloos elkaar gedachten kunnen lezen’.

[27] Ibid. 

[28] K. Happe, B. Lambauer, C. Maier-Wolthausen, West- und Nordeuropa Juni 1942 -1945 (2014), p. 331;

[29] ‘na 40 jaar huwelijk wil ze niet alleen achterblijven.’ Ibid. 




[33] I received an email from the Westerbork Memorial Centre after sending in a research request for the name Rita Schijveschuurder, in which it was said that Rita would have been on a (post-war) transport list. For this reason she has a file with the Commission for the Declaration of Deaths and Missing Persons. I was unable to access the Files of Missing Persons; however, I did access the List of Jews located in the Netherlands and the List of Missing Persons, in which both Rita (‘Rieka’) and her family feature. Their names are not in the Central Register of Death Certificates of Missing Persons from c. 1950. While it is possible that she was transported to one of the concentration camps, there is very little public documentation of this. See also footnotes 72 and 82.





[38] Roeland Odejans-Albers has written a piece about Ruth (and her partner Hartog Blok): Much of this text gratefully draws upon the research he has done. 




[42] ;

[43] I find the assigned date in the caption of January 1942 unlikely because the Yellow Star badge most of the nurses are wearing only became mandatory in May of that year.

[44] See picture of her certificate of an exam p. 3.

[45] ‘Het was er fantastisch. Het Apeldoornsche Bosch was in die tijd een van de beste inrichtingen in Europa. […] We hebben er enorm veel gelachen. Joden hebben nu eenmaal humor. Humor ten top.’,19900417:newsml_a8790296e2509068775a5b9b09524e63


[47] ‘Ze konden mij gelukkig niets maken. Ik ben een halve jodin. Mijn vader was joods, mijn moeder niet. Daarom mocht ik er ook uit.’,19900417:newsml_a8790296e2509068775a5b9b09524e63



[50] In the email from the Westerbork Memorial Centre, it was speculated that Jansje might not have been Jewish, because their collections have no documentation on her. 



[53] ‘Bij u/jullie heeft de mening postgevat, dat ik mij uit genoemde zaak heb teruggetrokken, dat is niet juist. Nadat ik een dader aan de oppervlakte had gebracht, ben ik er op een nette manier uitgeschoven, dat is wel de juiste waarheid.’ Ibid. 





[58] ‘vasthouden tot aankomst dochter (verpleegster) uit Apeld. Bosch!’


[60] p. 23; in the email from the Westerbork Memorial Centre, it was suggested that Josephine might not have been Jewish, because their collections have no documentation on her. This is remarkable because she is on the transport list from Westerbork to Sobibór. 

[61], p. 3 and p. 4 for Heilbron and Koen respectively. 

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