Machseh Lajesoumim
Machseh Lajesoumim
A Jewish Orphanage in the City of Leiden, 1890-1943
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17 x 24 cm
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Table of Contents
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1 Jewish orphanages in Dutch society
2 1890 to 1929: A long and difficult period
3 1929: A magnificent new home
4 1929 to 1933: Happy years
5 1933 to 1939: Clouds over Europe
6 1940 to 1942: Occupation, oppression, persecution
7 1943 to 1944: Liquidation
8 So many more
9 1943 to 1946: Survivors
10 After the war


List of abbreviations and acronyms
Dutch or German words used in the text
List of 168 children and 9 staff who lived in the orphanage (1929-1943)
Persons index
Subjects index

Reviews and Features

“It is a great achievement that out of a case study of one institution, the author(s) managed to create both a personal monument for so many individuals as well as a comprehensive overview of the Shoah in the Netherlands… By reading this book one gets to know the important facts and at the same time gets drawn into the stories of the people involved. It enables approaching history in both a cerebral and an emotional way. In short, when you read this book, you come close to understanding the Holocaust.”
- Hannah L. van den Ende, Studia Rosenthalia, volume 48.2 (2022)

“This book fits in with the work done lately by remembrance organizations such as the Jewish Monument, Camp Westerbork Memorial Centre, and Project Oorlogslevens(‘war lives’) to give victims a name, a face, and a history. It also aligns with the current notion in Holocaust research to return Jewish people their agency by describing and analyzing their choices and actions or survival strategy to escape the Nazi persecution (Finkel 2017).”
- Peter Tammes, Can. J. of Netherlandic Studies/Rev. can. d’études néerlandaises, volume 42.1 (2022)

"Jaap Focke has produced in this superb book a depiction of the Holocaust in the Netherlands that is both moving and informative."
- B. J. O'Brien, 5-Star Amazon UK Review

"By focusing on the experiences of the individual orphans and their carers the author has given the story about the Jewish orphanage in Leiden an essential depth. A remarkable and admirable book."
- Prof. Dr. Hans Blom

“A study that should be used in Holocaust education; through this one example, the encounter with the enormity of the Holocaust can be better understood.”
- Prof. Dr. Dan Michman, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

“De indrukwekkende studie van Leidenaar Jaap Focke is de weerslag van uitvoering bronnen- en archiefonderzoek en gesprekken met betrokkenen en nabestaanden. Het is in toegankelijk Engels geschreven, veronderstelt weinig voorkennis van de lezer en heeft zo onmiskenbaar de ambitie een internationaal (jong) publiek te bereiken.”
-Ton van Brussel, Oud Leiden Nieuws (10/1)

"Het boek Machseh Lajesoumim. A Jewish Orphanage in the City of Leiden, 1890-1943 is in de boekhandel te koop, maar ook gratis te downloaden via de website van Amsterdam University Press. De weergave van de persoonlijke documenten komt echter vooral tot zijn recht in de gedrukte uitgave. En het zijn die documenten samen met de opgetekende verhalen en de leeftijden van de slachtoffers die het boek van Focke bij vlagen een vergelijkbare intimiteit geeft als het verhaal van Anna Frank. Het boek van Jaap Focke is dan ook zonder meer een indrukwekkend eerbetoon aan de kinderen en hun begeleiders die nu bijna tachtig jaar geleden zijn vermoord."
- Roeland van Wely, Sleutelstad, December 2021

Jaap Focke

Machseh Lajesoumim

A Jewish Orphanage in the City of Leiden, 1890-1943

The Jewish Orphanage in Leiden was the last one of eight such care homes to open its doors in the Netherlands before the Second World War. After spending almost 39 years in an old and utterly inadequate building in Leiden's city centre, the inauguration in 1929 of a brand-new building, shown on the front cover, was the start of a remarkably productive and prosperous period.
The building still stands there, proudly but sadly, to this day: the relatively happy period lasted less than fourteen years. On Wednesday evening, 17th March 1943, the Leiden police, under German instructions, closed down the orphanage and delivered 50 children and nine staff to the Leiden railway station, from where they were brought to Transit Camp Westerbork in the north-east of the country. Two boys were released from Westerbork thanks to tireless efforts of a neighbour in Leiden; one young woman survived Auschwitz, and one young girl escaped to Palestine via Bergen-Belsen. The remaining 55 were deported to Sobibor – and not one of them survived.
Some 168 children lived in the new building at one time or another between August 1929 and March 1943. This book reconstructs life in the orphanage based on the many stories and photographs which they left us. It is dedicated to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, but also to those who survived. Without them, this book could not have been written.

Jaap Focke

J.W. Focke was educated as a geologist and received a PhD from the University of Leiden in 1978, and a M.Educ. from Utrecht in 2006.