Boeke, Kees

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Boeke, Kees Gender: M
Cornelis Boeke
born on 25 September 1884 at 20:30 (= 8:30 PM )
Place Alkmaar, Netherlands, 52n38, 4e45
Timezone LMT m4e45 (is local mean time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Koppejan
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_libcol.18.gif 03°08' s_mo.18.gif s_sagcol.18.gif 15°48 Asc.s_gemcol.18.gif 17°07'

Kees Boeke (Werkplaats Kindergemeenschap)
photo: Onderwijsgek, license cc-by-sa-3.0


Dutch civil engineer, reformist educator, pacifist and Quaker missionary.

His father Jan Daniel Boeke (29 Nov. 1842, Alkmaar - 29 Oct. 1902, Alkmaar) was the director of the Higher Civil School (Rijks HBS) in Alkmaar. He was the third son of the Mennonite pastor Jan Boeke, studied chemistry and physics and became an agnostic. Jan Daniel Boeke was also a talented drawer of city portraits; both his father and his younger brother Daniel Boeke (1844-1874) are mentioned in the RKD artists database.

On 23 April 1874 the father married Petronella Everharda Oort (1851, Broek In Waterland - 15 February 1933) in Alkmaar. Her father Arend Joan Petrus Oort was a pastor in an noted family of theologians. The got between 1875 and 1884 six children; Kees Boeke was the youngest of them. His elder brother Daniel Boeke (1878) died on 6 October 1898 in Utrecht.

After finishing the HBS of his father in 1902, Boeke studied for civil engineer in Delft (1902-1906). Music, he played the violin, and religion fascinated him. He wanted to graduate on "Over breuk na herhaalde belasting" about stress breakage of metals after repeated load, but during a study in Ealin, England, he became connected to the Quakers movement and became an activist.

In the summer of 1910, he volunteered for missionary work in the Syria-Committee of the Friend's Foreign Mission Association (FFMA). On 19 December 1911 he married Beatrice (Betty) Cadbury (28 April 1884 in Edgbaston- 13 February 1976, Abcoude), daughter of the chocolate manufacturer and philanthropist Richard Barrow Cadbury (29 August 1835 – 22 March 1899). In 1912 they moved to Lebanon to do missionary work. Summer 1914 they returned to England because of WWI. Here he worked at a school, but was dismissed because of his antiwar activities for the Fellowship of Reconciliation. His activism on the streets against war and conscription and his travel to pacifists in Germany led to six weeks in prison in Birmingham (1918), and his deportation to the neutral Netherlands.

Summer 1918 the family of four children settled in Bilthoven. Stimulated by the Sermon on the mount and the idea of brotherhood of man, he founded a Christian, as opposed to Marxist International, the International Brotherhood of Reconciliation, that propagated radical pacifism, messianism, vegetarianism and abstinence. Boeke's vision of society was a mix of the idea's of ​​the Quaker community and the anarchist commune thought. Money and the state belonged to the "Mammon". In 1921 he and his anti capitalistic wife gave up their shares in the Cadbury Bros Ltd. chocolate factories and put it in a trust for the employees. In return, the employees founded a small Boeke-trust for the elementary maintenance of his family and work.

As taxes were used for military spending, he refused to pay them. The Dutch government reacted with the confiscation of his house and property so that the family had to live in tents. On 6 January 1926 he took his eldest children of the Montessori school, because he refused to pay the school fees via the state. He started to teach them at home. This was the start his "De Werkplaats" (Workplace Children Community, 12 July 1929), where children got an unconventional en anti-authoritarian education. He stayed there till his forced retirement in July 1954.

As he was radically opposed to the state and its symbols, he refused till circa 1934 to use a passport, money, and public facilities like post-office, telephone and railway. He even did not go to the state police, when others tested him by stealing "community property". Their house was always open for quests and refugees, but their eight children had sometimes only one room for themselves in the villa. Some refuges became teachers in the Workplace. The German historian Heinrich M. von der Dunk and his Jewish wife Ilse Loeb, settled in 1937 with their family in Bilthoven, when he lost his job in Nazi Germany. His son the historian Heinrich M. von der Dunk (Bonn, 9 October 1928) became a pupil or "worker" as students were called. After the war, the poet and classicist Ida Gerhardt was a teacher.

Queen Juliana admired Boeke's radical idealism and send in 1946 her daughters Beatrix, Irene and Margriet to his school De Werkplaats. The Queen was opposed to private lessons, and wanted that her children grew up like other children in a stimulating environment. Her individual choice was remarkable, as Boeke was an anarchist. Maybe a factor was that both Boeke and the Queen were befriended with the mystic Greet Hofmans. In 1950 Prince Bernhard denied Greet Hofmans accesses to the palace and in 1951 he took his daughters away from Boeke's school.

After his forced retirement (in July 1954), Boeke became depressive. He idealistically hoped and worked for a better world, but the cold war and the thread of an atomic inferno became reality. In 1955 he travelled to Lebanon to try to set up a school for Arab refugees. The project failed and he returned to Abcoude, withdrew and wrote books. In 1957 Boeke published the book Cosmic View, The Universe in 40 Jumps, which presents a seminal view of the universe, from the galactic to the microscopic scale, that inspired several films like Cosmic Zoom and Powers of Ten.

He died in the early hours of 3 July 1966 in Abcoude at age 81.

Link to Wikipedia


  • associate relationship with Gerhardt, Ida (born 11 May 1905). Notes: Werkplaats teacher from 1951


  • Relationship : Marriage 19 December 1911 (Beatrice Cadbury (28 April 1884 in Edgbaston - 13 February 1976, Abcoude))
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : Change of Lifestyle 6 January 1926 in Bilthoven (decided to educate his children at home)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Begin Major Project 12 July 1929 in Bilthoven (Workplace Children Community)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Begin Major Project 12 July 1929 in Bilthoven (Founded the Workplace for children)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Fired/Laid off/Quit July 1954 in Bilthoven (forced retirement)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1957 (Cosmic View)

Source Notes

Koppejan quotes Municipal Archive of Alkmaar for 25 Sept 1884, 20h30 in Beeldgids van de diernriem.

Geschiedenis 24 - De school van Beatrix

Boeke, Cornelis (1884-1966): KNAW


  • Traits : Body : Diet unusual (vegetarian)
  • Traits : Personality : Active
  • Traits : Personality : Charismatic
  • Traits : Personality : Idealist
  • Lifestyle : Work : Loss of job (Lost job as a teacher for his pacifistic activism during WW1)
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Gain - Money Through Marriage (gave it away for free)
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Groups (Made a commune of his house, shared his property)
  • Personal : Religion/Spirituality : Fundamentalist/ Evangelical (radical idealist, who was also interested in antroposophy)
  • Vocation : Education : Teacher
  • Vocation : Engineer : Civil
  • Vocation : Religion : Missionary
  • Notable : Famous : First in Field (radical reformist educator,)
  • Notable : Famous : Founder/ originator (De Werkplaats)