Monday, 12 November 2007

Worse than Death...

We commemorate the dead, but there are victims whose fate is even worse and, though they survived the war, their minds and souls are broken for ever.

Women were seized in slave raids,and recruited to work as prostitutes. Japanese officers took considerable pleasure in "breaking in" new girls, who were in shock and pleading for mercy.
Japanese children won't hear anything about it today, because Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a denial that women had ever been forced into sexual slavery under unspeakable conditions to pleasure Japanese troops. His statement reversed an earlier, 1992 acknowledgment from the japanese Government that women had been forced into prostitution against their will. Similarly, Japan still denies the hororific Rape of Nanking, the torture and mass killing of thousands of American, British and Australian POW's, and the use of POW's for biological warfare experiments
After two and a half years in an internment camp, conditions for Jan Ruff took a dramatic turn for the worse when Japanese officers entered the camp and ordered all girls over the age of seventeen( in our camp girls from the age of ten) to line up for inspection. The Japanese officers then physically examined each girl as if she was an animal put up for auction at a cattle sale. When the line had been reduced to ten girls ( in my camp there were 20 girls), the Japanese officers ordered these girls to pack a suitcase and get into a truck waiting at the camp gate. Protests by their mothers were ignored. The truck was then driven to a large house in Semarang, the capital of Middle Java. This house was surrounded by a high fence and guarded by Japanese soldiers. Jan discovered the terrible nature of the ordeal she was about to endure when the Japanese told the girls that they would live in this house and be required to provide sexual services to the Japanese military. Jan felt at the time as if her whole world had collapsed. In response to their protests, the girls were told that the Japanese would treat them in any way that they pleased

I had just turned 9 when I was imprisoned in a concentration camp with my mother( 37 years old) and my two younger sisters( 5 and 3 years old).. In the first camp we still had some toys and books, but there came a day that we had to leave everything behind apart from what we could carry. All that we took were clothes.
After a long train journey we arrived in Semarang and had to find a place to sleep.
We had to share a house with about 25 others. From the very beginning the camp was a night mare. We went to bed on an empty stomach and the next morning we got a kind of porridge cooked in tar drums. It was so dirty and still full of tar that we couldn't swallow it. Finding food was a great problem. We had to grow tomatoes but were not allowed to pick them. Then there were the beatings some women had to endure. One woman(American lady) was much taller than the Jap and was always singled out for a beating. At last she squatted so that the guard couldn't see her.Worst of all was the case of the comfort girls. Twenty girls in the age of 14 till 20 were selected and what happened to them you can read above.
In August 1945 a plane of the British Royal Airforce circled over our camp and dropped flyers which said that the war was over, at least the Japs were defeated.
First we couldn't believe it, but little by little it dawned upon us that it was true. We took away the barbed wire and got all kind of food from the Indonesian people outside. Yet other Indonesians were ready to imprison us again a few months later.
We could leave the camps in October 1945


Patty said...

I am so sorry and feel so badly for what you had to endure, you and your Mother and sisters, and all the other women in that camp. Any war seems to pick on the weaker people to inflict the most pain on, and what's weaker then woman and their children. Some bullies are still doing that.

reader Wil said...

I agree with you. I am really afraid of war situations because of the fact that women, children and old men are defenseless when the other men and women are away fighting. When we were in the camp we didn't know where my father was. We heard about ships being torpedoed. When one of the soldiers asked my mum :"Where pappa?"and my mother answered :" On a ship". He said,grinning,:"Pappa boom boom."