Monday, 3 December 2007
On a cold Monday morning on 4th December I was born, the eldest of three daughters. My parents had waited for children for a long time and were happy with the three of us. I was born in Rotterdam, but went to live in Indonesia shortly after my birth. We stayed there for five years and during that time my sister was born, then we returned to the Netherlands for a stay of a year and my second sister was born. In 1939 we were again back in Indonesia.
The war broke out , first in Europe and then in Asia. My father was an engineer on board of a merchant ship and sailed between Java, China and Japan.
On 8th March,1942 we saw them coming: Japanese soldiers, marching in the streets. We didn't know what they had in store for us. Sometimes it's better not to know beforehand..
Anyway we were interned in a concentration camp for three years. We lost most of our possessions. Children had no toys, no books and if you were older than ten you had to work in the fields in the burning heat of the tropical climate. Later fortunately, this was not necessary anymore, because most of us were to weak and emaciated to walk, let alone to work.
In August 1945 we were liberated by the British. In January 1946 we returned in Rotterdam and saw my father for the first time after four years. The first time in Holland was difficult : we had to go to school. I was twelve and had to skip three classes and start training for an exam in order that I could be admitted to the secondary school.
My teener time was spoiled by the memories of the war and it was not until I became a teacher that I started to enjoy life again. I married when I was almost 30 and got my first child when I was 33. After her we got another daughter and a son.
My husband died in 1999 after a long period of illness. He had seen his three eldest grandchildren, but not the youngest, who was born in 2002.
The eldest daughter and son live close by, but my youngest daughter lives in Australia