Tuesday, 24 March 2009

"J" for Japanese Concentration Camps on Java.




The worst camp of all. The Japanese commander was executed after the war for his cruelty.

The worst camp of all. The Japanese commander was executed after the war for his cruelty.

Japanese guard

Waiting for some extra food or medicines
I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures. I had to take photos from the book about the Japanese concentration camps by Dr.D.van Velden.
Some of the photos were taken by Lady Mountbatten in September,1945, when she was visiting the concentration camps, and interviewing the then ex-p.o.w.'s after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.






morning exercises

















Yesterday I told something of my motherland, today about the country, where I lived from the age of 10 months till I was almost 12 years old.We lived in the Dutch East Indies, as it was then called, which is now Indonesia. We lived on the Isle of Java. The first eight years were happy ones for my parents, my sisters and me. Then came the war. My father, who was a chief engineer on board of a Dutch merchant ship, had to leave us in January 1942. We were not to see him for four years.As we had no army or important war fleet, we surrendered almost immediately.On March, 8th, 1942 the Japs marched in our streets, singing strange war songs.It was good we didn't realise what they had in store for us. Soon we noticed that things were changing. We couldn't go to school any more.My mum was 35 years old, I was eight, my sisters were four and two. In Malang, where we lived, all Dutch people had to registrate with the purpose to be interned in concentration camps. We left Malang to avoid registrations and went to the mountains and a few months later to Surabaya, where after a while we could no longer escape imprisonment. In the meantime we had lost most of our possessions, but my mum never complained. The remaining things were some books and clothes. I destroyed all my books when the final call came. I was nine. We had to go to Semarang, where we stayed from February 1943 till September 1945. All that time my mum, who was suffering from beriberi and only weighed 35kilos, had kept us alive. We left the camp and went to Surabaya, waiting for news of my father. Now a new danger arose. The Indonesians wanted to intern us again. Java was no longer save for Dutch people, so with the help of the British we escaped to Singapore in October 1945. We had nothing left, but were happy to be alive. My mum made dresses of the army towels we got. In December we went on board of a Dutch ship "De Nieuw Amsterdam" We were free!! At last! My father had also survived the war, but was severely traumatized. He had been at sea all through the war. We saw him in January 1946 in Rotterdam, where we all stayed with loving relatives, who took care of us.

My mum at the age of 29, I was 2 years old. Indonesia.

 

 
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My mum at the age of 33 with her youngest child, born in 1939.



ABC is created by Denise Nesbitt.For more interesting ABC posts click on the logo in the sidebar. This week we are looking for words beginning with "J".

115 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

What an interesting read, reader wil. As I have told you before, my first husband was a prisoner of the Japanese and was on the so-called "Death Railway" in Thailand. He never let it influence his life once he got home, preferring to see his life as a chance to be "normal" - and we had a very happy forty years together before he died. Such privations you all suffered.
Lord and Lady Mountbatten toured the hospital in Bangalore where my husband was taken after being released - Lord Mountbatten shook his hand and said "well done, young soldier."
I am sure it has influenced your life but from your lively blog and the things you write I am also sure that you have not let it take over your life as some people have.
But so interesting to read about it
The two atom bombs were absolutely terrible and I cannot justify them - but certainly my husband would not have returned from the Japanese camp had the war not ended when it did as he had cerebral malaria when the war ended and would have died within days without treatment.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am almost speechless. What a horrific time you had to go thru and you were definately old enough to remember. Thank you so much for sharing something most of us can only imagine. I guess the only good part is that you were able to stay together as a family with the exception of your father.
I hope you will again write of that time to let us know what daily life was like as a prisoner. The pictures showed a world no one wants to believe exhisted but can not be denied. I guess your story and that of Weaver of Grass, help to slightly ease the guilt of the tragic Atomic bombing of Japan which killed so many innocents.
Have you thought of writing a book about the experience?

Dina said...

These are the first photos I've seen of the camps. It makes me mad and sad to think of you there.
Your strength, hope, and faith shine through, Wil, in your telling of your experiences.
Thank you for sharing this with us.

Gramma Ann said...

Thank you again for sharing your story. It saddens me, when I read about the terrible things that happened during those war years. I am so sorry you and your family had to go through that sadness. And to think today we are still at war. Will our leaders never learn from past wars?....

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, Reader Wil, for reminding us of this time. I hope you share more of the story in the future.

And I love the counterpoint in today's post: the tale of Man's inhumanity to Man next to the inter- species affection demonstrated in the pictures of the tiger cub and the chimpanzee.

Patty said...

Dear Wil, thanks for sharing your story. I feel so bad about your Mother, Father and you children. Makes you wonder how anyone can treat another human so badly. Don't they have family and wonder what they would feel like if their families were going through something like your family went through?

I know Renie has also written about some of her experiences before her grandparents brought her to the united States in the early 50's.

I think you both have become exceptionally strong women because of what you had to endure as children.

RuneE said...

You have indeed lived through hell - and come out alive. In Europe we may have focused too much on the Nazi concentration camps to the exclusion of the Japanese ones. In some ways they were worse. But who can tell?

I read in your story one more example of human inhumanity to humans. It makes me sad, but at the same time the fact that many survived the ordeals of WW2 and that the suppressors were themselves suppressed gives hope.
However, it is not a fight that is over. Freedom, liberty and equal rights for all humans are not given once and for all. You have have to guard them and fight for them time and time again. And you have to use fair means, or you are no better than the aggressor.

I'm sorry about the soapbox... :-)

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Weaver. You told me once about the time your first husband spent at that terrible Death Railway in Thailand. Wonderful that he met Lord and Lady Mountbatten. The two bombs were terrible. In 1987 I met some of the survivors of Hiroshima in Moscow and it made me feel so terrible to know that innocent women, children and old men had to suffer for the atrocities done by soldiers in the name of Tenno Haika ( the Emperor).

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Patti! The bombs were at the time the only way to end the war, but as I said, innocent Japanese women, children and old men, who couldn't join the army had to die for the deeds of the real culprits. I don't need to write a book about this. Others did it already.A Dutch man contacted me about the camps last year.

Reader Wil said...

Dina! It is sad that people are capable to do this. I still cannot watch movies about concentration camps, like for instance "Schindler's List" or " Exodus". I read " A Town called Alice" and there's also a movie about it. And that did I see without the horror I felt, when I saw the German concentration camps.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Ann, thank you for these heartfelt words! And you are righ: we are still at war. The people don't want it, but our leaders too easily decide to start these wars. Do they think of the victims?

Granny Smith said...

This will undoubtedly be the most interesting post for this ABC Wednesday! What a distressing part of history you suffered as a child. I would never have guessed it while reading your wonderful life-affirming blog.

The slide show is fascinating. What a terrible place that concentration camp was! Your mother was an exceptional person to be able to keep you and your sisters safe and healthy under such conditions.

I hope you will write more about it in the future. Thank you for this glimpse into history!

Reader Wil said...

Thanks Vicki! Fortunately there are many good and great people who work for peace. In the camp you saw that really good people helped their fellow campmates and the children. Many women were strong and never complained. My mum was a good example for us.

Ivar Ivrig said...

Hi. So you noticed the spelling of Trondheim. Very good. I don´t believe it is "Ny norsk", rather Gammel Norsk, Old Norwegian, since it is from 1277.

Reader Wil said...

Patty, thanks. Well this camp was a blessing in disguise. We learned by our experiences. There were times after the war which were not easy either, but we could face them.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Rune, thanks! Jea, it was hell, but as you said: the Nazi camps were even worse, because they were created to destroy people on purpose. They were humiliated and used for experiments. The Japs didn't do this. They tortured when you did something wrong. We were treated as P.O.W's The worst that happened was that one day twenty girls in the age of 14 till 20 were "chosen" to serve as comfort girls. As you said we have to keep fighting for freedom of speech, equal rights for all people and especially women in many countries. ( my soapbox!)And use fair means!!

Reader Wil said...

Granny Smith thank you for your comment. My mum was indeed a strong and caring mother.She saw the mountains every day while she was working and always thought of psalm 121: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."
I don't know if there's another opportunaty to write more about the camps. Now the letter "J" was to be used for the ABC Wednesday meme and I thought of Java where I lived.

Jeannette St.G. said...

It is always with mixed feelings when I view world war II pics, because the Japanese prison camps did effect both of my parents (who were not married at the time) -they were always a tinge depressed. So I commend you for living the rich life you live and all the neat things you do, Wil!!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Wars are never nice but most of us in North America have only read about them, never experienced them. You're fortunate that your father survived, even though traumatized, and that your mother was clever enough to find a way to feed and clothe you. What a story!

Sylvia K said...

How could you read this and not weep! I'm having trouble seeing through my tears. What an incredibly brave woman your mother was! How brave all of you were! And I'm so glad your father survived and that you were all reunited. Those of us who lived here in the states have heard the stories, the horror and we have felt it, but not anything like it was for someone who was there and lived through it. Thank you so much for sharing, for letting us have a chance to know what it was really like from someone who was actually there and not just relating a story that they had heard.

Reader Wil said...

Jeannette, so your mum was in a women's camp and your dad in a men's camp. Boys at the age of 10 had to leave their mothers and go to a camp for adult men. Thanks for your story. It is so sad, isn't it!

Reader Wil said...

Thank you EG! War stories are always very disturbing; they create hatred and confusion and ask for revenge. Thanks for your kind words.

Nave said...

After I posted my contribution ... I came here and chose to read your blog first .. and maam am happy i did it .. it was a treat !!

Thank you maam :) for sharing this .. Your journey has been long and whatever experiences you shared I have only read a book or watched in a movie... This is by far the best dig at prompts .. you must be very strong to cope up with odds .. Would love to hear more of em in .. Why dont you write a book or atleast a blog of experiences.. it ll an enriching experience and fun to read..

Salute you and your family for the courage to make it through all the hardships !!!

The photographs are amazing too!!

Elizabeth said...

Your mother must have been a strong woman indeed to keep you and your sisters safe during that terribly difficult time.
What a strange childhood you must have had but I'm so happy you found your father again.
My father was a POW of the Italians then Germans but never talked of it.
I think these sufferings give you strength.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you so much Sylvia for your kind words. I can better tell my own story than that of others, but I always feel very sorry for the victims of injustice, like what happened to the indigenous peoples of America and Australia. Like what the Dutch did in the colonial period. Like what happens to women in many countries: forced marriages, honour-killing and so on. So all people are able to do wrong.

kadermo said...

Interesting reading. There are so much we don't know. Take care.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Nave, I can assure you that it was not fun at all to be surrounded by sad mothers who tried to keep their children alive. There was a lot of hatred and fear in the camp. It took a long time before we could trust anybody.

Reader Wil said...

Elizabeth thank you too for your kind words. Such a pity that your father couldn't talk about the war. It might have helped him to come to terms with himself. My father wrote a diary about his experiences at sea, but never talked about them.

naturglede said...

Greate photoes and worlds. Have a fun abc:)

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Kadermo! Thanks for your visit.

Reader Wil said...

Naturglede! Thank you! Have a great week too.

Reader Wil said...

Ivar thank for the explanation of that name.

anthonynorth said...

That was a marvellous, informative and poignant post. Living history brings things home more than any historian can do. And we need to remember.

Elaine Dale said...

What strength you had as a child! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Anthony! Yes we need to remember and try to be more responsible and aware of the needs of other people.

Reader Wil said...

Well Elaine, thank you for your kind comment. I was not really strong, actually in the end I was not interested in anything and just lying on my mattress. The only thing we wanted was food!

Babooshka said...

RuneE has summed up a lot of my thoughts too. How we treat each other so inhumanely is ofen beyond my comprehension. A post that should read by all today.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Babooshka! We should take care of more things than we can imagine. I am glad I don't hate the Japanese any more.

Today's Blah... said...

Yeah,I remember you told me you were in Indonesia the time that MacArthur liberated Philippines. It must have been an experience for you. I can just imagine.

Catherine said...

Wil Thank you for sharing this with us, it is a harrowing read and it must influence your whole outlook on life, as you were at such an impressionable age and not knowing how your father was or if he was even alive, how awful for your mother as well. I have heard my husband talk of the Dutch in Indonesia and the privations they suffered during the Japanese occupations and the Death Railway in Thailand, the Burmese railway immortalised in the film Bridge on the River Kwai. He lived in army camps after the 1953 "Ramp" which hit Zeeland really badly, he was then 3 and his family were displaced for 3 years around Netherlands in different places, before being re-housed. Also his father was captured by the Germans in the war and was forced labour in a munitions factory in Lubeck until the war's end. He never spoke of his time there he was so traumatised so I can only imagine what it was like for you and your parents. You have come through it remarkably to be able to write about it all now. I have watched films and TV series about the camps and they were indeed brutal. The song Hallo Bandoeng is about that part of the world, sad also.
On a lighter note, I love your header photo!

Rinkly Rimes said...

And the photos look so full of hope!!!!

TheWritersPorch said...

My dear sweet friend Wil.......
I knew you had been in a camp but not the details! I am so thankful your Mother was able to look out for you and you had those loving relatives to take you in because you are here today to teach me all the wonderful things I learn from you! Thank you God for bringing Wil through this!!!
Love,
Carol

Andrée said...

thank you so much for sharing your story with us. it is beautiful and horrifying. the beauty is in your family and its strength and love.

alicesg said...

When you arrived in Singapore in 1945, the Japanese just surrendered. They occupied Singapore from 1942 to 1945. It was hell in here according to stories told by my grandparents and parents. My late maternal granddad was almost killed by the soldiers but he played dead when they fired on him. He was just one of the unlucky able man being rounded up and make to kneel down at the beach and face a firing squad. Luckily he survived and told us the story.

Even mom (whos was about 11 or 12 back then) had to run several times when the plane comes and attack Singapore. They hid in trenches and camouflage their hiding places. Lots of horror stories and it would take me a long time to tell them.

Am glad you come out strong and tell us your story. Thanks for sharing.

Vicky said...

Your story reminds me of those told by my mother about how my grandpa and great grandpa were beheaded by the Japanese soldiers and others sad stories.like you said most women were strong and my grandma was one good example of that.

Cloudia said...

Wil: You must appreciate your freedom as few do!
Thanks for sharing with us all.
Aloha-

Tumblewords: said...

Fascinating read and photos! So enJoyable to learn more...

Lakshmi said...

what a wonderful post..am speechless and it must be quite an ordeal to see these camps again and remember the past

Etje said...

Jullie moeten door de hel zijn gegaan, heb natuurlijk al wel over die kampen gehoord maar dat is toch niet hetzelfde.
Mijn hoed af voor je moeder want dat moet een hele sterke vrouw zijn geweest.

Je zou verwachten dat na al die miserie de mensen slimmer zouden geworden zijn maar spijtig genoeg hebben ze er niks van geleerd en gaat het moorden en oorlog voeren nog dagelijks verder.

Groetjes

Grace and Bradley said...

My parents moved from China to Taiwan after the war. They lived through the war against Japan. Unlike most older generation of Taiwanese they at the time were under colonial rule of Japan for several generations already, many even fight alone side with Japanese. Their feeling to Japan is slightly different from the Chinese. I do not think that even today, Japanese government, unlike German government, fully accepts the responsibility of their war time crime. The matter is still generating much tension between China/Korea and Japan.

Reader Wil said...

Pacey! Yes at that time we were in Indonesia. Strange that our lives have so much in common.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Catherine, you know so much about the war. More than the Dutch people in the Netherlands knew about us in Indonesia. But then the people in the Netherlands were also traumatised by their experienceswith the nazis.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Brenda(Rinkly Rimes), they were full of hope indeed, but these photos were taken by Lady Mountbatten after the Japs had retreated.

Reader Wil said...

Dear Carol you are always so kind! Yes of course I thank God to be here and talk with you all about this.

Reader Wil said...

Andrée, thanks for your words: sad and beautiful! That's true.

Reader Wil said...

Alicesg- You have quite a story to tell. Singapore was the place where the British took us when we left Java in the last months of 1945. From there we left for the Netherlands. So I remember Singapore as a safe haven, not knowing that these terrible things happened there. Thanks for telling!

Reader Wil said...

Vicky-how terrible that your greatgrandpa and grandpa were beheaded by the Japs. Your grandma must have suffered much. Women are always very strong. They feel responsible for the children.

Reader Wil said...

Cloudia- I do! I am thankful and hope that many other women in the world get better lives too.

Reader Wil said...

Tumblewords- Thank you for your comment!

Reader Wil said...

Lakshmi-thanks for your visit and yes, it was a very difficult time, but it made who I am today.

Reader Wil said...

Je hebt gelijk Etje, de mensen zijn niet wijzer geworden. De Nederlanders waren net bevrijd van de Nazis en gingen al weer op oorlogspad naar Indië om de Indonesiërs te bevrijden van Soekarno. Terwijl de Indonesiërs juist zelfstandig wilden worden. Onze regering snapte er niets van.

Reader Wil said...

Grace & Bradley- thanks for your comment. We are all to blame. The Japanese wanted to liberate Asia from the Europeans. Right after the war the Dutch went back to Indonesia to "liberate"Indonesia from Sukarno, not realising that Indonesia wanted to be an independent nation. The problem is that civilians have to suffer most of all. Women, children and men who are too old to join the army.

pictureeachday said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing, Wil. I'm so sorry that you and so many others had to go through such hell at that time. I truly admire your courage. I imagine it must have taken a strong person to move on and continue with everyday life after it was all over.

Ann said...

This is Paradise Road by Glen Close, but it is real.

In Singapore, I always take my overseas visitors to Kranji cemetary. Too many young men are buried there.

Constantinos said...

Thank you, Reader Wil, for sharing these precious photos and your memories from possibly the most brutal war the world has ever known. I admire your mum's courage and determination especially when she was left alone with 3 young children. How hard it must have been for her. In Greece, there weren't any concentration camps but many Greeks were sent to Dahaou or Auswich including my grandfather who had a horrific death in Dahau.

oldmanlincoln said...

Your letter "J" is unique among all those who found their own solutions to "J".

As you know, I spent 3 years among the Japanese people after the war and found them to be totally different from their soldiers in the war.

I also know, from being in the Army, that soldiers are different in war than they are in peace.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and learning more about your life experiences. I am thankful you all survived.

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. This is such an amazing story. What a blessing to have survived. Your blog is such a tremendous place of learning and inspiration. I can see the love for her children in your Mothers eyes. It is a beautiful thing.

Reader Wil said...

pictureeachday- Many women were very strong. And still women who find themselves in such situations are getting strength to cope with these hardships to protect their children. The Japanese once said:" If we had to fight the European women instead of the men, we would have lost the war". This is not quite true of course, but women are fierce and strong when their children are harmed. You also see it in the animal world.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Ann We were there in November 1945, but I can't remember where exactly.

Reader Wil said...

Constantinos- I am sorry to hear that your grandfather died in Dahau.WWII was terrible, but look at the world today! Has anything changed for the better? No, not at all. As I said before: We are all to blame.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Abe! I know that there's a great big difference between the civilians in Japan, who hardly know what was going on, and the soldiers, who had to fight or commit harakiri. And soldiers in peacetime get time to think about what they had done. As I already said. I don't hate the Japanese.

Reader Wil said...

Life with Kaishon- Thank you so much for your comment. You have been a source of inspiration yourself! You radiate love. That's why you recognise the love in my mother's eyes.

Miss_Yves said...

J'admire votre courage et votre témoignage, et je comprends votre position vis à vis de la guerre.

Jay said...

What an ordeal you all lived through. I'm so glad that you all survived. Wow, 35 kg ... it's amazing your Mum did survive.

When I was a child, our family doctor was a man who'd been in a Japanese POW camp. He was a very gentle, kind, man, but there were days he couldn't function because of what he had experienced there, and he had a lot of pain in his hands.

RuneE said...

You are right - I had (unintentionally I might add)missed an important item. I quite agree with you.

Carol said...

Wil, thank you for sharing this part of your life...my uncle was in a Japanese concentration camp, and had much left inside of him...it is so grim to realize the cruelty that people are capable of inflicting on other people...but stories of survival can be a source of hope for others...I think we never really know how much people have suffered...

Janie said...

What a horrible experience to live through at such a young age. Thanks for sharing your amazing and horrifying experiences.

Brenda said...

Thank you for sharing your story Wil. I am new to your blog so I had not heard this before. So sad. My husband and I talk now and then about wars of the past and present, but what we know is only from books that we read.

Reader Wil said...

Mercie Miss Yves pour vos mots. Ma jeunesse n'était pas un beau âge, mais maintenant tout est mieux, heureusement.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Jay! You see you meet ex pow's all over the world and some of them are physically harmed. War is sheer hell.

Reader Wil said...

Carol hi! Yes, we don't know why people like to create unhappiness around them. May be they are unhappy themselves. And this still goes on.

Reader Wil said...

Janie! Thank you so much for your words. All those comments are a kind of moral support.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Brenda, it's good that you and your husband talk about the war. Hopefully there will come peace in this world of ours.

antigoni said...

I'm behind in blogging. I wasn't feeling very well te past few days.
Your post is very touching and your old photos are amazing and in a good condition. Thanks for sharing.

Rose said...

Looks like you're going to be busy answering all these comments:)

Another fascinating piece of history, Reader Wil! We all know about the Nazi camps, of course, but I don't remember ever reading about the Japanese camps on Java. This must have been a traumatic experience for your family, and I am glad that you all survived it. Did the beriberi leave any lasting ill effects on your mother, if I may ask?

The inhumanity of man to man never ceases to surprise and sadden me.

Constantinos said...

You are right , Wil. The world hasn't changed much. That's why I said WWII was POSSIBLY the most brutal war ever! There's worse I guess. All the pollution the Americans caused to planet Earth after the war in Iraq. Without the least of remorse! That's as horrific as Japanese concentration camps in Java.

Cloudia said...

Just had to re-read this post. thanks again Heroic Friend Wil!
Aloha-

Reader Wil said...

Hi Rose, Yes there were camps all over Asia. There's a book called " A Town like Alice" written by Nevil Shute. The American title is " The Legacy". It's about a group of women walking from concentration camp to concentration camp and nobody wants to help them find a place to stay. At last the end up in an Indonesian dessa, where they can stay until the war was over. On their way they met an Aussie soldier, who keeps talking about Alice to the main character. Well I should say read it! It's a great story and it is a true story, only it happened to Dutch women. You asked if my mum suffered from beriberi after the war. No, as soon as we got vitamines B it disappeared.

Monique said...

Very interesting Wil.

In the seventies and eighties we had a TV series called Tenko here in England. I missed most of it but from what I did see there was a lot of suffering going on in those camps.

By the way, has Nederland niet 13 provincies nu? Met Flevoland officieel als de dertiende? Dat was iets mijn moeder me vertelde voordat ze stierf. (My Dutch is really bad now)

LOL

Reader Wil said...

Hi Monique, bedankt! Je Nederlands is gewoon goed! Ik neem aan dat je het gewoon kunt lezen? We hadden eerst 11 provincies, maar met Flevoland erbij zijn het er 12. Kijk maar op het kaartje van " that's My World". Groetjes, Wil

Pam said...

So much courage! What a terrible thing to happen to your family, and what strength you all showed.It's a sad reflection on our humanity that you have those recollections at all.War ruins lives, but you have obviously regrouped and rebuilt a life with this as a part of it,and become even stronger and wiser.You give history a human voice.I am in awe of your mother's positivity,practicality, and protective instincts to get you all through. Such an inspiring post.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Claudia! It's okay! I was not complaining!

Reader Wil said...

Pam hi! Protective instincts were indeed what women kept alive. I admire my mother for what she did during the war. And as we were not physically harmed we could pick up our lives and go on, albeit with more understanding of what many people still have to suffer.

Today's Blah... said...

Oh, Ja...I've been going to church at Keizersgracht the Onze Lieve Vrouw, so after those masses, I walk along Koningsplein. Bedankt!

Thank you so much, I never thought of searching for this on google, stom, stom...hahahah....

Monique said...

Ik ben stom. Natuurlijk was het elf en nu twaalf. Waar waren mijn gedachten! Ik ben in Nederland opgegroeid. In Marknesse geboren (toen de NOP) naar Ens verhuist en toen ik negen was naar Elburg. Mijn vader werkte in the polders. En vandaar naar Zwolle waar ik David heb ontmoet en ben 30 jaar geleden naar Engeland verhuist.

Thank you for putting me right. I was really silly to think it was thirteen.

Pam said...

I am left speechless by your post, Wil. And I agree with everything that has been said already. Thank you so much for your wonderful words. You are the best example of a great teacher and a brilliant blogger! I feel very lucky to have found you:) be well,be happy ~ Pam

Reader Wil said...

Hi Pam thanks for your comment! A lot has been said and thought about this subject. Sadly enough the atrocities are still going on.

VP said...

Such an important post. I've often read your profile description and wondered whether it would be too painful for you to share some of your story with us. I'm so glad you did as we need reminding frequently that this is NOT the way to treat people.

When I was a student I met a man on the train who was a survivor of the Hiroshima bomb. He went around the world talking to people about his experiences and to campaign for peace (this was in 1980). I count it as one of the most important meetings of my entire life.

Reader Wil said...

VP, thank you for your comment. No it is not painful for me to talk or write about the war. I also met survivors of Hiroshima in Moscow at a women's conference in 1987. The bomb was dropped in a town inhabited by women, children and old men not fit enough to go to war. Horrible, isn't it? It saved our lives however, which is so tragic.

lyliane said...

Qu'elle vie mouvementée!, on ne parle que des camps de concentration nazis où est mort mon grand père à Mauthahausen, mais jamais ceux d'Asie.
Je connais bien la Hollande, j'y vais au moins 2 fois par an, surtout à Venlo, tous les arbres et les fleurs de mon jardin viennent de là bas, j'aime beaucoup votre pays, n'avons nous pas le même drapeau?

Reader Wil said...

Mercie lyliane, oui il y avait beaucoup de camps japonais en Asie.
Je suis désolée que votre grand père soit mort à Mauthausen!

C'est jolie que vous ayez été aussi aux Pays Bas. Oui, les couleurs de nos drapeaux sont les mêmes. Votre drapeau a les couleurs verticales, et en notre drapeau les couleurs sont horizontales.La formation de notre drapeau était entre 1568 et 1668', la guerre d'índépendance des Pays Bas. Ces sont de bonnes couleurs n'est ce pas?

Barbara Martin said...

Wil, thank you for this touching remembrance of your childhood, and a part of history that should not be forgotten. You have done well since that time.

Louise said...

What a story you have to share. I love the strength and endurance that shines through it. Today many of us can't even relate to that kind of life. It is a nice reminder of how absolutely good we have it. We need to be thankful and grateful and protect what we have.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Barbara ! I am touched by so many comments.I
am glad with all of them.

Louise, thank you too. Women are strong in such situations, because they have children, whom they want to defend.

Janice Thomson said...

I can't possibly truly understand the horrors you went through Wil - I can only commend your courage and tenacity for coming through with everything more or less intact.
The same can be said for the other side too as here in Canada the whole West Coast was cleared of Japanese people - their homes and belongings sold - they were sent to makeshift houses with no heat and tortured needlessly. Of course we were never told this in our history books. I learned about it when I saw the court proceedings where the government was handing back original properties belonging to the Japanese.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Janice! Yes whenever people are tortured are abused there's injustice. I can understand that the Japanese in Canada were evacuated to another place and guarded, but most of them were innocent so they had to be housed in proper houses which were heated. It's important that Christian nations show compassion and decency otherwise there will never be an end to aggression.

Mariamellie said...

My dear Wil, I am so touched by your story. I read it over and over again and I wish I could read some more. Your mother was a bold and beautiful woman! If I could turn back time, I would have taken you all to East Borneo. My father often told me the story of his little yet important village where he grew up and entered a Dutch school in the 1940s-50s. Perhaps there would had been more hospitality for you all there. After all, your story is a true reminder for us all how cruel the war time, and from this on we can fight as best as we can so that such thing will never happen again to us and our children in the future. May peace and blessings be with you, your mother, and the whole family, and for us all too. Thank you so much my dear Wil for the sharing!

Reader Wil said...

My dear Mariamellie, thank you so much for your heartfelt words. War is always hell. We were all to blame for those wars. The Dutch were colonists, something I am not proud of. But it's always women and children who are punished for what governments did.

Rajesh said...

Really interesting aspect of your life. You have seen very hard times and I wish you all the good in life. Take care.

Indra Setiawan said...

hi i'm Indra, a student from Indonesia that intuitively found your story while i was on internet. as an Indonesian, i always heard the story of my country in the past from Indonesian's point of view, i never know the life of Dutch here and i think it is so interesting if i can find another story related to this topic. Thanks for posting this :)

Indra Setiawan said...

Hi I'm Indra, a student from Indonesia that intuitively found this interesting story. As an Indonesian, I just heard a story about my country in the past, especially on the war era, from Indonesian's point of view. I never know the story of Dutch's lives here, and finding your story makes me really want to know more about that.Thanks for posting this :)

Reader Wil said...

Hi Indra,
I should like to tell you more about my life in Java. You can ask me everything you want. Thanks for being so kind to comment on my blog.
Wil Francois.

soeraja said...

hello Wil, thanks for this blog which I just discovered. I was a 7yr old girl in Kamp Lampersari in Semarang on Java. I am now writing my memoirs for my daughter and granddaughter but there are many things I do Not know as my late mother was loath to speak of that time
Thank you for Any information which might help me to recover myself.

soeraja said...

hello will
I would like to communicate with you about "that' time. I was a 7 yr in Kamp Lampersari in Semarang on Java. I am writing my memoirs for my daughter and granddaughter but there are many things I do not know/remember as my now late mother was loath to speak of that time.unstandable but I need to know, more. Thank you. Be well

miamianna said...

Hello, My mother and her mother was prisoners of the Japanese in the Lampersari camp in Indonesia. Mum didn't talk much about her experiences and I didn't ask as I knew it caused her great pain to remember. Now I want to know, and she died last year, age 91. From what she did tell me it was horrific. She told me one story about the pets that the women managed to bring with them into the camp. I can't repeat it because it will upset you, but the Japanese were extremely cruel. Mum said she was beaten if she stopped for a rest while working in the garden. She was also nursing the sick and this also was terrible for her. They were all starving. Mum told me they had to eat snakes, if they could find any. My Mum never really recovered from it. She used to often scream out at night from nightmares.