The Rawagede Massacre

I love the Netherlands. I was born and raised there and proud to call myself a Dutchman. Like all other countries in this world, it has pages in history that are not so glorious.

I believe that the best way for any country to deal with the darker days of its history is not to deny or run away from it. But rather confront it and deal with it.

The Rawagede massacre is one of those darker days in Dutch history.

On December 9, 1947, Dutch soldiers raided the West Javanese kampong Rawagede, now Balongsari. A large part of the male population of Rawagede, were killed without trial. Until the 1990s, there was hardly any attention to mass murder in the Netherlands. While such acts of violence were for decades, dismissed by the Dutch government as ‘excesses’, we now know that they fit into a pattern of frequent and structural extreme violence by the Dutch armed forces during the war of independence.

In the early morning of December 9, 1947, Dutch soldiers led by former resistance fighter Major Fons Wijnen attacked the West Javanese kampong Rawagede, now Balongsari, in the Krawang region. Until then, the Dutch armed forces had difficulty getting a grip on Krawang. Rawagede was seen as a centre of Indonesian resistance, and the Dutch military was looking for a local rebel leader, Lukas Kustario. He was not found. Yet, during a “cleansing operation,” almost the entire male population of the kampong was summarily executed without trial. According to Dutch military reports, 150 men were killed. However, various Indonesian sources speak of a death toll of 312 to 433 men.

Below are just some witness accounts:

“We had to make two rows, each row with seven men. Then we were shot from behind, from a distance of about two meters. My father, Bapak Locan, stood in line with me. When the soldiers fired, the man behind me was a shield. The bullet went right through him and only grazed my back. The poor man died instantly and fell on top of me. I felt his warm blood run down my face. Before the soldiers left, they shot each of them again to be certain we were dead. They shot me in the hand. I was the only one of the fourteen men who survived. My father was also dead.”
Survivor Bapak Saih

“He was shot from behind. Together, with four girlfriends, I carried his body home on a bamboo bench that served as a stretcher. I washed him, wrapped him in cloths and buried him myself.”
Ibu Wanti Binti Taswi, Eyewitness and she was widowed by the Rawagede massacre

“Yes, that’s how it was,” I think at that moment. “That was us, and those were the victims of our violence. Ordinary, sweet village people.”
Veteran Jan Glissenaar

“We got prisoners of war, and those prisoners of war were shot several times when the cry was: go take a piss, which people then turned around and were shot in the back. […] Those were not incidental cases, that was the normal course of business.”
Joop Hueting, Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) veteran

source

Lampersari Prison Camp

The Nazis weren’t the only ones using concentration camps, the Japanese Imperial army had them too, although not to the extent as the Nazi camps, and they were not meant for mass extermination. However, the treatment of the prisoners was still brutal and evil.

One of the camps was the Lampersari Prison camp. Lampersari was a civilian camp, located near Lampersariweg and Sompok in the southeast of Semarang. It was in use between October 1942 and August 23, 1945.

The internment of the Dutch women and children in Semarang Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) started in November 1942. They were housed in the Lampersari-Sompok district. In early March 1943, the internment operation in Semarang was almost completed.

Below is an excerpt from the book, All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens, it illustrates just some of the horrors of the Lampersari prison camp.

Internment Camp Lampersari, Semarang, Dutch East Indies, December 28, 1942

Authority in Lampersari is established immediately. As they enter the camp, some women are pulled from the line, and their suitcases are opened to be searched for contraband: money, Dutch or English printed material, radios, and more. Sjeffie, now eleven years old, watches wide-eyed as the Japanese officers hit mothers with their batons to make them move when they get off the trucks. They shout orders in a language none of the prisoners understand, and when these orders aren’t followed, the flat ends of their sabers come down hard on whomever they happen to reach, sometimes splitting flesh and drawing blood. It’s new violence for most of these children, and a cacophony of cries adds to the chaos. Luckily, Sjeffie’s mother is toward the back of the group of arriving prisoners and escapes injury, though later in the year she will not be so lucky, and her children will have to watch her being beaten to the ground because she doesn’t notice an officer approaching and therefore fails to bow to him in time.

Sjeffie and his mother and little sisters and brother are assigned to a small house on the Hoofd Manggaweg, the Main Mango Road. There are already three families living in the two-bedroom house when they arrive, and they shrink themselves into the corners, hanging a sheet up for privacy. Soon more women and children arrive, truckload after truckload, and Sjeffie and his family contract their spaces repeatedly, compressing more tightly with each new family until 30 people living in the house were crammed into every square inch. Children sleep in drawers, on and under tables, piled in sweaty heaps in the tropical heat. Snoring bodies lie shoulder to shoulder on mats on the floor. One toilet without running water serves all thirty of them in the house, and it soon overflows with human waste. They try to fend off malaria by hanging up klamboes over their sleeping bodies, a necessity in the Indonesian tropics so that the house at night fills with ethereal clouds of hazy mosquito netting from wall to wall. My grandmother keeps a secret diary in the camp, penciled onto onionskin paper hidden in the pages of her Bible.

She addresses her entries to my grandfather throughout her internment:

I am sleeping with the boys in what was once a kitchen…On February 2 the first group arrived [of the 2,000 new internees]…860 people. Until this point, they had been housed in nice, large homes where they had taken care of themselves. There was a lot of hustling and the empty places streamed full…Tomorrow we’ll get another 250 from Soerabaya.

Almost immediately after they arrive in Lampersari, Aunt Ko begins covertly teaching Sjeffie, his siblings, and other boys and girls in the camp from contraband Dutch language textbooks she has smuggled in. Every day, she sets up a little schoolroom in the tiny kampong house while the others clear out and stand watch in case an officer passes and hears them. Sjeffie gets to practice his numbers again. He gets to read, sucking up the words, reading the same books again and again. In one of the houses across the road, he and some other boys have set up a little hidden library under the thatched roof, where they collect their books— Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Hector Malot’s Nobody’s Boy, Cervantes’s Don Quixote, and other books with wide appeal to young boys. Most of the children or their parents have brought pencils and notepads, but very quickly they realize how scarce these things are. “Sjeffie, make sure you write small. Save room on your paper,” Aunt Ko says sternly during class. Aunt Ko is very strict. She’s a religious woman who does not approve of waste or idleness. Sometimes she draws on the dirt floor with a stick so she doesn’t have to waste paper or pencil.

Meals during the first month in the camp are meager but sufficient. The prisoners get small portions, mostly of rice but also of some vegetables and meat in the beginning. The meat lasts only a short time. The vegetables last longer, but they too dwindle after several months. After that, all meals consist of a cup of rice or tapioca porridge twice a day, sometimes once a day. Sjeffie lines up with his mother and siblings with all the other prisoners, holding their tin cups. When they get to the front of the line, their cups are filled from giant pots that the kitchen workers have cooked the rice or porridge in. One measured portion per person. Being assigned to work in the kitchen is a coveted job because there are chances to tuck food under one’s shirt, swipe a finger inside the rim of the pot when the officers look away or sneak a second helping.

Lampersari is one of the first camps in Indonesia to be targeted for the infamous “comfort women,” the women specifically selected to be raped by Japanese officers. A recruiter is sent to Lampersari for this task. However, the women hear the rumor about what is about to happen and gather en masse to fight back. They block access and fight fiercely to protect the young mothers and teenage daughters whom the Japanese officers prey upon, forcing the Japanese to abandon Lampersari as a suitable source of comfort women, not worth the trouble after repeated violent beatings only seem to strengthen the prisoners’ resolve to fight back. The Japanese set up two hundred internment camps throughout the Dutch East Indies, and prisoners at the smaller camps are easier to overpower.

The officers who guard them inside the camp quickly get Dutch nicknames. The officers include John the Whacker; Little Ko; Hockey Stick; Pretty Karl; the Bloodhound; the Easter Egg; Bucket Man; Chubby Baby; and Dick and Jane, who patrol together. Seikon Kimura, the man known as John the Whacker, is arguably the most sadistic. He earns his nickname for the way he seems to enjoy striking internees indiscriminately, without warning. When he discovers that a woman in the camp has been hiding money, he confiscates it and punches her in the face. He kicks her in the back until she is unable to stand while her children scream. He has her carried to the center of the camp, where he makes her lay injured in the equatorial sun from morning until evening without water. After the war, the Allied war crimes tribunal will sentence him to death for his human rights violations during the war. He is convicted of “carrying out a systematic reign of terror,” with witnesses at his trial describing his beating of a woman with a piece of wood until her arms broke in several places for sitting down during her work, causing a woman to go permanently deaf after being beaten for thirty minutes for smuggling cigarettes, forcing prisoners to stand in stress positions, withholding water and food, and whipping children until their flesh was in tatters, among other atrocities. Hockey Stick earns his name from the wooden hockey stick he carries with him throughout the camp and uses to take the legs out from under a prisoner. Then he makes them stand up so he can do it again, over and over, laughing every time. The Bloodhound is more selective, but he is capable of beating people into a coma when he does lose his temper.

In September 1944, the Japanese officers announce that the boys on the hill will be transferred out of Lampersari and tell the mothers to say goodbye to their sons, that scab-kneed, lizard-catching children now considered mature enough to do hard labor in a separate camp. The phrase the Japanese use is “men over ten.” As in, “All of the men over ten are hereby reassigned to new camps.” And so with a change of one word, with a relabeling, they justify the transfer.

The women clutch at their sons and weep. They whisper words into their ears as they hug them goodbye, hasty insufficient summaries of all the things that they would have taught them in the remaining years of childhood that now have to be condensed into a few minutes. Sjeffie’s mother tries to remember things to tell him. Wash whenever you can, check for lice and ticks, find a buddy and work as a team, don’t fight, keep practicing your equations, whatever you do just don’t do anything to anger the officers, that’s very important, OK, you have to promise me, can you promise me that? Aunt Ko says, “Say your prayers every day.” Sjeffie’s little sister Doortje hugs him and gives him some coffee. Fien, his youngest sister, hugs his legs, and my father kisses the top of his baby brother Kees’s head. Through the agitated buzz of the Dutch mothers, camp officers shout angry words in Japanese, words like iikagennishiro, teiryuu, shuutai, and hikihanasu, words that tumble into one another and mean nothing to the women until the guards start whacking them with their batons and whips, pulling son from mother and mother from son like starfish from wet rock. Then the boys are marched out of Camp Lampersari as their mothers wail and their younger siblings watch wide-eyed. The cries of Mammie, Mammie rise repeatedly from their midst as they pass through the camp gates, heads swiveling for their last looks back. The newly branded “men” march with their little suitcases banging against their knobby knees for what Sjeffie believes is many hours, along the banana trees and the warungs and the kopi carts. A rumor spreads in low tones through the group as they walk. “I heard they’re taking us to Bangkok.” “Yep, they said they’re taking us to Bangkok. I heard the Jap say it.” “Psst, hey, the word is we’re going to Bangkok.”
“Bangkok! That’s not even in the Indies! I won’t ever see my family again!”
“Well, that’s where we’re going. Bangkok.”

sources

https://fepowhistory.com/tag/lampersari/

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/thema/Lampersari

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Grogol-Japanese Camp

Grogol was a civilian camp, located just outside Batavia(Jakarta, Indonesia nowadays), about three kilometers northwest of Tjideng, on the railway to Tangerang. The camp was in use from July 1, 1943 to April 18, 1945.

Grogol started as a lunatic asylum which was converted in a Japanese Internment Camp for civilians during World War 2.

In this blog some images of wooden labels used in the camp.

The picture above is a wooden board entitled ‘Arrival at Grogol’ , with a magnifying glass burned-in scene of the boys arriving by bus from camp Tjimahi, where they had just left their mothers. They are unloading their luggage. The board was made after the Japanese gave all boys permission in December 1942 to send a package with Sinterklaas(Saint Nicholas) to their mother in the women’s camps.

On a narrow strip/label are: 41881 and japanese/chinese(?) characters burned. A white string is attached via two holes to the label (hanging loop). The loop still has a safety pin and a curved metal pin with disc. The label belongs to R.A. the Lord (02.01.32 -) during the period Karmat, Tjodeng, Grogol.

A board with burned-in text and image. On one side the representation of a bus with people. Luggage on the roof of the bus. On the left a soldier with a rifle, on the right a figure walking to the right with a bag in hand. On the other side the text: ‘Arrival in Grogol, August 29, 2604, J.G. Post, P.O.W. 1-551’.

sources

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/thema/Grogol

1740 Batavia massacre

The Netherlands has for most of its history quite a prosperous country. I wish I could say that all this wealth was always begotten in a fair way, but that would be a lie. The Dutch were ruthless in their quest for the things they desired.

From the arrival of the first Dutch ships in the late 16th century, to the declaration of independence in 1945, Dutch control over the Indonesian archipelago was always tenuous. Although Java was dominated by the Dutch, many areas remained independent throughout much of this time, including Aceh, Bali, Lombok and Borneo. There were numerous wars and disturbances across the archipelago as various indigenous groups resisted efforts to establish a Dutch hegemony, which weakened Dutch control and tied up its military forces. Piracy remained a problem until the mid-19th century. Finally in the early 20th century, imperial dominance was extended across what was to become the territory of modern-day Indonesia.

The first Dutch expedition set sail for the East Indies in 1595 to access spices directly from Asia. When it made a 400% profit on its return, other Dutch expeditions soon followed. Recognising the potential of the East Indies trade, the Dutch government amalgamated the competing companies into the United East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC).

The VOC was granted a charter to wage war, build fortresses, and make treaties across Asia. A capital was established in Batavia , which became the center of the VOC’s Asian trading network.

The sun that rose over Batavia,(now called Jakarta) the Dutch colonial capital on the island of Java, on October 9, 1740, revealed a city on the verge of catastrophe. Two days earlier, Chinese laborers, unemployed and unsettled by rumors that they would be deported. Allegedly led by a man called Nie Hoe Kong, they ambushed and murdered 50 Dutch colonial troops. Governor-General Adriaan Valckenier declared that any uprising would be met with deadly force.

In response, he sent 1,800 regular troops, accompanied by schutterij (militia) and eleven battalions of conscripts to stop the revolt; they established a curfew and cancelled plans for a Chinese festival Fearing that the Chinese would conspire against the colonials by candlelight, those inside the city walls were forbidden to light candles and were forced to surrender everything down to the smallest kitchen knife. This was intended to protect the colonial and indigenous population from the Chinese. Meanwhile, rumours spread among the other ethnic groups in Batavia, including slaves from Bali and Sulawesi, Bugis, and Balinese troops, that the Chinese were plotting to kill, rape, or enslave them.

These groups pre-emptively burned houses belonging to ethnic Chinese along Besar River. The Dutch followed this with an assault on Chinese settlements elsewhere in Batavia in which they burned houses and killed people. The Dutch politician and critic of colonialism W. R. van Hoëvell wrote that “pregnant and nursing women, children, and trembling old men fell on the sword. Defenseless prisoners were slaughtered like sheep”.

In the days that followed, Chinese homes were raided, their inhabitants taken outside and imprisoned or murdered on the spot. Cannons were brought to bear against the Chinese sections of the city, and soon entire blocks were aflame. Survivors, many of whom took refuge in small villages or in the forests surrounding the city, were sought and slaughtered.
This went on for nearly two weeks. By the time the violence ended,10,000 Chinese had died in and around the colonial capital. Although I ceasefire was called on November 2dn, the Dutch troops kept looting until the 28th of November 1740.

Most accounts of the massacre estimate that 10,000 Chinese were killed within Batavia’s city walls, while at least another 500 were seriously wounded. Between 600 and 700 Chinese-owned houses were raided and burned. Historian Vermeulen gives a figure of 600 survivors, while the Indonesian scholar A.R.T. Kemasang estimates that 3,000 Chinese survived.The Indonesian historian Benny G. Setiono notes that 500 prisoners and hospital patients were killed, and a total of 3,431 people survived. The massacre was followed by an “open season” against the ethnic Chinese throughout Java, causing another massacre in 1741 in Semarang, and others later in Surabaya and Gresik.

sources

https://www.persee.fr/doc/arch_0044-8613_2009_num_77_1_4127

https://artsandculture.google.com/entity/1740-batavia-massacre/m09v8qwj?hl=en

https://www.worldcat.org/title/southeast-asian-studies/oclc/681919230

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Wim Kan’s World War 2 years.

WIM

Anyone living outside the Netherlands or the Flemish speaking part of Belgium will probably have never heard of Wim Kan.

It is actually not that easy to describe what he was, his title was cabaretier ,which is French for Cabaret performer. But I think the term ‘stand up comedian’ would be more relevant nowadays, even though that doesn’t really describe it accurately either.Because he cracked jokes, sang songs he had written himself, told stories.

He was one of the ‘Great 3’ cabaret acts of the Netherlamds, together with Win Sonneveld and Toon Hermans.

3

In 1936, he established the ABC Cabaret, which soon became one of the most successful Dutch cabaret groups, in which several artists debuted who later became famous.Wim Kan’s wife,Corry Vonk, was also a member of the group.

In 1940, the ABC Cabaret was touring the Dutch East Indies.(Now called Indonesia)While they were on tour in Indonesia, which was a Dutch Colony at the time, Germany invaded the Netherlands therefor Wim Kan and his Cabaret company could not return to the Netherlands.

POSTER

On 8 December 1941, the Dutch government-in-exile declared war on Japan. Wim Kan was called as a conscript with the KNIL. The Royal Dutch Indies army. He was assigned to  the Department of War as a radio broadcaster.By March 1942 all of Indonesia was occupied by Japan.On Friday the 13th of March, Wim Kan was made a prisoner of war, with POW number 71502.

He survived 13 Japanese camps. Probably because of his fame he ,did enjoy some protection of hard physical labour, but he was not completely exempt from working on the Burma railway.

railway

While he was in the camps he did do what he always done, entertain. He continued doing shows albeit in adapted form, and he continued writing songs. He also kept a diary of his years under captivity. These diaries were only released relatively recently.

Mt Dros, who was one of the 15,170 Dutchmen who survived the Burma Railway, said in an interview with a Dutch newspaper” The performances of Wim Kan were like small rays of light, and made us feel like we were home in the Netherlands again albeit for a short time.”

Shortly after the war ,on November 6,1945 Wim Kan staged a benefit show in Bangkok  for former prisoners of war. The show was called ‘Mystery in Budapest’

AFFICHE

Wim Kan and his wife returned to the Netherlands in 1948, where he became an even bigger star as when he was before the war.

When the Japanese Emperor Hirohito came for a state visit to the Netherlands October 1971, Wim Kan strongly protested and urged the Dutch government to get the Emperor tried for war crimes.

Wim Kan died age 72 on September 8, 1983.

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Sources

Trouw.nl

NIOD.nl

New York Times

Dutch Wikipedia

 

 

 

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December 2 1975 Terrorist attacks in the Netherlands.

Train

On December 2, 1975, 7 South Moluccan terrorists hijacked a train with about 50 passengers on board in open countryside near the village of Wijster, halfway between Hoogeveen and Beilen in the northern part of the Netherlands. The hijacking lasted for 12 days and 3 hostages, including the driver were killed.

The terrorists were seeking independence for South Molucca, a group of islands in the Western Pacific under Indonesian rule. Indonesia had been a Dutch colony until the late 1940’s.

At  10:07 the emergency cord was pulled on the local train Groningen-Zwolle.

Simultaneously 7 other south Moluccan terrorists had occupied the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam.

The train driver, Hans Braam, was immediately killed.

When on the third day the Dutch government had not give in to  the hijackers’s demands, 22-year-old national serviceman Leo Bulter was murdered and his body together with Hans Braam’s body  were thrown out of the train on the rails. That night 14 hostages managed to escape from the train.

The following day a young economist Bert Bierling was brought to the doors and shot  in full view of the police and the military as well as the press.

military

On December 11, the terrorists  released two elderly hostages after talks aboard the train with four mediators. This left at least 27 prisoners on the train.

On 14 December the hijackers surrendered. Among reasons for surrender were reports about retaliations on the Moluccan islands and the sub-zero temperatures in and around the train.

The occupation and hostage situation at the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam ended on December 19. one hostage was killed.

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The Pig Basket atrocity

basket

We all know about the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime and they are truly awful, mostly even hard to fathom, but we should never forget the crimes committed by the Japanese regime, very often they were just as evil if not worse..

One only had to look at the rape of Nanking or at the actions of Unit 731.

731

After the Allies capitulated to the Imperial Japanese army  in East Java,Indonesia, in 1942, approximately  200 allied troops  took to the hills around Malang. to fight as a guerrilla resistance force. Unfortunately they were eventually captured and tortured  by the Kempeitai,the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army.
Kempeitai

The captured soldiers were forcibly squeezed into 91-95 cm long bamboo baskets and transported in open trucks,the bamboo baskets were usually used to transport pigs, in temperatures reaching 38 degrees Centigrade . The prisoners of war , already suffering from severe dehydration due to the extreme heat, were then placed on waiting boats, which sailed off the coast of Surabaya, the baskets  were then thrown into the ocean. The prisoners were drowned or eaten alive by sharks.

Dutch girl Elizabeth Van Kampen, who was 15 at the time was one of the witnesses, below is her testimony

“At the beginning of October 1942 when my father and I walked over the main road near the coffee and rubber plantation Sumber Sewu, laying on the ridge of the Mount Semeru, when we heard trucks from a distance coming our way. We quickly hid behind the coffee bushes laying higher up than the road, (alas) we could see everything quite well.
We saw 5 open trucks, they were loaded with bamboo baskets with therein laying white men. We heard the men screaming and crying for water and for help in English and Dutch. The baskets were piled up on the open trucks, they were driving direction Banyuwangi.

I was 15 years old and so I could fully understand what was happening there in front of my eyes, but what touched me so much deeper were the voices of the desperate men begging for help and water.
I was hiding behind my father and I heard him softly saying; “Oh my God”.

We slowly walked home but over another road, neither of us said a word. There were no words for what we both had seen and heard…

After the war, I often wanted to talk with my father about that drama we had seen together. Had the Indonesians from Sumber Sewu seen those trucks? I shall never know.”

I believe the drawing at the start of the blog was drawn by Elizabeth

It is important to note that Indonesia was and still is predominantly a Muslim country, pigs are considered ‘dirty animals’ and any contact with pigs is seen as unholy. It is therefor not hard to believe that the allied troops were put in ‘pig baskets’ deliberately to ensure that local people would or could not help them, But even if they would have attempted to help they more then likely would have been executed anyway

Lieutenant General Hitoshi Imamura, commander in chief of the Japanese forces in Java, was acquitted on war crimes charges by a Netherlands court due to lack of evidence but was later charged by an Australian military court and sentenced to 10 years in prison, which he served from 1946–54 in Sugamo, Japan.

Hitoshi

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Sources

Shark attack file

De Indische kwestie

 

1740 Batavia massacre

Chinezenmoord_van_stolk_(2)

In September 1740, as unrest rose among the Chinese population in Batavia(nowadays Jakarta in Indonesia), spurred by government repression and declining sugar prices, Governor-General Adriaan Valckenier declared that any uprising would be met with deadly force.

Adriaan_Valckenier_(1695-1751)_by_T.J._Rheen

On 7 October, hundreds of ethnic Chinese, many of them sugar mill workers, killed 50 Dutch soldiers, leading Dutch troops to confiscate all weapons from the Chinese populace and to place the Chinese under a curfew.

Two days later, rumours of Chinese atrocities led other Batavian ethnic groups to burn Chinese houses along Besar Stream and Dutch soldiers to fire cannon at Chinese homes.

1024px-Tableau_de_la_Partie_de_Batavia,_ou_s'est_fait_proprement_le_terrible_Massacre_des_Chinois,_le_9_Octob

The violence soon spread throughout Batavia, killing more Chinese. Although Valckenier declared an amnesty on 11 October, gangs of irregulars continued to hunt and kill Chinese until 22 October, when the governor-general called more forcefully for a cessation of hostilities. Outside the city walls, clashes continued between Dutch troops and rioting sugar mill workers. After several weeks of minor skirmishes, Dutch-led troops assaulted Chinese strongholds in sugar mills throughout the area.

Troops under Lieutenant Hermanus van Suchtelen and Captain Jan van Oosten, a survivor from Tanah Abang, took station in the Chinese district: Suchtelen and his men positioned themselves at the poultry market, while van Oosten’s men held a post along the nearby canal.

800px-Chinezenmoord_Van_Stolk

 At around 5:00 p.m., the Dutch opened fire on Chinese-occupied houses with cannon, causing them to catch fire.Some Chinese died in the burning houses, while others were shot upon leaving their homes or committed suicide in desperation. Those who reached the canal near the housing district were killed by Dutch troops waiting in small boats,while other troops searched in between the rows of burning houses, killing any survivors they found.

These actions later spread throughout the city. Dutch historian Vermeulen notes that many of the perpetrators were sailors and other “irregular and bad elements” of society.During this period there was heavy looting and seizures of property.

Despite a call for peace and amnesty by the Dutch Governor-General on October 11, the violence continued all the way through October 22, when he finally forced an uneasy peace on the city. The council had posted a reward for anyone rounding up or killing a Chinese person, and the rest of the population enthusiastically pursued the rewards.

About 500 Dutch soldiers had died in the fighting. The areas outside the city were another story, and violence continued for weeks afterwards, never really stopping until a year later when the Java War broke out and lasted for another 2 years. Governor-General Adriaan Valckenier was recalled to the Netherlands and charged with atrocities pertaining to the massacre. At first cleared, Valckenier was on his way back to Batavia when he was again arrested, and spent the rest of his life (10 years!) in prison on Java awaiting conclusion of an investigation into his stewardship of the islands.

BATAVIA-and-her-Forts-1682

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Helen Lotichius-Sokolowski-Stuck between a rock and a hard place.

85.-Soltau0044

After Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies, the Japanese occupier put 100,000 Dutch people in camps. There were separate camps for prisoners of war, for men and boys ages ten years and older and for women and children.

791e612dfc321a99e426decb229f2ba2--internment-east-indies

Helen Lotichius-Sokolowski was sent to the women’s camp Banjoe Biroe 10, near the city of Semarang on the island of Java. This Belorussian woman had married the Dutchman Nout Lotichius in Japan. She spoke Russian, Japanese, Dutch, French, German, English and Malaysian.

To pass the time friends in the camp embroidered signatures, scenes and texts on each other’s clothing, so also on this blouse that belonged to Helen.

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Because she spoke Japanese, she was forced her to work as an interpreter. This placed Helen in an impossible position because the Dutch camp leadership also wanted her to provide information about the Japanese. But she was afraid to help them. This led to both her camp mates and the Japanese no longer trusting her: she was even tortured by the Japanese. When the war ended, because of her language skills, she became the assistant of the British Wing-Commander Tull. He was responsible for safeguarding Allied prisoners of war and internees until the Allies arrived to officially accept the Japanese surrender. Working for him helped restore her self-esteem.

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A treasure with so little worth but yet so much value.

kist-mainThese were once the toys, clothing and medicine of Hugo Steenmeijer, the child of a Dutch father and an Indonesian mother.

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When Japan occupied the Dutch East Indies in 1942, his father was sent to work as a forced labourer on the Burma Railway. The Japanese imprisoned Europeans in internment camps. The 150,000 people native to the country, but with ties to the Dutch like Hugo’s mother, were left to their fate.

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As so-called buitenkampers (those outside the camps) they were extremely vulnerable. Because of their loyalty to the Dutch the Japanese often made their lives miserable and they also felt threatened by groups of native rebels set on Independence. Hugo’s mother struggled to survive in the city of Surabaya with her young son. After the war his father returned. But given Hugo was so frail, he died in 1947.

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Along with their two younger children, the couple left for the Netherlands in 1950. For years and years this box containing Hugo’s belongings was off-limits to everyone. When Hugo’s siblings finally decided to open this small chest after the death of their parents, they found something of Hugo’s long lost life inside.

kIst Van buIten het kamp

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.

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