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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

85.-Geborduurde-blouse

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 ddDutch 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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Hugo’s box

kist-main

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

98.-NIOD-48770

When Japan occupied the Dutch East Indies in 1942, his father was sent to work as a forced labourer on the Burma Railway.

PartoftheDeathRailway

 

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. As so-called buitenkampers (those outside the camps) they were extremely vulnerable.

amw2-2

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. 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

The Sinking of the HLNMS Van Nes

navy_destroyer_vannes

HNLMS Van Nes was a Admiralen-class destroyer of the Royal Netherlands Navy. The Admiralen class were eight destroyers built for the Royal Netherlands Navy between 1926 and 1931. All ships fought in World War II and were scuttled or sunk..

The Van Nes was laid down on 15 August 1928 at the Burgerhout’s Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek in Rotterdam and launched on 20 March 1930. The ship was commissioned on 12 March 1931

Van Nes escorted the submarine K XIII back to Surabaya to be repaired there after the vessel was damaged as a result of a battery explosion in Singapore harbor on 21 December 1941. Three men were killed in the explosion. They arrived at Surabaya on 6 January 1942

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The HLMNS Van Nes was under command of Captain Charles Lagaay.

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17 February 1942 Van Nes was sunk south of Bangka Island while escorting the troop transport ship Sloet van Beele. Both ships were sunk by aircraft from the Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūjō.

japanese_aircraft_carrier_ryujo

Many survivors were rescued by seaplanes of the Marine Luchtvaartdienst. However, 68 men ,including the Captain, of Van Nes died

 

 

 

Comfort Women-The Japanese army Sex Slaves.

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Comfort women were women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II.

The name “comfort women” is a translation of the Japanese ianfu a euphemism for “prostitute(s)”,who generally lived under conditions of sexual slavery. Estimates of the number of women involved typically range up to 200,000, but the actual number may have been even higher. The great majority of them were from Korea (then a Japanese protectorate), though women from China, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia—including Japan and Dutch nationals in Indonesia—were also involved.

 

From 1932 until the end of the war in 1945, comfort women were held in brothels called “comfort stations” that were established to enhance the morale of Japanese soldiers and ostensibly to reduce random sexual assaults. Although some of the women may have participated voluntarily, the great many of them were often lured by false promises of employment or were abducted and sent against their will to comfort stations, which existed in all Japanese-occupied areas, including China and Burma (Myanmar). Comfort stations were also maintained within Japan and Korea. The women typically lived in harsh conditions, where they were subjected to continual rapes and were beaten or murdered if they resisted.

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The Japanese government had an interest in keeping soldiers healthy and wanted sexual services under controlled conditions, and the women were regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases and infections. According to several reports—notably a study sponsored by the United Nations that was published in 1996—many of the comfort women were executed at the end of World War II. The women who survived often suffered physical maladies (including sterility), psychological illnesses, and rejection from their families and communities. Many survivors in foreign countries were simply abandoned by the Japanese at the end of the war and lacked the income and means of communication to return to their homes.

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Approximately three quarters of comfort women died, and most survivors were left infertile due to sexual trauma or sexually transmitted diseases.Beatings and physical torture were said to be common.

Ten Dutch women were taken by force from prison camps in Java by officers of the Japanese Imperial Army to become forced sex slaves in February 1944. They were systematically beaten and raped day and night. As a victim of the incident, in 1990, Jan Ruff-O’Herne testified to a U.S. House of Representatives committee:

jan_oherne

During the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies, O’Herne and thousands of Dutch women were forced into hard physical labor at a prisoner-of-war camp at a disused army barracks in Ambarawa, Indonesia.

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In February 1944, high ranking Japanese officials arrived at the camp and ordered all single girls seventeen years and older to line up. Ten girls were chosen; O’Herne, twenty one years old at the time, was one of them.O’Herne and six other young women were taken by Japanese officers to an old Dutch colonial house at Semarang. The girls thought they would be forced into factory work or used for propaganda. They soon realized that the colonial house was to be converted to a military brothel.

 

 

On their first day, photographs of the women were taken and displayed at the reception area.The soldiers picked the girls they wanted from the photographs. The girls were all given Japanese names; all were names of flowers.Over the following three months, the women were repeatedly raped and beaten. O’Herne fought against the soldiers every night and even cut her hair to make herself ugly to the Japanese soldiers. Cutting her hair short had the opposite effect, however, making her a curiosity. Shortly before the end of World War II, the women were moved to a camp in Bogor, West Java, where they were reunited with their families. The Japanese warned them that if they told anyone about what happened to them, they and their family members would be killed. While many of the young girls’ parents guessed what had happened, most remained silent, including O’Herne.

In the decades after the war, O’Herne did not speak publicly about her experience until 1992, when three Korean comfort women demanded an apology and a compensation from the Japanese government. Inspired by the actions of these women and wanting to offer her own support, O’Herne decided to speak out as well. At the International Public Hearing on Japanese War Crimes in Tokyo on December 1992, O’Herne broke her silence and shared her story. In 1994 O’Herne published a personal memoir titled Fifty Years of Silence, which documents the struggles that she faced while secretly living the life of a war rape survivor.

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In 1991 the Japanese government admitted publicly for the first time that comfort stations had existed during the war. Two years later, in a statement issued by the chief cabinet minister, the government also acknowledged its involvement in the recruitment of comfort women and its deception of those women, and it apologized for affronting their honour. Although the Japanese government denied any legal responsibility for the sexual assaults, it set up the Asian Women’s Fund in 1995 as an attempt at resolution. However, the fund was sustained from donations from private citizens, not government monies, and Korean activists opposed its existence. The fund ceased operating in 2007.

Comfort women remained a highly sensitive issue in Japan. Although the existence of the wartime program had become general knowledge there, many Japanese—notably right-wing nationalists—continued to refute it, particularly whether the women had been forced to work in the comfort stations. In 2007 Abe Shinzo, during his first term as prime minister, stated that there was no evidence of coercion, though he later retracted his comment.

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The topic again surfaced publicly in 2014, during Abe’s second term as prime minister. A Japanese newspaper reported that it had retracted stories from the 1980s and ’90s about women being coerced, after the Japanese man who had claimed responsibility for doing so later denied his involvement. There ensued some discussion among government officials about revising the 1993 apology statement, but that idea was quickly abandoned, in part because of outside pressure (including from the United States). In 2014 Abe’s government also petitioned the United Nations to ask that its 1996 report be revised, but UN officials quickly denied the request.

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Tjideng-Batavia:Japanese Concentration camp.

tjideng-0

Although the Japanese may have called it an Internment camp, make no mistake about it, Tjideng was nothing other then a concentration camp.

Batavia came under Japanese control in 1942, and part of the city, called Camp Tjideng, was used for the internment of European (often Dutch) women and children. The men and older boys were transferred to other camps, many to prisoner of war camps.

Initially Tjideng was under civilian authority, and the conditions were bearable. But when the military took over, privileges (such as being allowed to cook for themselves and the opportunity for religious services) were quickly withdrawn. Food preparation was centralised and the quality and quantity of food rapidly declined. Hunger and disease struck, and because no medicines were available, the number of fatalities increased.

The area of Camp Tjideng was over time made smaller and smaller, while it was obliged to accommodate more and more prisoners. Initially there were about 2,000 prisoners and at the end of the war there were approximately 10,500, while the territory had been reduced to a quarter of its original size. Every bit of space was used for sleeping, including the unused kitchens and waterless bathrooms.

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From April 1944 the camp was under the command of Captain Kenichi Sonei, who was responsible for many atrocities. After the war Sonei was arrested, and sentenced to death on September 2, 1946.

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The sentence was carried out by a Dutch firing squad in December of that year, after a request for pardon to the Dutch lieutenant governor-general, Hubertus van Mook, was rejected. Van Mook’s wife had been one of Sonei’s prisoners.

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UK  FormerDeputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s mother, Hermance, was in Camp Tjideng in Batavia, with her mother and sisters.

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She remembers having to bow deeply towards Japan at Tenko, “with our little fingers on the side seams of our skirt. If we did not do it properly we were beaten.” Another punishment, head shaving, was so common that the women would simply wrap a scarf round their bloodied scalp and carry on.

 

Worse even than these sanctions was the fear of starvation as the rations of what passed for food , tapioca gruel ,dwindled to half a cup per person a day. Desperate to keep their children alive, women would catch frogs, lizards and snails and boil them in a tin cup on the back of their irons.

The more daring risked being savagely beaten or even executed, as they crept to the fence to trade their meager possessions with local people for a banana or a couple of eggs. The internees became so obsessed with food that they would feverishly swap recipes, writing out the ingredients, discussing the method then mentally savouring the delicious dish that they would never get to eat.

Amid all this, the greatest fear for mothers of boys was that their sons would be taken away. The age at which boys were transferred to men’s camps dropped from 15 at the start of the war, to 13 then 11, until by 1944 boys of 10 were being transported. As they waited to climb on to the lorries they would cling to their mothers, not knowing whether they’d ever see them again.

The squalor from open sewers and the ever-present hunger inevitably led to disease – beriberi and dysentery were rife.Sometimes there were dozens of deaths a day in the camp.The camp was ruled by a cruel and brutal officer named csmpCaptain Kenichi Sonei.

 

Beatings were a daily event, women would have their heads shaved for failing to bow properly, Red Cross parcels were hidden away.

Every day Sonei would order Tenko. “Tenko means roll call,” a survivor explained. “We were constantly left standing for hours in the sun during Tenko.

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“On one such occasion, as we walked past the guards, my mother was smoking a cigarette, just received in a precious Red Cross parcel.The camp commandant spotted her and, furious because she had not shown him the respect he expected from the hated Dutch women, he strolled over and smacked her hard on the face. My world nearly fell apart. I pleaded with him not to hit her again and at that moment he was distracted because one of the guards drew his attention to somebody else’s misdemeanour.”

A girl had been spotted holding a little puppy. Sonei rattled out an order.

“The guard took the puppy from her and, with a wide grin on his face, put a piece of string round its neck and hanged it from the barbed wire fence.”

Such barbarous acts were committed on an almost daily basis.

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By the time liberation came on 15 August 1945, the degradation of these women was complete. Like the POWs in their loin cloths, they had virtually no clothes, many wearing old tea towels for bras, and “sandals” fashioned out of strips of rubber tyres.

Like the POWs they were skeletally thin, half-blind with malnutrition and, as with the POWs, huge numbers had died.

(Emaciated inmates in the hospital of the Tjideng internment camp on Java, Indonesia in December 1945.

hospital

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