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

The executions on July 9,1942.

On 9 July 1942, nine members of the resistance group De Oranjewacht, ‘the Orange guard'(Orange is the national colour of the Netherlands and the name of the Royal family) were shot in the Fort near Rijnauwen,Utrecht, the Netherlands . Two trials were conducted against the resistance group and nine members were sentenced to death in both trials. On the same day, two so called Engelandvaarders,(England farers) Jan Stam and Petrus Antonius Ravelli were also shot.

The group. De Oranjewacht, consisted of nine members. It was one of the first resistance groups to be captured by the Nazis during WWII. That was in December 1940. They were imprisoned until that terrible July 9, 1942, the day they were executed. One of the members of this group was the Arnhemmer Piet Hoefsloot.

When he was arrested, convicted and executed, he left behind a wife and eleven children. He was then 49 years old. The youngest was so small that she never really knew her father. Only now, decades later, does she get a picture of him through stories about her father. A number of the eleven children at the time are still alive, all well into their eighties and over nineties. Nevertheless, they were all present at Fort bij Rijnauwen to commemorate their father together with other family members. The youngest daughter and two of the other daughters spoke. One read the farewell letter that father Piet wrote to his wife and children a few hours before his execution from his cell in the prison on Gansstraat. The other daughter read a poem entitled, “Saying Goodbye.” A beautiful flower arrangement was laid (see photo) and this intimate ceremony was concluded with a short moment of silence and the common prayer of the Our Father aloud. A photo of the eleven children was left at the memorial stone, as if Father had reunited with his children. Piet Hoefsloot is buried at Moscowa cemetery in Arnhem.

The other victims.

Frans Heinekamp.Born on October 13, 1898 in Arnhem
Executed on 9 July 1942 in Utrecht, Fort Rijnauwen.

Johan Dons: Born on February 26, 1915 in Utrecht
Executed on 9 July 1942 in Utrecht, Fort Rijnauwen.

Evert van den Berg: Born on September 20, 1915 in Hengelo
Executed on 9 July 1942 in Utrecht, Fort Rijnauwen

Hendrik Marinus Emanuel Pieter Maertens: Born on July 20, 1908 in Rotterdam
Executed on 9 July 1942 in Utrecht, Fort Rijnauwen.

Leonardus Lambertus Twijnstra: Born on March 18, 1904 in Leeuwarderadeel
Executed on 9 July 1942 in Utrecht, Fort Rijnauwen.

Petrus Walter Gerardus van de Weijer:Born on October 9, 1889 in Utrecht
Executed on 9 July 1942 in Utrecht, Fort Rijnauwen.

George Hendrik van der Ploeg: Born on October 26, 1889 in Vlissingen
Executed on 9 July 1942 in Utrecht, Fort Rijnauwen.

Johan Herman Jacobus Boerrigter: Born on February 13, 1906 in Djokjakarta, Dutch East Indies(Indonesia)
Executed on 9 July 1942 in Utrecht, Fort Rijnauwen.

During the war around 1700 Dutch men and women who tried to reach freedom in England, over land or by sea, were given the honorary name: Engelandvaarders (Lit. England-farers).

Jan Stam, born in 1916 in the Dutch East Indies, had been a 2nd lieutenant in the artillery in the May days of 1940. He was married and father of one child. In March 1942 the Ravelli couple moved in with them. Peter Antonius Ravelli (1918) was a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Dutch East Indies Army. For unknown reasons he was in the Netherlands.
Together, both men decided to make an attempt to go to England. In France, however, they were arrested and brought back to the Netherlands. First they were imprisoned in the House of Detention in Scheveningen, then in the prison in Utrecht.
They were tried by the Feldgericht Kommandierenden Generals und Befehlshabers im Luftgau Holland, and sentenced to death. The death penalty by shooting was carried out on 9 July 1942 in Fort Rijnauwen. Ravelli’s widow gave birth to their child a few months later.

These men make me proud to be Dutch. Many looked away and did nothing, these men decided to stand up against an evil regime and paid the ultimate price.

sources

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/thema/Fusillade%20in%20Fort%20bij%20Rijnauwen%20op%209%20juli%201942

Remembering George Okker

George Okker would have celebrated his 101st birthday on November 14,2022 . Although turning 101 is not that common, it is not that uncommon either.

However poor George Okker didn’t even reach his 20th birthday. There is quite a bit of data on George but strangely enough no photographs. The only pit of picture I could find was an entry of the open archive database of Amsterdam which gives his date of birth, birth place, date of death and where he was murdered.

George Okker went to the Ulo (=advanced primary education) where he learned French and English. He became an office clerk. He also was member of the banjo club.He was arrested in February 1941. He was part of a group of Jewish men that was arrested during the raid in Amsterdam. On the moment of his arrest he just was about to go fishing. He had no idea why he had to go with the men. He asked them if he was arrested because there was also war in the Dutch Indies(nowadays Indonesia) where he was born. George Okker was brought to camp Schoorl and then to Buchenwald and from there to Mauthausen.

There are two letters of George known. One of 1 August 1941 in which he wrote: ‘ich denke oft an Haus und an Homoet’.

Homoet was the baker in the Tweede Jansteenstraat 64-66. The second letter was from 31 August 1941. It was a very short one.

The family doctor notified George’s family that their son had died in Mauthausen on September 12,1941.

sources.

https://www.openarch.nl/kbd:ef1849e6-38d8-2f8c-dd13-dc5f53ead871

https://oorlogsgravenstichting.nl/persoon/112014/george-okker

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/26474/george-okker

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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Chaim Nussbaum- The Rabbi who escaped the Nazis and survived the Burma Railway

Nussbaum

Rabbi Chaim Nussbaum was born in Lithuania but grew up in Scheveningen in the Netherlands. His story in World War 2 is remarkable, some people just have a very strong life force.

After he got married he returned, together with his wife, to his country of origin, Lithuania. When the Nazis invaded Lithuania in 1941, he managed to escape with his family.

He reached Java in the Dutch East Indies via Via Russia and Japan. In the Dutch East Indies (nowadays known as Indonesia) he became Rabbi of the Jewish communities of Batavia and Bandung.

In 1943, the Japanese occupiers of the Dutch East Indies imprisoned him in the Changi Prisoner of War Camp in Eastern Singapore.

Changi

There he was forced into slave labor on the notorious Burma Railway. Chaim also took up a role as the Rabbi for the Jewish prisoners in the camp and even established a synagogue there named Ohel Jacob.

A fellow prisoner, Bert Besser, made this tapestry, which was to function as a curtain for that synagogue’s Holy Ark, which stored the Torah scrolls.

tapsetry

The text on the curtain says, “The Torah is Our Life” and “House of Worship of POWs, Changi.” Chaim Nussbaum survived the war. After his liberation, he moved to Canada.

Donation

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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Source

Joods Historisch Museum

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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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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Sources

Trouw.nl

NIOD.nl

New York Times

Dutch Wikipedia

 

 

 

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Edda van Heemstra aka Audrey Hepburn

Audrey

There is one myth about Audrey Hepburn I have to dispel, she was not British-Belgian. In Belgium as in many other European countries you don’t automatically obtain citizenship just because you’re born there. You get the nationality of your parents, usually the nationality of the Father or sometimes the Mother.

Audrey was born on May 4,1929 in Brussels to a British father and Dutch mother.Therefore she was half British and half Dutch.

She was born  Audrey Kathleen Ruston or Edda Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston.Her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston , was a British subject born in Auschitz, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. Her Mother was Baroness Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch noblewoman. Her parents got married in Indonesia which was a Dutch colony at the time.Shortly after they married they moved to Europe, initially London but then later to Brussels.

Audrey’s grandfather Aarnoud van Heemstra, was the governor of the Dutch colony of Suriname.

audrey's gran

She had 2 half siblings from an earlier marriage of her Mother.

The WWII years of Audrey Hepburn do proof that it didn’t matter how well connected you were, survival was not a certainty for anyone.

In the mid-1930s, Hepburn’s parents recruited and collected donations for the British Union of Fascists, and allegedly were great admirers of Adolf Hitler. In 1935 Audrey’s Father abandoned the family. Following that mother moved with Hepburn to her family’s estate in Arnhem. Audrey and her mother did briefly live in Kent in 1937 but moved back to the Netherlands after Britain had declared war to Germany, The Netherlands were a neutral country and had remained neutral during WWI. Audrey’ mother hoped this would be the case again this time.

After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Audrey changed her name to Edda van Heemstra, because an “English-sounding” name could be potentially dangerous.

invasion

Her mother  had already introduced Audrey to ballet lessons while they were still in England. The German occupation took a hard toll on the young Audrey Hepburn, who used ballet as a form of  escapism from the harsh reality of war. She trained at the Arnhem conservatory with ballet professor Winja Marova and became her star pupil.

The reality of war hit even harder when her uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum(the husband of her Mother’s sister Miesje) was killed by the Nazis as reprisal for an act of sabotage by the resistance movement;on August 15 1942, while he had not been involved in the act, he was targeted due to his family’s prominence in Dutch society.

otto

Stirum’s murder turned Audrey’s Mother away from Nazi ideology, to become an avid member of the Dutch Resistance.

Audrey once said in an interview after the war.

“We saw young men put against the wall and shot, and they’d close the street and then open it and you could pass by again… Don’t discount anything awful you hear or read about the Nazis. It’s worse than you could ever imagine”

In 1944, Hepburn met with Dr. Hendrik Visser ’t Hooft, a local physician, and Dutch Resistance leader. She became a volunteer for the Dutch Resistance, using her passion for dancing and talents for ballet by having secret shows to fund resistance groups.

She also worked as a courier.Many Dutch children were couriers because they were less likely to raise the suspicions of the Nazis.

Hepburn also witnessed the transportation of Dutch Jews to concentration camps, of which she later said:

“More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on the train. I was a child observing a child”

TRANSPORT

The situation turned dire for Audrey Hepburn. Living conditions grew very bad and Arnhem was subsequently heavily damaged during Operation Market Garden. During the Dutch famine that followed in the winter of 1944, the Germans blocked the resupply routes of the Dutch people’s already-limited food and fuel supplies as retaliation for railway strikes that were held to hinder.

Hepburn’s family had to do with flour out of tulip bulbs to bake cakes and biscuit as food. Audrey developed acute anæmia, respiratory problems and œdema due to malnutrition.This would affect her for the remainder of her life.

After the war, she read Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and felt greatly impacted by the book. Luca Dotti, Audrey Hepburn’s son, talked about his memories of her in an interview with People Magazine.

“My mother never accepted the simple fact that she got luckier than Anne, She possibly hated herself for that twist of fate.”

Maybe that’s why she turned down the chance to play the part of Anne Frank.

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Sources

Vintage News

IMDb

http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/bwn1880-2000/lemmata/bwn5/heemstra

 

 

 

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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