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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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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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

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.

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.

1380834926

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.

98.-NIOD-48770.jpg

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.

steenmeijerhl2005

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 Jesselton revolt

Jesselton

Jesselton revolt was a multiethnic uprising on the occupied island of Borneo in October of 1943. The revolt was led by a guerrilla force mainly consisted of indigenous Suluk people and ethnic Chinese. The rebels were mainly armed with spears and Indonesian swords called parang, with little or no firearms.

The Kinabalu Guerrillas were led by Albert Kwok in the west and by Mustapha Harun in the north.

 

The Kinabalu Guerillas, consisting of 300 Chinese and islanders people like the Suluk and Bajau. The Dusun and Sikhs, started an uprising against the Japanese on 9 October 1943, on the eve of National Day of the Republic of China. Albert Kwok was a supporter of the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China

1024px-MatSalleh-Photo.

Kwok was forced to launch the revolt ahead of schedule because the forced conscription of the native Chinese was approaching. Imam Marajukim, a Muslim cleric from Sulu in the Philippines, was involved in the resistance against Japan in the Philippines and helped supply Kwok and the Kinabalu guerillas.The Suluks were described as “strongly displeased to be anti-Japanese” Imam Marajukim helped the Chinese secure participation in the uprising from Panglima Ali’s Suluks, the Binadan inhabitants of the Mantanani and Danawan (Dinawan) islands, and the Oudar Islanders under Orang Tuah Arshad.The rank of 3rd Lieutenant within the Sulu guerrillas was granted to Kwok after he joined the resistance movement.

The Chinese and Suluks started the insurrection with a combined land and sea attack on the Japanese in Jesselton. Mantanani and other islands contributed ships to the Suluk flotilla, headed by Suluk (Sulug) Island leader Orang Tuah Panglima Ali and Oudar (Udar) Island leader Orang Tuah Arshad.Panglima Ali was the primary leader of the naval part of the uprising.

The 100-strong Chinese guerrilla force was led by Kwok first took control of the Menggatal and Tuaran police stations and then used parangs to attack the Japanese on land in Jesselton.

Jesselton,_circa_1911

While the 200-strong guerrilla force of Suluks and Bajau from the coastal islands led by Sulug Island leader Orang Tuah Panglima Ali, Udar Island leader Orang Tuah Arshad, Mantanani Island leader Jemalul and Dinawan Island leader Saruddin attacked from the sea, assaulting the city and burning down warehouses.

Dusun-Murut and Sikh Indians joined the guerillas in the attack on the Japanese. The Japanese suffered 60-90 deaths, but the guerillas were armed only with parangs and spears, so they were forced to withdraw. This led to the defeat of the uprising.

 

The infamous Kempeitai, whose methods of torture and interrogation were very similar to the German Gestapo, conducted the systematic Massacre of the Suluks while pursuing the remnants of the Chinese guerrillas.

Kempeitai-Featured

They bayoneted and beheaded the Suluks and burned their villages to the point that the indigenous people were almost completely wiped out. Around 3,000-4,000 of Suluks were exterminated.

“The Tokyo war crimes trial” index described Japanese atrocities as “an apparently systematic attempt to exterminate the Suluk race between February and June 1944”

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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

hr-_ms-_k_x_iii

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