life stories

Welcome to Coconut Connections

Real life stories

Friday, May 28, 2010

I like to know if anybody knows these people?

I am inserting some pictures from my mother, from her time in Indonesia. I like to know if somebody out there would recognize somebody on these pictures.Have they survived the Japanese Camps?

Klaas van der Wal on the left, my mom Sietske on the right.
Sietske my mom third from the left, my father Klaas on the right.
Eke van Driel-Sijtsma and Elizabethvan Vaas-Thiel, Soerabaja.
My father Klaas van der Wal, second from the left. Who are the others? Did they survive the Japanese prison camps?

My mother Sietske on the right in front of her house, Tjikoerailaan 7, Bandoeng. Who are the others? My mom was 5 months pregnant .

My father on the left, Klaas van der Wal. Who is the other man? This pic. is taken when they still were in Holland. This is Leeuwarden.

If anybody recognize somebody, please let me know. You can e-mail me:
or leave a message on my blog.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Letters from Queen Wilhelmina,

While my mother and I were in the Java Care Center in Bandoeng she received a letter from  Queen Wilhelmina.
It is written in Dutch,

                                                                                                 The Haque, November 21` 1945

To the old-interned in Japanese Women Camp,

It is with great pleasure, after numerous tries, to have the ability to let you know that I have always thought about you.

All the time during these terrible years, which are now behind us, my thoughts, as well as those of thousands in occupied Holland and outside of here, always were thinking of you.

Every time my thoughts were with them who had to carry this heavy load. Occupied by these ruthless enemies. I know now, that my worries about you all were not injustice at all. Also I know that your courage and persevering in the midst of all this were unparalleled.

I am extremely proud for the example the women in Indonesia were for us. You have showed at the world how courageous you were and showed the world how big and proud you make your Country.

We commemorate with great sadness and admiration, those who offered their lives.

I thank you all for what you have done for our Kingdom.

signed by:                               Wilhelmina    Queen of The Netherlands

When my mother received this letter, she did not know , that her husband had not survived. She was checking all the lists which came in from the Red Cross.
Soon after this letter she received word that he had died in that terrible place, on the Burma Railroad track.
How sad that must have been for her, she had just barely made it herself. She had been so sick, they told her  that it was a miracle she had survived..
When she was in the Java Care Centre in Bandoeng she received a letter from a friend from my father, who was with him for three months, in Rintin in Thailand.He said in the letter that he was there with my father and the other Dutch from the Cavalry. He  also told my mother that he had a few possessions from my father, which he had promised Reverend J.C. Hamel, if he would survive he would make sure that my mother would get these. It was my fathers wedding ring, which he had hidden all the time and some photographs who hardly were recognizable, and my fathers wallet.
The pic. my father must have looked at, over and over again.

It's truly unbelievable that I now hold his wallet in my hands, after so many years.The wallet still had Japanese bills in it.If this wallet only could talk, it probably has an unbelievable story to tell.

Thanks Reverend Hamel, for being there for my father.

Reverend Hamel,
Thank you so much for making sure that my mother got back the wedding ring, and the other few possessions. Thanks to Mr. E.Veenstra, who had promised you to hand these in person to my mother if he survived.
Reverend Hamel I have to let you know that Mr. E.Veenstra survived that hell in Burma.
I am the daughter on that picture(Thea with my mother) which is almost unrecognizable.And I am oh so sorry that I only now find out that you survived that place as well, and wrote a book.
My mother would never talk about that time; it must have been too painful. She never knew about the last resting place they gave my father Klaas van der Wal: in Kanchanaburi, and I always keep wondering,"How is that possible?" she would have been so happy.
Thank you again Reverend Hamel, and Mr. Veenstra.

Here follows the letter from Mr. E.A.Veenstra.

This letter was written to my mother on February 26 1946. Soon after that we left for Holland. In 1947 my mother received a condolence  letter from Queen Wilhelmina.

It says:

                                                                                                       The Hague. The Loo, May 9, 1947

                                                                                                        Palace Noordeinde

  Dear Mrs. S.v.d.Wal-Sijtsma

After your husband Klaas was taken prison by the Japanese , he passed away on September 18 1943, in Kui,Burma. Deeply affected by your loss, I would like to let You and the rest of your family know, that I  am
sending my hearty sympathy. May his offer to our Country and the whole of the Kingdom give us a better and happier future.



It is really sad that I had to find all these things after my mother and stepfather passed away.I found lots of things from my Stepfather too. He was in the Pacific in World War 11, on a ship  the Boschfontein, for 6 long years. I will write about that on my next blog and also about my mother and I arriving in Holland.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Is it ever going to stop????

Today May 24, Victoria Day, another soldier killed in Afghanistan. I feel so sad. He was only 26 years old. The age of my father when he died a Prisoner of War, by the Japanese, in 1943.
I guess as long as there are these fanatic's in the world, good people have to die, to make it a safer and a better place for us to live in." They are giving their tomorrow for our today."

They shall not grow old,
As we that left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years distress
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them,

This  was written for the soldiers who died in 1941-1945. Now it is 2010, and the beat goes on!

While I am writing this story, firecrackers are going of, to celebrate Summer is here. I can't stand the sound of firecrackers they sound like gunshots and bombs going off. I hate it. Wish they could celebrate it some what different. It is not even dark yet so you cannot even see the fireworks.When I was a little girl and we had just come back from Indonesia, my first experience to see firework was in Zandvoort in The Netherlands. I screamed my head off,I was so scared they had to take me away from it. I still don't like it. And I have to say:"What a waste of money"!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Monique found out a little bit more about her grandfather Klaas van der Wal

Monique our daughter wrote an e-mail to Neil Macperson, and received an e-mail back from Andrew Snow TBRC. Thank you Monique.
This is the information she received:
Andrew Snow
Thailand-Burma Railway Centre
Thailand (

Hi Monique

I have searched our records for information on your grandfather Klaas van der Wal and have attached the records we have available.
Scan of Kui Yea Cemetery where he was originally buried
Scan of Kui Yea work Camp
Copy of Dutch burial records

TBRC POW Death record giving his death details and Cemetery site now.
Picture of his headstone.

I am afraid that we do not have details on his movements on the railway, before his death. So I hope that what we found gives you some information you were looking for. If you have anymore questions please ask and I will try to help you.

All the best,


This is where he was laid to rest and from where his remains were transferred to Kanchanaburi.My father's grave is the third row letter K, fifth from the right.
Kui Yea work camp.


His POW death record.

TBRC Pow death record. It shows details where his grave is in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

                                              For every sleeper laid,a life was lost
                                              For every life lost, a sleeper was laid.
                                              Sleep in Peace, the crosses you bear
                                              Over 90.000 crosses, remember well!

And so they went, day by day, week by week, month by month, to the bridge on the River Kwai. With sudden stubbornness, unyielding to impossible odds, struggling to perish or to do the formidable, building the bridge for the twin line of steel. Winding through hills, plains and steaming jungle, two hundred and fifty miles long, resting on sleepers, resting on the memory of perished, working to death on the Burma Railroad.

My father's first resting place,Kuie at the site of the railway tracks, after the war his remains were transferred to Kanchanaburi.

Never look a Jap in the eye 
It's likely to trigger your time to die
Nowhere to hide and nowhere to run,
The remorseless fanatic with a gun
Cruelty and starvation they simply struggled on
All hope of any kind of future long gone
Laboring on the railway in the heat
Backbreaking and blistered feet
So was their lot, those years ago,
Their agonies! We will never know.

Win Rainer.

    My father at the Dago Falls in Bandoeng, 1940.

    This beautiful country Indonesia. Paradise on Earth, so peaceful, was changed in violence, cruelty and into Hell by the Japanese.
    My father was taken prison and transported to Thailand, where it was the beginning of a terrible ordeal in a"Green jungle of ' HELL'. The Japanese were planning to build a railroad-line, through the jungle.The ordeal had already started when they had to board a ship in Batavia and were taken to Singapore.                            

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Monument in The Hague

                                               GOOD SPIRIT PREVAILED
                                               December 8 1941-August 15 1945
                                               Second World War in Netherlands-Indies.

    Indies Monument in The Hague, in remembrance to all the Dutchmen and the Military men, who were the victims from the Japanese occupation. (1941-1945) World War 11 in former Dutch-Indies. They who lost their lives in combat, in Prison Camps and those who perished during compulsory labor.

    This Monument is also dedicated to the women and children who were in Japanese prison camp.

    The memorial cemeteries and other memorial monuments are for the next of kin very important. Because nobody would like that their relatives, friends of unknown companions will be forgotten in history. Their has to be a place to commemorate and to mourn.

    "Through each death a memory gets born"

    But when our people died there was no time for remembrance. They had to try to stay alive in and outside the camps, and also after the capitulation of the Japanese. Dieing through unbelievable violence, and chaos,"THE BERSIAP TIME"

    The war in Indonesia was put a site, because in Holland people were to busy thinking about their own suffering with the German Occupation. It took 66 years after the capitulation, for the survivors, who had suffered so immensely, finally were able to come together to commemorate the Japanese occupation.

    MOM this Monument is for you and for your sister Eke. This is a memorial for all the suffering you had to go through, and for both your husbands, you had to leave behind in foreign soil.

                                                         MAY THEY REST IN PEACE!

    Oceans away...but never be forgotten!
    My mom.

                                             IS IT NOT TRUE?
    When you think about it again,
    to that beautiful land of emerald,
    Just keep that softness for yourself.
    Nobody is interested;
    there exist a glass barrier between you,
    and all these people around
    Is it not true that I loved in that faraway land?
    Is it not true that I was  imprisoned there?
    Is it not true that I suffered there?
    Is it not true that we got freed?

    Everything is true!
    I remember sawa's(rice-fields) and beautiful tropical sun, and sunsets!
    I wished I could forget, after all this time!
    All the love, all the sorrow, pretend you don't know and forgot!
    Pretend that you never knew that land,
    Pretend that it was a phantom, that broke like glass.
    Tell them that you finally woke up!

    Is it really not true that I loved there?
    And is it really not true that I was imprisoned and freed there?

    Everything is true!!
    The sawa's and the tropical sun, the beautiful sunsets
    I wished that I could forget, I try so hard!
    It has been so long ago, I do my best, but I remember still the same.

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    A poem dedicated to my parents.

    In a far away land, oceans away
    For so many years we did not know where you lay
    It took 60 years, and finally we knew
    Where they laid you to rest
    Its a peaceful place, it is the best.
    It seems so long ago.

    They gave you a beautiful place of your own
    In that far away land,Thailand
    I would like you to know
    That you are not laying alone.
    It seems so long ago.

    After so many years, for mom the pain has gone
    But you were always in her thoughts
    And she would like you to know
    That your daughter grew up
    And was able to have a beautiful life.
    It seems so long ago.

    Your death was not in vain
    Although it caused a lot of pain
    For so many years we did not know
    Where you were laid to rest.
    It seems so long ago.

    But now we found out
    That you are in this beautiful place
    The name is Kanchanaburi
    And we would like you to know
    That the Japanese are not there any more.
    It seems so long ago.

    This land belongs to the Thai people
    And I would like you to know
    That they take care of that beautiful place
    Where they laid you to rest.
    The name of the place is Kanchanaburi.
    It seems so long ago

    Rest in peace.

    Written by: Thea(Tetske Trijntje) Bisenberger-van der Wal
    Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand
    My fathers resting place, Kanchanaburi.

    I wrote this for my father, who I never knew.
    I wrote this for my mother too.
    A war is a horrible thing
    Which can take away everything from you..

    I was one of the lucky ones,who went through life with a wonderful step father.
    Thank you DAD, you were a real father to me!

    But, although he and my mother were happy together,
    There always was a lingering memory between them.

    May they rest in peace!

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Japanese prison camp Moentilan found after the war.

    Hi. It is Sunday night, and I am ready to watch survivor. It is a three hour program to-night. My husband and I are looking forward to watch it. It is only 7 o"clock so I decided to write a little bit on my blog.
    I found this article in a Dutch Magazine, Vierklank, and it touched me very much, so I am putting a copy of it here on my blog.

    Japanese Camp Moentilan was found after a lot of research.

    It looked like it was easy. The city of Moentilan in Mid-Java was easy to find, but to think that every body knows about the former Japanese Prison Camp was very optimistic. The Indonesian population is very young. The only point of contact was, that the camp at some point had been a catholic training-college. The search looked like the program,"Without a trace". Then we met Mas Bambang. He happened to know an old teacher who probably knew more. We followed him on his motor cycle, and were introduced to Bapak Franciscus Xaverius Soeprapto. He had seen as a child that the Dutch were taken to the camp and had also seen that the Japanese had shot women to death. He offered us a guided tour.
    The former Japanese Prison Camp is now a lower part of the SMP Kanisius. The SMP (sekolah menen-gah pertama) is a three year training of a basis school. The school is lying in the catholic part of Moentilan. There is a Church(Saint Anthonius) a convent for women, and a mission museum. There is not much in the museum; there is one chair and an altar, which were given by Johannes-Paulus 11, when he visited Indonesia in 1989. Around the former Japanese Prison Camp are growing beautiful flowers. The building and surroundings are so peace full. How different it must have been for the women and children who were locked up here as prisoners. From the former Japanese occupation is no sign to be found. When we asked if the Japanese had built some of the buildings, the answer from Bapak Soeprapto was:"The Japanese only left a lot of smashed buildings, and rubble".
    Drawing of the camp how it what in 1941-1945.
    How it looks to day, 65 years later. Not much different, only a few new buildings.

    Liquidation date. August 26,1945

    It is Sunday to-day, the sun is shining. What more do you want? Life is wonderful. Before I head outside I decided to continue with the story,of my mothers and my life in Indonesia in World War 11: part 6

    The surrender of Japan on August 15 1945 should not have come much later, because we were all in very bad health.
    How lucky we were, that the Americans found out that we all were going to be killed by the Japanese. The due date was set for August 26. We would have lived only three more weeks. Although we were near death already.
    The camp gates went open, we were Free!! But what a disappointment,they closed the gates again. There was a new War. We were freed from the Japanese Tyrant, but now we had to be protected by them.There was chaos on Java with murders, intimidation and attacks. The national Party TNJ (Tentare Nasional Indonesia) led an intense guerrilla  battle against the Dutch, the East Indies and the people who had recently returned from the Japanese internment camps. Anyone who was not 100% Indonesian was treated violently by the Indonesians. There was an anti Dutch tone and the Indonesian youth were encouraged in it.
    Permuda's armed military trained radical youths, were especially chasing the Dutch and the Indo-Dutch. Because of some barbaric practices such as burnings and beheadings, the Japanese were ordered to protect the heavily threatened people in camps.
    The protectors were the same Japanese who just a short time before had been our worst enemies during the years of occupation. The camp gates stayed closed, a new life threatening situation existed.
    My mother was so sick by now, she was hanging in there between life and death. One day a truck arrived and some of the sick were loaded on these trucks. My mother and I were one of them.It was now the end of November 1945. We were lying in this truck with mattresses around us, because the extremists were shooting all around us. The bullets were flying over the truck.Lucky we arrived alive at a hospital, and if I remember well this was in Semarang where my mother was loaded off the truck. I had to stay in the truck, and I remember I screamed my head off: I wanted to stay with my mother. They brought me to a convent, where a lot of orphanage children were taken.I refused to eat. I remember that one day I had run away, I was going to look for my mother.The nuns were frantic, because outside this compound it was very dangerous. Every day Europeans were killed. The extremists were very young people and showed no mercy.They would kill you, it did not matter if you were a young child or even a baby. I remember as the day of yesterday that I was hiding under the building,In my mind I can still see how it looked like. There were a lot of white concrete pillars, and there is where they found me, fast asleep. It took my mother a long time to recuperate. We were separated for three months.I did not understand what happened. I thought she had left me.My mother told me that I was mad for a long time, and asked her every time, why she had left me, and please don't leave me again.After she was released from the Hospital, they were not able to locate me. They did not know where they had taken me. There was such chaos in the country. My mother almost got sick again, from worries. She had lost everything, her house, all her possessions, she did not know if her husband was still alive.She was going to turn every stone upside down, if that was what it was going to take her, to find me.A couple of days after she was released from the hospital they found out where I was, and we were reunited, and taken to Bandoeng, where we were taken to The Java Care Center, where my mother still had to get her strength back. I did not know, even in later years, that I had almost lost my mother.It is really unbelievable that my mother never talked about it how sick she had been.She told me that she had malaria but could not much remember of that time. From a letter my mother received in the Java Care Center, from a Mr. E.A.Veenstra(which letter I found after her death) I started to understand more. This letter was hidden away in a black satin pouch with a lot of other letters and small things from her time in Indonesia.
    Mr. Veenstra told my mother also that he, and Reverend Hamel had been with my father when he died, in that terrible place on the Burma railroad tracks.Reverend J.C.Hamel and he survived. Reverend J.C.Hamel wrote a book after the war.He was called the Soldiers Reverend.(more about this in my next story)
    In the Java Care Center we stayed from November until the end of  February 1946. That is when Mr. E.A.Veenstra took care that my mother and I could leave for Holland.
    It was a sad day for my mother, she had to leave this beautiful country, where she had loved, suffered, and had been imprisoned.Goodbye beautiful Indonesia, with your beautiful sunsets.She had lost everything, but she still had me.

    Many years later, after the death of my mother in 2003,I found out where my fathers last resting place is. My mother never knew. How sad, it would have given her so much peace.
    I will write about that another time, for now I will insert a picture from Kanchanaburi Thailand, where they
    took his remains,and gave him his last resting place.

                                              Klaas van der Wal. born: 9-6-1917. died 18-9-1943

    My mom and dad in front of their house in Bandoeng.
    Kanchanaburi where my dad is buried.

    Hellfire pass in Thailand. The hellfire pass they had to dig by hand.

    This monument is in Arnhem in The netherlands. My fathers name is engraved on the black marble wall.His no. 1782.

     This monument in Arnhem is for all the men who died, for their immense suffering building the infamous Railroad track.Never to be forgotten. World War 11, Japanese Prisoners of War.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Through the eyes of a child.

    Februari "45. Moentilan. N v/d Molen.

    What are these eyes telling me? What have they seen? I know these eyes did see some awful things.My Mom tried so hard to erase these horrible things from my mind, but these eyes did see. Moentilan was a terrible place for young children. Children saw their mothers being beaten by these horrible Japanese men, just because they did not bow deep enough.Some things will stay with you forever. Sometimes you are not sure. I asked my mother so many times about the things which were in my head. She always said:"You must have had a bad dream try to forget". Adults think that little kids will forget, but they don't. I speak from experience. Although the memories are very vague, they are there! I was only four years old, but things are buried in my mind. I remember seeing women hanging on trees. The"Japs" told us to throw stones at them. I could barely throw. I remember I threw some gravel. Then I remember my mother yelling at me, and how mad she was. I cried and cried, because my mother was never mad at me and she never yelled at me.Now I understand she was not mad at me, but very angry at the Japanese who would make little children do this.

    On August the first we had to move to another camp.We were only allowed a little luggage. Just a few clothes. We had to get onto these trucks and were taken to the train station and loaded into these train cars as if we were cattle. My mother got separated from her sister and her kids.We were taken to Banjoebiroe and later she heard from her sister, when they met again in Holland that she and her two children were taken to Ambarawa. Banjoebiroe was an old prison , with lots of cells. Most of them were occupied already by lots of women and children. This camp was so overcrowded, the women did not understand why they were brought here.We were put in one of the barracks. There was barbwire around this prison camp and walls.We were skeletons, and very hungry. They were starving us to death. The commandant from this camp was the worst yellow "Jap" I heard my mother telling her sister, when they were talking about it, back in Holland. He was a sadist, and loved to use his belt or bamboo rod. We were like zombies, walking ghosts.We knew something was going on.Rumors went through the camp. Some women believed that the Japanese were going to kill us all.
    And they were right. We were to be killed on August 26,1945 in the name of the Emperor Hirohito of Japan. This murderer was invited to the Palace in the Netherlands in 1971, and I will write about this in another blog.What a sad day that was for my mother. I remember because she called me. We were living in Canada by then.She was so upset and in disbelief.

    This is a quotation from Lilian Sluyter, support group Stichting Vervolgingsslachtoffers Jappenkamp (SVJ)
    It was the start of August 1945. Rumors were circulating, that in the first half of 1945 mass liquidations was at hand. The mothers were wondering how the Japanese would do it. Just leave them alone, and let them starve? Or let them free in the Jungle? How naive we were. But then how could we know about "weapons of mass destruction"? Banjoebiroe and Ambarawa were cramped with women and children.On hindsight, the concentration of women and children was undoubtedly meant to be able to handle the planned total liquidation as efficient as possible. Was the Imperial Marine Fleet which was sitting in the Javanese waters and which was completely fitted out for chemical warfare, perhaps the chosen tool for DIE-DAY? According to a newly classified Imperial order of August 24th it was commissioned to destroy all equipment and documents on board the vessels. The fixed prisoners liquidation was set for August 26th 1945.

    will continue:

    Camp life at it's worst.

    Food was getting worse by the day. There was hardly anything.We were given some rice porridge( a ladle  per person) and some watery veggie soup.When the rice was finished we got some starch porridge, without sugar or salt, it was hard to swallow.Nobody liked it, but it was something to put in your stomach.After the war my mother was taken to a hospital and I was taken to an orphanage where nuns took care of children who had lost their parents.I refused to eat the porridge, and the nun got frustrated,and threw it on my head. I was shocked and screamed even louder. I missed my mother!(I will write about that episode later in my story) The starch porridge was later given to us twice a day. It tasted awful. It looks like wall paper paste.
    This was our space. Our bed was our living room our storage room, our play room.We had no privacy at all.
    Each morning the Japanese decided we had to do gymnastics. This was done on the plaza, with loud shrieks from the"Japs" My mother always thought this was such an hilarious story to tell. These Japanese little yellow men (that's what she called them, my mother was a tall woman) looked like lunatics. We made fun of them, and even do we were in such distress we sometimes had to laugh our heads off. It was good to laugh. The "Japs" had no idea why we laughed and they laughed with us, so we had to laugh even louder. This is what my mother always told me, and she still had to laugh, she said it was so hysterical! This was one of her stories she liked to tell, over and over again.
    She supposes that as a child I didn't attend the cruel sanctions the Japanese applied, or that it didn't affect me. But I think in both cases she was wrong; of course I must have seen in all those years some events of extreme actions of the Japanese (I think only of the endless roll-calls in the burning sun), and a child unavoidable is sensitive for the desperation of his/her mother being mistreated.

    I am so sorry that I have not pushed my mother to tell me more about that time she was in Japanese Prison Camp in the Dutch Indies (now called Indonesia). I always tried, but she was always able to avoid it. Except when I told her I remembered some things, then she would listen,and if it was a bad memory, she always told me that I must have dreamed it. But later, when I read some articles from other children who had found diaries from their parents, I realized she only wanted to protect me. I think that a lot of these women went to their graves without telling what really had happened to them.Of course, even when you are so young, you feel the distress your mom is in. I have some hold of situations and images, although very vague.I would have liked to talk to her about it. Sadly my mother passed away in 2003, and had lost her memory.I know that she could never leave that part of her life behind her. I felt there was more to it then she let me believe. Those years in Japanese Camp had put a stamp on her, she tried so desperately to forget. For years  she screamed at night and cried. I snuggled then in her bed, and asked her why she was crying. She always told me that she had a bad dream. She was holding me than so tight, as if I was going to leave.
    No where in Camp you had your own little place. Everywhere it was drab and grey, long grey hall ways, always hungry, never something good.Suddenly we would be called to come immediately to the plaza for roll calls. No matter what time of day it was. The endless counting, standing in the burning sun, until the Jap had it right.If he did not get it right you would stand there for hours. Some women would pass out.There was always some uproar. Arguments between the mothers. Cries and screams, two days long from women who got tortured,the screams always came from the church, which was where the Japanese had set up office.
     Some of the women who were called into church never came back.
    The Japanese seemed to enjoy themselves immensely when a women got spanked.
    Some women were chosen to be camp leaders.But of course every thing had to be asked first to the "Jap". Also their orders had to be executed. It was an awful job, because these women were the ones who received the beatings the most.
    These women had to divide the work, the jobs the "Japs" told them had to be done.The worst job my mother told me(but still she thought it was so funny) was cleaning the shit from the "Japs" The human shit from the pit had to be shoveled out the pit into pales,than they had to carry this to a field outside the camp, where vegetables were growing, and they had to empty these pails on the vegetable field as manure. Some times: she said:" we were able to steal some little tomatoes. But if you got caught, you were in deep trouble. It was impossible to steal sometimes, because there was always a "Jap" close by, and they kept an eye on us. Although my mother often said she was amazed how they could see, with those slanted little eyes.Sometimes when she talking about it, I could always hear the hatred in her voice. Although the things she told me were most of the time funny.I think that's how she was able to cope with it, make it sound like it was funny.
    We had heard that the Red Cross had send food packages, and we knew that they were lying in the Church. There was one very mean "Jap" who liked to tell the children to come with him,and he would give them some of these food parcels.  Then when they were in front of the church, he would all of a sudden wave the key and pretend he could not open the door. How cruel to do this to little children.Was this some sort of joke to them? My mother said,she would cry .This to her was one of the sad stories she would tel me.
    If my mother was able to get her hands on an egg, she would grind the shell, until it was powder. She would give this to me in some water and told me that it was good for my bones and teeth.I have good teeth, so that's why, she would say.

    What a terrible time they must have endured. How could they have possibly spared us from this? It must have been very difficult for her. I read from other stories from women who were in Japanese Prison Camp that they some times liked to give up, but had to stay alive for their children.
    In Camp Moentilan we had nuns, they had to work the fields. They had these long dresses on; it must have
    been very hot in these clothes.

    I was told by my mother that the children were not allowed to be educated. But the nuns had set up a little place on the veranda, where we were allowed to listen to stories the nuns were telling. We also sang songs, as long as we were kept out of site of the "Japs". But of course the nuns were teaching us other things. Every time a "Jap" passed by to check what was going on, the nuns were hiding pencils and paper under their long skirts. We would giggle.We all had to stand up and bow, no matter what you were doing, no matter how young you were.I loved going to the nuns, and I have learned a lot from them. They also taught about God, and apparently I always asked my mother questions about "HIM". She always said: " listen carefully and when you are a big girl you know what to think about it, and make up your own mind". If this "GOD" would let me grow up.My mother had given up to believe in God, she told me later. She could not understand why he allowed all this cruelty. From the 140 nuns who were in this Moentilan Camp,only 5 survived. Most of them died between (March 1944-August 1945) I never understood this, when a nun got sick and did not come back to the veranda to sing with us.Why was this, why did "He" let this happen? I had so many questions.These nuns were so nice.
    In Moentilan Camp we had some women who could draw very good. They drew a picture from me, which my mother managed to keep. It was done when I was only 2 years old. On the top is written Moentilan 26-10-1943.  On the bottom right are two initials, but I cannot make out what it says. Which is a pity.

    In 1945 another portrait was done from me. This one is signed. I wish I know this women who draw this. My mother had kept all these things hidden in a pouch, which I found after my mom and step dad passed away.Did this women survive from that terrible place?How come my mother never told me about these things. It must have been too horrible.I hope if anybody reads my story and sees this picture that somebody out there recognize this drawing of me. It was done on the back of a propaganda paper from the Japs.The picture is signed : N v/d Molen. Febr. '45. Moentilan.

    I hope through my blog somebody might know who drew these portraits of me.I feel sad when I look at this picture. It is like the eyes are trying to tell me somethings.