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Monday, August 16, 2010

Leaving Indonesia March 30,1946

It was February 1946, and my mother was recuperating from Malaria,malnutrition,edema, etc. in Bandoeng in the Java Center. She had been so sick, and now she received the bad news from the Red Cross that her husband had not survived the Hell at the Burma-Railroad tracks.How much more can a human being take.But the will of living is so strong, she had a child to think about.
One day a gentlemen came to visit her at the Java Center in Bandoeng. He introduced himself as Ecko Veenstra. He told my mother that he and her husband Klaas had been very close. They had worked side by side on the rail road tracks in Thailand. They had been together for three months in Rin-Tin the worst camp on the railroad tracks in Thailand. This camp was later closed because the Japanese were afraid of this camp,too many men died in this camp, and the Japs were afraid that they would contract these diseases, so they closed this camp.My father (Klaas) and Echo Veenstra were moved to Kuie, where my father died of exhaustion and malnutrition.He also told her that her family was informed that he had found her and that they were overjoyed to hear that she and her daughter had survived the prison camps.
He offered my mother to take care of us, and liked to know when she would like to return to the Netherlands. He had connections, so she only had to get stronger and he would book a passage on a ship.So it happened that we were able to leave Indonesia on the 30th of March 1946.
We had to get on a train to take us from Bandoeng to Batavia. I did not like to go on a train again. I was so scared of trains, because every time the Japanese moved us to another Camp we had to go on these trains, on which you always nearly suffocated. There were no windows in these trains, but this time my mother said it was nice to go on a train. I was not convinced, so I screamed and cried, that I did not want  to go. Please mommy not on a train, I do not like trains.This was again very traumatic for me and my mother, but finally I was seated on this train that would take us to Batavia , where we arrived at Tandjong Priok the habor of Batavia. There was this big ship docked. It was so high, and again I was so afraid. I was five years old. The name of the ship was ms.Boschfontein.

On  top of the gangplank are my mom and me.On this ship I would meet a man, who I asked if he would like to become my father.

We boarded  and got a hammock in the hold of the ship,with hundreds of women and children.We arrived in Ataka , where we had to go on land. Ataka is in Egypt. We had to board a train again. I was so suspicious. Why did we had to go on a train again??I had such a good time on the ship, there was lots of food.My mother told me, because we are  going to Holland and because  it is very cold there, we have to get some warm winter clothes. I had no idea what that meant. But she said I was getting new shoes and a new dress, so I was getting excited.The train went through the dessert,and stopped in front of two big hangars. There were flags and welcome signs greeting us. We were allowed to pick out a coat,a dress, shoes, socks, underwear, mittens, (which I had no idea what they were for.) My mother told me, your hands will be so cold, that you need socks for them.They also had a band for us and so much food. It was delicious.We stayed there the whole day. The train took us back to board the ship again and now we would be off to Holland.Where ever that was. All I knew was that we had to wear lots of clothes, when we arrived there.

We were at sea again.. For three more weeks. Some days we had drills. We had to put on these jackets, which scared me, because we were told that they would keep you afloat, in case the ship would sink. What did they mean?? Do we have to go in that dark water?? Every time we had this drill I was scared to death. One day I told my mother that I had found a daddy. What do you mean, you have met a Daddy? You know your daddy is in the clouds in the sky. I said yes I know, but some of the kids here have daddy's, so I went to look for one.And I found this nice man,because he told me that I do not have to be scared anymore, when we have to put these bubble jackets on, because he will be holding my hand when we are in the water, he will open the jacket for me, and in the pockets of this jacket we will find lots of chocolate. You cannot tell anybody about the chocolate, because it's a secret. I like him very much and I asked him if he liked to be my daddy. He said that he first has to talk to you, because it cannot be his decision only. Mommy you will like him, he is so nice. My mother did not trust this at all and told me to point him out. So I took her by the hand and went to look for him." There he is " I said and pointed him out to her. I jelled at him that I had brought my mother to see if she liked him too, so he could be my daddy. And that's how their love affair began. They both had gone through so much during the War years. He had not been home for six long years. His ship the ms. Boschfontein had been transporting pilots and soldiers and ammunition during the war in the pacific.He told my mother that often he thought he would not survive, but luck had been on his side. They had just left Pearl Harbour when it was bombed, by the Japanese, and he often thought that the ship would run on a mine.My mother had gone through lots of heart ache herself for four years and had nearly died.I had the best time of my life on board of this ship. My mother and my "Dad"  and me often walked on deck.I was so proud I had found myself a Daddy.My mother told me that I right away named him my Daddy. We also had our dinner on deck.There were all kinds of things to do for kids. A couple of times the bells from the ship would go off. That meant we had to put our life jackets on. I was not afraid anymore, and could not wait to go in the water, to open the jacket for the chocolates.Sometimes the engines would stop,the ships bells would go off, that was the signal , that  a mine was sighted.Soon we went through the Suez canal, we saw land again. After that it began to get colder and colder. I was allowed to wear my coat and the socks on my hands. That was funny. My fingers would tingle.Soon we were in the North Sea and arrived in Amsterdam. A small bus would take us to the house of her parents in Kolhorn. It is a small village in the North of Holland.On the 25th of April 1946, my new life in The Netherlands began.

My next story will be about my life in Kolhorn, where I went to school and where I loved it. I also will talk about the struggles and hard times my mother faced .