life stories

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Real life stories

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another very sad day and days to come in History.

It took me awhile to think about what I should write today about the terrible catastrophic earth-quake and tsunami in Japan.It is terrifying what mother nature can do.
As the people who read my blog know, I have been writing about world war2 and the Japanese prison camps my mother and I were in. How we suffered and how we are trying for 65 years to get justification from the atrocities Japan inflicted.Without success.

Today I read:Japan has exposed her soul to us, as she reels from this ongoing tragedy.

I sincerely hope they do.

I weep for the women, children and men, and feel very sad what has happened to them and I worry about the struggles they still have to overcome.
It is wonderful to see how people come together in disasters like this and no matter how they can help with money, food, manpower, they are ready to give a helping hand.

I however.. still struggle, how this Japanese Government has handled their atrocities they committed to human beings in world war2.They never took responsibility, to the destruction they caused and the immensely sufferings they committed to human beings. This time it is a war against mother nature, which is not to prevent. But human nature kicks in to help immediately , to help people in distress.

I hope the Government of Japan learns from this. Although I know that its younger generation is full of shame about their history.

I hope indeed that Japan has exposed her soul. They are now the ones to try to survive to overcome this disaster, as we tried to survive, during the war and after the war, which Japan brought on to us.Women, children and men have struggled with war trauma for 65 years. I sincerely hope that the women, children and men of Japan do not have to cope for 65 years with this trauma, which is brought upon them by mother nature. I hope they will not have nightmares for 65 years.It is tough enough to recuperate from nature's destruction, but it is even harder to recuperate from human atrocities and destruction.
We are in this world to help each other and not to fight each other, and kill each other.
Mother nature is very power full.It brings a lot of destruction, loss of  life, pain,and sorrow.
Then the unthinkable happens, it brings people together, no matter what language you speak, what religion you have,what color you are, all of a sudden the whole world comes together. Is mother nature trying to tell us something, that we should be living in freedom and tolerate one another!!!!!

Destruction by mother nature
Rays of hope.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The nuns in Japanese prison camp.

Today topped it all. We had snow, hail, rain and snow, wet slush snow. What a mess. All day long. Twelve more days and spring will be here. I can't wait to be outdoors in my garden.I spoke with my cousin Toby today, she lives in the Netherlands, it was not much better there either.It is so nice to talk to her. As I had talked about before we grew up together in the Dutch Indies, in Japanese prison camp, in Moentilan. She is one year younger than me. We were every where together. She was my shadow. When our mothers had to work on the fields for the Japanese and had to leave us for the whole day, the nuns had to babysit us.We were singing songs with them and they read stories to us and they taught us. Teaching was strictly forbidden by the Japs, the (blandas) white people had to be kept stupid. The nuns did it anyway. My cousin and I do not remember much about this, but our mothers told us about this part of Japanese prison life.In the morning we would say goodbye to our mothers and hand in hand we went to the nuns on the gallery (Indonesia veranda) We were only three and four years old.How we loved being with the nuns.The trick was when a Japanese guard would be checking what the nuns were doing,we had to sing and the nuns would hide the pencils and papers under their long skirts. We thought it was so funny and we would giggle.We had such good times,for us children this was such a normal life, we had no idea how our mothers suffered, and how the nuns were struggling. From the 144 nuns in our prison camp,only 4 survived.

Taking a bath was done very simple outside, all together. We had no shame of feelings anymore. The nuns however, had a piece of cloth that they draped around their naked bodies, and that's how they bathed themselves, very purely(discreet). I remember my mother telling me that one of the ladies from camp had lost so much weight, that her skin was hanging down, like extra pieces of flesh, like saddle bags.This lady also had the biggest wrath on her behind, and I had asked her what it was.Most of the time when we were bathing a Japanese guard would pass by and no matter what you were doing, you had to bow for him. We all were naked,and there we were standing in our birthday suits in the bow position. You had to drop everything, whatever you were doing and bow as a clasp knife. Your upper body had to be straight on a sixty degree angle above your loins. He would scream,"kiotskay" "kiray" and would let us stand for the longest of time in the "kiray"(bow position). He would get a kick out of it, to humiliate us. Our skeleton bodies would hurt so much,all we felt was hate, for these little yellow men, with their whips in their hands and their ridicules big swords on their hips.When he would finally scream'"nowray"(stand up) we would hardly be able to stand up straight.What was hurting us the most was that our children had to stand in the same position, and we had taught them well, not to stand up straight before the yellow man would say"nowray"(stand up)If a child would stand up straight before he gave the order of "nowray" he would ask whose child it was, and then the mother of that child would get a severe beating.We were told by these Japs that we did not teach our children the values of life.and it was very important to bow, bowing was showing respect for the emperor Hirohito of Japan.After the war this tyrant, Hirohito got an invitation to come to the palace in The Netherlands. The year was 1971.He should have been hung, instead he was sitting at the Queens table eating from beautiful dishes.How he could have told them, while they ate, what had happened there in those camps, with all those sick, all those deaths, and all those women and children who were starving in those prison camps.What an opportunity he had.I wonder now how my mother and aunt, and all these women and children must have felt, that year in 1971.

We bow,- but will not break,
Identical and tough as flexible cane
That patiently sustains each storm
But afterwards, high spirited, stands up straight.
We bow,- but will not break.

Kamp kroniek 13--9 October 1943.

Oh mom, I asked you so many times, to tell me what had happened there in these camps, why would you not acknowledge my questions? But after your death in 2003, we found the black satin pouch, and now I know. It breaks my heart.

All I knew is what you said,
You had told me it was not so bad!
When I found the pouch with letters,
I realized why it really matters!
The things I read froze my blood.
The tears I shed were like a flood.

written by:Tetske T. van der Wal

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My mothers struggle.........Her dreams.

My mother told me so often, about that beautiful country where I was born. Where she was so in love and where she had such good times with her husband Klaas. Her sister Eke,( my aunt) was living in Soerabaja and my mother lived in Bandoeng. They saw each other often. The Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia)was Paradise on Earth.The year was 1939.Then in 1941 dark skies appeared on the horizon, and everything changed.The Japanese invaded the Dutch Indies. This beautiful country was soon turned into a living hell.How is it possible for human beings to bring so much horror and destruction.These Japanese called themselves soldiers, they were soldiers of the worst kind.You cannot call yourself a soldier, if you rape and torture innocent women and children. This is not what they teach you in the army. A soldier to me, is somebody who defends his country.But these Japanese were the worst kind of NIPPON soldiers.
The very sad thing is, that in this world we live in, it happens over and over again. There are still these Fanatic's (Lunatic's) in power. Look what is happening in Libya.I have friends in Jamaica who are from Libya, and they have family there. I feel for them and worry with them.Is FREEDOM such a difficult word to understand?
History repeat itself, again and again. How can mothers tell their children, not to worry,how can they tell their children without a lie "everything is going to be alright". It is always the mothers and their children, who suffer the most.What they go through,will be on their minds for the rest of their lives. Any woman who loses their son or their husband, or a child loses his/her  father in these conflicts will never be the same.They carry the scars for the rest of their life.

She could not forget these beautiful sawa's.(rice fields)

Reflections of her past.


Rays of Hope.
My mothers dreams.

Was it a dream?
Was it a dream about that beautiful land of emerald?
Was it a dream that I remember the sawa's?
Was it a dream that I remember the tropical sun?
Was it a dream that I remember the beautiful sunsets?
Was it a dream that I remember I climbed these beautiful mountains?
Was it a dream that I felt so much love in that faraway land?
Was it a dream that I was taken from my house?
Was it a dream that I had so many friends there?
Was it a dream that we lived in Peace?
Was it a dream that Japanese soldiers bombed this beautiful land?
Was it a dream I was put behind barbwire fences?
Was it a dream that I had lost my FREEDOM?
Was it a dream that I was tortured there?
Was it a dream that I was in prison for 31/2 years?
Was it a dream that these Japanese soldiers turned this beautiful country in a hell of misery?

Pretend you never knew this beautiful land of emerald.
Pretend you never climbed mountains.
Pretend you never lived there.
Pretend you have never loved there.
Pretend you never had seen the sawa's.
Pretend you never saw these beautiful sunsets.
Pretend you never were in Japanese Prison camp.
Pretend it was a phantom, which broke like glass.
Pretend you just woke up.

Was it a dream?

Was I in prison, and freed?

It was not a dream!
I remember the sawa's, the sunsets and tropical sun.
I remember the beautiful mountains
I remember the beautiful people, my friends.
I remember this peaceful country
I remember I was so in love
I wish I could forget, I try so hard!
It has been so long ago,
I do my best, but I remember still the same
And it breaks my heart!

written by; Tetske T. van der Wal.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What war is all about,

This poem I wrote Feb. 6 2011 and I had to put it on my blog.
War is human suffering

War is evil
War is the devil
War is about religions
War is between politicians
War brings destruction
War is not construction
War is depression
War is an obsession
War is fighting
War is killing
War is sorrow
War has no tomorrow
War is explosions
War is confusions
War is blood
War brings tears like a flood
War makes you cry
War makes you die
War is death all around
War makes you die in foreign ground
War is fire
War is not to admire!
War is creed
War is between different breed
War is cruel
War cost a lot of fuel
War is about amputations
War is about mutilations
War last forever
I wonder if it ends in Heaven
War is only release
For those who are killed
It means PEACE.

written by :Tetske T. van der Wal
War is about religion.
War is about crosses with many dead in the ground.
War is explosions.
War is people dying
War makes you cry!
War is destruction.

War has no winners...only sinners!

A story my cousin Toby told me.

Woke up this morning, and there was more snow on the ground. It is suppose to rain tomorrow so lets hope the snow will disappear. Just watched the golf and can you believe they had snow in the dessert. They say the last time they had snow there was 30 years ago.This is Tuscon Arizona.The other day I was talking about my cousin, who I had not been in touch with for a long time. We had lost each others addresses.I grew up with my cousin Toby and her brother in the Dutch East Indies.My cousin Toby was born in May, 1942 in Soerabaja, 5 months after her father had been killed on the 016 a submarine.She was born on the same date her father Tobias was born. Now if that is not a coincidence.When she was born we had house arrest, because the Japanese had occupied the Dutch Indies.In that same year we had to leave our houses and were taken by train to Moentilan and were put in Japanese Prison camps. I wrote a book about what we endured in those camps. My cousin told me a couple of things which I would have liked to have added to my book. But my book was already published and I was not able to ad it. So that's why I am going to write about it on my blog.
Sister, my mom on the right in Soerabaja.

Her mother and my mother are sisters and were both living in the Dutch Indies before the war broke out.My mother lived in Bandoeng and her sister lived in Soerabaja.On December 7 1941 Pearl Harbor was bombed and seven days later my uncle who was serving on the 016 a Submarine was killed.My mothers sister was pregnant and my mother decided to be with her sister in Soerabaja.
My mom with her brother in law, Tobias van Driel. It was the last time she saw him.

My cousin told me something which I never knew about, and made me even more proud about my mother. How unbelievable strong my mother must have been. All her life she has protected me from all the horrors, she and her sister had to endure while they were in these Japanese prison camps.My cousin Toby told me that her mother told her that she had been so lucky to have her sister (my mother)in the same prison camp as her, otherwise she would not have been alive today.Her mother told her that numerous time my mother had to convince her Mom to please not give up.Think about your children,it was getting too much for my aunt she had just given birth after her husband had been killed she was so undernourished and so weak. All she liked to to do was just lay down and let her be.She had been beaten by the Japanese guards already a couple of times because she did not bow for them, and was hoping they would beat her to death.One day when they were working outside the camp, where they had to dig and shovel a vegetable garden for the Japs, she asked one of the guards if she could take a break to go to the bathroom.The bathroom was a couple of yards away from where they were digging behind some bushes.After a while my mother got concerned because her sister had not returned. The Japanese guard must have forgotten that my aunt had not returned.My mother waited a few more minutes and hoping that the guard would not get suspicious asked if she could take a break to go to the bathroom. He mumbled something to my mother and said something like hurry, hurry!!! and showed his whip. As my mother approached the place behind the bushes, she saw her sister laying face up in the sun totally unaware what was going on around her. When my mother asked what she was doing there laying in the hot sun, she begged my mother to please leave her there, and let the sun do its job. I do not want to go on anymore.We all are going to die, so I might as well end it now. My mother got mad at her, and told her that she was selfish and had to think about her two children.You better get up, my mother said otherwise I have to drag you by your hair, and you better be quick and put yourself together, because the guard would miss us soon, and then we are both in trouble.My mother told my cousin later, when my cousin questioned my mother about this , that she had no idea how she was able to get her sister in a standing position and took her back to where they were working. Her sister was in a total trance.She had been very close to a sun stroke.My mother and her mother had such a strong bond, they had gone through so much together, during the time they were prisoners of war of the Japanese.When my mothers sister passed away in 1989 my mother was never the same. She had lost the only person she was able to connect with.How she missed her sister. They had been so close. Her sister was only 77 years old. She was in the Hospital getting a pacemaker, after the operation every thing seemed fine. But she had told her children that she was so tired, she never woke up the next day. My mother always said, she was tired of fighting, she gave up.The only person my mother was able to relate too about their years in Japanese Prison camp was gone.Now she had to carry this heavy load by herself. She became very quiet, and very tense.But now I know that all that happened to my mother and my aunt in these Japanese camps had serious consequences on the rest of their lives. Even after the war the struggle to cope was not over. I know that in my mother's head, the war continued as horrible memories. The unimaginable brutality at the hands of these Japanese soldiers in these prison camps, trying to take care of their children with hardly any food to give them, has haunted them for the rest of their lives.Life in Japanese prison camp had been hell! The feeling that nobody ever believed what they had endured must have done a lot of damage.They had to cope with the mental and physical damage done to them, caused by the horrendous suffering, torture, and treatment they received by their captors, the Japanese, while imprisoned, they never received any help.These days they have a name for these lamentations. They call it post-traumatic war stress.

My mother and my aunt have protected us all their lives, and did everything they could to let us forget, what we thought was in our heads and what we had seen. They always told us that they were bad dreams, and we should forget about these dreams. The hurts and pain that we experience in childhood don't just magically evaporate as we grow older. They are forever burned in our brains. When we reached a level of strength and maturity, insight and awareness to handle them, they come to the surface, and we try to work them out.

My mother, my aunt, and thousands of women, children, and men have suffered immensely under the Japanese occupation. What has happened to those prisoners was often so gruesome and appalling that it remained with them the rest of their lives.

I have not even told the whole story yet. But some of them are to unbearable for me to write about it yet.One day when I have the strength I will tell the whole tale. My cousins Toby and Fop van Driel the two children of my aunt, who I grew up with in prison camp will tell me some of their stories, which they remember. I will meet them in May in Holland.
This is a picture taken in 1948. Two years after we came back to the Netherlands. We were close, we had gone through so much.My cousin Fop in the middle barely survived.I will post a picture from us when I see them this year in Holland.Sixty three years later.
We were adjusting to the Dutch climate.That's me on the left, with my couisins Fop and Toby on the right.