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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

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