life stories

Welcome to Coconut Connections

Real life stories

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December is a month , when families come together.

 For many families December would never be the same.For many this month brings back bad memories. December became a month for mourning, with sad memories.Christmas changed for many of us. Husbands, fathers,sons, daughters, would never come home for Christmas anymore.
World War 2 had left many scars.
Candles lighted for all those men, women and children of all races and countries in the Far East, who died during WW2. An extremely cruel war, that started in 1939 in Europe and on December 7,1941 in the Pacific. May they all rest in Peace.

Lest we forget!

It seems I cannot stop writing about the years we were in Japanese concentration camps. My mother passed away in 2003 and we found a black satin pouch hidden away in one of the drawers, when I started to read some of the letters which were in that pouch, it brought back so many memories.So much information was tucked away in that pouch.The pain I felt for my mother was unbearable. It took me 7 years to start writing about it, I was afraid of the memories which came back to me little by little. I was only 5 years old when the war was over, but for 31/2 years of my life I had been in concentration camps. Some of the things I had seen as a little child were stored in my brain, and they came back to me with so much force, that I was even surprised what a five year old can remember from those days.The painful feelings and some of the afflicting memories came tumbling down on me.That's why I think I have to keep writing about it and document these memories for the coming generations, and hope that a repetition of such tragedies will never happen again.I hope that my children, their children, and the children of the future will never have to go through such tragedies.
This drawing was done from me in Moentilan Camp in February 1945.These eyes saw some horrible things.

It's very sad that few women, who were in these Japanese concentration camps never talked about these atrocities the Japanese inflicted on them. My mother and my Aunt always told us to get on with life. Better to forget and never talk about it, because nobody will listen anyway.
I knew my mother could not forget. She often screamed in the middle of the night, it always scared me.I felt confused, because we were not in a camp anymore. Why was she screaming, she was lying in her own bed,and those bad men were not here. They were only in that other world. That world I thought I had left behind, when we boarded a ship and arrived in the Netherlands.I did not understand, I was to busy being a child again. When you have gone through so much scandalously suffering and have seen your mother being beaten by men, you are able to store it away, deep inside. Children in concentration camps where mothers were beaten daily, grow up fast. When the war was over I finally was able to be a child again, and play. I did not have to stand in long lines anymore to fill up a small bottle with water. I remember the tap going drip......drip......drip. It took a long time to fill a small bottle. My mother had to send me, because she was sick. This was in camp Moentilan.
We had arrived in the netherlands and I was here now( in this new camp, I thought) where I could play on the streets with my friends. This for me was Paradise, when I remember the first snow I could not get enough of it. I was in a place where I was no longer afraid. I did not have to bow for men anymore, my mother did not get smacked on the head anymore, and we did not have to bow for men anymore. These men were so nice.We were not hungry anymore and nobody died here. This is where I wanted to stay for the rest of my life.It had taken me a while not to hide behind my mother, when a man passed by. I always thought, because she did not bow she would get a beatings.I had a girlfriend and her mother one day liked to speak to my mother. I found out later when I was a little older that this women had been concerned, because I had told the strangest thing to her daughter. Particular the part were I had told my friend that my mother always got smacked on the head, when she did not bow.
Pieternella on the left,and that's me on the right, the daughter of aunt Zus.Here we are about 12 years old.

Her mother  became very good friends with my mother. This friend would listen to my mother about the things which were haunting her. I have to mention her name, because I think without her my mother would not have made it. Her name is Zus van Breukelen-Keesman and I was friends with her daughter Pieternella van Breukelen.Aunt Zus I called her, which she thought was so nice. In camp everybody was my aunt and everybody was my Oma(grandmother) I had lots of them.Zus van Breukelen is still alive and lives in Zandvoort, The Netherlands. She is in an old age home and I saw her this summer.I thanked her for being such a good listener and for helping my mother to let her talk about what had happened to her and her sister,in those horrible Japanese camps. She would sit with my mother for hours, sometimes till early in the morning hours, because my mother could not sleep.The husband from Zus would sometimes come and ask his wife if she still was coming home...God bless him..(Bram van Breukelen) he was such a nice man. and so patient.

My mother and her sister, both lost their husbands in that terrible war. The scandalously sufferings have haunted them all their lives were only recognized by the British government in the year 2000, when it offered compensation of 10.000 pounds to survivors. Unbelievable the British Taxpayer had to pay out that paltry sum not the culpable Japanese government. The criminal regime that ran Japan during the war years and the failure of successive Japanese governments to face up to their crimes.
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Norway paid their war victims of the Japanese Occupation, with amounts of 18.000 Euro per victim  or heir, in 2000 and 2001.

The Netherlands who promised in 1941 that all Dutch in the East Dutch Indies would be rewarded, without hesitation as Freedom comes; never paid a penny, not even the soldiers wages. Up to now they still have to live up to these promises. The war is over for 66 years. Why don't you refresh your memory and listen to all those radio messages again. These messages are recorded and still exist. These messages were broadcasted from England when our Queen was in exile.Why are you the only country who can not live up to your promise.The effects of two wars in the Dutch Indies are still felt.First there was the war with Japan, followed by the war about the Indonesian Independence.Time and time again the government from the Netherlands, the VVD-CDA-PVV party left us in the lurch.This treatment from the Dutch government for the people from the former Dutch Indies is not acceptable and this behavior of the Government unworthy.
I am embarrassed that I used to be Dutch, my husband and I and our children all became Canadian, and we are proud of it.

The wounds inflicted on women in war are considered to be'........invisible scars upon the heart.

Love in the sky!
Let there be Love on Earth!

This coming Tuesday  the 13th of December is the monthly demonstration in the Hague in front of the Japanese Embassy. I wish I could be there to support the demonstrators. Japan has apologized to Canadian POWs... now it is time to apologize to the rest of the world, and finally admit to all their war crimes.

I am afraid the apology does not come from the heart, I am afraid they need something from Canada.Time will tell. But I sincere hope that this is the beginning for Japan , just like Germany has done...... pay for their crimes.

This was in The Star today

Japan issues'heartfelt apology' to former Canadian prisoners of war

December 08,2011

OTTAWA_The government of Japan has issued a "heartfelt apology" to former Canadian prisoners for their suffering during the Second World War.

The apology was delivered today in Tokyo by Toshiyuki Kato, Japan's parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs.

On Christmas Day 1941, the Allies surrendered in Hong Kong after almost 18 days of fighting in which 290 Canadians were killed and 493 wounded.

Those who survived were held prisoner in Hong Kong and Japan until Japan's surrender on August 15, 1945.

Another 267 men died in the camps, where they were subjected to back-breaking labour and were frequently beaten and starved.

Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney led a delegation of Canadian veterans to Japan for the apology and a commemorative ceremony.

"This important gesture is a crucial step in ongoing reconciliation and a significant milestone in the lives of all prisoners of war,"said Blaney in a statement."

"It acknowledges their suffering while honouring their sacrifices and courage."

1 comment:

  1. In international diplomacy arena ~ Japan rarely does anything without any conditions favorable to them.Japan has provided " zero interest " economic development loans to People's Republic of China since 1970's ~ up late 1990's.Japanese could stipulate a clause in the agreement that the mainland Chinese must have to display a banner @ any place ( i.e. company building or construction site that benefits from it ) reads " This is funded by Japanese-Chinese Friendship Development Fund ".


Blog Archive