life stories

Welcome to Coconut Connections

Real life stories

Monday, March 26, 2012

Part V, Three men against Japan.

In the last few months, since the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies, many organized resistance groups were popping up in Batavia and Bandoeng.

Batavia (now called Jakarta) Just a note of interest; Barak Obama lived in Jakarta (formerly Batavia) from 1969-1971 with his mother. He went to elementary school Mentang 1 in Jakarta's mentang district.The school was founded in 1934 as Carpentier Alting Stichting Nassau school, by the Dutch Colonial administration and was reserved for the children of Dutch Colonial residents and the Indonesian nobility. Obama's attendance at school is commemorated today by a statue of the young Obama in the courtyard.

Obama's school picture.
Batavia bridge in the harbor area. Dutch influence. Batavia now called Jakarta.

Bandoeng The place where I entered the world. The place my parents loved.

The most important task was to establish how to keep contact with each other.This was getting very difficult because for the Europeans it was getting too difficult to travel. These tasks were done by Chinese and Ambonese, who were excellent at having the job done.
The Moluccans (Ambonese natives) were very attached to the Dutch and the Queen of Holland. During the invasion of the Japanese they have showed courage and loyalty. They were heroes and a real asset to the underground resistance. Many of them received decorations and were highly honored. This photograph is from an Ambonese from the (Dutch) K.N.I.L.

A very powerful figure of the resistance was dr. ir. Cranen ( Frans Kramer), who lived in Batavia.
"Ir.Craneb" ( Frans Kramer), the central figure and financier of the resistance in the Dutch Indies, original from Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.( My parents were from Leeuwarden,)He played a big role during the Japanese occupancy. After a long time the Japanese finally arrested him. Only after the war had ended,it came known that he had died, on Jully 21,1943 in a Kempeitai prison form total exhaustion.Mr. Kramer your death was not in vain, thank you for all you have done, during those difficult times in World War II.You were a hero.

He was a very clever economist and had an exceptional position in the occupied region. The Japanese often asked him for advice, due to his knowledge and experience in the agriculture-economy.He furnished them with the necessaries for an economic plan for the Dutch Indies.With all his advice dr. Cranen aimed first of all to keep the cultural entrepreneurs in the Dutch Indies, and protection for as many Europeans from internment.Through his position as a general agriculture-syndicate, he was able to cheat the Japanese of considerable amounts of money, which he applied to financial support for various resistance groups.He traveled a lot due by virtue of one's office, and made good use out of it to make contact with many leaders of the underground resistance organizations.Kelter was one of the first ones who came in contact with Cranen, and that's why he was in the possession of important amounts of money, necessary to continue the work of his organization. For Cranen this double life, trusted by the Japanese, and as a financial top figure for the resistance, was extremely difficult and dangerous.For a long time he was able to misled the Japanese.

An other important figure in the resistance movement on Java was Tuindersma, captain of general staff, who went by the assumed name of Smit as a simple gardener, working on one of the estates in the vicinity of Soekaboemi.
Almost nobody knew this mr. Smit, but in real life he was the big man in the background, and led the underground resistance on West Java.One of the very few who knew the role of Smit, was Cranen. The two of them had regular contact through couriers, sometimes they saw each other in person.At one of Jan's trips to Soekaboemi he met Smit. Without knowing which role this secret leader played. Although Jan had a feeling that he was talking to some one who knew more about everything then he let on.Smit managed to stay out of captivity, due to special dedication from the Netherlands army command.Soon after the capitulation he had tried to escape with one of the Dutch water airplanes to Australia.These water planes often came to the South coast of Java.That attempt was unsuccessful and together with his orderly they returned to the North. A very dangerous precarious trip; Besides that the two men had to be constantly on one's guard for the Japanese controle, the captain was suffering from a stomach ulcer, which constantly hindered him.Thanks to the excellent care of his orderly they were able to reach Soekaboemi, where he was taken to a hospital.As soon as 'Smit' felt fit again, he went in hiding on the estate 'Tjiwatt', just outside Soekaboemi, and took over the general leadership from the resistance.
The Japanese became suspicious about Ir.Cranen (dr. ir. Frans Kramer). However they did not have proof enough to arrest him, at the same time the activity of the Kempeitai intensified.Everywhere spies tried to get into the resistance movement.It was also the beginning that the Japanese decided to put all Europeans behind barbwire.And everywhere prison camps were build.Every white man(Blanda) who did not work for the NIPPON lost his freedom.In Buitenzorg a Ursuline convent was now used for an internment camp.

In Soekaboemi the Japanese were preparing a large internment camp. The Europeans were given the opportunity, to register at the offices of NIPPON, but had to pay an enormous amount of money for this ID card, those who paid would receive " protection " from NIPPON. Under false pretending the Japanese made a lot of money, this was actually stealing.It also gave them total disposal over a complete identity administration of the white population.The persons who had registered would be so called put in "protected", special internment camps as soon as possible.
Life in these "protected" camps was difficult and wretched.The camps were overfull, and the sanitation was inhumane.

Food was very bad and not enough.More and more people would be send into these so called "protection" camps.Not only the camps were overcrowded, the prisons were overfull.The Kempeitai(Kempeitai were the notorious "Gestapo")arrested anybody who they thought were political involved,and put in these prison cells which were crowded with thieves, murderers and professional criminals.In these prisons the hygiene was even worse than in the camps, medical care was not existing.Malaria and dysentery ravaged through these prisons and camps.Help from the outside was forbidden.These camps and prisons were a living hell. But the moral from the Dutch people could not be broken. An unprecedented fraternization grew between them, which made them morally self-assertive.And against all odds, the blanda's (White people), who had escaped the camps and the prisons so far, were able to smuggle some extra food and medicines to their country men, who had lost their freedom.
The Japanese still trusted Cranen, whilst they still trusted him he had found a way to setup a relief fund which through illegal ways ended up in the hands of the resistance movement.That's how Smit and Kelter had at their disposal these secret funds. They used part of it to build secret radio transmitters. They send cries of distress to Australia and the Dutch-Indies government, and kept them informed of the untenable situation, which the Europeans on Java experienced.The only support was, that soon they would be rescued,and freedom for the Dutch=Indies would come soon.These promises gave them new hope. Now and than rumors were heard that the American troops had landed, but those stories seemed to be not true, often even were spread by the Japanese themselves.The reason for this was to try to get the resistance movement to become more daring so they might expose themselves.
One day the order was issued that all radios had to be registered; the radio's had to be taken to a certain building to have them "adjusted". The Japanese are going to technically enforce the order. Nobody is allowed to listen to foreign senders any more.The only sender they could listen too, was the Japanese sender.The Japanese were sending false messages over the radio.The control over the send messages, brought wild speculations that the Allies had landed on Java and the outside regions, and that soon Java would be in the hands of the Allies. Even Cranen fell into this trap, which was a crafty setup.And for the time being a government was formed, with Cranen temporary taking the decisions, until the legitimate authority was back in place. Secretly they held board meetings. There were discussions with Smit, who was in charge of the military.The activities of the clandestine organizations reached their culminating point.That was the moment the Kempeitai harvest what they had seeded.Many were arrested, prominent figures were taken from their beds at night and were taken to the torture chambers of the secret police.That's were the most inhumane tortures toke place. If bodily violence did not make the suspect to speak, his wife and children were brought in, and were threatened to be tortured in front of the unfortunate man. Even the strongest of them could not stand up to this much horror.
This way the Kempeitai got information of important data and key secrets.Daily the curtain closed, only some of the resistance were able to escape the Kempeitai.
Most of the resistance movement were arrested in Bandoeng, and executions were taking place daily, without some form of protest hundreds were shot to death. Others were put in front of a court-martial without able to defend themselves,. They were arrested without any form of subpoena and were condemned without knowing the facts.Many innocents became the victim of this Japanese madness.However the important resistance leaders were still walking free. Dr. ir. Cranen, although seriously becoming a suspect, was one of them. Smit was still living as a unknown employee as a gardener at a big concern near Soekaboemi.Kelter just mist being arrested; he had disappeared and the Kempeitai had promised an enormous amount of money to anyone who could give them information about his whereabouts.
Jan, the Tall guy and the Pimpel had barely escaped the Kempeitai as well, and on their heads a large amount of money was promised, for any information of their wherabouts.The Kempeitai could do what they liked, but the resistance was not to stop. Food and medication were still arriving into the camps;and messages which boosted the moral of the prisoners still reached them. Warders were bribed.Secret senders were build, and contact with the outside world and their own government was restored.Plans were made for the future liberation.In prison camps comfort lectures were held, to give the weak a boost and not to give up.This is how the stituation was at the moment when the three started their difficult journey to South-Bantam and to an unsure future.
One early morning the three of them left, accompanied by two other men.The three friends and two boys, which they got to know while they were working for Mats.
The journey was not easy. They had to stay away from the highways.They dragged themselves along dusty small lanes through small village communities.

They waded through fast stream rivers,stumbled over uneven stones of small lanes between huge rocks.By the hour the two new friends became very quiet.One of them was not physical very strong; fatigue from the journey was showing on his face.Arriving at Leuwiliang they would leave a relative even terrain and from there they would enter into the mountains.It promised to be a very difficult climb, up and down the mountains, through inaccessible ravines. How long would this trip take?And what would they find at the end?
When they stopped for a couple of minutes rest, in the neighborhood of the highway to Rankas Bitoeng, one of the two boys started to speak. Both of them decided to go back to the place of origin, to Batavia. They were too tired and did not see salvation in this uncertain and dangerous adventure.Who knows maybe the war would soon be over; and maybe they would die in this desolated part of the country, or killed by bandits or a Japanese patrol would shoot them.And what if the war would last for years, what would they do in South-Bantam? It was utterly craziness to take a proa(prauw) and sail the seas to Australia where the Japanese were master, and who knows how many mine lines were laid in those waters.The three others tried very hard to talk too the two boys so they would take the right decission,please do not lose your fate and your sense of duty, which you should fight for. Not only for freedom for your selves but for your countrymen and Homeland.But the two of them had made up their minds, they were exhausted and they would only be a hinder for the other three.
They said goodby. When the three were alone Jan said:" Lets not get down on ourselves. Maybe they are not morally and physically strong enough for the difficulties which are facing us. It would bring nothing but misery; not only for them but also for us.My only hope is that they reach Batavia safely.Lets go!"

They waded through rivers and climbed the mountains.Soon they became optimistic again, for a while they felt very low,their spirits had been overshadowed by the going of their two friends. They sang and whistled, the sun was rising over the beautiful landscape, that changed constantly and there was so much beauty, it took their breath away.They overlooked the most beautiful endless, emerald green of the sawa's (rice-fields) it looked spotless and so peaceful. The rice-fields looked like huge steps down the slopes of the mountains into the valley. In the distance they could see the blue silhouettes of the mountains in the South. Sometimes their journey took them through gloomy, abandoned rubber gardens, where they felt as if at any moment they could be strangled.The feeling was like that of a graveyard; like a battle-field after the battle.
The further they went, the more desolated the landscape became.They had to cut their own paths, and often their path crossed roaring rivers, very difficult to wade through.

They had to cross deep and steep ravines to get to the other side, and would discover that on the other side was an even deeper and steeper ravine. A big hinder was there luggage, which consisted of food, weapons,ammo,and extra clothes and shoes, which they had to carry and which they needed.
Crossing a river was very difficult with all that luggage on your back, it was not easy to keep yourself well-balanced.Sometimes one of them slipped on a slippery stone, and was taken with the current quiet a distance down stream,all luggage would be soaking wet and had to be dried in the sun before they could continue their journey.There first goal,and the place the three men had decided to check-out, would be in the neighborhood of Kratjak, where an important energy station was located, which delivered energy to a large area of West-Java and for the railway between Batavia and Buitenzorg. Although this part was never discussed with Kelter, the three had made up their minds, to sabotage this energy station.
An aerial picture from the energy station..

They had avoid the strait road between Leuwiliang and Kratjak,knowing that the Japanese would be patrol these roads.They had to go over the next high mountain and would have to cross the river Tjianten a couple of times because of the many bends in this river.They stopped at a very high spot near a little stream, which was close to Kratjak on the river Tjianten.

They looked at an unbelievable beautiful panorama of untouched nature; dark forest with thick foliage, high, lonely palm trees,the roaring river and a peaceful brooklet.In the distance the mighty Zuidergebergte,(South mountains) a gigantic shadow against the light blue of the sky and further down you could see the mighty silhouette of the Salak(Volcano).Which ever way the three men looked they saw just peace and tranquility, this must be paradise.It was almost like a shock to return to reality.
The Pimpel and the Tall guy started to chop down bamboo with their klewang( a single edge sword) they had to build a bivouac. They build a small house and covered it with palm leaves for the roof, which Jan had cut, down in the valley.Everywhere they found tracks of wild life; they definitely would not be hungry.But first they had to investigate the surroundings, because in this land the echo's of shots could be heard from a far distance.From the food they carried with them, they fixed a meal. They drank a nice smelling coffee and smoked a cigarette.Before they went to sleep, they drew a straw, the longest straw would be guard for the night, and the Pimpel lost. The night was quiet, nothing disturbed them.

Will continue.

No comments:

Post a Comment