life stories

Welcome to Coconut Connections

Real life stories

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Part XIV, Three men against Japan.

To an internment camp. One last evening in freedom.Jan keeps fighting for others.
Collectie Tropenmuseum....Japanese invasion on Java. The Dutch East Indies.

Indeed! The instructions they received after the summons to register as European blanda's (white people)left no doubts about the actual intentions of the Japanese.Officially they were informed that they had to appear in front of a commission,who would decide if they would or would not be internment. They had to bring one days food supply, some clothing, a mattress, a blanket, and a mosquito-net.
Jan had no illusions about his fate.Moreover Smit had let him know, that he himself would be internment and that Jan should be compelled to do the same.Because of the internment of so many European men it made no sense to resist.
With this in mind and with the prospect to meet again with the Pimpel and the Tall guy, Jan reconciled with his fate about the not so enticing future.He worked a whole day to make a mattress which he would be able to roll up.In the mattress he hid very cleaver some of the parts of his mauser-pistol.Before leaving the concern, the men dismantled the installation of the machine, which made gas and Jan took a quantity of medicines from the concerns pharmacy, which might one day come in handy.
Mrs. Brinck was holding up very well. She accompanied the three men to the border of the concern Tjiboeboer and stayed there with Mrs. Ploos, who's husband was summoned to Pelaboean Ratoe the day before.
The bus was overloaded, the road full of bends and steep ravines.
A group of people in the middle of the road, waited until the bus passed by.

They were loaded into an old ram-shackle bus , which did not run on gas, but on stinking sereh-oil.(lemon-grass oil).The bus was chock-full; most of the passengers were natives with their merchandise, going to market.They were sitting on the roof, the bonnet and the splash-boards of the bus. The road was full of bends and every time it seemed like the bus was going to overturn into the steep ravine.But finally they reached the little village.

They had to wait in stuffy rooms in a wooden building, where they had to wait for further transport. Jan met a large group of Dutch men; all owners from different plantations. After their names were called, they were told that it was strictly forbidden to go outside the fenced area,where the building was located. Jan wandered restless around the fence and already felt hard pressed,feeling like he was in prison. He felt sorry that he had given his word to Smit.Every time he saw a chance he sneaked outside the fence. It would be easy to walk back over the desolated rice-fields and the forests, making sure not to go close to the roads,without being noticed and return to Tjibitoeng.
If he would walk over the desolated sawah's (rice-fields), Jan could have a chance to walk back.
At night all kinds of danger would lurk in the darkness

At day time he had to stay deep in the forest, and make sure not to get to close to the road.

Once he arrived in Tjibitoeng, he would be able to make sure nobody could find him.He was surprised to learn that the other Dutch men resigned themselves to the inevitable already.Did they really believe what the Japanese had told them, that they would take good care of them? The beginning of their stay already did not look all that promising.Since they had arrived they had not received anything to eat or drink. Although the Japanese themselves had food in abundance. In one of the rooms Jan had seen a number of Japanese sitting around a table full of white bread, tomatoes, coffee and all kinds of other delicious food.
At the head of the table was seated a young Japanese, probably a sergeant-major, the commandant of the group.This man was strongly build compared to his Japanese country men. He beckoned Jan with an arm motion to come closer. Jan walked up to him, without executing the submissive attestation of a bow. The Japanese commander observed Jan for a long time without saying a word.He had a look in his eyes as if he admired Jan. Japanese people worship athletic shapes.Jan was a well trained sportsman.When Jan had enough of being the object of being admired in front of the Japanese, he tried to make the sergeant understand that he was thirsty and hungry. Immediately the Japanese gave orders to a waiting soldier to make room for Jan at the table.Jan thinking that a good understanding with the commandant could maybe help the fate of all of them, excepted the invitation. But when the Japanese told him he could take some food,Jan refused. He could only except,if his countrymen would get some food as well.The Japanese thought about Jan's terms and to one of his subordinates he gave some orders, which Jan could not understand.An hour later the soldier came back with some natives, who carried large baskets with fruit.

Jan was allowed to hand these over to his fellow-prisoners.
With the sun at it's height, it was getting stuffy in the small rooms. Outside was no place in the shade to be found.The prospect of being the whole day and night in these stuffy rooms made the men depressed.Most of them were lying apathetic on their mattresses.At the end of the day Jan went again to the commandant."It would"' Jan said" for most of the blanda's (White men)probably be the last night,before who knows how long,be locked up in an internment camp.He asked if they could get permission for one nights freedom; he would be guarantor for all his country men".The Japanese looked at him with a smirk on his face, and asked him;" What if any of them escape?" Jan answered that who ever had come to this place would have not come voluntarily anyway. They would not have come to Pelaboean Ratoe. The Japanese had no objections to this logic.
After thinking about it the Japanese gave Jan permission, but he said with a smile on his face; he would shoot Jan himself if the next day somebody did not show up for roll call.
Jan spoke to his country men and told them about the results with the commandant.Not all of them showed thanks of comradeship.Some mumbled under their breath that "he" liked to get in favor of the commandant and that he was an accomplice of the Japanese.
Jan, who liked to show to the Japanese that between the white men there was a total comradery,kept quiet and shrugged his shoulders.
That night, while he and Brinck and van Wou walked along the beach through the little village, they had a very strange meeting.It was the man 'wedena' Jan had been in trouble with before;
(head of a district in the East Indies)He greeted the three-some very friendly and walked up to them and invited them in his home for dinner.Jan did not feel very comfortable. Once in awhile he noticed an inquiring look into the eyes from the 'wedena'. But the man did not seem to recognize Jan, thanks to the blue glasses Jan was wearing. Nothing happened and the hospitality from the 'wedena' was remarkable, you could not tell that this man hated white people.Only when they said goodbye they noticed a bit of a mockery in his smile when he wished his guests a very good night.When Jan walked from his yard and turned swiftly his head around,that smile had changed into a broad grimace.
The place at the beach where Jan had a strange meeting with the 'wedena'.

Most of the Dutch men had returned back early in the evening to the building. At the entrance the Japanese sergeant-major was waiting for Jan, afraid that his hostage himself had escaped.Obivious very relieved he invited Jan again to sit at his table, this time the table was full of bottles and glasses. But Jan refused to drink with his admirer.He excused himself by saying that he as a sportsman never drank alcohol.The Japanese was not in the least insulted, but started an animated conversation. Jan took the opportunity to tell the man about the Netherlands and about the Dutch people. He told him of the Queen to whom they were very loyal, just as loyal as the Japanese are to their Tenno Heika.(The emperor on the throne is typically referred to by the title Tenno Heika; literally "His Majesty the heavenly sovereign") They talked about sport and Jan told him that he was an enthusiast fencer and had taken part in the championships of Java. The sergeant-major was very interested for this fencing-sport. Till deep into the night Jan witnessed his enthusiasm.
In the meantime all the Dutch men, but four, had returned. However they returned in the very early morning . Probably because of Jan's story about the sport,the next day the treatment was so much better then the day before; they even had breakfast with white bread and coffee.
It was time to ensemble in front of the building and the white men were divided in small groups and got into a number of trucks. There was a separate truck for the luggage. Jan did not liked to be parted from his mattress, but not to become suspicion he had to let go of his mattress with the hidden mauser-pistol in it.
The trip to Soekaboemi was without any disturbances.The convoy reached the large camp in Soekaboemi late afternoon and were greeted by dangerous looking guards and welcomed by hundreds of countrymen.
They had arrived at the very well known police academy at Soekaboemi.

The Police Academy in Soekaboemi, which was used by the Japanese during the occupancy of the Dutch East Indies as an internment camp was destroyed by thugs(rampokkers) after the capitulation of Japan

Will continue:
Next: From Soekaboemi to Buitenzorg.Food is getting very bad. They are locked up with thousands of European men.
Soon after all women were put in internment camps (The Japanese called these protection camps)
These camps were barbaric.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive