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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Part XV, Three men against Japan.

Internment camp Buitenzorg, Java. The Dutch East Indies. World War II.
A dangerous nightly expedition.

Students of the Police Academy. Sports day. The good old days.
Students becoming Police men.Soekaboemi, before the war.

A large crowd stood watching all around the building from the well known Police Acadamy in Soekaboemi.Now it was a collecting place of European prisoners.It was swarmed with curious people and natives with their merchandise. Many white women were standing at the entrance.They had seen their men going inside, they hoped for a miracle, each of them to see their husband come back as a free man.Hopefully they could still talk a few words with their loved ones, or just catch a glimpse, just to say goodbye from a distance.
Jan walked along side the fence at the back of the building and pondered about the love of gain and human grief.He met already many acquaintances, members from the organization.He saw Smit the Captain, but with secret signals the captain had made it clear to Jan that it was better to let everybody think they did not know each other.He also liked to be alone for the moment.Images from his happy days of freedom, thinking about Holland, and his childhood.A big cloud was hanging over him and he did not know what the future would bring.He saw his life disillusioned, abandoned defenceless to the unknown, but without any doubt a future with terrible dangers.From this moment on he had to make sure that all traces of him being in the resistance were wiped out.Would the kempetai find out, that he was a leader of the resistance he would definitely end up in the torture chambers, from which he would not survive, he knew that.
Suddenly Jan was awakened from his gloominess by a tap on his shoulder. In front of him stood the smiling Japanese sergeant-major, who he got acquainted with the day before in such a strange way.A few other Japanese were with the sergeant-major, although Jan did not understand a word of what they were saying, he understood from the attitude and tone, that this good-natured son of Nippon was talking about his admiration for the white Hercules on unequivocally manner towards his countrymen.The Japanese turned to Jan and asked if he liked to stay outside the internment. It was very easy for him to organize this. Jan only had to say one word. It was as if suddenly Jan was dreaming.He was riding his horse through the forest, he heard the call from the oeloengbird and he saw the game from badjing, the squirrel in the coconut tree.

As quickly he was dreaming he woke up. He heard the noise from screaming men and crying women; he looked the Japanese sergeant-major strait in the slant-eyes and shook his head. No he could not do that; he wanted to share the fate of his race and countrymen, in freedom and also in captivity.The Japanese took him aside,"Listen," he said," later they all are going to Buitenzorg, to a camp with thousands of others.We can use instrument-makers at the power plant in Oebroech.What difference would it make for the others, that you would be free.?"
Jan refused. He knew that Smit needed him and trusted him.The Japanese looked disappointed,but did not seem to be insulted.He promised Jan he would look him up when he was in Buitenzorg.
Late afternoon the group from Pelaboean Ratoe stood in front of the Japanese board.They all were registered and that same night they left by train to Buitenzorg.Jan sat in the same compartment as Smit and were able to exchange some words without attracting attention.Many European women were standing along the road at the train station in Buitenzorg.
A road in Buitenzorg.
The road to the Witte Paal (White Pole) in Buitenzorg.

For each of the men , sometimes from total unknown natives, a word of heartiness,or a refreshment. There were also letters, destined for men who were in the camp already.They arrived inside the bamboo enclosure of the camp, in a courtyard which was separated from the barracks.In the middle of the courtyard were seated some Japanese at a large table.
Their appearance looked sinister and in their midst was a member of the Kempetai.One by one the white men were guided in front of the table, where the man of the Kempetai (Secret police) observed them from top to toe.For Jan these were moments of nerve wrecking minutes, his description was known.It was for him an unparalleled trial and he had to keep cool and keep all his strength of mind together to pretend to be careless.Nothing happened.They put him with a group of men he did not know;In spite of trying hard to get in the same group with Smit.They were guided to the so called actual camp; the doors opened to the long hallways where hundreds of men were hanging around.After a few minutes Jan recognized his old friends the Tall guy and the Pimpel. It was an very emotional greeting.The three of them dragged Jan's luggage to the room dedicated to him.
The Tall guy and the Pimpel were anxious to hear what was going on in the outside world.Jan told them the story that the Kelter-organization had fallen apart.
The first couple of days were very difficult for Jan. Food was terrible, but being locked up almost suffocated him.
The camps were very primitive. Washing the dishes in one pale of water.
One of the rooms from the camp in Buitenzorg. This was the room Jan, the Pimpel and the Tall guy sneaked out one night for an expedition outside the fence

For awhile he had no contact with Smit.One night while Jan was listlessly walking through the hallway, he suddenly bumped into the Japanese sergeant-major from Pelaboean Ratoe.
Jan could see in the eyes of his country men an unconcealed surprise while he was talking to Foeroe Kawa (that was the name of the Japanese)He knew that this would be the gossip of the day, and he would be made out as a spy for the Japanese.But he could not care less, because he thought that maybe one day this friendship with this Japanese man might help them.Jan started to tell Foeroe Kawa that the quality of the food which they fed the white men was terrible.Jan's own bowl, half filled with dingy water, where a little bit of rice and vegetable was floating, was proof of it. Immediately the Japanese disappeared and within an hour he returned with all sorts of pans with food,bought from a close by Chinese restaurant.Jan introduced the Pimpel and the Tall guy to the Japanese sergeant-major. The three of them together eat and enjoyed the tasty food.The whole camp was now whispering about the relation ship between Jan and the Japanese.Jan did not mind. The meetings with Foeroe Kawa were an unbelievable source of information.The unsuspecting Japanese told them all kinds of military important data.Foeroe Kawa probably thought that the internment white men were totally harmless. The information were codified, and taken outside the camp by the Pimpel and the Tall guy to a secret location.These nightly escapes were for the two Dutch men a very dangerous undertaking.
One night Foeroe Kawa visited the camp again accompanied by a number of non commisioned officers. This was the last time he was visiting Jan, he told him. He came to say goodbye, because he was going to be stationed in New Guinea. Five minutes later Jan got the information how large the division was, which was going to New Guinea.After a few more words Jan got the information that a large-scale operation was on it's way to attack Australia.All his tactics Jan had to use to be able to get a little more information about this operation. One by one the Japanese man gave away all sorts of worth knowing details.So much military information Jan received that night,which had not happened in months while he was working in the resistance.That same night this information reached the Allied headquarters.
A few months later the new internment camp was completed.It was situated at an old Chinese estate, at the rubber plantation along the road from Buitenzorg to Batavia. It existed of numerous barracks in which it could house thousands of internees.Even in this camp the resistance continued their work. Smit, clever man as he was, organized new members through other persons for his organization; he formed the heart of a sort of police army.The organization talent of this captain was surprising. One night Smit asked the three friends to come and see him.He informed them that tonight he expected a sending of weapons, which he liked to hide somewhere in the vicinity of the camp.They had to receive the weapons and hide them.Accurate and detailed they discussed their plan.To-wards nightfall it started to rain. Darkness fell over the camp.The camp was totally fenced in on all sides with high braided bamboo fences.On each corner of the camp was a watch-tower from where the guards could oversee the camp, and from where they could shoot anybody who would try to get over the fence.Behind the fence on the other side there were three meters of totally bare ground.All the trees had been chopped down.On this part large searchlights lighted up the bare area and Japanese patrol were walking back and forwards.Behind this area was another obstacle of barbwire.But one tree was still standing,for some reason the woodcutters forgot to cut it down. The branches reached over the barbwire and the fence. Standing on the roof of an small outhouse toilet, you could just reach one of the branches and with a bit of dexterity it was possible to get yourself on free ground.But when that evening the Tall guy grabbed the branch and pulled himself up, the branch broke under his weight and with a loud thud the Tall guy fell on the ground.The two others held their breath. The sound of the rain saved them. None of the guards had heard the noise.But now the branch was broken, and there was only one possibility left, they had to climb over the fence cross the area with the searchlights to reach the barbwire. Jan went first. Without making a sound Jan climbed over the fence.On the other side of the fence he stood strait up against the fence in the shadow of a post and looked left and right.No sound alarm came from the watch-towers.He laid flat on the ground and crawled through the mud on his stomach and a few meters further he ended up in a discharge gutter, which led from the fence to the barbwire. Sliding down into the gutter he was now able to crawl to the barbwire without being seen.Looking over his shoulder he pointed to the Tall guy , who already was climbing over the fence,to the discharge-gutter. At the barbwire he waited for the two others.Together they tackled the last obstacle the barbwire and were on their way.From top to toe they were covered in mud.Carefully they walked through a rubber garden.Here were always patrols, but the patrol obviously had gone undercover out of the rain.

The search lights behind them looked spooky in the haziness of the rain. But suddenly a bundle of light came over the forest, where they walked going from tree to tree, as ducks walking behind each other.Alarm?? While walking they listened sharply. The only thing they heard was the wind in the trees, and the dripping of the rain on the ground. The house they had to go to was lying at the end of the drive way. They had left the camp at the back and had to walk around in a big circle through the forest to get there.They came to a small river. Further down was a little bridge, but it was in reach of the search lights.

The river they had to cross.

They had to swim to cross the river, at least the mud would be washed off their clothes.They sneaked right across a cassave field, and reached the house.
Cassave and coffee plantation.West Java.

Here lived Mr. Slijkhuis, employee of a large tire factory in Buitenzorg, he belonged to the resistance group of Kelter.He had received the weapons last night and had buried them in his garden.He seemed in a bad mood, and refused to handover two guns at Jan's request to the Pimpel and the Tall guy, unless they had a signed piece of paper from Smit. He was mad , because he had not received the large sum of money which Smit had promised him ,from which he had to pay the coolies, which had transported the weapons. Jan would discuss this with Smit and promised to return the next evening.They had a short conversation and soon after they were on their way back to the camp.

Will continue.
Next:Almost caught on the way back to the camp.
A fight between the guerrilla fighters on the hills of the volcano Salak.
In the hands of the barbaric Kempetai.

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