Lately there has been a lot of talk about the former Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia) since my book came out "I Thought You Should Know", which I wrote under my maiden name, Tetske T. van der Wal,and was published in 2010.At the time when I was working on my book,another author by the name of Richard Kandler was working on his book across the pond in England.His book (The Prisoners List) happen to come out the same date my book was published., Nov. 8, 2010. It was such a coincidence. His story is about the Burma Rail Road Track, about the Japanese POW's. Richards father and my father were both prisoners of the Japanese.They happened to be in the same prison camps during World War 2. His father survived the horrors the Japanese inflicted on the POW's, he secretly kept a list of all the men who died, and how they died.This list with all the names he managed to hide from the Japanese. If the Japanese had found it he would have surely been killed. Richards father was from England, and my father was from The Netherlands. My father and my mother lived in The Dutch Indies on the island of Java when World War 2 broke out.My mother and I, her sister and two children were put behind barbwire and high fences and nearly starved to death." Rising from the Shadow of the Sun" written by Ronny Herman de Jong is another story of Love, Survival and Joy.This book came on the market in 2011.It is an inspiring story about the human spirit and resiliency that can be found in families and even little girls.Her story is also about a Dutch mother and daughter, the agonizing, but eventually triumphant journey from the horrors of life in a WW 11 Japanese prison camp in the 1940s to peace and prosperity in the United States in the 21 st century.It's a story which brings clear understanding of the physical and psychological suffering that interned women endured during the Japanese occupation.It reveals human greatness and depravity through the eyes of a little girl and courageous mother.It's a testimony to the abiding strength of family and love.
I like to write about the former Dutch Colony, the country where I was born.About the Dutch men and women the "Colonials" who lived and worked there so hard their whole life in a total different environment then they were used to in The Netherlands. I like to write about the extremely pain-full period in the history of the state The Netherlands. I like to write about how pain full it was for these people to be forced to leave this beautiful country, they loved so much, after they thought the war was over, thinking that they were freed from the tyrant the Japanese, thinking that they could go back to their homes and businesses and start rebuilding, which was not to be.After the occupancy of the Japanese we found our selves in the middle of a new war,"The Bersiap".
It was a very dangerous time, many Dutch who had so desperately survived the Japanese prison camps lost their lives. The ones who survived had to leave this beautiful land, their home land and lost everything they had worked so hard for all their lives.
The former Dutch Indies is unbelievable large, it measures about 2000 by 6000 km. At the time it had an habitat of circa 70 million people.There were only about 300.000 Dutch working at the infrastructure of these enormous islands.
For more then 300 years the Dutch Indies was a Colony of The Netherlands. It was looked upon as a part of Holland by most of the Dutch men and women.
Before World War 2 , the children in Holland had geography lessons of the Dutch East Indies,while 18.000 km apart, the children from Indonesia learned about all the provinces of Holland.
It was an enormous task to build the infrastructure in this enormous Colony. The medical service alone was an unbelievable undertaking.Millions of people were vaccinated against Malaria, Plague, Cholera, Typhoid, Leprosy, Small-pocks,and Tuberculosis.
Roads, railroad tracks, bridges, plantations, telephone and telegraph cables were being build. Schools were build and University's. In The Netherlands in college and at the university the native language of Dutch-Indies was taught.
Of all the many European countries who had colonies, The Netherlands was the most advanced.
The only mistake the Dutch made was that they hardly ever put Indonesians in higher functions.This bred discontent and hatred to the educated Indonesians.
The years around 1900 marked the heyday of Dutch Colonial rule in the Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia). Territories outside Java were brought under Dutch rule and the economy was thoroughly modernized. Thought was also given to the future of the indigenous population and its impact on the relations between the Dutch and the native people.
Of course the Dutch people and The Netherlands were responsible for everything which happened in the Dutch Indies.Not only for all the good, but also for all the bad.Eduard Douwes Dekker wrote a masterpiece about the Dutch Indies authority, about the so called abuse the "Colonials" inflicted on the natives.Yes these things happened. But please read also about the history in The Netherlands during that same time.Read about what happened in the mines and factories including child-labor and the unbelievable bad labor agreements.Remember that only in the 20s century the law was changed that not only the master was always right if there was a dispute between worker and master.
Critique over that period and the social relationships should be compared to what happens than and what is happening present-day in Indonesia.The Colonials had trouble with the people in Atjeh, but let me tell you, that the present government still have trouble with the people in Atjeh.
And the few people who ever returned to The Netherlands,those who had been estate owners and were able to live a luxuries retirement, were given the name of "plunderer" , they were men and women, who had earned this money with hard work under the most difficult circumstances, building a successful concern.These were the same as the men and women in The Netherlands who had build up a successful business.No better or worse . They were" the same engines of the future", of whom we were so proud of. Read the history.
My mother and her sister remembered oh so well how they were treated by their employer in the 1900.when they still lived in The Netherlands.
My mothers sister had been the lucky one. She was taken in by the family Lucas Bols in Amsterdam. They treated her like she was one of their own. My mother was not so lucky. She was only 12 years old when she was employed by this very rich Dutch family. She had to scrub floors on her hands and knees day in and day out ,until her little hands were bleeding. She had a very small little room with only a bed to sleep in. In the winter she nearly froze to death. She was treated very badly by the woman in the house. They made my mother feel like she was a nobody. She was a little girl and only 12 years old.Talking about good and bad people, they are every where. They existed under the Colonials in the Dutch Indies and they existed in The Netherlands.If one likes to criticize the Dutch Indies Colonials, then please criticize the ones in The Netherlands as well.
We have been very hurt and damaged by being accused with the horror of the political actions which took place after world war 2 in the Dutch Indies.
We had nothing to do with that. It was The Netherlands who declared war to Japan after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor; it was The Netherlands who signed the peace treaty with Japan; it was The Netherlands who conducted the political actions after the war and at the end of four years of horror and sending thousands of young soldiers, who just celebrated their freedom from the Nazi's, back into another war against the nationalists, finally agreed to handover independence to the government of Soekarno.
We were the passive victims from these unfortunate developments. Taken by surprise by the Japanese, The Netherlands forced us to stay, we were not allowed to leave The Dutch Indies and had to try to destroy as many installations as we could before we were run over by the Japanese.Men were taken prisoners of war and many were taken to countries like Burma and Thailand and Japan ,treated like convicts to do slave work under the most horrible conditions, like working to lay a rail road track through the jungles of Burma and Thailand, working in mines almost day and night.A period of mass destruction of people, property and culture came to an end.Many are the stories of cruelty,horror, denial of medicine, starvation and violations of human rights. Japan inflicted terror, fear and destruction upon Asian people including the Dutch in the East Indies.Many thousands and thousands did not survive due to starvation, dehydration, etc, etc.
Women and children were locked up in camps with hardly any medical care and hardly anything to eat. The Red Cross send food parcels, but these were stolen by the Japanese. Dying from starvation was happening every day. Daily punishments and individual barbaric collectively punishments by the Japanese happened daily.
It's therefor so very sad when we get attacked by people who seem not to know a thing about what happened in the far Dutch Indies.
One person who we know very well attacked me once and said some very nasty things to me.It's a lack of his knowledge, but I tell you it's hard to swallow.
These are the people who will never have the guts to leave their homeland, unless; as is the case with this person I am talking about ,who we did sponsor for five years.
I can very much relate with the Dutch "Colonials" , my father and my mother and my mothers sister and her husband.
My husband and I went to Jamaica and build up a business. That was not easy. We arrived in this country as a total outsider, and we were "white". Most employee's we hired could hardly read nor write. We were always called whitey, although at one time my husband Ruud got a promotion and was called brown boy.He gets very easily a tan and at the time he had curly hair.We worked very hard, seven days a week. In the beginning it was very hard to educate your employees about being on time to arrive at work. It was very frustrating, because they would say: "don't worry boss, soon come". You never knew if they meant this X-Mas or next X-mas.We even named our glass bottom boat "Soon come" .After a while they got the picture and we build up a very good relation ship with most of them. When we left Jamaica many thanked us for what we had taught them.I can really say that I compare this with the Dutch Indies.We had a young lady come to our house every day and clean and cooked for us, we had a nice man who did the garden for us and came in every day.My husband and I were every day at work from seven thirty in the morning until seven at night. My mother always talked about the good things from Indonesia, and how sad she and her sister were when they had to say goodbye to their employees, and how the so called( "coolies and maids" which this same person called them), accused us of mistreating them, were crying and begging my mom to take them with them.We found out that teaching rules and regulations to the natives of Jamaica was not always easy, there were always rebellions amongst them, and to be honest with you, we lost our temper many times, and were not sure if we could take it any longer. We stayed and lived in Jamaica for 20 years and made many friends, like my mom and her sister made many friends in Indonesia. Many of them who suffered like us during the occupancy of the Japanese.
It's very sad that the Japanese invaded the Dutch Indies with false promises. Letting the Indonesian people believe that they were freeing them from the White (Blanda's).
When the war finally was over and we were freed from the Japanese, Soekarno declared the Dutch Indies independent.This did not sit right with the Dutch government, who believed that Indonesia still was their Colony, as it was before the war and had been for more than 300 years. The Netherlands send 120,000 compulsory military,20,000 volunteers, and 40,000 men from the KNIL(Indonesian military) to restore order, and protect the Dutch people who had just been freed from the Japanese prison camps, from the rebels who were fighting for Soekarno. These rebels were mostly young boys who were taught for three and a half years during the Japanese occupancy, to hate every body who was white and was not from Asia.These rebels were called rampokkers, pemoeda's or peloppers.The military who were send to fight these rebels were young soldiers from The Netherlands, and had just been freed from the German occupancy and most of them had never traveled as far as Zandvoort or Amsterdam.The Dutch Indies was a tremendous culture shock to them.The KNIL military who survived the Japanese prison camps were thrown into this new war.Most of them were still very weak. It was a chaotic time, "the Bersiap" time, in which many Dutch men, women and children were brutally murdered.Horrible scenes during the "Bersiap" period. Too ghastly too describe.
The groups of Dutch boys who The Netherlands had send to restore order in the Dutch Indies, safe guard the Dutch people and bring back the production of the concerns. The Netherlands needed the income from the Dutch Indies badly. But the situation became difficult and many Dutch and those with mixed blood had to leave the Dutch Indies forever.They had to leave the land they so very much loved, and when they arrived in The Netherlands they received no help, the government abandoned them.
All they had worked for and what they had accomplished in the "Gordel van Smaragd" and from which the Indonesian people then and now and in the future still profit from.The agriculture (sawa's) the infrastructure of harbors, roads, railway systems, bridges etc, etc. These were unbelievable samples of skills from Dutch engineers, which are still seen today.
The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty provided the base to end the Pacific War legally. However it did not settle the claims of the individual victims as they were denied their claims. However this should not mean that Japan does not have a moral obligation, in particular since it has become apparent that the Japanese Military violated the Human Rights in the occupied territories in particular the Dutch East Indies.
It is sad that the Dutch government has never paid the salaries from the officials in government services from the Dutch Indies ,and never paid the military after the war was over. My mother never received a penny from her husbands salary, he fought and died for his country. The Netherlands is the only country who never paid any compensation to the Dutch people who worked and lived in the Dutch Indies and the Indies-Dutch people who had lost all their possessions, due to the war and the "Bersiap" period after the war.The Netherlands is the only country that has done wrong to their citizens. All other allied countries did compensate their citizens. This is an international dishonor.I am a Canadian now, and be ashamed to tell that I once was Dutch. I am however proud that I was born in Indonesia, the land my mother and father came to love.
Irrevocable you recognize in a wink of an eye someone hanging on a tree. Arms tied together on a piece of rope, while a few men are working on her with a whip. Those are things, you will never forget.The screams of agony and pain of that human being will forever be engraved in your brain.Those are things which determine how you look at the rest of your life at the world.