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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Archives of tears.....

In August this year, in The Netherlands, 'channel Nederland 2'  send out a documentary which was called 'Archives of tears'.(archief of tranen) I was able to see it on the  (Omroep Max)
August 12 and 19,2012.

With great interest and overwhelmed by emotions I watched the two documentaries.
As a ' war child' ( born June 3,1941)  I lived and saw the fear and grief again of my mother. A grief, hidden so deep, a grief she was never able to talk about.But why is it that this grief and loss from 'then', is also in me? Sometimes the tears are streaming down my cheeks, when I think about my mother and think about what burden she carried. I feel guilt that I did not understood her, and I feel guilt that I did not supported her more. But I did not know and did not understand.After her death in 2003 I found a pouch with letters and photographs about 'then', and it was than that I understood. 'But tears do clean your soul?' That's what I believe.My mother was never able to let 'then' go. I carry no hatred in my heart towards Japanese people, and the young nationalists 'the Pemoedas' who were fighting for an independent Indonesia.These young men were well taught, and brainwashed by the Japanese, during the occupation of the Dutch East Indies.

I wished my mother would have lived to see this documentary and know that the Dutch people finally realize how their fellow country men had suffered, in that far away land in The Dutch Indies during World War 2, and after the capitulation of Japan, when the Bersiap began.In the Netherlands the Dutch prevailed to understand the Dutch repatriates who returned to the Netherlands.
After watching the documentary I came to the conclusion that every family from the former Dutch Indies carried their own archive of tears.

When I saw this documentary and saw survivors talking about the horrible past, with tears streaming down their cheeks, that's when I see in my memory my mother Sietske and see her grief again.Why is it that only now all this past is surfacing? Even now the Journal news in the Netherlands hardly ever talks about this period in history,they like to erase it from the collective memory of the Netherlands.Passion about sensation seems for them to be more important and we the Dutch from the former Dutch Indies are no news anymore.We are the forgotten ones.
It was a shame that the Dutch government did not recognized the Independence of Indonesia in 1945 as the year of Liberation. The government recognized the Independence not until 1949.
In the meantime 20.0000 victims were slaughtered under the three colored flag of the Netherlands in this 'Bersiap' period, more or less sold by the government of Holland.

Freedom without Peace!

After my mother and I had survived three and a half years of Japanese camps we were again chased and exposed to violence.The so-called 'Pemoeda's.'( pemoeda's are Nationalists freedom fighters) Pemoeda means literally - youth- young men. These young men belonged to a National youth organization,and during the Japanese occupation these youth behaved more and more radical,and on August 17,1945 'Soekarno' under pressure of this group, called for an Independent Republic of Indonesia.

During the Japanese occupancy the Japanese had fueled these young men into believing to kill everything what had white blood, and that Asia should be for the Asians.Which was of course at the time of the Japanese occupation just a propaganda stunt.
Celebrating freedom from the Japanese, and walking out of the camps, was short lived.Outside these camps was a new danger.Many women, men and children, who had survived the horrors of the Japanese camps were murdered by these young Pemoeda's. Slaughtered and killed with knives and sharp bamboo sticks. Left in the streets as if they were dead leaves fallen from the trees. Many Indonesian friends who tried to bury the dead were taken prison and tortured.People who were taken to Tjideng prison were murdered that same night and their heads decapitated.
The following morning the Pemoeda's were playing soccer, using the heads as soccer balls.
Terrible unbelievable atrocities inflicted the Pemoeda's. One such thing I have to write on my blog, because what I am about to write could have happened easily to my mother and me.We were taken from Banjoebiroe 10 camp at the end of November, 1945. We were loaded into trucks with mattresses all around us, to a safer place.We had been lucky only once in awhile we were shot at, the mattresses protected us from being hit by bullets.Our convoy reached the place of destination without major incidents.Not all convoy's were as lucky as ours.

This person who survived one of the ill fated convoy's writes:
' The truck in front of us became stuck in the mud. The Pemoeda's put a match to this truck and soon the truck was engulfed in flames. A mother on the truck threw her child out of the truck on the road, hoping the child would be safe. To our horror this child was pierced  on the end of a bamboo stick and was thrown back in the burning truck. The sounds, the smell, the images, they are always in my head.It was so horrible.

My aunt Elizabeth van Vaas-Thiel (during our imprisoned time, everybody was my aunt or my oma) was in Camp Ambarawa 9, taken there at the beginning of August 1945, while my mother and I were taken to Banjoebiroe 10. The Britisch troops had reached the camps in Ambarawa, except Camp Ambarawa 9. The Indonesian Pemoeda's knew this, and their camp was attacked. All women and children were ordered to come outside in an open field and there they started to shoot and throw hand grenades at them. There were little boys with the Pemoeda's who could hardly hold a sort of machete or gun, she told me,' they were holding it with two hands.
Many women and children were killed that day, my aunt told me she was hiding under a bed and had not gone outside. She will never forget the blood, she told me :'that's all I can see in my mind'.
Sadly she is not with us anymore, but she was at our wedding in 1961.

Elizabeth Thiel-van Vaas, 1961 at our wedding.

There was no help for the women and children who were badly wounded.We were all so scared. The next day they got some help from some Gurkha's from the British Army. The Pemoeda's were shooting daily at the camp. Most of the time 'she told me' we were laying under our mattresses on the ground.Finally they were taken from this camp, but not before the English had cleaned out all the villages along the road their convoy traveled. They finally reached Semarang, where she was taken to a safer camp.
In 1958 I had met my Husband (now married for almost 51 years) and were to be married in October, 1961. When we filled in the papers we found out to my horror that I was not existing. I had no birth certificate, nothing.
My Aunt Elizabeth (I called her Aunt Bep) was one of the persons who had to swear in front of a judge in the city of Haarlem that I was Tetske T. van der Wal, and my mother was Sietske Sijtsma and my father was Klaas van der Wal, who had died on the Burma railroad line.
When we got back in the Netherlands I did not exist, my birth certificates were burned and the Municipality of Bandoeng was burned down to the ground.We had to find three people who had known me in the former Dutch Indies.I was 21 years old at the time and could not believe what we had to go through and how much money this was costing us. The government of Holland just did not believe that I was who I was. How sad was this? My father had died for his country, the Netherlands, and we had to pay for this?? I needed these papers, because I was getting married, and without a birth certificate they would not allow me to get married. How difficult it was to find three people who had survived the camps and the 'Bersiap". Needless to say, we only found two and my mother's sister Eke van Driel-Sijtsma was finally allowed to testify. It took us three months to try to get this in order and a lot of money.The other lady was Marijtje Seijderveld-Postma.She had been in Moentilan Japanese camp with us.

You can take a child  from a war, but you will never take back a war from a child.

My mother passed away in a nursing home, where she spend the last two years of her life and suffered hallucinations of being chased by Japanese and Pemoeda's. Even on her death bed she tried to climb up against the wall, she could not talk anymore, but I never forget the look in her eyes when we tried to calm her down.
It is no wonder that this war trauma had left big scars, even on me.

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the 'Rawagedeh',a village in Indonesia, where Dutch soldiers apparently killed all men .The Netherlands will pay  compensation to the next of kin.Nine relatives are still alive and the Netherlands will pay each of them 20.000. euro.During the 'Bersiap' period, the villagers were refusing to tell where the Indonesian Independence fighter Lukas Kustario was hiding. Four hundred and thirty one villagers were killed, almost all of them were men.What would you think would have happened to all the villagers if they had told where this murderer Lukas Kustario was hiding? Do you think any of these villagers would have been alive? They would have been slaughtered, all of them, men, women and children by the Pemoeda's, just like they slaughtered twenty thousand Dutch women, men and children , what about them??? This was an incident after the soldiers from the Netherlands were suppose to restore order in the Dutch Indies. These poor boys had just fought a war in Europe against the Germans and were now send to the Dutch Indies.They were made out like criminals, when they returned to the Netherlands.
For the Netherlands it's a blank page in history, and should be forgotten as soon as possible.Never mind how many of these young men never did got home, never mind how many did come home with terrible war trauma's. Don't talk about it and get on with life.
We had a very good friend Jaap Bos who was one of the soldiers send to the former Dutch Indies. My mother and Jaap became very good friends.They were talking for hours with each other.They had a real bond, because my mother understood.He had been in the very same places in Java where my mother and I had been.We left Indonesia April 1946 about the time that he was send there to restore order.Coming home was awful he told my mother,it was very sad.He was a very good guitar player and we always had lots of fun with him.
Jaap on the left at our house in Zandvoort, 1958.
Don't you think it is time that the people in politics recognize the war victims of the former Dutch Indies.
Or is the government waiting till we are all dead and gone?
It is a shame that the focus has been for so long on West Europe and what happened in that period, and everything what happened in the former Dutch Indies has long be "forgotten".

Understandable the Indonesian people try to forget about this black period the 'Bersiap', with saying that this time was a time of utterly  'confusion'.
Remarkable is that the Dutch and the government, show more interest about the misdoings of the Dutch military in 1945-1949, than for the crimes the Indonesian Pemoeda's  inflicted on their Dutch Civilians during the 'Bersiap' period.

This documentary could not have come at a better time,just now some special groupings make it their life engagement to force the government of Holland to give Indonesia an apology for what their military have done. I am sure that some of the military have done things which should not have happened. But I can sympathize with them if they have seen what the Pemoeda's have done to babies, young children and women and men.What the survivors are telling what happened to their families,is not to describe.One family with six children were slaughtered with knifes and sharp bamboo sticks and the oldest girl only 13 years old was first  raped and the spear of a bamboo stick put in her vaginal.The mother unbelievable survived.She heard the screaming but was not able to do anything. She was in and out of consciousness.When she tried to get up they hit her again and was thrown off a cliff. It's almost too terrible to write down, but the documentary tells all.I cannot believe I just wrote this down,I am about to throw sickens my stomach........But my question is don't they deserve justification??This woman survived and arrived in the Netherlands, all alone, her whole family murdered in front of her eyes, her husband and her six children. She lived the rest of her life in The Hague, with all these horrible memories, and not feeling at home in the Netherlands. Her home had been in Indonesia with her husband and her children, a very happy home.First she had to suffer under the Japanese regime and than thinking it is all over we can start our lives again, it was taken away from her and from so many more people. Why do always innocent people suffer.
The documentary is in Dutch and I hope it will come out in English. People have to know the other side as well.Probably this group of people who are fighting for justification for Indonesia should educate themselves and ask for an apology from Indonesia as well for what the Pemoeda's have done to their own people. What happened during the Bersiap-period  in which Dutch Indies families were slaughtered by these Indonesian Pemoeda's, was pure hell.Yes there are and were survivors too.
Reparation and Honor for this group is not too much to ask for. Pay the outstanding wages (with interest) give them compensation,they lost everything, at least the women from that village could stay in their own houses, yes they lost their loved ones, killed by the soldiers, we lost our loved ones,slaughtered by the Pemoeda's, we lost our houses and our country we loved so much.A line should be drawn under these arguments of the past- in the context of time- glorious past.
The Dutch are on purpose kept in the 'dark' about what happened in Indonesia during the years after the war.
The remark from Mr. Bot about " wrong side of the history" shows  obviously the condition of "stupidity" in which we find oneself.

The Japanese said:"We lost the war, but you will forever be haunted up to the fourth generation!" Sadly it is the truth.

It was time that this side of the story has been told.The documentary 'Archive of tears' finally shed recognition and your 'archive' makes this story complete and is maybe the start that this chapter of the book the 'Netherlands and Indonesia' , can close in the right manner.

And may be one day Japan will follow suit.

Thank you Pia v.d. Molen

Rays of Hope!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Traces of violence on a railway of steel.

On September 16, 1942 the brutal work on this 415 kilometer long railway began, and ended 16 months later in October 1944. Sixteen thousand prisoners of war and some 100.0000 forced laborers from Thailand, Indonesian Romusha, Burma and Malaysia died from exhaustion,diseases, malnutrition, beatings and worse.This past history must not be forgotten, because it can teach us an important lesson and ensure that such acts of violence will never be repeated.

Prior to the war my father was training in the Dutch East Indies, and was employed with the KNIL(Dutch Indies Army). The Dutch East Indies was in the process of reequipping when the war broke out.My parents were originally from the Netherlands.They lived in Bandoeng, where I was born. My mothers sister with her husband lived in Soerabaja.My uncle Tobias van Driel was a sergeant machinist on the 016, a submarine, which struck a mine on their way home from a mission which had been very successful. They had torpedoed 4 Japanese transport ships.All but one man Cornelis de Wolf died, their submarine sank to the bottom of the ocean..In 2005 the wreck was discovered and a Dutch flag and a small plague with all their names was installed on what was left of the submarine.Their tomb is the 016 on the bottom of the ocean.It was December 14, 1941, just seven days after the attack on Pearl Harbor
I was born on June 3th, 1941.In March 1942 the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia) and all so called white (blandas) people were put in so called Interned camps. The Japanese told us that this were protected camps. Well it turned out that we were prisoners of war and they had other plans for us.They abused the women and their children,and the women were forced into slave labor.We were totally disconnected from the outside world. I was only one and halve years old when we were put in these camps.We were locked up in these camps for nearly four years, with thousands other women and children.My father was taken prison by the Japanese and spend some time in a prison camp in Bandoeng, after which he was taken to Soerabaja.My mother received one postcard from my father and he was obliged to write in English.She had traveled to Soerabaja to be with her sister when they received the bad news that her sisters husband had died. My mother was never able to return to her home in Bandoeng,she received this card and this was the last time she ever heard from her husband.

It says:

Dear Sietske and Thea.
I am always wishing that this miserable war would be over, and that I should return home again.
I am constantly thinking of you
It will be wonderful when we meet again.Good bye. God bless you. I am waiting for your reply earnestly
If permitted do send me a photograph of you and Thea
Good luck
Yours Klaas 

From this camp he and his mates were shipped to Batavia where they had to board a ship in Tandjong Priok and were shipped to Burma (Thailand). After three days on the ship, packed as sardines in a tin, they arrived in Singapore. From there they were put on a train, and after four days in these box wagons, they arrived in Ban Pong in Siam. During the day in these box wagons it was unbearable hot and during the nights it was freezing.It was January 1943 and during that time the nights are very cold because of  the north Himalaya-winds.In Ban Pong they were loaded onto trucks and transported to Kinsayok. From there they had to walk about 15 km to Rin Tin. It was brutal.From what I heard there were about 250 men. They had to walk through a jungle so dense between bamboo bushes and trees through a very mountainous terrain.Some men were too tired to walk and feeling sick with dysentery, so their mates were helping them as much as they good. Falling down on the spot would be their death, the Japs would leave them behind to die. They struggled on, helped by their mates.

They were taken here to work as prisoners of war on a railway track which the Japanese were planning to build through the jungle. This brutal work on this 415 kilometer-long railway began on September 16, 1942 and ended 16 months later in 1944.My father did not survive this brutal ordeal and died on September 18, 1943 in Kuie, at the very young age of twenty six. He was buried along side a section of the railway line,in the middle of the jungle in Kuie, beside the River Kwai. He had a simple wooden cross,made from sticks with his name on it. After the war these graves were dug up and transferred to Kanchanaburi , a memorial war cemetery in Kanchanaburi, Thailand,were he and his friends are resting in peace. They will forever be remembered.

                         These cards were in the file from the Japanese military.
It tells when he was captured and in which camps he was as a prisoner of war and when he died and where he died.

I am trying to trace my fathers footsteps on this terrible railroad line of steel.
My fathers name was Klaas van der Wal. He was only 21 years old when he was send to the Dutch East Indies in 1938.He and my mother Sietske were sweethearts from the age of sixteen.They had a wonderful life and lived in the province of Friesland.Klaas owned a sailboat and loved being on the water. Every weekend they would sail the lakes of Friesland, and set up their small tent on the side of the waterways.
They loved sailing.

My mom, happier times.

My mom on the left and my dad on the right.

He was in the military army when he was told that he was going to be stationed in the Dutch East Indies.Before he left they were engaged,it was March 9, 1938 and a couple of days later Klaas left for the Dutch East Indies.
A few months later my mothers father received a letter from Klaas, asking for my mothers hand. This letter, (which I have in my possession) was kept by her parents, my Opa and Opa (grandmother and grandfather)and given to my mother in 1947 when she had returned to the Netherlands,and in it he writes that he would very much like it if he could become their son in law.My grand parents liked him very much so they gave him permission to marry their daughter.

On June 1943, the Japanese commandant of a jungle camp, situated at Kuie,( Bangpong-Tambeziat railway) handed over 55 British to Sgt: E.C. Tates.They were all members of the ill fated F and M Forces, which left Changi: (Singapore) in March-April 1943.
When handed over to Yates the men were badly exhausted by marching and lack of food. They had been collected at a small jungle camp some 4 km from Kuie on the jungle road. They were covered in mud and filth from head to toe, and had reached a state of physical exhaustion, very near collapse.

Arriving at Kuie the "accommodation" was meager "25 men to each hut, designed for 6 men.This is where my father was,Klaas van der Wal, a young man in the prime of his life, now a total wreck.He struggled on and off with dysentery and exhaustion.

Each step took out his light
Each step to stay alive was a fight
The cost of each nail was blood
He worked on this railway, knee high in mud.

Each night there was death all around
Men crying out in agony in the compound.
Men were coiling just like aunts
With only a cloth to wear as pants.

Despair formed on their faces
Each men dreamed of beautiful places
They suffered day in and day out
But the sky turned pitch black with clouds.

Each night they hoped for freedom.
Each stone was costing pain
Each day they fought to stay alive
But for my father and many men peace came too late.

This poem is for my father, who I never got to know, and for all the men who suffered an agonizing death under the regime of the Japanese, during Word War2.
Tetske T. van der Wal.
Kanchanaburi, Thailand where my father rest in peace. His remains were transferred from Kuie in the jungle on the River Kwai to Kanchanaburi.

My father and his friend E.Veenstra ( mr. Veenstra survived this brutal ordeal) had arrived in Kuie POW camp around the beginning of May, 1943. They called this camp; No. 6 Branch Camp of Thai POW Camp. They had been transferred from Rin Tin, a camp just a little further down the jungle tracks. This camp the Japanese closed in May 1943,too many men died in a short time, it was so filthy and disgusting. The Japanese closed this camp officially. They called this camp Rin Tin  "Valley of Death."
When the British arrived they  were mixed with the Dutch men already there, to share these already cramped quarters. One here and one there. Through 5 months of continues rain fall and despite every sort of petty and worse interference from the Japs, cholera struck the camp on July 15th 1943. Many men died.

During the construction of Hell Fire Pass about 13.0000 prisoners of war died (one of them was my father Klaas), mainly of sickness, malnutrition,and exhaustion. They died in the thousands, twelve months earlier they were fit healthy men. Now they were like walking skeletons.
The brutal work on this 415 kilometer long railway began in September,1942 and ended 16 months later in 1944. Sixteen thousand prisoners of war and some 100.000 forced laborers from Thailand, Indonesia Romushas, Burma and Malaysia died during the making of this railway line. This past of history must not be forgotten, because it can teach us an important lesson and ensure that such acts of violence are never repeated.

The other day someone asked me; do you really think that it was necessary  to drop the A-Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I looked at the person and tears were welling up in my eyes as I told her that our lives were saved, and those of millions of other people. The Japanese intended to kill all prisoners, women and children alike, for it is a documented fact.
This is the secret document, which was found around the year of the millennium and showed that the POW's  had been right.

These are the documents, any Japanese can read these.

 They knew if Japan would loose the war , they would all be killed. Later it was found out that in lots of places POW's were murdered. The Bataan death march in the Philippines was one example, where thousands of Americans and Filipinos were executed and the Sandarkan death march on Borneo, which was the most horrible. It was a 250 kilometer forced march, and from the 2.500 POW's only six survived.Those who could not walk anymore were shot.This was in store for thousands and thousands POW's in Thailand and Burma.

People don't know, because they have not been told about the thousands of POW's sufferings, diseases and starvation . Packed like sardines into ships,and trains, they were taken to Japan, Burma as slave laborers. The ones who became sick, callously tossed over the side of the ship, or just thrown out of the train, and left to die. No service, no memorial, just bait for the sharks, or just rotting away on the side of the train tracks.
People don't know about the appalling conditions under which they were forced to work for companies such as; Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Nissan.
People might have heard some stories of the infamous"Burma Railway, but have they heard about the unbelievable cruel conditions, under which these men were forced to try to survive?

Have they ever heard about the cages in which they were put as punishment for some 'petty crime' to literally cook to death in the hot sun?
I know for sure that they have never heard of the bestial forms of torture the Japanese inflicted on them.
Can anyone imagine that those who survived had racking nightmares, corrosive memories, black depression, festered hatred, desolating loneliness, because there was no-one who understood and no one to share their pain?
Hardly anyone knew about my mothers past and mine. We never spoke about it. But the hurt and pain was in my mothers heart. I will never forget the things I have seen and it will always be in my head. I was young, only 4 years old, but I remember the horrible things and will never forget.Children in Japanese concentration camps grew up quickly.Later in life when I tried to get some information about things which were in my head, my mother always silenced me. It seemed to be a big secret, and my half-brother and half-sister were not supposed to know about our past in the Dutch East Indies.Why was this happening in those days? Why was it not allowed to talk about our past?Was it because it was too traumatic? Why was it my mother always said to me: "try to forget it."I was not able to forget about the things which were in my head and I could still see. I liked to know if it was real, if it had really happened.My mother always told me that I had a nightmare, and I had to try to forget about the things I had seen in my dreams.I knew I was not a sleep when I was thinking about the things I thought I had seen.But my mother was very convincing and I believed her.They must have been bad dreams, things like that don't happen in real life.

That's why I feel I have to keep writing about the atrocities the Japanese inflicted on human beings, and how these war atrocities affected the survivors the rest of their lives, is not to describe.
This is a memorial for my mother, my father, my uncle and my aunt and their two children. Most of all this is for all the people who suffered during the Japanese occupancy in World War Two.
Specially because Japan keeps denying about what their military have done. They are looked upon as if they suffered the most with the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Emperor Hirohito sacrificed his own people.He was warned, surrender or.....yes it killed 200.000 human beings,but nothing is to compare how many the Japanese military had killed already and how many still would have been killed, if these A-Bombs would not have been dropped.All in the name of the emperor of Japan, Hirohito.Perceived failure, or insufficient devotion to the Emperor Hirohito would attract punishment frequently of the physical kind.
And this man was invited to the Palace by Queen Juliana of The Netherlands in 1971. Unbelievable! He never was punished for the criminal orders he gave. He was a bigger War criminal then Hitler. I wonder;if Hitler had not committed suicide if he would have been invited to sit at their table at the palace, eating from beautiful plates, and telling all these horror stories to the Queen, talking about how they starved people to death, even children. Oh... wow.. how cozy would that have been.What a nice conversation to talk about the slavery on the rail road tracks, and that every sleeper laid, had cost a life, while they were stuffing themselves.My father and thousands of others were starved to death.
How was it possible that Queen Juliana did not understand how my mother and all those other survivors felt. When Hirohito arrived at Schiphol in Amsterdam ,big rocks were thrown at the windows of the Japanese Embassy.On the walls was painted 'Hirohito War Criminal'. It was so unbelievable hard for my mother, she was so sad, it went beyond her understanding. But it was nice to hear that he was not welcome by the Dutch people. The Emperors visit was a fiasco, and the Queen had made a fool of her self.

I will never be able to understand, that she stood there on her balcony with a War Criminal waving at the cameras, as if Hirohito was a hero.I believe that day all who had died and had been killed, murdered, and slaughtered during the Japanese occupation turned around in their graves.
Juliana, Klaus and Hirohito.
October,1971.On the left Klaus, Hirohito, Beatrix, Hirohito's wife, Princess Margriet and Pieter van Vollenhoeven.

The Japanese executed people and their heads were impaired on bamboo sticks, all in the name of the Emperor of Japan Hirohito.
The Japanese were beating people to death, hung people on trees slowly dying in the hot sun.Locking them in cages and let them slowly roast in the burning tropical sun. Raping women and young girls ( my mother and her sister were raped by these creatures) and brutally beaten by their rapists, while they were in Camp Moentilan. I saw my mother coming out of a Church,she was crying and throwing up and had blood all over her. It is something that is always in my head.This church was located on the property where we were held, and the Japanese used this church as their office. Horrible things happened in that church.I will always see this picture in my mind, my mother sitting on a sort of white pillar concrete fence, telling me she fell, that's why she was crying. Being only 4 years old it is amazing how you can remember.. I often asked my mother about this incident, and she kept telling me that she had fallen and scraped her knees.She must have looked awful and  now I understand....
Another problem which had a serious affect on day to day life in the camps was the food.
The food became uneatable,then a year later there was hardly anything to eat, except a sort of watery wall paper paste.
It became steadily worse, it became so bad that we were forced to eat rats, weeds or anything vaguely edible.The Japanese military were starving us to death. This was one way for them to get rid of us.
Our living quarters. 
Washing by the well. Moentilan prison camp.
Train transport, women and children, like sardines in a tin.
Each a pail of water, Moentilan Camp.
Nothing stopped Japanese doctors experimenting on POW's, or on civilians, or on natives.
They' the so called doctors ' enjoyed seeing pain. Prisoners experimentally: tourniquets for hours, followed by shock death when they were removed: injections of streptococcus bacteria to cause blood poisoning, death by dynamite and bamboo spears. Bodies were dissected, the heads cut off and boiled. It's too gruesome to write about what other things they did to POW's while they were still alive.
Prisoners were used in Japanese home island Kyushu as guinea pigs to see if they could live with parts of their brains and liver cut out. They were brutal and Japan still as of today denies all these atrocities, even say it is not true!!
Well it was the Kempeitai who brought them prisoners for guinea pigs, men, women and children, Asians and Caucasians.
They called them ' maruta' meaning logs of wood.
Read the book.
Prisoner of Japanese; written by Gavan Daws,it is a heartbraking reading....
A moving saga of human endurance in the face of slavery, torture, murder, starvation and disease. It may-be the rawest, harshest book about the truth what the Japanese had done in World War Two. The Japanese government should read this, it will sears their memory with unforgettable images.
Images the survivors had to live with for the rest of their lives.

The Japanese military during the 1930s and 1940s, is often compared to the military of Nazi Germany during 1933-1945 because of the sheer scale of suffering. Much of the controversy regarding Japan's role in World War Two revolves around the death rates of prisoners of war and civilians under Japanese occupation.
Chalmers Johnson has written:' It may be pointless to try to establish which World War Two Axis aggressor, Germany or Japan, was the more brutal to people it victimised.
The Germans killed six million Jews and 20 million Russians (Soviet Citizens) That is 26 million people.

The Japanese slaughtered as many as 30 million Filipinos, Malays, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indonesians, and Burmese, and at least 23 millions of them ethnic Chinese.
 Both nations looted the countries they conquered on a monumental scale, though Japan
plundered more, over a long period, than the Nazi's.(And by the way, they picked up the loot after the war was over, which was hidden.) Both conquerors enslaved millions and exploited them as forced laborers-and, in the case of the Japanese, as forced prostitutes for front line troops.
If you were a Nazi prisoner of war from Britain, America, Australia, New Zealand or Canada (but not the Soviet Union) you faced 4% chance of not surviving the war: by comparison the death rate for Allied POWs held by the Japanese was nearly 30%. According to the findings of the Tokyo Tribunal the death rate among POWs from Asian countries held by Japan was 27.1%. The death rate of Chinese POWs was much higher because- under a directive ratified on August 5, 1937 the Emperor Hirohito- the constraints of international law on treatment of those POWs were released after the surrender of Japan. After March 20, 1943, the Japanese Navy was under strict order to execute all prisoners taken at sea.
The brutal Japanese soldiers who butchered 20.0000 Allied seaman in cold blood.

Bill Young,a POW said: Sometimes when crimes have been committed it is necessary to go back to mark the spot.

I am determined not to allow my parents sacrifices fade away into the mists of time.
I am determined to let my children and their children know what their mother, grandparents and great grandparents went through in that horrible World War 2, as prisoners of war of the Japanese military.
I am determined to let them know about my stepfather, who served on a merchant ship in the Pacific during world war two, and never talked about the horrible things he had seen.
I am determined to let them know about all the things they went through and the sacrifices they made so we can live in freedom.
I hope they never will be forgotten, and that they can live on and serve as an inspiration to others.
I hope my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren can learn from this. And I hope it will teach them, that in this world we live, nothing is for granted.
Live each day and every day to the fullest.

Demands for an apology and compensation have been a recurring topic in South Korea, Chinese politics, and from the Dutch from the former Dutch East Indies. Every second Tuesday of the month a petition is handed over to the Prime Minister of Japan at the Embassy in The Hague in The Netherlands.
Many people, including high-ranking officials and scholars, criticized Japan, saying that those apologies, which are usually made followed by denial of war crimes by the Japanese lawmakers, as inadequate and insincere.

In October 2006 PM Shinzo Abe's apology was followed on the same day by a group of 80 Japanese lawmakers' visit to the Yasukuni Shrine which enshrines more than 10000 convicted war criminals.
Two years after the apology Shinzo Abe also denied that the Imperial Japanese military had forced 'comfort women' into sexual slavery during World War 2.He had said:"No proof of WW2 sex slaves."

Historians and governments of some countries hold Japanese military forces, namely the Imperial Japanese Army, the Imperial Japanese Navy, and the Emperor Hirohito responsible for killings and other crimes committed against millions of civilians and prisoners of war.
Some Japanese soldiers had admitted to committing these crimes.

R.J. Rummel, a Professor of Political science at the University of Hawaii, states that between 1937 and 1945 the Japanese military murdered from nearly 3.000.000 to over 10.000.000 people. Indonesians, Koreans, Filipinos,and Indochinese, among others, including Western prisoners of War.

Traces of the railroad.1942-1945

Traces of the past.

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery in Thailand.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Foundation of Japanese Honarary Debts

Today October 9,2012. the monthly demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy in The Hague, The Netherlands, took place again. Petition 215, 'Educate your people and politicians, be generous' was delivered to the Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

                                  Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts
                                                                  NGO, Status Roster

His Excellency Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague. October 9,2012
Petition: 215
Subject: Educate your people and politicians, be generous


In our previous petition we suggested that Japan does not follow the proverb "Silence lends consent", but instead takes action to resolve our difference of opinion. The window of opportunity is there. Opening that window would improve Japan's international position greatly. The territorial disputes with Japan's neighbors are a problem which requires your immediate attention, but at the same time gives you an opportunity in gaining respect and support by solving the Honorary Debts.

Prime Minister,
The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea Kim Sung-Hwan made it clear in a press conference at the United Nations in New York why Korea does not accept Japan's present attitude any longer. According to Associated Press Kim said:"Japan's failure to educate its people properly about the past, as reflected in Japan's politicians denial of war crimes, is the root cause of its territorial dispute in the region, including over islands disputed with China and Russia. It is a sharp contrast with what Germany did to get support and respect from its neighboring countries after World War Two."

Prime Minister,
In the forthcoming United Nations Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights council in Geneva, the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts will remind in person the Japanese delegates of the statement made by Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Dirk Stikker in 1951: " the Japanese government might want voluntary to deal with in its own way as a matter of good conscience or of enlightened expediency."
The voluntary meager-ten dollar cents per captivity day solatium was an insult to the Dutch from the Dutch East Indies and caused more harm and hatred to the Japanese. The Germans got the support and respect from their neighbors as the German government was generous, educated its people and politicians and made the denial of war crimes a criminal offense with severe penalties.

Prime Minister,
The territorial disputes give you the opportunity to be generous and to gain support and respect in solving the World War Two Post Traumatic Stress Disorder of the Dutch from the Dutch East indies.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,

J.F. van Wagtendong


The pressure on Japan is getting bigger and bigger. I wonder how much longer they are able to deny the atrocities they inflicted on Human beings during World War Two.
This story I read the other day was written awhile ago, and I like to write it as a reminder: Like what it says on the billboard which has been setup in New York: Do You Remember?

The Emperor Hirohito's secret order:

August 1944

More and more documents, which were intercepted by the U.S. Army Secret Service, are being declassified and their content opened to the public.Such as the emperor's: secret order.(August 1944) to eliminate all imprisoned enemy-persons, both Western and Asians, as soon as the Allies invaded Japan, or made warfare for Japan difficult. The camp commanders were free to choose the liquidation method most appropriate for the situation. The original document offers a choice of poisons, poisonous gasses, encleavement, drowning and mass bombardment. There was one condition----Let no prisoner escape and do not leave any traces."

Do You Remember??

Japan you surrendered on the 15th of August, but up till the 22nd of August 1945 you still transported women and children in cramped box wagons to the Ambarawa region, from various parts of Java, where they were cramped in the overpopulated barracks. My mother remembered that oh so well. We, my mother and I were taken from Moentilan to Banjoebiroe. The train ride was suffocating. The train was overfull. The smell of women and children getting sick and throwing up and relieving themselves on the spot was so terrible.At the time I was only 4 years old, but for years I was scared to death for trains. My mother would have a hard time to calm me down.
On hindsight, the concentration of women and children undoubtedly meant to be able to handle the planned total liquidation as efficient as possible.

Oh.... how lucky my mother and I, her sister and her two children have been, that the U.S. decided to drop the A-Bombs. It saved millions of people in Asia.
Also from personal testimonies it appeared that towards the end of the war the preparations of the liquidation was in full swing.

Adriaan Kannegieter a Dutch marine sailor reports in his manuscript: " I ended up as a Slave Laborer on the Burma-Railway," that in his last camp he and his prison mates were ordered to dig trenches in the earth 6ft ( 2 meters) wide by 3ft ( 1 meter) deep and machine-gun hills in each corner of the campsite." This was on August 15, 1945, the day Japan surrendered, but we did not have a clue. We only understood what they meant to do to us...... and we were feverishly discussing what we should do if the Japs started to do what they were meaning to do. With the prospect of being slaughtered like cattle any time, we were going through very devastating days."

Martin Haar another Dutch prisoner of war who was lastly in Bodjo slave camp at Pare Pare (Sulawesi Indonesia ) for building airstrips, describes a similar experience. Of his group of 594 only 368 survived at the time that they were ordered to dig tunnels in the mountain side:"In order to safeguard you from the allied air assaults", the Japs explained. However a mate who was a Dutch mining engineer told them not to believe their guards." These tunnels are meant for easy liquidation. One or two hand grenades are sufficient to let the tunnels come down. We will be dead and buried and no one will ever find out."

This liquidation order of all prisoners in the occupied Asian regions was intercepted by the Americans. They knew that a quarter million allied prisoners and uncounted for Asian prisoners were at risk.They also knew that Japan was ready for chemical and biological warfare ( first attempt on the U.S. West coast was made in 1944, but failed due to technological shortcomings) as well as for an atomic bomb assault although Japan's A-Bomb was only small in size and destruction capacity.
Nevertheless, initially an invasion of Kyushu and Hoikkado was planned. Two dates were set- the 1st of November 1945 and the 1st of March 1946, dependant on the weather.
However, as of April 1945 large troop movements in the direction Kyushu were spotted. Even on the 17th of July a new division arrived; which made the number of troops over 1.6 million. The American High Commander calculated that an invasion would cost a lot of Americans lives. In fact they knew quite well by the experience of the Normandy Invasion on July 4th, 1944 ( D-Day ) what was in store. On top of that there was another risk from the side of the USSR (Russia) Mc'Arthur wanted to avoid by all means the Russians arriving in Japan first and taking sole control of Japan, as they had done in Europe.

The majority of the millions of prisoners were not expected to live already near starved and sick prisoners of the Japanese concentration camps would not have survived until November 1945. Let alone until March 1946!

My whole life I felt the pain from my mother. I could not understand her struggle,her nightmares.
I was only 5 years old when were freed. When my mother passed away, its when I found this pouch with letters and all information about the Japanese camps, and where my father had died working as a slave for the Japanese, which shocked me. I knew than, that my mother had been struggling with  Post war Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If Japan would have acknowledge and apologized about all the war crimes they committed, I think my mother could have forgiven them. But the hatred she had for Japan was not to describe.

The monument in Arnhem, The Netherlands.My fathers name is on the marble wall, Klaas van der Wal.and all the names from the men who died building that infamous rail road track through the jungle as Japanese slave laborers.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Japan, you can't fool us! with your gesture of planting cherry blossom trees.

On my last blog I wrote about a monument which was dedicated to the 'Comfort Women' ( women and girls forced into sex slaves for the military Japanese during WW2), the monument which was set up in Palisades Park. The Japanese Consulate-General in New York had called for the removal of this monument. They (Japan) would plant Cherry Blossom Trees in it's place.

Japan this offer is an utterly disgrace. Do you remember what this tree symbolizes in Japan.?Like so many things, you seemed to have forgotten. Well let me help you remember what it means in your country:

During World War2, the cherry blossom tree was used to motivate the Japanese people, to stoke nationalism and militarism among the population. Even before the war, they were used in propaganda; to inspire "Japanese Spirit." as in the "song of young Japan" exulting in "warriors" who were ready like the myriad cherry blossoms to scatter.
In 1932 Ahiho Yosano's poetry urged Japanese soldiers to endure sufferings in China and compared the dead soldiers to' Cherry Blossom Trees.' Arguments that the plans for the 'Battle of Leyte Gulf' involving all Japanese ships would expose Japan to serious danger if they failed, were countered with the plea that the Navy be permitted to "bloom as flowers of death." The last message of the forces was "Sakura'Sakura",- cherry blossoms-cherry blossoms.
The Japanese pilots would paint them on the sides of their planes before embarking on a suicide mission, or even take branches of the trees with them on their missions. A Cherry blossom painted on the side of the bomber symbolized the intensity and ephemerality of life: in this way, the aesthetic association was altered such that falling cherry petals came to represent the sacrifice of youth in suicide missions to honor the emperor of Japan.
The first Kamikaze unit had a subunit called Yamazakura or wild cherry blossom. The government even encouraged the people to believe that the souls of downed warriors were reincarnated in the blossoms.Kamikaze aircraft were essential pilot-guided explosive missiles.Pilots would attempt to crash their aircraft into enemy ships, in what was called "Body Attack." The goal of crippling or destroying large numbers of Allied ships was considered to justify sacrificing pilots and aircraft.Kamikaze means literally "God Wind", or "Divine Wind" these were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against allied naval vessels.
In its colonial enterprises, imperial Japan often planted Cherry blossom trees as a means of "claiming occupied territory as Japanese space."
How dare you offered to plant these trees in the place of a memorial monument, for all the atrocities you inflicted on human beings.

Can you imagine the petals falling from these cherry blossom trees,represent the sacrifice of the dead Kamekaze suicide pilots falling from the sky in Palisades Park, on the place were the monument stands.

Japan you are a greater fool then I thought you are.You misuse this beautiful tree.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Yasukuni-Jinja-Shrine-museum in Japan

In Japan(where one of my golf-friends son is a teacher from Canada), stands the highly controversial Yusukuni-Jinja museum. The museum commemorates all the Japanese soldiers who died during all the wars.
The largest part of these victims fell across Asia as Japan was colonizing "their" continent with the slogan theme "Asian for the Asians".
The sad part is that the museum shows absolutely no remorse for the war crimes committed. The only remorse there is to be found, is that they ended up surrendering to the United States of America in 1945.

In the museum they discuss the history of the Nanjing Massacre, or as they (Japan) calls it the "Incident of Nanking".

It tells one of the following: "General Matsui told the soldiers that they were to maintain strict military disciplines and that anyone committing unlawful acts would be severely punished.
The defeated Chinese rushed to Xiaguam, and they were completely destroyed. The Chinese soldiers disguised in civilian clothes were severely prosecuted."
These words are portraying history in a total different aspect, they do not speak about the real facts.
The Japanese state "only a few thousand people were killed in the "Incident of Nanking". A few thousand????Are 300.000 thousand only a few???
The Japanese deceitful shape their past, by changing the facts. They are very good at that and have a good way of shaping their history they like it to be.The way it is written  is very believable. The Japanese captions and explanations are very dangerous. Any uneducated person about world war 2, believe the "facts" as the truth.
The children in Japanese schools are not educated to be critical of the role Japan played in the war. Their history is being told in a total different perspective.

That's why this subject is still a massive open wound to the people involved.
It is because Japan has never apologized for what happened.Over and over, they openly deny guilt and claim to have only done good things to their fellow Asians during their occupations.

When young people in Japan are being asked about those times, they simply state:"We do not talk about that anymore".
Nevertheless, it is still talked about at great lengths by the victims, children and grandchildren. Why has Japan never apologized? Well Japan has a number of political lack of apologetic behavior, there are a number of political explanations on this part of the Japanese.
They still show a begrudging attitude towards the rest of Asian.
Meanwhile time has gone on. China is becoming richer and subsequently in international political power. Japan has come to a standstill. The time has come for Japan to apologize.
Nevertheless, Japan is showing absolutely no signs of planning to any kind of apology, which might become one of the two of their biggest error in their history.The first biggest error was the attack on Pearl Harbor, and involve the US in world war 2.

Every second Tuesday of the month, the Dutch in the Netherlands are demonstrating in front of the Japanese Embassy in The Hague. The curtains close, as soon as they arrive. A petition is handed over and these are still being ignored.We are asking for an apology and asking Japan to show some remorse, but they still deny all of it.

Time is running out for the "girls" and young women, who were made to be socalled "Comfort Women", in the concentration camps in The Dutch East Indies (Now called Indonesia) and for the women, children and men who suffered at the hands of these so called Nippon soldiers.

My Mom Sietske in 1938

My mom's sister Eke in 1937 in the Dutch East Indies.

My mother Sietske van der Wal- Sijtsma and her sister Eke van Driel-Sijtsma were one of the young women being abused by these Japanese soldiers in Moentilan,Java. Sadly they both passed away. Covered in shame my mom and her sister had to live the rest of their lives with what happened to them in these Japanese concentration camps in the Dutch East Indies. Talking about it in those days was taboo. Most of the time the women were being blamed that it was their fault, or they were made out to be lying.
Up to this day, no apology has been made to them.
Time is running out to make reparation to the internees that are left. Never has the Japanese government made an apology or given any compensation for the financial loss that those internees suffered. But the Canadian government has apologized and given compensation to the Canadian Japanese in British Columbia, who were considered to be a security-risk for the nation, and were displaced from their farms and properties and taken inland to concentration camps until the end of the war and so did the Us.
Why is it that Japan gets away with this?. Is it not time that the whole world stand up for us. Germany paid for their war crimes and apologized.
It would have been so wonderful for my mother and her sister to hear an apology from Japan for the atrocities the Japanese soldiers inflicted on them during world war 2. They took their nightmares into their graves, and the hardest part for them was that Japan always denied all of it.They passed away without knowing that women children and men have come forward and fighting for what had been done to them.Sadly my mom and her sister never lived to see this.Time had run out for them.

Some photo's they had send home before the war, are the only ones they had. Everything else they had to leave behind, when they were  taken out of their houses and send to the concentration camps.They were allowed one suitcase per person and a mattress. After three and a halve year in these prison camps not much was left of these clothes.At the time I was only a baby, so I wore the clothes of other children, who had outgrown them. Shoes I never possessed, up to the age of 5 years old, when we were finally freed.

Some pictures from Bandoeng, where I was born.

Dago-falls Bandoeng

A beautiful spot, where they hung out a lot.

My dad in KNIL uniform at the Dago-Falls

Enjoying life in beautiful Bandoeng. 1938.
My dad in the middle with his friends, what has become of them? Did they all die at the hands of the Japanese?

My dad with his brother in law Tobias van Driel. Enjoying a day driving around.

Beautiful sawas (rice-fields),at the outskirts of Bandoeng.
Mt.Merbabu in the background. The town Salatiga where my father was stationed with the KNIL.
My mom and dad in front of their house in Bandoeng. Tjikoerailaan 7.
Inside their house. My mom in the middle. 1939.
My mom in the middle and my dad on the right with their friends. What happened to them during those horrible times in the Dutch East Indies in 1941-1945? This picture is taken in 1939, happy times and so young.

War brings misery and lots of loss of lives.Their lives changed drastically, after the surprise Japanese raid on the US naval Base at Pearl Harbor. December 7, 1941.

I lived awhile on Java Isle
That sun baked beautiful land
Where bomb and shell made life a hell
with death on every hand;

I lived my first years in a camp
with no food and water to be on hand
I heard women scream in their dreams
and watched mothers going mad.

Enduring degradation as long as they can
forced labor camps when they could hardly stand
Brave women lost faith and desire
the legacy of love from behind barbed wire.

Starvation, diseases, torture and pain,
Pressures of cruelty driving women insane
Prisoners of war is what the Japs claim
Prisoners of Hell is a better name.

Tetske T. van der Wal.

In fond memory of my mother and her sister, one of so many heroes.They survived the horrors of these terrible Japanese prison camps, for the sake of their children.