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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reflections in the mirror of hairdresser Matayoshi

This is a story from my dear friend Elizabeth van Kampen.Elizabeth lives in The Netherlands, we meet once a year when we are visiting The Netherlands.Elizabeth with her mother and two sisters were in the same Japanese camp as my mother and I, in Banjoebiroe 10, during World War2, when Japan occupied the Dutch East Indies,(now called Indonesia). Elizabeth at the time was 18 years old and I was only 4 years old.
Elizabeth and I  in The Hague, demonstrating at the Japanese Embassy.
The story of Elizabeth:

In East-Java in the mountains lies a small town called Malang. A long time ago a hairdresser named Matayoshi owed a hairdresser salon in this town. He was a very good hairdresser and very modest. My father was always very satisfied when he stepped out the hair salon, and always shook hands with Mr. Matayoshi. They both had looked in the mirror while speaking to each other about daily life, etc.

Malang was also before World War 2 a beautiful town with a fantastic climate. I was privileged to live and grow up there for eight years.
My parents lived in the mountains where my father worked for a coffee and rubber plantation as a technical advisor and planter.I myself had to go school and was in boarding school in Malang. On Saturdays in the afternoon I took the bus to Dampit, where my father picked me up by car. This was the closest town to the plantation where my father worked. Monday morning I had to get up very early in the morning and went back by bus to Malang, where I had to attend classes again at seven thirty in the morning. Malang was a garrison town. In 1941 my father had to go for recapitulation exercise by the land-forces. After the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor, the town of Malang had many city-guard security.My father was classified as a technical advisor over different plantations.

March 8, 1942 the Japanese shock-troops arrived into Malang on bicycles. From that day on the whole world around us changed.My sister and I saw the shock-troops arriving looking out the windows of our boarding school.Everybody was dead quiet, we saw something happening here, which was very hard to understand. The nuns continued  teaching us for another two weeks,after that the Japanese ordered all Dutch schools  to be closed. My father picked us all up, because my mother and my youngest sister were in Malang at the time because it was considered at the time to be safer in Malang.That's how we left, the five of us to the plantation high into the mountains.I have fond memories about my father and I walking kilometers under the rubber trees and along the coffee bushes and twice through a part of the jungle during that time.

That same year my  father had to hand over his camera, but his car as well. Our radio was put under seal.On December 25, 1942 Japanese military visited us at our home. The officer sat at the table with my father with all kinds of papers and asked hundreds of questions. They searched our whole house and after an hour they finally left.

My fathers task was to train the Indonesians, so when he had to leave they could continue the business. In February 1943 my father was picked up and was taken to the "Marinecamp" in Malang. April 16, 1943 it was my birthday and I was sixteen years old. My mother and I drove by dogcart (a small carriage pulled by horse) to Dampit. From Dampit we took the train to Malang.

Because I was sixteen years old now, the Japanese considered me an adult, and I was not allowed to go inside and had to stay outside in front of the gateway. My father had to stand one meter away from the gate inside the compound and I had to stay one meter away from the gate on the outside.At the gate stood a Heiho (Indonesian soldier from the Japanese army) he told us that we only were allowed to speak Malay and only for 10 minutes. I was so delighted to see my father again. I noticed that it was very difficult for him not to fling his arms around me and kiss and hug me. I pretended that it did not matter and talked happily about what was going on at the plantation.
This was the last time in my life I ever saw and spoke to my father. Luckily at that time I was not aware of it.

It was June 1943 when my mother,my sisters and I had to go to Malang and were interned in a women camp.We were treated not that badly in this camp, and now and then we were able to buy something extra to eat......if you still had a little money. In November my mother received news that my father was taken to Lowok Waroe Kempetai Prison (Kempetai are like the Nazis police). Word was that he had hidden weapons. It was a terrible blow for us.

It was February 1944 when my mother was told that she and her children had to be transferred to Mid-Java. Women and children were loaded into trucks and taken to the train station of Malang. Arriving at the train station the Japanese loaded us in box carts without food or anything to drink. We had barely any air to breath and no toilet.The train ride was horrible. Our new "home" was the prison of Banjoe Biroe where the four of us had a terrible time during the rest of the war. Not until November 1945 we were freed and were taken to Semarang. (Elizabeth and I spoke about this;  my mother and I must have been in the same convoy as them, loaded onto trucks with mattresses around us, so we would be protected from snipers) At the end of December 1945 we went by ship,' the Princess Beatrix' to Sri Lanka were we waited five months before we boarded a ship to take us to The Netherlands.

At the end of January 1946 my mother got the terrible news from the Red Cross out of Batavia that my father had passed away in the Kempetai prison in Malang. It was like the whole world caved in. Never in my life did I ever experience such dreadful news as the death of my father.

The rest of our lives ( my mother, my sisters and I) struggled to make a new life for ourselves.We had disappointment after disappointment. I myself decided to travel the world, and that was my salvation. Very slowly I climbed out of all my misery. I started to listen to other peoples problems and learned a lot.

Through the internet and being not afraid of it ,at my age, I got to know many e-mail friends, friends and acquaintances all over the world. I have learned a lot.

When I was vacationing in Indonesia,it was October 2, 1966, I was allowed together with a friend of mine to visit the Kempetai prison, where my father had been a prisoner for one and a half year, and where he died. My father has no grave, cause of death is not known. To see the prison and the cells where he had died..... was sort of a symbolic flower wreath for me.

I have seen the cells, where they told me the lights were on day and night. My father survived this ordeal for one and a half year, he must have fought to try to stay alive, he must have tried so hard, hoping to see his family again.Regularly the prisoners were interrogated and often tortured.
The interpreter of the Kempetai in Malang in Mid-Java was colonel Matayoshi.

Yes indeed, my fathers Japanese hairdresser from Malang..... a long time ago. What went through the interpreters head, colonel Matayoshi, while they interrogated my father, and he looked in my fathers friendly blue eyes?
Was the hairdresser Matayoshi thinking about the time, when he was cutting my fathers hair,talking and laughing at each other while looking into each others eyes in  the mirror in his hair salon in Malang?

Lowok Waroe Kempetai prison in Malang.

Elizabeth van Kampen.

I love you Elizabeth, you are a very brave woman.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

86 year old women got back her photo album.

 Today I read in a Indonesian News letter which I receive once a month that from 335 photo albums which were found in Indonesia, years after World War 2,  one 86 year old claimed back her photo album after a cousin saw her name in a story over a project written in the Volkskrant (Volks newspaper) in The Netherlands. These albums were laying for years in the depot of the Tropical Museum in Amsterdam. The museum had set up a fund for the project to try to find the owners of these photo albums.It only took three months to get together the money needed for this project, which is amazing.
My mother and her sister had lost all their photo albums during the occupancy of the Japanese in the Dutch Indies.Sadly no photo album from my mother or her sister were amongst them.
It is so nice to read that at least so far one owner, who is still alive recognized one picture which was published from her photo album.Seventy years ago this 86 year old had seen her album for the last time.She lives in South Africa now and she recognized her first album from her youth. Her daughter spoke for her and said: "How wonderful to see after all these years these pictures from my mother and to see photographs of the rest of the family, which we had never seen. I am so excited and so happy for my mother that her first photo album after all these years is back in our possession".
Next year the rest of the 335 photo albums will be posted on the internet. People who will visit this website can look through these albums and see if they recognize any of these photographs. The Museum hopes that through this website they will find more owners of these albums.

I am still excited about it, because you never know if there will be a photo album show up from my mother or her sister or for that matter maybe a album from one of their friends.
I will keep you posted, when the website is up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monthly demonstration , Japanese Embassy The Hague.The Netherlands.

                                         NGO, STATUS ROSTER

His Excellency Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague, November 13, 2012
Petition: 216
Subject: Acknowledgement and moral redress


The unedited version of the draft report of the working group on the Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, A/HRC/WG.6/14/L.12, condemns Japan's war time record on human rights, in particular the enforced sexual slavery and other atrocities committed by the Japanese military. The education curricula disguise the facts and the reference that all issues are legally settled under the various treaties does not dismiss Japan from its moral obligations.

Japan has the time up to March 2013 to come forward with suggestions which might bridge the gap between the comments made diplomatically by the UN delegates and the initial responses by the Japanese delegation.The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts has the means and the contacts to resolve some issues involved. Our present dialogue with the Japanese Ambassador in The Hague could form a base from which a suitable acknowledgement and moral redress mechanism can be developed to resolve these issues.

In view of the limited time left, till march 2013, we would welcome an early response.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,

J.F. van Wagtendonk

                                                 RAYS OF HOPE

Its time to recognize the wrong doings of your Military, during that horrible time World War 2. Many of the people from that time have passed away, they would have liked to hear that Japan felt remorse.

Maybe my mother and her sister could have died in peace with no hatred in their hearts. Many years they endured suppressed rage at the torture and rape, they suffered at the hands of their Japanese captors.
The women, men and children who were able to survive these horrific conditions, savage beatings and starvation, wondered the rest of their lives how it was possible that human beings were able to do this to other human beings. My mother has never been able to understand.
She often wondered; was it because these Japanese men were so small, compared to them.Every time they were confronted by these Japanese men, they towered over them, and looked down on them. Was this what triggered so much hatred, was this why my mother and her sister always got the beatings? My mother and her sister suffered psychological problems the rest of their lives.There were always questions....why??
They never forgave, my mother passed away in 2003,her sister a couple years before, hating everything what had to do with Japan. Its time that Japan recognize the wrong doings of their military in WW2. My mother lost the love of her life, my father, he died a horrible death on the infamous Burma railway,her sister lost her husband, the submarine the 016 ran on a Japanese mine in the Pacific on December 14,1941 just seven days after the sneaky attack on Pearl Harbor.Their lives were shattered.The rest of their lives they suffered horrendous nightmares, and had no help for their war traumas.
The evidence related to torture, murder, rape and other cruelties of the most inhumane and most barbarous character were freely practiced by the Japanese army and navy.The Japanese military were particularly enormous in this matter. The Japanese army in World War 2 behavior was particular abusive against women. Few in East Asia were left untouched by these Japanese heavy-handed occupation policies and behavior.
Tales of rape were so sickeningly..... every women caught by the Japanese had been raped without exception.
Why is that Japan keeps denying these war crimes their military inflicted.Its 67 years ago, not many of these women and men are with us anymore. But we the children will still continue to fight for recognition on human rights,for the atrocities committed by the Japanese military, so our parents can rest in peace.

                                             Mend our broken hearts

The aftermath of a war scares a child's mind, with things they can't erase,
The aftermath of a war makes a good nights sleep a living hell....
The aftermath of a war creates nightmares ,that never ending dream, just screams
The aftermath of a war creates guilt that eat you alive inside...
The aftermath of a war creates scars, and memories which never fades
The aftermath of a war has left death, we forever mourn.
The aftermath of a war creates children without a father,
The aftermath of a war makes it difficult to say"everything will be alright"
The aftermath of a war creates tears that will never dry away...
The aftermath of a war creates a whole lot of sadness,
The aftermath of a war blinds us of what's right or wrong,
The aftermath of a war makes you scream inside and wonder why?
The aftermath of a war makes you forever cry, for a father who was lost
The aftermath of a war brings nothing but eternal hate,
The aftermath of a war brings pain that never heals, wounds that will never seal.
The aftermath of a war takes pieces from your soul
The aftermath of a war is pain that never will never go
The aftermath of a war leaves a loved one lost, a grave that never leaves
The aftermath of a war leaves broken families all around.
The aftermath of a war is what it will always be,a loneliness
The aftermath of a war brings the need for people that are never there
The aftermath of a war is tears ran dry, and questions asking always ...WHY?
The aftermath of a war is a war forever carried in your heart.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today Novemeber 11, 11 am, we will be silent for 2 minutes.

Today we will remember.
World War 2 took away my father. A Dad I never got to know. I was only two and half years old when he died and he was only twenty six. I only have one picture where he cradles me in his arms. He looked so proud and so happy.A picture he had send home to his parents. I am lucky to have this photograph.

My Father died a horrible death as a POW of the Japanese, working as a slave laborer, building a railroad through the jungles of Thailand.It has been 69 years ago, the year was 1943, the date was the 18th of September.
In 1946 they found his remains, buried in the jungle of Thailand, alongside the railroad tracks. His remains were transferred to Kanchanaburi, where he was laid to rest at the Memorial Grave site.For every sleeper laid on this infamous railway, a soldier died, under the most horrendous conditions.

Rest in peace.

Today wreaths are laid all over the world to commemorate the fallen soldiers.
A wreath is a foliage of woven bay laurel tree leaves. It has been a symbol of both, 'Victory' and 'Death'.

My cousin Jacoby wrote this beautiful story of my mother, who suffered tremendously under the regime of the Japanese during WW2.

Tante Siets-Wife-Mother-Daughter and sister-Indonesia.

We did not understand the horror you went through,until your daughter Thea had the courage to write a book, 'I Thought You Should Know'.
Fate made you our Aunt and Thea our cousin and therefore we have thousands of memories as a family. You are often spoken about in our telephone conversations, your courage to go on and your spirit, the enemy could not break. Lovingly remembered Tante
Siets,and forever in our hearts.
Your nieces Leni and Cobi and nephew Wim.

Thank you Cobi for your beautiful words, I was overwhelmed of emotion.My mother was an enormous strong women. She will be forever remembered. Love you Mom.

Language of flowers;
Did you know that a white carnations means remembrance.This flower is for you Mom and Dad and for my Step-Dad, who was a wonderful Father to me. Fate crossed our path, when we met you on the ship ' the Boschfontein', which took us away from Indonesia in April, 1946.

                                            I will forever remember you all!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

We lost a friend today.

Pink Roses means friendship, that's the language of flowers.
 Geri these roses are for you, friends forever, until we meet again.

Christine and Arin, Geri's daughters, asked me if I would like to speak at Geri's funeral.I told them that I am not very good at that, but agreed to give it a try. Being a very emotional person I was not sure if I was able to do it.But with a couple of chokes I was able to get it done. This is what I said:

Some 30 years ago I met Geraldine Selby on the tennis court at Burlington Racquets.What good years we had, with all our tennis friends.When aches and pain prevented us from playing tennis, we decided to play golf. My husband Ruud and I have many fond memories on the golf course and off the golf course.Every Thursday we play golf, ladies only and have lunch after our golf game. How we will miss you!
A true friend has left us today.

Geri....Fred,Christine, Arin, family and friends, words cannot describe how we feel when we have to say goodbye to a friend. It's hard to understand that you "Geri" is not amongst us anymore.Your time to leave came too suddenly and too soon. We will miss you terrible. You were so full of life. I never forget that it was always you who said; Come on guys lets have some fun! You were always the leader, and would get on the phone and organize, where and what we would do.You were so much fun. We will remember your optimism and your courage, we will never forget you and you will forever live in our hearts.
We will one day meet again, we are sure we will. Reserve a spot for us Geri, please.. so we can continue our friendship and our laughter. Thank you so much for your friendship. We will miss you!

Geri the other day your daughters Christine and Arin asked me to read one of two poems I wrote on the blog of the Funeral Home. One poem is a poem I wrote for another friend we lost this year. The coincidence is that her daughter's name is also Christine. I decided to read this poem. It's called "Cry no more!". I know you would have liked this one. Your thoughts were always for your family and with this poem I know it's what you, Geri would have liked to tell them.

You can cry and cry, because I am gone,
Or you can laugh because I lived!
You can close your eyes and wish I would come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see what I left behind.

Your heart is empty, because you can't see me
Or it can be full of love, of all the things we have shared.
You can turn your back and try to live in the past,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow, just because of yesterday.

You can in your memories only think that I am gone,
Or you can remember me, and let me live on.
You can cry, close the door, be empty and turn your back,
Or you can do, what I would like you to do:


               Language of flowers; Forget-Me-Not!.......Remember me forever!

I decided if I am able to get this far, whitout breaking down, I would read the second poem for Geri. So Geri this poem is for you'

We thought of you with love today,
But that is nothing new,
We thought about you yesterday,
And days before that too!
We think of you in silence
We often speak your name,
Now all we have is memories 
And a picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake,
With which we'll never part
But memories we are keeping
Forever in our hearts.

Rest in peace, Geri.

                                                  Goodbye my friend.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 11, Remembrance day;

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, two minutes silence, to remember our fallen soldiers.
It's our duty to pass on the legacy and keep the memories of fallen soldiers alive.Above all, we must vow never to forget!
                                       Poppies,  Remembrance:

It's a tradition of wearing poppies in Canada as a sign of respect and thanks for those who have served in uniform, both here in Canada and in many parts of the world.

Flowers are a way off reminding us of important moments in our history.
Flowers mean many things to many people.

                                        Daisy: Hope and Resistance

Did you know that the Daisy became a sign of resistance in the Netherlands during the Second World War?

                                                 Forget-me-nots: Remembrance

In Newfoundland the newfoundlanders wear the flower forget-me-not, each July 1st in memory of those who fought and-died at the first World War.

                                                 Tulips: Gratitude

Tulips, these flowers serve as a symbol of the unique friendship between the people of Canada and the Netherlands during the Second World War.
Thousands of Canadians fought to liberate the Netherlands in 1944-1945.

There is a park reserved along Calgary's Memorial Drive for 3.0000 white crosses which are displayed each year on November 1st and removed November 11th, after Remembrance Day services. Each cross is inscribed with the name, rank, regiment, date of death and age at death of a Southern Alberta soldier killed in action.
The Southern Alberta soldiers who paid the ultimate price for our freedom will never be forgotten.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.......

At sunrise each morning from November 1 to November 11 there is a flag raising ceremony at the Field of Crosses including a bugler and a piper. At sunset the flags are lowered.

Welcome to the field of crosses
Memorial project
"A yearly tribute to Southern Alberta's fallen soldiers"

I read this on the field of crosses website:

It's the Soldier, not the Reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.

It's the Soldier, not the Poet, who has given us the freedom of speech.

It's the Soldier, not the Politician, that ensures our right to Life, Liberty & the Security of the Person.

It's the Soldier, not the Lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It's the Soldier, not the Preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.

It's the Soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag and who allows the protestor to burn the flag.

Remember to buy a poppy, to be reminded that the price of the freedom we enjoy was not free.

                                     Maple Leaf: Patriotism

On February 15, 1965, the red maple leaf flag was inaugurated as the national flag of Canada. Ever since, it has stood as a symbol of pride and patriotism for Canadians.

                                       Rose of Sharon: Resilience

The rose of Sharon, or Hibiscus, is the national flower of Korea. Its beauty is said to reflect the glory and success of the Korean people while its hardiness speaks to their ability to persevere. The flower's name Korean is Mugunghwa meaning "immortal flower". This flower holds special meaning for the many Canadians who served during the Korean War.

                                                   Laurel: Victory

 Have you ever wondered why we lay wreaths on Remembrance Day? The tradition of using wreaths to show respect is actually a very old one. Greeks and Romans often wove bay laurel tree leaves into wreaths to be worn as crowns by victors of sporting events (like the Olympics) or military campaigns. Ever since, the foliage of bay laurel trees has been a symbol of both victory and death. That is why wreaths are laid at commemorative ceremonies around the world.

                                       Rosemary: Remembrance

In ancient times, rosemary was thought to strengthen memory. In fact, Greek scholars often wore rosemary in their hair to help remember their studies. In both literature and folklore, the herb has often been featured as an emblem of remembrance. Even today, Australians show their respect by wearing small sprigs of rosemary in their coat lapels on
Anzac Day.

Flower Symbolism

Flowers mean many things to many people. These are just a few of the blooms associated with remembrance and commemoration.

Always Young

by: Win Rainer

Back to the war with sadness I go
The grief of a name makes it so
A young lad like so many others
Forever a heartbreak to their mothers
Their legacy should have been life and laughter
Not a conflict which led to disaster
However can we forget them
It's the arbitrators we must condemn
In my tearful eyes of sorrow
They will all in thought still be young tomorrow.

So on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, silent will fall for two minutes and we will remember.

                                             Lest we forget!