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Saturday, February 23, 2013

My sisters fight with breast cancer.

This past Wednesday my sister Sietske had her last day of radiation therapy.For five weeks my sister had to go to Amsterdam every day to get her ten minutes radiation therapy. I wished I could have been there for her. But I live across the pond in Canada in Burlington and she lives in The Netherlands in Zandvoort. Two months ago my sister called me with this horrible news. I haven't really dwelled on what's actually happened to my sister's body as I type. We have no history of breast cancer in our family and my sister is eight years younger than me. So why was this happening? So as we waited for her biopsy results I was sure that they had it wrong.This is not happening in our family, she would be in the clear. And then there is this one phone call and it becomes part of our family. Your every day life.
My sister Sietske on the left, with our Aunt Anneke at a family reunion last year.

The past two months I have learned so much about breast cancer, than I have ever known in my entire life.I have been on that damn computer and it's confusing.She has to have the lump removed. It's all so surreal. Than we get the good news, it has not spread into her lymph nodes the lymph nodes under her armpit are clear. These lymph nodes help fight germs and are very important to cancer. This network collects fluid, debris and other things that are in the body's tissue, outside the bloodstream. But instead of carrying blood, these vessels carry clear water fluid called lymph.
My sister stood tall, of course there was fear and we both cried and were not afraid to show it.
While she was getting her daily radiation therapy I called her every second day. After a couple of days of radiation she became very tired. This is what they had predicted, so she was prepared. The five weeks of radiation are now over but the stress has caused her severe headaches. They advised her to see a therapist.Next week she will start , hopefully these massages will relieve her from these headaches.

Radiation therapy is a local treatment that only have an effect in the irradiated area.The radiation dose to the tumor is as high as possible. The surrounding healthy organs are spared as much as possible with the help of moving lead blocks in the header of the irradiation device.It meant for her that over a period of five weeks she had to have these treatments. Saturdays and Sundays were the only two days she did not receive these radiotherapy treatments. The five weeks are over, she still has to go for check ups, but we feel confident that she has won this fight. Luckily it was discovered while the tumor was still small. She was suppose to have a health check up for an operation on her knees. She would receive a new knee and her legs would be straightened.That's when they found out. How lucky she was. She will get her knee replacement next year. For now she will take it easy. So far it has been quite a journey.But she handled it very graceful.I am very proud of her and I love her very much. I will see her in May.  We are blessed and we celebrate her road to recovering.

Hope, Faith, Love, Courage and Strenght

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mines in the sea, reminders of the past.

 Reminders of World War 2, it will forever haunt us.Sixty eight years ago and bombs and sea-mines are still laying on the bottom of the North sea. A daily threat for fishermen.

This story I read on a Dutch side and I thought it was very interesting to translate in English,specially because Ruud and I are spending every year a month in Zandvoort on the North Sea. Zandvoort the place where Ruud my husband was born and where both of us grew up. We spend many days on the beach and were both certified life guards.It intrigued me that as of today they still find these life bombs and mines.When we grew up in Zandvoort we often heard that these things were found, sometimes with devastated news.The Germans had build bunkers all along the coastline and in the dunes.World War 2 had disastrous consequences for beautiful Zandvoort. The Germans practically destroyed the old village when they occupied The Netherlands.Many days Ruud and I spend time patrolling the sea. The North Sea can be very treacherous.I would have never thought about life bombs still laying on the bottom of this sea bed.

An American aircraft bomb, from World War 2, gets tangled in the fishing nets of a fisherman's boat.It's April 6, 2005 the men are pulling in their catch of the day. The nets are pulled on board, and the 500-pound bomb explode. Three fishermen are instantly killed, one of them the son of the captain.

Sixty years it has been since the bomb was laying on the bed of the North Sea off the coast of The Netherlands. The incident caused a shock wave amongst the Dutch fishermen, who quite often had bombs hanging in their nets before. It was rare that the thing would explode, after being for that long on the bottom of the sea. The incident with the OD-1 meant the start of a large clean-up of the seabed.

Two years later: another bomb is found on the bottom of the sea, only 9 kilometers off the coast of  Zeeland. Just like the OD-1 an old American aircraft bomb and again a 500 pound bomb.
Sea lieutenant Olav Thesingh says:" there is at least another 10 years of work to clean up the reminders of World War 2". From the bridge of the minesweeper Hr. Ms. Schiedam, he watches how the explosion from thirteen meters deep send an enormous column of water in the air.The vibration is felt on the ship.

Haw many of these bombs are still laying on the sea bed, nobody knows.They estimate at least a couple of thousand. During World War 2 aircraft bombers were flying back and forth over the North Sea towards Germany. On their way home they would drop the bombs they had not been able to drop over German occupied Europe in the North Sea as superfluous ballast.

Since that time the bombs end up almost daily into the nets of the fishermen.These bombs are a huge threat for the fishing industry. "Even so these bombs are over sixty years old, they are bombs". says Thesingh. The fishermen used to throw these bombs back into the sea, if they had one in their nets. The official procedure was not done- the bomb was suppose to be taken right away to the harbor, where the bomb squad would  take care of the bomb. But this mend for the fishermen less days at sea, less catch and less pay.

The explosion at the fishing boat "Ouddorp-1" changed everything. From that day on 'April 2005' the clean up of the bombs from the bottom of the North sea has been a very important task for the now one hundred year old minesweeper company of the navy. The total bombs who are reported by the fishermen since the explosion on  the OD-1 has gone from fifty a year to almost fifty a month.

A couple of years ago we would laugh; the fishermen tell in the harbor of Scheveningen. Looking back we have been damn lucky. We call it fisherman's luck.Certainly when the weather is bad and the boat rolls in the high waves, a bomb in the net can go off easy.Since the incident not one single fisherman is careless anymore. You would be declared crazy if you would ignore what happened to the OD-1.

When a fisherman nowadays has a bomb or sea-mine in it's nets, the coast guard is informed about the location where they dropped the bomb or sea-mine over board.Every fishing boat  is now in possession of a sonar buoy, which they attach to the bomb or sea-mine. The radar of the minesweeper is able to find the bomb quickly and take care of it. Since  the accident around six hundred bombs and sea-mines have been cleaned up.

Sailor Mark Bosgra descends into the waters of the North Sea, the ' tin' tied on to him. The 'tin' contains eighteen kilo of explosives, which will take care of 'bomb 594'.With only fifteen centimeter visibility the diver descends to thirteen meters, where the 500-pound bomb is laying. Arriving on the bottom he ties the 'tin' to the bomb. After about 10 minutes the diver crawls back into the rubber dingy, where two colleagues are waiting for him. They navigate  the rubber dingy about six hundred meters away from where the bomb is laying on the sea bed.From  the bridge of the minesweeper the 'tin' will be detonated ;after a life of sixty years resting on the bottom of the sea the end of 'bomb 594' came to an end.

It seems unbelievable, but for every fisherman at the North Sea it became a normal day of life. Each boat weekly has an explosive in their net and the marine weekly detonate about six.

It still is scary when they have one in the net.They never forget what happened that day in April, now almost eight years ago.

History will never be forgotten! There always be many memories from the past.These memories can never be erased, reminders of the past will always show up when you least expect it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Germany and Japan.

 Today I had to write again about Japan. In March Japan has a moral obligation to settle all issues under the various treaties in Geneva.The United Nations condemns Japan's war time record on human rights and other atrocities committed by Japanese military.Another eight days to go and it will be March.I also like to write about the difference between Germany and Japan.I read some articles lately about the bombings on both continents, which ended this dreadful war.

There is obvious contrast here between Germany and Japan. While Germany already bound together by the NATO alliance and the European Community, they also celebrate 50 years of the Franco-German Friendship Treaty on January 22, 2013. These two countries had defined themselves by their enmity to each other, having fought three savage wars in a hundred years, vowed to never declare war on each other for all time and to establish mutual friendship as part of the permanent policy of both states.This alliance has held very firmly for fifty years, and formed the basis for the ideal European unification.

Why is it that on the other side of the world it has not been possible to replicate this European accord? Why is it  not possible to replicate this agreement for relations between  China and Japan? The histories are similar; a long period of rivalry and war  between these two, from the late 19th century until 1945, resulting in the defeat of the aggressor. Japan, like Germany, accepted a constitutional commitment to nonaggression and the imposition of a democratic constitution, which has been wholeheartedly adopted and has lasted the course of time. So why has friendship been so slow to develop between the two East Asian rivals?

Why is it that Japan has made no progress in internalizing the lessons of the Second World War? The vast majority of Germans have dissociated themselves entirely from the mindset of the Nazis and from aggressive nationalism in general. There is no longer a sense that democracy has been imposed on them from outside, although that was certainly the case after 1945. How come Japan doesn't understand the concept of repentance and forgiveness for wartime misdeeds and this is well understood by all Germans.Japan still supports nationalism their diplomats are still visiting and honoring their War criminals at the Shrine in Tokyo. The Kempetai was like the Nazi in Germany, during World War 2.

The cities in Germany like Hamburg, Dresden, Nurnberg were just like Japan's cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki largely destroyed by bombs. Hamburg was fire bombed by the British, and the Allies in 1943, almost as badly as Hiroshima was in 1945, by the Americans.Most people from Hamburg accept the bombings were sadly necessary to rid the country of the Nazi regime which had started the war in the first place.
Japan however does not accept that the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to rid this country of the Kempetai  regime which had started the war as well.Hiroshima and Nagasaki were cities full of Japanese military and factories for war time purposes.The attitude in Japan is totally different on this concept than those of Germany.The idea of genuine apology and repentance, which is necessary to make a fresh start in the relationship, appears to be synonymous in the minds of the Japanese with a loss of face.The Japanese are not able to accept the shame in admitting their wrong doings. Apologizing and making amends is not in their books.

Japan don't you think it is time to accept the facts of history, the atrocities you committed in China and the rest of East Asia as well as the consequences of your defeat in 1945. Stop playing the martyr. It's time to make the right gestures in the direction of peace and friendship.

We the Dutch from the former Dutch East Indies and Asia, would like to see a similar Friendship Treaty and we will accept it not in a tone of triumphalism but in a tone of reconciliation.

Hamburg Allied Aerial destruction during World War 2.

In May 1943, the architect of that destruction was Air Chief Sir Arthur 'Bomber Harris, head of British Bomber Command. Harris had enormous determination and an unyielding hatred of Germany. His aim was to destroy Germany's cities.
The U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) flew daylight missions and made precision attacks on German factories. Round the clock bombing was becoming a reality.
 On July 25, 1943, Harris picked Hamburg, the city was Germany's second largest city, producing warships and U-boats during the war.Bomber Command dispatched 792 planes loaded with high-explosive bombs that looked like giant dustbins.The New Zealand Squadron took off from RAF Mepal in Cambridge. The last bombers took off at 11 p.m. The stream of air crafts was 203 miles long.
Hamburg was going up in flames.Incendiary bombs started fires across the city. The Hamburg citizens heard a shrill howling in the streets. The howling was something that had never before been recorded. The Germans named it ' Feuersturm' of firestorm. The high temperatures reached 1,400 degrees as the blaze actually began to suck all the air out of the city. The firestorm hit the city many people died either from heat or from asphyxiation. All across Hamburg, the firestorm sucked air to feed itself. The intense heat set many people on fire.More than 40,000 people perished in the three-hour firestorm. Everywhere were large heaps of rubble where there had been houses, and many burned corpses were laying around.
Hamburg could no longer function. The last Hamburg strike was August 2, 1943, with 737 bombers. Casualties were estimated at 45,0000, most of those during firestorm.
Kaufmann begged Hitler to visit Hamburg to boost the morale. The Fuhrer refused. Instead, Reichmarshall Herman Goring, visited the ruins. He was greeted with taunts of Well, Herman Meier, what have you got to say now?

This article was from an issue of 'World War 2' magazine 1998, written by David H. Lippman.

Dresden in Germany, 1943.

War is death, there are no Winners only Sinners.

The cities of Hamburg, Dresden, Nurnberg in Germany accepted with sadness in their hearts that the bombings were necessary  to rid the cities of their Nazi regime.

War brings sadness, destruction, and hatred. This was Hitlers war. A man who thought he could conquer the world. A tyrant who ordered millions to their death. This man was the Furhrer of Germany.How is it possible that one such man can bring so much destruction and sadness to Europe.

Such man lived in Japan. The Emperor Hirohito.
The Hiroshima A-Bomb.

The Emperor 'Hirohito' of Japan. Looked upon by the Japanese as a God. He was nothing but a killer, a murderer and a looter.Spurred his own people to suicide missions.A murderer who lived a pampered life in his beautiful palace.A killer who escaped for some political reason the death penalty, he should have been hanged for all the atrocities he inflicted on human beings.He signed the papers for mass liquidation of all human beings who were not Asian.We were but 10 days away from being murdered, if the A-Bombs had not been dropped on your cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Instead Mr. Hirohito escaped the death penalty, which I  never be able to understand. He lived the rest of his life in luxury, while my mother lived the rest of her life with the loss of her husband and  horrible nightmares of the beatings she received while in these horrible concentration camps, all in the name of 'Hirohito' the emperor of Japan.As of today we the children are still trying to cope with what Japan did to our mothers, fathers, grandparents and our young brothers.There are things in ones life which you will never forget, how hard you try to stow it away. It's always there, in the shadow of your mind.
Japan stop playing the martyr, about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hiroshima, August 1945.Sacrifices made so the rest of the world can live in peace.
It was necessary, these cities were riddled of war factories etc.Millions and millions of people were saved due to these bombings.Japan has to realize that these bombs would never been dropped,if you had accepted defeat. Your emperor ordered to fight to the last man.Even school children were trained to fight. What kind of nation were you, and what kind of nation are you now? What do you teach your future generation? You teach them to honor war criminals, you teach them lies about your war times misdeed. You teach them never to apologize and make amends, you teach them never to take the blame, because that's causing shame.The word Denial is the number one in your dictionary. It's time to take responsibility. Don't let history repeat it self. Because those who forget their past, will repeat it. So start teaching the young generation about the history of Japan and that this nation will never follow in the footsteps of their for fathers.You have to teach the children of Japan to accept blame which will remove the shame.
I really hope that I will see it in my lifetime, so I can stop writing about these horrible crimes Japan inflicted during World War 2.
March is around the corner and you have 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 working group on the Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, condemns Japan's war time record on human rights, in particular the enforced sexual slavery and other atrocities committed by the Japanese military. Japan you have a moral obligation to settle all issues under the various treaties. Your time is running out, there are eight days left and it will be March.Acknowledge and moral redress these issues.Please let the events of the past not burden Japan's youth, nor the children who were in these concentration camps, as the trauma's caused by the Japanese military continue to trouble them severely.
Japan you must realize that the passage of time does not offer you an escape from your responsibilities.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our monthly demonstration in The Hague, The Netherlands.

                                                 NGO, STATUS ROSTER

His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague, February 12,2013
Petition: 219
Subject: each disadvantage has an advantage-Johan Cruijff


Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Generations of Japanese are misled regarding their recent history, particularly on the Pacific War. Under the false banner "Asia for the Asians" Japan started a colonial war to drive out the Europeans! The Dutch Indies, now Indonesia, was one of the objectives under the pretext that the Dutch refused to supply Japan with commodities. In fact it was to support Japan's vastly expanding offensive war machine. The Japanese military and their agents occupied Dutch East Indies and singled the Dutch out for ultimate destruction. It is as sinister as that. That is the recent history of Japan. It ruined Japan financially as military nationalism reigned. Japan earned a reputation of tyranny, cruelty and disrespect for mankind. The global opinion regarding Japan is one of fear, as Japan still refuses to accept the consequences of the war crimes by its military during the Pacific War.

Prime Minister
It appears that you are obsessed by the facts and the bad image the Pacific War gives Japan. You want to review the past statements by Japanese Prime Ministers and to release a new statement. A future orientated statement that will suit the 21st century. On timing and content you will be giving serious thought. The previous statements by Japan's Prime Ministers were not accepted by the victims nor apparently by you. The verbal apologetic expressions were meaningless. They did not accept the moral responsibility for the wrong doings of the Japanese military and their agents. They did not mention the war crimes. Politicians continue to honor the war criminals. The Japanese Parliament was not consulted and contrary to Germany, Japan failed to recognize the necessity to institute a reparation program for the individual victims of the Japanese military tyranny and misconduct. In reviewing a statement for the future you seriously have to accept the whole history and accept the consequences for japan of her moral responsibilty.

Prime Minister
Very few people in the world believe that you as Prime Minister will see the need to address the lack of knowledge by the Japanese people. The youth will continue to be misled on the actual facts and figures of Japan's recent history.
It is assumed that you will continue to whitewash the facts. However we may be wrong and in quoting our famous soccer player Johan Cruijff "each disadvantage has an advantage". In getting to grips with the true historic facts you may find that an apology only has value if it's followed by a suitable redress of damages done to the individual war victims. Japan, despite its economic problems, can afford it. Let's face it, Japan was allowed to resurrect as a nation, based on the terms of the San Francisco peace treaty, to become a very wealthy nation. This was at the expense of in particular the Dutch war victims who lost but all, but were denied under that treaty to claim their basic rights from Japan. In reviewing the past for the future, acknowledgement of the moral obligations would prepare Japan for that future. That would be advantageous for Japan in the Jpohan Cruijff meaning! Get on with it and solve the problem. It is now nearly 70 years old, and will continue to hamper Japan in its global relations.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,

J.F. van Wagtendonk


In May my husband and myself will be attending the demonstration in The Hague again.We sincerely hope that in our lifetime the Japanese will come to term with their past. For me it's very important that recognition for ones mistakes has to be addressed.Many of our mothers and fathers who survived the atrocities inflicted by the Japanese military are not amongst us anymore. On their behalf  we sincerely hope that Japan will accept their moral responsibility.
Some pictures from last year demonstration when we were visiting The Netherlands and joined the demonstration in The Hague.
This is me last year at the demonstration.

The Japanese Embassy in The Hague.

The Rising Sun. The flag of Japan.

With my friends Sheena, Elizabeth van Kampen en Carla.

Dutch Women interned by the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies..

Many, many stories have been told about the war with Germany. Many movies have been made about the Nazi's. And many movies and stories have been told about the Jews who were in concentration camps.But just like them the Dutch women , children and men who were living in the Dutch Indies (now called Indonesia) were put behind barb wire by the Japanese and many of them were killed in their separate camps. Just like American POW's of the Japanese during World War2 are getting older and dying, the Dutch men and women who barely survived the war in Indonesian  POW camps are aging and passing away. My mother Sietske van der Wal-Sijtsma,and I her daughter Tetske T. van der Wal, her sister Eke van Driel-Sijtsma and her two children were one of these women, who were locked up by the Japanese. My father and my uncle both were killed. My uncle, who served on the 016 submarine was killed only 7 days after Pearl Harbor was bombed and Indonesia was at war with Japan. My father died a terrible death on the infamous Burma railroad tracks as a Dutch POW of the Japanese.
My mother and her sister passed away a couple of years ago. They never had a change to talk about the atrocities, and cruelties they experienced in these concentration camps in the Dutch Indies (now called Indonesia).

The sons from the country of the Rising Sun, the Japanese military in the Dutch Indies,were cruel despotic rulers.They did not respect anybody, they were rude and very mean, unbelievable quick-tempered and rigid
For everybody the Japanese code was a must to bow for every representative of the Emperor of Japan.For a guard you had to stand still and facing him you had to bow correctly. The smallest mistake in this ritual was enough to molest the victim with the butt of his rifle on the head and body,  with a stick, kicking, or squad in front of him with a wooden stick in your knee-joint, etc, etc. They loved to inflict pain.No matter how old you were you had to bow.We as toddlers mastered this ritual quickly, because if we did not do it correctly or if we forgot, our mothers would pay for it dearly. They would receive a beating right in front of our eyes.It's one thing I can never forget, seeing my mom getting beaten by this little man in uniform and these boots they wore scared me to death.They would kick my mother with these enormous boots.You never knew when a 'Jap' would lose his temper. The Japanese had a strange way to show their anger.When they were hitting a victim they would scream with a very scary throat sound and with all their fit of temper, they screamed themselves to unbelievable unmeasured heights and kicked with all their strength their victim.The Japanese were quick-tempered and worked themselves into such an angry fit of temper.I am still getting goose bumps when a person goes into a fit of temper. It scares me. These Japanese men were strange, strangely enough to beat each other as well. If a soldier did not hit a civilian victim hard enough he would receive a beating himself from his superiors and would be merciless beaten to pulp.They would tell him;'This is the way to do it'. All her life my mother was never able to understand this. What kind of men were these 'Japs'.I have never heard her say Japanese, when she talked about Japan it was always 'Japs". How was it possible to beat a women, sometimes so badly, that she would die. How could a human being be so mean.We, the
camp children underwent these traumatic experiences daily.We were very sensitive to the atmosphere of 'danger' in the camp.As young as we were we would follow unconscious the Japanese rules.We would stand quietly at roll-calls, even during penalty roll-calls which sometimes lasted for half the night, we kept deathly quiet.Forever we were asking when our Daddies would come back and when we could go back home.It must have been very hard for our mothers to make us at ease.But how could they if we children could feel that they were scared as well.The change we had to go through, chased from our comfortable houses to overcrowded barracks, under horrible conditions. Our mothers had to deal with bed bugs, lice, cockroaches, etc, etc. It's a miracle how we lasted for three and a half year. Our mothers must have felt hopelessly helplessness.The sleeping space was no more than 55 to 60 cm. This place was not only our sleeping place it was our dining room our living room our playroom.There was no privacy.There was a lack of food supplies and a deficiency of proteins, vitamins and calories. We were forever hungry. Punishments were applied to the whole camp including the children,withholding food, longer roll-calls in the fierce heat. Always afraid that maybe the Kempetai (Japanese Gestapo) would come for one of them. If they took you for interrogation or punishment; your return was uncertain.For my mother and my aunt the psychological trauma has continued its influence right up to their deaths. My mother tried to climb the wall, she clawed at it, when she was on her death bed. We had to hold her down, she was in a total panic.

My personal experiences are very hazy, and sometimes they come back with so much force.All who have been in the camps in the Dutch East Indies encountered similar things.The personal encounters from my two cousins are similar but still different. My cousin who is two years older than me refuses to talk about it. His recollection and his digestion of the experiences has left big scars.For him it has not been possible to talk about it. At one time when I just started to write my book, he promised me to tell me how he had experienced our camp life. He was not able to do it, it was too disturbing. Camp life had left him with psychological disturbances. The trauma's he underwent as a toddler during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch Indies must have left their roots from the camp experiences.For me it has been good to write about it, I am more able to talk about it without bursting into tears. I think it was because I always felt the pain of my mother. The pain she must have felt for never be able to talk about her experiences. She and her sister received not only beatings from these little yellow men (that's how they named them) they were raped.They had only told their youngest sister when they arrived back in The Netherlands in 1946. My aunt told me when I was working on my book.Never in my wildest dreams did I have any idea that's what my mother and her sister had endured. Now I understand what must have happened to my mother in that horrible church which the Japanese used as their offices.This was camp Moentilan, formerly a catholic training college for teacher. It was very difficult for my aunt to tell me, she became very emotional. She had promised never to talk about it. But because lately more women have come forward she decided it was time to let go of this big secret.My aunt is 85 years old now and when my mother and I arrived in the Netherlands in 1946 I always felt that she was my big sister.We even shared a room in the attic for a little while, until she married. The man she married is my favored uncle, and has always been. I have spend many holidays at their house when we moved away to another town. 
More than ever I can feel how my mother and her sister must have struggled the rest of their lives to live with this secret.How can a person overcome such atrocities inflicted on them without hatred.I don't think they ever forgave Japan what had been done to them.We escaped death through the A-Bomb, if they had not been dropped we would have died. The Emperor Hirohito of Japan (Yes this guy who was invited by Queen Juliana in 1972, this smiling little Japanese man, who came to visit Holland in 1972) he was the one who had given the order that all who were in these camps had to be liquidated.Every thing was in place and ready. He had said make sure there are no traces left. The date was set for 26 August,1945. Just a few days before the A-bombs were dropped. Can you believe this murderer stands there on the balcony of our Queen Juliana. It felt like she betrayed their country men.But we will never understand politics.My mother was in disbelieve, and than she was so disappointed.How could the Queen invite a murderer to the palace.

My cousins mother had just given birth to his sister in 1942 when we were put in these camps.He had lost his father, only seven days into this war. His life was uprooted with too many happenings, which he could not understand.All of a sudden he had a baby sister but his father was never ever going to come home. Bombs were falling in Soerabaja, and all of us were laying under the bed . Our mothers pretended this was a game, but we were oh so scared.The sounds of the explosions were deafening.My cousins and I still do not like fire works, it's about the same sound. For month's my cousin Fop was asking when his father would come back to him.Why is my father not coming to see me and my new little baby sister? His mother, my aunt, had a terrible difficult time after the birth of her daughter. Her behavioral problems disturbed my mother, and my mother had to constantly watch her. Thank God they were in the same camp Moentilan at the time, otherwise we do not know what would have happened to her.At one time she had left her son in the hot mid afternoon sun. When my mother asked why she was doing this, she said:"Nothing makes sense, we all are going to die, I might as well speed it up a little". She also had tried to kill herself, when my mother and my aunt were working in the fields, my aunt had asked the Japanese guard time out for going to the bathroom. She did not come back and my mother got nervous.She asked permission for a bathroom brake and luckily the Japanese guard had not noticed that my mother's sister had not returned. My mother found her sister stretched out laying on her back in the field not understanding anymore what she was doing.She told my mother that she just wished she would die. Seeing his mother and his aunt (my mother) getting beatings in front of his eyes must have left him with deep wounds.
My aunt with my cousin, just before the war.

These traumatic experiences must have been a susceptible phase in my cousins life. All he did was sitting in a little corner sucking his thumb and stare in the distance, he was like a living skeleton. My mother told me that sucking his thumb had saved his life, she truly believed that.
It has been said that children at the ages 0-5 years retain few conscious reliable memories of the camps, but must have absorbed like a sponge the feelings, of the people surrounding them and the atmosphere of the camp community. Well I can tell you that I was 5 years old when we were freed from these tyrants and many scenes are imprinted in my memory which I will never forget.I often described to my mother how the camp looked like. I was able to give her a description of the lay out of the camp which surprised her.How can one forget when you as a 4 year old had to stand for hours in line with a bottle in your small hands which had to be filled with water. I can see one of the Japanese standing on a table, behind him was a fence and he was shouting and screaming. When I told my mother years later about this scene, she even made a joke about it. She said: " Oh, yes, you remembered that well, this 'Jap' always climbed on this wooden structure, so he could look down on us, we women were so much taller than these 'Japs' they were very small men, we always made fun of them".

This memory is one of my scariest moments during my camp life. Seeing this man shouting and screaming so loud, it felt like any moment he would jump down from this table and grab me.Another scary memory I will never forget was when they ( the Japanese guards) came screaming and running through our rooms and took everything apart.This was house search.We children would be so shattered and so upset.The few toys we had would be scattered all over the floors. These were our few possessions.My mother would tell me that we would hold on to this little toy so tightly and would cry and cry, we were so relieved the 'Japs" had not broken it. Of course it happened many times that a child's toy was broken. That child was not to be comforted and would look at these Japanese with so much hatred in their eyes.The women in camp were humiliated by these men and my mother told me; 'you would never know when a 'Jap' would lose his temper and why, the best thing was to try to keep low profile'. They often were told that they belonged to their Emperor of Japan, we were nobodies and we did not belong to any country and were not the owners of our houses anymore.Little was known what was going on outside these camp walls.The uncertainties were killing us.She often said to me;' it felt like we were abandoned.'
After 3 and a half year the war ended, but the struggle to stay alive was not over. The war for my mother and her sister never ended. It ended when they passed away. I hope they are at peace and in a better place.
summer 1946, just back from Indonesia.We were reunited. My cousins on the left of me.

We in The Netherlands will have our monthly demonstration again February 12. Petion 219 will be handed over to His Excellency Shinzo ABE, Prime Minister of Japan. I will write this on my blog, soon as I receive it.On May 14, I will be joining the demonstration in The Hague again with my husband, my sister in law and friends from England.We are still asking for justice from Japan, we ask for a suitable redress of the damages done to victims of this horrible war, and we are hoping that this problem will soon be solved.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Life has changed.

How life has changed.

Sometimes it scares me when I look around . They tell us that our generation was different, and I total agree. We are old fashion they tell us. Well let me tell you how our generation  from the  40..50..60...grew up. 

First of all we survived a natural birth, with mothers who smoked and drank during their pregnancy.
They took an aspirin, they ate vinaigrette sauces, mayonnaise and ate deserts. We were not tested for diabetes or cholesterol.After the trauma of coming in this world we were put to rest on our stomachs in our colorful painted lead paint baby cribs.

There were no child safety locks on doors and when we were riding our bikes we wore base ball caps and no helmets.

When we were a baby or child we were sitting on mothers lap in the car, we did not have seatbelts and baby seats or blowup pillows.

To sit in the back of a lorry or on a horse from the farmer on a sunny day was for us an adventure. It was something very special.

We drank water from a well or from the tap. We had no plastic bottles filled with special water.

We ate cakes with whipping cream, white bread, real butter, bacon and eggs. We ate beechnuts and walnuts which were already laying on the ground.We drank warm chocolate milk with real sugar and did not suffer from obesity. Why???

Because we played outside all the time.

That's why!!

We left the house early in the morning to bike to school. (There were no mothers who drove cars to take us there).
After school we played outside in the fresh air. There was one condition, we had to be home before dark or be home the street lights came on. Our parents did not know where we were and had never heard of Mark Dutroux ( the serial child molester, this was 1996)

We wore dirty clothes when we played and clean clothes when we went visiting or going to church. We kept ourselves busy for hours and made our own play-toys.
We had no play stations, Nintendo, X-box or I-Pod, etc. There were no video games or video movies or DVD's and Hifi systems with digital tuning.

For 18 hours you could only see the test screen.

There were no computers or internet.. We had friends,and played outside with them.
We fell out of trees, cut ourselves, and sometimes broke a toe or an arm, leg or a tooth. We went to pick apples and pears. There were no Federal Jurisdiction Police approaches to blame anybody for this 'crime'.
If we were caught anyway, we received a beating on our behinds.

Coming home you did not tell your parents, otherwise you got punished by them and the punishment was usual that you could not go and play with your friends after school for a couple of days. You would have house arrest.

Our mothers did not go to work, they were always home.Fathers went to work and mothers stayed home to take care of the kids.

For our twelfth birthday we got plastic water guns, played with sticks as if they were swords, a lid from the garbage bin was our shield, we made sling shots from branches of the tree with elastic, a bow and arrow from cane with a nail at the end.
From the garbage lid we made our shield.
From old knives we made throwing knives and practiced on a tree stump or an old dart board from the local pub.Of course our parents forbid us and told us that we could lose an eye or could hurt somebody. But never the less we survived all this.

We were walking or riding our bikes to our friends houses. The bikes most of the time we had put together ourselves from old parts,found at the garbage dump.

We would get into our friends houses through the back doors, which were always open. We would walk in as if we lived there. We were always welcome and were always invited to have a bite to eat if they were having their meal.

The idea that our parents had to get us out of jail was absurd, that was unheard off. Our parents agreed with the law, and the teachers. If we were punished by the law, or were punished at school, we would get an extra punishment from our parents.

Our generation were the ones who were the entrepreneurs, the thinkers and the inventors. These were the years of an explosion of new idea's.

We had the freedom to try, to be scared to fail, and the success and responsibility which came with it.
Are you one of them?


Maybe you were one of them who were lucky enough to grow up before the lawyers and politicians started to rule us.
Life was so beautiful, simple and serene. Sometimes a little rough but very clear and simple, but there were rules, and we were happy!