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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Demonstration in The Hague:Petition 250

                                     Petition 250:  WHAT NEXT?

                                 FOUNDATION OF JAPANESE HONORARY DEBTS
                                 NGO STATUS ROSTER

His Excellency Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague September 8,2015
Petition: 250
Subject: WHAT NEXT?


Your statement on Friday, August 14th, 2015 failed to convince us that Japan is preparing for its future by addressing its military and political past.In your statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two you admit "that Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world", Japan's post war population does not know how and why Japan went into war nor that during the war the Imperial forces terrorized POW's and civilians and violated human rights on a grand scale in the occupied territories.Your promises that Japan "will engrave in our hearts" is insufficient and offensive considering the sufferings of the victims of terror and plunder which took place. Japan started the war and its military terrorized and violated the laws of war. However you are right in stating that "prosperity is the very foundation for peace", to which one must add accepting responsibility for past wrongdoings. Hence the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts continuous demand that Japan recognize its moral responsibility stemming from Japan's "wrong course  advances along the road of war."

Prime Minister,
This is the Foundation's 250th petition to the Prime Minister of Japan in the last 25 years. The tone and contents of all previous petitions have been to reconcile on the basis that the Dutch victims of Japanese militarism are respected and reasonably redressed. Our message continues to be that Japan must accept moral responsibility for its military and political past during World War Two. The Foundation of Honorary Debts has the will and the means to reconcile on behalf of the Dutch who suffered from Japan's military occupation of Dutch East Indies during World War Two.

Prime Minister,

Your statement of the 70th anniversary offers possibilities, if you have the will and genuine commitment to reconcile. Demonstrate your will by starting to acknowledge the receipt of the 250th petition.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,

J.F.van Wagtendonk


                                         A message from the president, 

Dear donors and sympathizers,

Yes it has been 70 years ago that we were freed from our tyrants the Japanese military. Peace came with happiness and sadness. So many had not made it. Another difficult time was in store for all of us. Many had to deal with the knowledge that their husbands, father of your children, your wife, your brother or your sister your uncle or your aunt your grandmother or your grand father did not survive,and you were never going to see them again.
What next... so many of you said.. How are we going to get on? We have no houses to go back to and no jobs.From one atrocity to jet another one. Every thing we ever owed was lost and there sure was no help to expect. We stood there with empty hands and we felt totally lost. We felt we were the forgotten ones and some how we had to start over again. The chaos was tremendous and overwhelming., "peace" we did not knew it existed, the Bersiap had started and we were in the middle of it. The little bit we still had at that time,was lost too. The fathers and mothers who survived all these atrocities and made it out alive, never knew how to celebrate the 15th of August.  All what they thought about was the loss of their loved ones and a deep sadness was all they felt.

What does it mean to remember? Do you have to stand still and think about all the sadness and the loved ones you had lost. Do we have to be angry, because we were the forgotten ones. Or do we have to think of all the good things we had when all was still okay. Our "Memorial monument" we carry in our hearts, sometimes we share it with our friends, but everyone tries to deal with it in their own way.

As a donor and president of the Foundation of  Japanese Honorary Debts I often think about how courageous  the war victims from the Dutch Indies picked up the pieces and started a new life. But  I am also thinking about those who were so damaged, mentally and physically that it was impossible for them to start a new life again. Also the knowledge and lack of comprehension, specially from the Japanese authorities and politicians for their moral responsibility to recognize that Japan with their Imperial military army had inflicted  so many atrocities to the Dutch in the former Dutch Indies, and should therefor still be responsible for all the atrocities they inflicted on human beings during that time.

The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, is never going to allow Japan from their moral responsibilities, until they except recognition and reparations of the harm which Japan and specially their Imperial army have inflicted on human beings.

Even the the government of The Netherlands has their responsibilities about this. Right after the capitulation of Japan there were words full of compassion and understanding. But even then the war victims were totally left on their own in their  fatherland, and totally forgotten. The behaviour of the then Dutch government and the self-seeking in neglecting  and denying their responsibility is probably the blackest page in solidary history of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The anger, the disbelief, about incomprehension from politicians, media and the Dutch people, is still to be felt under the Dutch Indies people. This anger will never leave us until the present Dutch government  and politicians recognizes the moral responsibilities of the terrible injustice, harm and material damage has affected the people from the Dutch Indies: its called"Honorary Debt". Maybe this August 15th, 70 years after the Japanese capitulation, the present-day  administration and politicians come to search their own hearts and will be ashamed about the lack of involvement with their fellow-country-men from the former Dutch East Indies.

Its about a comprehension explanation of recognition and excuses with compensation.The way this will take place could set a sample for the present Japanese administration and politicians.The Japanese industry seems to have taken their responsibilities. But also the media in the Netherlands and Japan have a responsibility to give more attention for the" Dutch Indies grief".
The war victims and next of kin will fight the good fight for recognition and reparations.

Yours president,
 J.F. van Wagtendonk.


This message was written in Dutch in our magazine. I hope that I did not make too many mistakes in translating it in English.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Demonstration in The Hague. Petition 249

Petition 249; The moral way to acknowledge and pay respect to history.

                                  FOUNDATION OF JAPANESE HONORARY DEBTS
                                  NGO.STATUS ROSTER

His Excellency Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague, 11 August 2015
Petition: 249
Subject; The moral way to acknowledge and pay respect to history.


On the 15th of August 2015, you will be judged on your anniversary statement. Judged as to wether you are a true globally accepted statesman who is preparing Japan for its future by addressing its history, its moral responsibilities for past war atrocities and the consequences thereof. Or are you trapped in your personal past and political position by former apologies that lacked the acceptance of responsibilities and reparations? In this milestone year Japan cannot hide behind the legal defense of the San Francisco Peace Treaty; you must surely feel morally obliged to consider the cruel experience of the victims of Japanese military terror.

Prime Minister,

In our petition 247 we stated that Japan's wartime legacy will continue to haunt Japan now and in the future. The economic costs to Japan and its people in denying the past are substantial both in lost opportunities as well as in self-defense. You as Prime Minister of Japan on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two are in the position together with unanimous support of both,Houses of the Diet, to acknowledge and redress the past honorably and sustainably.

Prime Minister,

Mitsubishi Materials Corporation offered the most remorseful apology to the POW's from the USA, who suffered harsh, severe hardship while forced to work in Mitsubishi mines and industrial plants. An unprecedented apology from  major Japanese company. Mr. Yukio Okamoto, an outside board member of the company, sought forgiveness for not apologizing earlier. In a further statement Mitsubishi Materials hopes also to apologize to former British, Dutch and Australian World War Two POW"s, and reach an amicable solution with Chinese forced laborers. Mitsubishi's initiative is a loud and clear signal that Japanese companies recognize that the 70th anniversary of the ending of World War Two will scrutinize Japan's attitude in resolving its war time responsibilities. Other Japanese companies cannot ignore Mitsubishi's initiative but will follow suit. Why must they lead and your government follow???
The leaders of Mitsubishi Materials accept moral responsibility for the past as they are part of the global business community and want to survive for the future. On the 70th anniversary it is time for your government to accept the consequences of Japan's World War Two past and finally resolve this unhappy matter!

On behalf of the Foundation of Honorary Debts,

J.F. Wagtendonk


This story was in the Toronto Star this Saturday, 15th of August.The story is about  Dutch women who live in Canada.

Concentration camp survivors tell of 'other war' in the Pacific.

Group convenes on anniversary of Japanese surrender to observe lesser-known horrors of WW2.

staff reporter

Only a month before the Japanese surrender that ended the war in the Pacific, 12 year old Mance de Korte crawled under a fence and crept into the hospital at the infamous Tjideng civilian internment camp near Jakarta, Indonesia.
Inside, she found her mother laying on a hallway floor so ill with dysentery, the girl wasn't sure her mother recognized her or even felt her presence.
But one thing was certain:Suz van de Wetring was dying.
The next morning, her body was put outside the camp gate, sewn into a mat and carted away.
Seventy years later, her 82 year old daughter's still bright blue eyes brim briefly with tears at the memory.
The Mississauga resident remembers her grief as the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, approaches.
De Korte wants more Canadians, including her children and grandchildren to understand the Second World War in the Pacific, less known to many Canadians than the war in Europe.


Canada sent relatively few troops to the Pacific and, after the war, the North American population was tilted to European ancestry, said writer Ernest Hillen, 81, author of a 1993 memoir, The Way of a Boy,about his childhood in the Japanese camps where the Dutch were imprisoned during the war.
Even those who were children in the camps often carried deep emotional scars their whole lives, he said. The experience left de Korte motherless at 12. Years of poor nutrition also contributed to her younger brother's childhood death after the war, leaving him too weak to fight the infection of appendicitis.
"My mum was only 37 years old, and she was full of life. She could play the piano. She could do anything,:says de Korte.
In four years of Japanese occupation, the trio lived in three concentration camps in the Dutch East Indies(now called Indonesia),on the island of Java.
It was a desperate, brutal, crowded existence.
When the Dutch encountered a Japanese soldier, they were forced to stand at attention and bow. In the early days, small children didn't understand. The mother of a child who failed to comply would be whipped with a guard's belt.
"You only have to see that once , to go out of the way of every Japanese man you see, because you don't want to get a whipping," said de Korte.
Beatings were a daily feature of life in the camps. said Hillen, a Dutch-born Canadian, who lives in Cambridge.
"The slightest offence- not bowing deeply enough or looking at the (Japanese guard) too'straight in the eye- (they) would either just give a woman a couple of slaps or beat the living daylights out of her.
"The air, all those years, was absolutely thick with fear.You were constantly terrified, you were hungry, and you were hot and quite often thirsty and you had wounds, scratches that had become infected," he said.
Throughout their internment de Korte's mother was frequently hospitalized with painful tropical sores on the soles of her feet. Without real shoes, the sores never truly healed. De Korte remembers fashioning make-do footwear from bits of old fabric that could be tied to her mother's feet.
In July 1945 , Tjideng prisoners were summoned to roll call, so the Japanese could count the prisoners to ensure no one had escaped the ghetto's barbed wire and bamboo fence. This time, the inmates were ordered to stand under a brutal sun for what de Korte remembers as two or three days.
Suz could not do it. So a group of women shielded her from the guard's view so she could sit on the ground. Her daughter believes that was when her mother contracted the dysentery that killed her.
De Korte expects her family will join her at the Holland Christian Homes in Brampton on Saturday for a special kampulan- an Indonesian word for a social gathering- comemorating the end of the war.
The memories they will share will be, like de Korte's, recollections of childhood.
"In our case, there is a bond. You come from Indonesia, you're about this age, then you have been where I have been. There's a friendship even if you don't talk about the war."she said.
The August 1945 Society, a survivors group that organized Saturday's kumpulan,has been a healing outlet for Mississauga Wil Moens,85, who also lived in the camps.
When the war ended, he owned only two pairs of shorts. His other clothing had been sold in exchange for small comforts such as hot water in which to make tea in the military barracks where he and his brother were interned.Their father and mother housed in different camps.
Moens remembers years later his grandson lay a commemorative wreath. "He was 12, a child. It was such a shock. I was just at that age on my own," he says.
Boys over 10 and men were separated from women and younger children in the Japanese camps.
Throughout the war, de Korte didn't know where her father, a Dutch school inspector in Sumatra, was being held.
He didn't talk about that time, says de Korte. She has kept a hollowed-out coconut shell that her father sanded smooth on the concrete outside his prison.A bit of wire has been twisted and pried into the shell as a handle for the bowl he used to take his daily camp ration, a tiny bit of rice, some watery soup and a small piece of bread.
"Atrocities happened, especially in the men's camps, and so much that people don't talk about it," she said.
Food became an obsession. Among her father's possessions, de Korte found a sheaf of papers on which were written mouth-watering recipes for which there were no ingredients to prepare.
In Tjideng, hygiene was poor and food was scarce. At the end of the war there were about 10,000 occupants,mostly Dutch women and children, in an area that de Korte compared to Mississauga's Square One shopping centre.

Sometimes we barely were able to carry the death.

Many are coming forward with their stories. We should never forget the ugly- ness of a war. My mother and her sister lost everything they loved. They lived the rest of their lives trying so desperately to forget the atrocities the Japanese inflicted on them. The Japanese military left them with deep scars. Deep scars they had to live with the rest of their lives. They hardly talked about the things the Japanese had inflicted to them. But my mother remembered and some times she told me things which were in my head. When I was younger she tried to erase all the things I had seen. But we will remember;
The sound of the whip. Never forgotten.

Did I bow the right way, Mommy?

My cousins and I, we were lucky, we survived.
The above picture was taken around September 1946, we were about 4 months back in The Netherlands.I am on the right..We had gained some weight.My cousins are living  in The Netherlands. I talk to my cousin at least once a week on skype. The bond will always be there. Our mothers got a severe beating one day because my cousin and I forgot to bow . They were taken in front of the church which the Japanese used as their offices. There in front of the church our mothers were beaten, their clothes ripped to bits.They were told if their kids ever again did not bow the punishment would be worse.We kids were so scared, every time we saw these screaming men with their big boots and their large swords, we would hide.

I remember the hardship in these awful prison camps,
I remember the hunger and the sounds of the whip,
I remember the ugly screams of the Jap
I remember my friends cries,
I wish I could forget, I try so hard!
It has been so long ago,
I do my best, but I remember still the same,
And it breaks my heart.


Part of my poem I submitted to Poem hunters in 2011.

                                                   Lest we forget!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Demonstration The Hague ;Petition 248

                                    FOUNDATION OF JAPANESE HONORARY DEBTS
                                                                               NGO, STATUS ROSTER  

His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague, 14 July 2015
Petition: 248


During a recent parliamentary session you mentioned that you are frustrated by lack of progress in the fate of Japanese"kidnapped" by North Korea. You said: No abduction victims have returned home, but I will maintain the policy of dialogue and pressure".

Prime Minister,

you must realize that the victims of the Imperial Army are in their turn extremely frustrated by the lack of any progress in the dialogue between the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts and your government's diplomatic representatives in The Hague.

1.    .You and your predecessors refuse to acknowledge the receipt of our 247 petitions over a period of 25 years, personally addressed to the Prime Minister of Japan. This impolite and rude attitude astonishes us as the Japanese are generally known for good manners and respect for elderly people. It demonstrate the lack of respect and moral responsibility of the government of Japan to the victims.
2.    Despite global objections you personally continue to glorify and pay respect to convicted war criminals.
3     You continue to question the validity of statements by your predecessor and according to media reports you intend to dilute these statements on behalf of Japan in a personal review.

Prime Minister,

The forthcoming 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two is the opportune moment to end our frustrations and to demonstrate that our dialogue is meaningful. The victims of the Imperial Army organized in the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts, demand respect and acknowledgement of the moral responsibility of Japan for the conduct of the Imperial Army during World War Two in the Dutch East Indies.

We look forward to a meaningful dialogue and reconciliation as a result of your address at the 70th anniversary of Japan's capitulation on 15th August 1945 and acknowledgement of this petition.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk


                                          JAPAN MUST REMEMBER ITS PAST! 

Our business with Japan is unfinished and will remain so until the Japanese government fully accepts it quilt and tells its people what was done in their name during World War Two.

We the surviving victims,who are now in their seventies and eighties, and were children then, will remind Japan about the horrible evil of the Japanese military occupation. As children we know the painfully feel of the past.
The traumatic experience of seeing your mother being beaten in front of your eyes, and not understanding why she was beaten, will stay with you forever, no matter how young you were at the time.I will never forget seeing women hanging on trees and the Japanese monsters telling us children to throw stones at them because they had to be punished. How can you as a young child understand these horrible things you saw daily.I remember trying to hide behind my mother's skirt, because I was scared to death for these little yellow men who did nothing but scream and were hitting my mother and my aunt.
I never forget that one day I was looking for my mother and I wandered towards the gate which divided the compound from the fields where the women had to work the vegetables patches from the Japanese.I knew that my mother and my aunt were there. I just wanted to be with my mom. I approached the guard and I dutifully bowed. Because by not bowing I knew that my mother would be severely beaten.We the children would asked our mother daily if we were bowing correct, terrified that we would not do it correctly and knowing that our mother's would get punished for not teaching us the correct way.The guard told me to sit down and wait for my Mom to come back from the field. "Which is your Mommy?" and I pointed at my Mom. The guard promptly headed out into the field and grabs my mother and hauls her through the gate.My Mom screamed at me that I had to go back to our living quarters immediately. When my mother finally returns she is black and blue and bleeding. My Mom told me that she fell and that's how she had hurt herself. I was told that I had to stay away from the gate, it was very important for me not to come looking for my Mom.

These are just a few things my cousins and I are remembering. We often wondered if they were indeed bad dreams we had for years. Our mothers told us over and over that they were bad dreams, because such things do not happen in real life. People don't do these nasty things to one another we were told over and over again. My cousins and I were often questioning each other why it was we were dreaming the same things.For many years after the war I was petrified to go on a train. With great difficulties my mother was able to get me to step into the train. I would shiver and the sound of the train would give me goose bumps. Clickety Clack, that's what I remembered from way back then.One day we had to get into these box cars and we were all crying, We hardly had any water and the heat was unbearable. All I remember is the sound of clickety clack on the tracks and being scared out of my mind.I still don't like to get on a train and try to avoid it.

Dear Mom,
I am a child no more, but unknowing carried the scars you wore.I found out, the more I learned the more I heal. One thing I have to say, I admire people who can forgive what these monsters had done.. I will never be able to forgive those who inflicted those horrible atrocities to you and your sister. That scar on my heart will never be mend.You and your sister experienced too much horror at their hands and I always wonder, if they ever felt sorrow. I hope that their years after the war were filled with nightmares like the nightmares you were plagued with for the remainder of your life.I hope when they look at their children, that they will think about what they had done to us little children.I hope when they have a daughter they will beg that their daughters never be raped the way they raped you and your sister in that filthy camp in Moentilan in a church of all places.I hope you and your sister rest in peace, with lots of love from me.

Those who survived remember and will never forget the sufferings at the hands of the Japanese military and their agents every day.Many children my age didn't survive this holocaust, which was forgotten and even ignored by our own government from The Netherlands.Many mothers and fathers died at the hands of these little men who called themselves soldiers of the Japanese military. What kind of soldiers are this who beat, starve and rape innocent girls, women and children.
Yesterday July 13th another former victim of sexual slavery and human trafficking, institutionalized by Japan's Imperial Army during WW2, passed away. Choi Geum-Seon we hope you found peace.


Honorable men and women with a burning desire
To be set free from the cruel barbed wire

Prisoners of war is what they claim
Prisoners of Hell is a better name.

Starvation, disease, torture and pain
Pressures of cruelty driving them insane.

Forced labor and raped, when they could hardly stand
Enduring degradations as long as they can.

Brave women and men were lost as they passed through the fire
The legacy of love from behind barbed wire.



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Demonstration in The Hague.Petition 247

                                                     NGO, STATUS ROSTER

His Excellency Sinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague, 9 June 2015
Subject: Sound Reasoning by the Prime Minister of Singapore


The terror by the Imperial Army during the occupation of South East Asian territories is felt every day by the surviving victims. Not only by the physical pain and discomforts, the psychological after effects are even more painful and hurting. Images of the death by your loved ones caused through maltreatment, lack of medicines and bad hygienic circumstances, starvation in addition to the daily terror are not going away. The number of surviving victims is dwindling fast, but those remaining are not giving up their demands for genuine remorse by the Japanese people of today and in particular of their present leaders.

Prime Minister,

Our stories are not made up in order to obtain a redress from Japan. They are real, proven and substantiated by medical and investigated records.
Japan cannot deny these historic facts. You as Prime Minister must accept that and stop diluting past apologies by previous Prime Ministers. Japan's wartime legacy will continue to haunt Japan now and in the future. The economic costs in denying the past to Japan are substantial both in lost opportunities as well as in self-defense. You as Prime Minister of Japan on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two are in the position together with unanimous support of both Houses of the Diet to acknowledge and redress the past honorably and sustainably. As made clear many times over, the Dutch from Dutch East Indies are ready to reconcile.

Prime Minister,

Your colleague the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong made it very clear. "Japan needs to acknowledge past wrongs and Japanese public opinion needs to be more forthright in rejecting the more outrageous interpretation of history by its right wing academics and politicians." The sound reasoning by Prime Minister Lee should be welcomed by you as he says officially what many think both in Asia and in the Western world. There is in fact no need for a new apology, but there is an urgent need for action in accepting the consequences of the present apologies.
You can put an apology on paper, paper won't blush. But it is the redress which counts.

On behalf of the Foundation of Honorary Debts.

J.F. van Wagtendonk
One of the last picture we took from my Mom.

It has been twelve years ago that my mother passed away at the age of 84. The last couple of years of her life she lived in the past. Always thinking about her first love, always talking about that wonderful life she and her first husband had in the former Dutch Indies.( now called Indonesia). Then suddenly she would change into a very somber mood, when the darker side of that time entered her disturbed mind. Getting very angry at the world.This world that didn't understand , this world which would not understand what she and her sister had gone through during that horrible time when the Japanese invaded the former Dutch East Indies, and took away everything from her and her sister.The hunger, torture and abuse by these Japanese soldiers, who were so cruel and so very mean. Her tales of cruelty whilst in these Japanese prison camps trying so desperately to survive, would not be heard by anybody.. Her anger towards the Dutch government who she felt so betrayed by upon her return to the Netherlands.These physical ailments have plagued her entire life.
The constant stories she had to listen too, about how bad it had been in the Netherlands during that time, when the Germans occupied Europe. How could she have suffered more than her fellow Dutch men, after all you lived in Paradise is what they would say to her. She would just kept quiet. My mother coped with the horrors she experienced in these camps through sheer determination, trying to erase all the horrible things she and her sister endured at the hands of the cruel Japanese soldiers.But how can one forget what these monsters did to her and her sister. They had to go on living for the sake of their children. Although her sister had tried to take her life while in camp Moentilan on the island of Java.Her sister had given up, she told my mother; we are all going to die, I might as well end it now.Her sister had lost her husband 7 days after the war had started.He lost his life on the submarine the 016, which was found on the bottom of the sea in 2005. The submarine had run on a mine and all 42 crew members but One lost their lives. She and her husband had just been celebrating the knowledge that they were expecting their second child. A daughter was born, ironically on her husbands birthday in May of 1942.Three months later we were all locked up behind barbwire and high fences.We were now numbers and not human beings anymore in the eyes of the Japanese.Even the children and babies were numbered.We had to register and my mother and I received number  526 and 527 for which my mother had to pay a hell of a lot of money. We were told daily that we belonged to Japan and we had no homeland anymore. We had to bow for their flag the"Rising Sun", the white flag with the horrible red spot in the middle.In the eyes of the women it was the flag with the red bloodstain in the middle, and for the rest of my mothers life she hated this flag and anything what had to do with Japan.Food in the camps had been scares. Many died of starvation and malnutrition. Undergoing three and a half years of abuse, beatings, rape and working the vegetables gardens from the Japanese in the blazing sun, had taken away years of my mothers life. These years were taken away from all these innocent women and children.Our childhood taken away. Seeing your mother being beaten in front of your eyes made a big impact on us the children for the rest of our lives. Our mothers tried hard to erase these horrible memories.For most of it they succeeded, but now when we get older it seems like everything what we had tucked away comes back. Going through a war and being a war victim is like getting a life sentence in prison.
For many years now, every second Tuesday of the month a demonstration takes place in front of the Japanese embassy. Not many people who suffered so tremendously during the occupancy of Japan in the former Dutch East Indies are alive today.But those who are still alive today and are able to travel to The Hague and stand up for their rights , are not giving up their demand of  JUSTICE and an genuine apology by the Japanese people and present leaders.
Japan stop pretending that it didn't happen. Your former Japanese military behaved like monsters during World War Two, which Japan started. You pretended to save Asia for the Asian people, which was a lie.You, Japan has to admit that Japan was trying to conquer the whole of Asia.Many millions of Asian people suffered and perished during your so called propaganda of saving Asia for the Asians, with your lies. And as of today you Japan have not learned how to tell the truth, you are still lying!!!!!Lying about Japan's past. You Japan are a bad example for the younger generation of Japan.Shame on You!!!
We the children will and cannot ever forget what your military has done to our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.We will remind you for as long as we live and it will haunt you forever.
My Mom before the war

Just released from Hospital, 1946.
After three and a half years in captivity my mom was in Hospital for three months. The above picture was taken after she was released.INDONESIA 1946.
July 1946, Zandvoort The NETHERLANDS.
Many Japanese war criminals continued to occupy powerful positions in industry and government after the war. Japan enshrined their war criminals in Tokyo-is an act that one American wartime victim of the Japanese has labeled politically equivalent to  "erecting a cathedral for Hitler in the middle of Berlin."

                                            Our voices will no longer be silenced!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Petition:246. Monthly demonstration in The Hague

                                      NGO, STATUS ROSTER

His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague, 12 May 2015
Subject: How to reconcile


In your address to the joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on April 29th 2015 you paid tribute to General Snowdown for his efforts to reconcile. Sadly you did not apologise nor said sorry for the terror and cruelties of the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy in occupying South East Asian countries during World War Two. Sharing former Japanese Ministers apologies is not sufficient as you continue to honour Japanese war criminals and doubt the coercion of young girls and women in the occupied nations into sexual slavery. Due to the deliberate disregard by the Japanese military in respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed and implemented by Japan prior to World War two, reconciliation is only possible if Japan accepts the consequences of violations by its military

Prime Minister,

Nevertheless in your address you attempted to reconcile with the past in order to go forward into the future. You admitted that Japan and its military brought sufferings to the people of the occupied Asian countries. You failed in your address to mention those who survived the war. The San Francisco Peace Treaty provided Japan with a base to resurrect, as you stated so clearly, from the ashes. The individual survivors including the Dutch from Dutch East Indies are still in "ash" and did not benefit from Japan's post war successes. They continue to suffer from atrocities inflicted upon them, causing permanent mental and physical damages.

Prime Minister,

Today Japan cannot deny its past and must redress the damages done to the individuals. Japan cannot downplay its responsibilities of the past. It is not a government to government reconciliation but a people's one, whereby the Japanese government must honor its apologies in law and redress the Dutch victims. The Dutch from Dutch East Indies are ready to reconcile with the Japanese people. The Dutch victims will never forget what happened to them. Seventy years after ending of World War Two the time is there to reconcile and to redeem Japan's Honorary Debts. We are looking forward for an early reply,

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.



         My Mothers dreams and nightmares throughout her life.

Why were these soldiers so terrible mean. Why did they terrorise innocent women and children? Sadly these Japanese soldiers were brain washed at an early age of twelve,being only little boys who should have been playing ball and other nice innocent games. But these little boys were military trained all in the name of their emperor Hirohito of Japan, their GOD. THEY WERE TOLD THAT THEY WERE CHOSEN TO FIGHT FOR THEIR EMPEROR AND WOULD DIE FOR THEIR EMPEROR. THIS WOULD BE THE HIGHEST HONOR THEY COULD EVER ACCOMPLISH IN THEIR LIFE.  SURRENDER WAS NO OPTION.
These pour boys had no way of thinking for themselves, this was not taught to them. So is it because of that Prime Minister ABE that you cannot apologise,Is it because that's the way you are brought up. Your grandfather was a war criminal, Is it because your grand father that you honor war criminal's? Our grand fathers and father's and mother's, sister's and brother's suffered during World War Two, because of them.My cousins and I lost our fathers at the hands of these monsters, who were taught to kill. Why can't you apologise for them. Take the blame and remove the shame.Why is it that Japan and of course you Prime Minister ABE can't say the word"I apologise" and will make it right. Is it because that's what you have been taught by your grandparents and parents, to never give in. Keep lying about the past, it might go away, is that what you are telling the young people of Japan today? We the children who were there in those horrible filthy nasty camps, will never forget how we saw our mothers suffer at the hands of these well trained robots, who called themselves soldiers.I will never forget the screams from my mother when she and her sister received a terrible beating because my cousin and I didn't bow. We were only three and four years old at the time. From that day on we were terrified little girls who were terrified that we did something wrong and our mothers would get beaten again right in front of our eyes. Always asking our mothers: Mommy did we bow properly"..I will never as long as I live forget my mother's nightmares, which she suffered the rest of her life, because those "ROBOTS" raped her and her sister while they were in camp Moentilan locked up. They were told day in day out that they belonged to them and had to obey. How can you and your government still deny all these atrocities which were inflicted to innocent women and children.How many more years we have to beg for Justice? How much longer do I have to remind you, that the women in those camp hated your flag the Rising Sun and named your flag the flag with the huge blood stain the middle. When can we honor your flag again? Has your government forgotten that there were plans to kill all Westerns. We, my mother and I, her sister and my cousins were taken to Banjoebiroe 10 on August 1st,1945. It was said that it was best to have as many POWs together in one camp so it would be easier to get rid of them at once. Our mothers heard this during that horrible train ride from the locals , when the train stopped. Many children and young mothers died during that train ride. Young little girls who died in their mothers arms were thrown off the train, because your "robots"(soldiers) were terrified of diseases. These mothers went utterly crazy. You  Prime Minister Shinzo ABE  probably have never tried to stand in their shoes. You were born way after the war and were pampered from day one. Never went hungry, never suffered.You, just like those young boys who were send to war by your government, have been taught well. What kind of nation is Japan, I am asking myself so often. Why are they lying about the past and why do they like to rewrite the past? Could you please answer my question?

I wrote this poem a while ago. It was March 7, 2011 and I send it to

                            Was it a dream which turned into a nightmare.

Was it a dream about that beautiful land of Emerald?
Was it a dream that I remember the sawa's?
Was it a dream that I remembered the tropical sun?
Was it a dream that I remembered the beautiful sunsets?
Was it a dream that I climbed these beautiful mountains?
Was it a dream that I felt so much love in that faraway land?
Was it a dream that I felt so much at home?
Was it a dream that I had so many friends there?
Was it a dream that we were so at peace?
Was it a dream that turned into a bad dream??

Was it a bad dream that Japanese soldiers bombed that beautiful country?
Was it a bad dream that I was taken from my home?
Was it a bad dream that I was put behind barbwire fences?
Was it a bad dream that I lost my freedom?
Was it a bad dream that I was held as a POW for three and half years?
Was it a bad dream that I was tortured by these Japanese men?
Was it a bad dream that these Japs turned this beautiful country into a hell of misery?
Was it a bad dream that we nearly starved?
Was it a bad dream that my friends died one by one?
Was it a bad dream that I had lost the love of my life?

Pretend it never happened
Pretend you never knew that beautiful country
Pretend you never climbed these beautiful mountains
Pretend you never lived there
Pretend you have never loved there
Pretend you never saw these beautiful sawa's
Pretend you never saw these beautiful sunsets
Pretend it was a phantom which broke like glass
Pretend you just woke up...
My Mom at he flower market in Bandoeng. Happy Times.

Was it a bad dream or a nightmare?
Was I in these filthy camps for three and a half years?
Sadly I remember it was not a dream!
I remember the sawa's, the beautiful sunsets!
I remember the beautiful mountains!
I remember the beautiful people, my friends!
I remember this peaceful land!
I remember I was so in love!
I remember my fallen friends!
I remember the hardship in these awful camps!
I remember the hunger and the sounds of the whip!
I remember my friends cries!

I wished I could forget,I try so hard
It has been so long ago, but it still feels like yesterday
I do my best, but remember still the same
And it breaks my heart.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The forgotten mothers of the "War in the East".

Today it's Mothers Day, and this is for you Mom and for all the mothers who suffered so tremendously under the occupancy of the Japanese  during World War Two.You were the forgotten once. As of late I am thinking a lot about you. You were my hero. The unbelievable pain you and all the other mothers suffered during those years is not to describe.
 Not many stories have been told about the suffering of this group. Indeed, when we reflect on that part of World War Two we think, automatically, of these brave military men, of whom there were 132,000. Yet there were 130,000 Allied civilians- predominantly women and children- who also endured appalling privation and cruelty, but whose story is barely known.
Once Japan had conquered South-East Asia, the Europeans, Americans and Australians who had been living there as planters, teachers, missionaries and civil servants were rounded up and trucked away to the 300 "civilian assembly areas"- in reality concentration camps- that the Japanese had created.

Line up, and hand in all your money and valuables.

New internees arrive in camp.
Camp Moentilan were we were taken in OCTOBER 1942.

Our second camp, Banjoebiroe 10.

Our beautiful view.
By far the largest group were the 108,000 Dutch civilians, 62,0000 of them women and children, who were sent to camps on Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Timor. Their ordeal was to last three and a half years and would claim the lives of 13,000, due to starvation, exhaustion and disease. Many people all over the world had never heard about this.
All women and children between the ages of 11 and 60 had to do so called "useful work". In addition to this distressing, undignified and exhausting work, the women were subjected to constant brutality. To look a soldier in the eye, or fail to bow to him instantly would incur a vicious beating that could break a nose, or loosen teeth. At Tenko, or roll call, which took place twice a day, our mothers had to stand for hours in the blazing sun, no hats were allowed and even the elderly and children were not allowed to sit down.Another punishment would be the shaving of your head. This would be done in such a vicious way that the women would simply wrap a scarf round her bloodied scalp and would carry on.
Bowing lessons, all day long.

A severe beating because she did not bow correctly.
Worse even was the fear of starvation. Our mothers would be desperate to keep us alive. They would catch frogs, lizards and snails and boil them in a tin cup on the back of their irons.
Or they would sneak to the fence (gedek) to trade their meager possessions with local people for a banana or an egg. But if the Jap would catch you, you would receive a severe beating or even executed.

By the time liberation came on August 15,1945, the degradation of our mothers was complete. Like the POWs in their loin cloths, our mothers had virtually no clothes, many wearing old tea towels for bras, and sandals fashioned out of strips of rubber tyres. My mother had traded all her bra's for food. I even traded one bra for my mother, while she was near death, at the "gedek". Sadly when I took it to my mother I had received a stone in a " pisang blad"  (banana leaf). Our mothers were like skeletons, so thin, half-blind with malnutrion and huge numbers of children and mothers had died.
Our mothers were heroes and we should never forget what they endured in these camps, thousands of our mothers and their children lived with hunger, disease, cruelty and death, and we should remember their ordeal and their courage. Not only on Mothers day, but every day.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MOM, wherever you are. I am always thinking about you.


Many years have since past,
But memories forever last.
Women, children in prison camps
Where nobody was able to give them a hand
Put there by the Japanese Regime
With soldiers who were so terrible mean.
Although it is so long ago
My mind goes back to 1944
How we women shed our tears
In that hell three and a half years.
These Japanese were brutal and vicious
Cruel and heartless and twisted.
Endless roll calls, just for fun
Everyday in the burning hot sun.
They screamed "Kiotskay!", "Kiray!", "Nowray!" and waved their whips
And we women knew better than to give them lip.
We kept our wits together
Because our children was all that matter.
When I am thinking about those years,
They come back with so much fear!Swamped by misery, grief and pain
We hoped God would hear his name.
We sang of his glory and begged to be heard,
We prayed, we pleaded, but never a word.
We reached for the last straw in despair
And hoped somebody outthere would care.
Why, oh why was it, that no help came
Did you not hear us calling your name?
Why was it, you let innocent children die??
I will never forget that you passed by.
There was thunder and lighting all around,
I was sure you would strike these Japs to the ground.
We were in so much agony, grief and pain,
We hoped for mercy, but it never came.
There in that horrible prison camp
"YOU" never offered a helping hand
Most women lost their fate,
For thousands freedom came too late!
And when my times comes to face "YOU"
I only have one question...WHY??
Would you let innocent children die??

I wrote this poem in 2012,. I remembered my mothers stories about the time we were in Moentilan in that horrible camp. Where every day children were hungry and died of starvation, while the Japs had plenty to eat.She told me that terrible things had happened in the church, many women were tortured and beaten right under the watchful eyes of God. She told me about the thunder and lighting, and why God would not strike these Japs to the ground.That's when she told me that she was not able to believe anymore.I wrote this in my book as well. "I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW", which I wrote in 2010. How these mothers have suffered , and how they were the Forgotten women of the "War in the East".

But today its Mothers Day, and we remember our mothers our heroes.
Mom you left us 12 years ago, but you are always on my mind. I love you.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Petition 245: Our monthly demonstration in The Hague

                                     FOUNDATION OF JAPANESE HONORARY DEBTS
                                                                     NGO, STATUS ROSTER

His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague, 14 April 2015
Subject: Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts 25th anniversary.


The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts was founded on 4 April 1990 for the purpose of looking after the interest of the Dutch East Indies. During the past 25 years the foundation tried to reach an agreement in good faith and trust with you and your predecessors. On the basis of acknowledgement and mutual respect we will continue to convince you that Japan has a lasting moral obligation towards the Dutch victims of the Japanese terror during World War 2.

Prime Minister,
The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Yoshida-Stikker protocol of 1956 gave Japan the opportunity to restore its economy. As a result Japan could give war reparation loans to support many of the nations it occupied during World War 2; but left out the Dutch from Dutch-East Indies on the grounds that the 1956 Yoshida-Stikker protocol had resolved Japan's moral obligation voluntarily.

Prime Minister,

The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts disagree with this view point as the "compensation" was only for the Dutch citizens who were locked up in concentration camps, forgetting the Dutch terrorized outside the camps.But also because the very small voluntary payment in no way covers the permanent mental and physical damage sufferings inflicted on the victims by the Japanese Imperial Army. In addition the judgements by the Japanese lower courts, that Japan violated Laws and Customs of War on Land (the Hague Convention of 1907) and the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War of 1929, made clear that Japan is obligated to the Dutch victims. The Supreme Court of Japan did not come to a conclusion as it dismissed the cassation on administrative grounds. The verdicts by Japan's lower courts were not dismissed, shaming Japan forever.

Prime Minister,

In our dialogue with Japan's representatives in The Hague we will continue to seek a mutually acceptable resolution for the Dutch victims of the Japanese terror during World War Two. The 70th Anniversary of the ending of World War Two is the opportune moment to make such a resolve and would give the 25th Anniversary of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts a "silver lining".

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,



CLOUDS  are covering the flag of the Rising Sun of Japan. I wonder how long these clouds will cover this red spot in Japan's flag. The white flag with the red dot in the middle, which they (Japan) calls "The Rising Sun".

This is the name my mother and the thousands of women who were prisoners of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War Two gave ' the flag with the red blood spot in the middle'."That is the flag of Japan'' : my mother would say. How she and all the women hated that flag. Japan has forgotten how cruel their Japanese army was. How they raped innocent girls and young mothers, who were locked up by these barbaric men. These women were totally helpless and were abused every day by these monsters. How can one ever forget what these monsters did to my mother and her sister.How can one ever forget seeing your mother being beaten over and over again in front of your eyes. As little as we were, we knew how our mothers suffered, we could feel it. I will never be able to say that I forgive these monsters what they had done to my mother.I will forever ask the question "WHY?"

Bnajoebiroe 10, the last camp where we were held by the Japs.

Interior of our living room, dining room, bed room and play room.   

Sharing whatever space we had was sometimes not easy.
History continued to be a large part of my life. Whenever WW2 is mentioned or there are memorial services held I have to think about my mother, her sister and their husbands. I think about the Asian Holocaust, then I discover that there are large parts missing from the stories of WW2  It touches deep emotions inside of me, almost to the point that I become angry. How is it possible that Japan has never dealt with this legacy? Why is it that Japan of today keeps denying the unbelievable violence inflicted by their Imperial Japanese military during WW2. Many people were brutally murdered. This was the holocaust of Asia. Many millions of people suffered at the hands of this barbaric Imperial Japanese army. Many perished. Most of the casualties Civilians, innocent women, children and men.Many women and young girls brutally raped and tortured and then killed. Young girls forced into sexual slavery, recruited at Imperial Japan's behest  with the knowledge of the Japanese government authorities.

The following poem has been written by a Service Man while a prisoner of the Japanese during World War Two.
The Writer is unknow,


There are clouds across the sun
In this South Pacific isle
Yes, dark clouds across the sun
And white men no longer smile
We had comrades who were foolish
That to give " Escape " a try.
For they know our captors story
For "Escape" someone will die.

There are windows by the fireside
Who know not of their loss
There are orphans in the classroom
Who must soon take up the cross
That was thrown in useless gesture
By these hopeful waiting lads
But the loss would have been greater
Had they taken nine more lads.

To men of "Faith" the sun still shines
And soon there will be a day
When the sky will show the sunshine
And dark clouds "Go Away".

Note: The Japanese policy was, if one man escaped, 9 others would die.

Try Escape, this would be your faith.

The Japanese would leave them there for days, for all to see.

Sadly for those who lived, carry the scars forever. Those who survived starvation, diseases, torture and pain are more hopeless enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.God bless all of you who survived the horrific hell of the POW camps.

                                                          Survivors from HELL. 

Before and after.
I wonder how they got on with life.
We smile, we survived hell on earth.
Just a reminder to Japan, how it really was. You can't white wash your past. Its time to take the blame and remove the shame.

                                                           We who will remain,

We are indeed the lucky and unlucky ones,
As we are the ones who have lived to tell the tales of those we once knew.

We are the ones who carry those scars of things seen,done and lost
We are the ones who must never let those who are not here be forgotten by the new,

We are the ones who will never need to be reminded that "We will Remember Them"
As we are the ones who will always remember those we forever call friend. 

Written by Anthony Devanny a serving soldier.

Another Tuesday in front of the Japanese embassy in The Hague.
Three camp survivors from Banjoebiroe 10.
On the left it is me Thea, in the middle Mrs. van Kampen who now is 88 years young and on the right my cousin Toby van Driel.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Petition;# 244, Our monthly demonstration in The Hague.

                                         FOUNDATION OF JAPANESE HONORARY DEBTS 
                                                                                     NGO, STATUS ROSTER

His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan

The Hague,10 March 2015
Petition; 244

Subject; Marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two


The appointment of a special panel to advise you how to mark the 70th anniversary of World War Two demonstrates the importance you seem to attach to the remembrance.Many individuals, organizations and nations urge you to take this opportunity to acknowledge the historic facts and accept the consequences.Simply an apology statement is unacceptable. To gain worldwide respect and integrity Japan must pass an act declaring the historic facts and accept the consequences, displaying remorse and expressing guilt for its war time actions. Anything less is a missed opportunity and will continue to influence Japan's economic political position globally.

Prime Minister,

The last 70 years Japan spent much time to improve its image of a peace and law abiding nation. However in not recognizing the emotional and material consequences of the lost war Japan failed to reconcile and to see the impact of historical memories for future international relations. Under the terms of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty Japan obtained sufficient opportunities to correct what the war did to the people of the occupied territories. In accordance with the Peace Treaty Japan had no legal obligations, but in knowing the historic facts it should have concluded that there were overwhelming moral reasons to pay respect to the victims and compensate them. It is still not too late to recognize the moral responsibility Japan has. The remembrance of the ending of World War Two is a good moment to reconsider.

Prime Minister,

Crown Prince Naruhito stated the need to remember World War Two "Correctly". King Willem Alexander reminded "We will not forget - cannot forget - the experiences in the Second World War". Prime Minister Koizumi said "I believe that our country painfully aware of its responsibilities with feelings of  apology and remorse should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations". Many others have made the point that "whitewashing history will misfire". They are clear messages which must be adhered to in the forthcoming remembrance of the end of World War Two. The panel of experts advising you should take these remarks in consideration. We look forward to Japan's Declaration of Historic Facts, acknowledge these and accept the moral responsibility.

On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,




Japan's memory of the past seems very short. The worst part of memory is that Japan tend to forget, and lose sight of the importance that war comes with a terrible price. Freedom came with many graves,war graves to remind us.For those who survived the horrors of that horrible War, the terrible treatment they received from their captors will never go away.  Japan seems to have forgotten that they were the ones who started this horrible war. This Japan of today seems to forget that starting a war comes with horrendous responsibilities, which never will go away. Japan seems to be a nation that doesn't like to acknowledge the consequences of that war, which they started in the first place.
Its important to remember what the Netherlands Indonesian people had to go through during World War Two in the Dutch East Indies.Its important to remember that after six years of hostilities Japan's capitulation in the Pacific came finally to an end at a cost of millions of death.Its important to remember those, who gave their lives, so we could live in freedom. Its important that this will never be forgotten.Its this year 70 years ago that this horrible war came to an end, at a terrible price.Japan has failed to atone for abuses carried out during World War Two as of today. At the Yasukuni Shrine are 14 top war criminals honored. This is the cause of tension not only in Northeast Asia but with other countries as well.
And it is just as important for those who listen, to document those remembrances for those who's lives are over. That personal knowledge would otherwise been lost forever.We live in a time now where everyone seems to be just looking ahead as though we deem nothing in the past worthy of our attention. The future is always fresh and exciting, and it has a pull on us. But it is important to "discover" by simply looking behind us. There is so much to learn from the past.
This August it will be 70 years ago that Japan capitulated. Japan has never taken any responsibility for the atrocities their former military army inflicted on innocent people.Japan took away our freedom they tortured, starved, worked and raped us to death. The Nazis took the Jews to gas chambers while the Japanese used the prisoners, until they dropped dead from exhaustion.There were plenty to replace them. Japan of today perfumed World War Two with their sweetly-scented lies. Its time to stop lying and face the truth. Deal with history, start paying respect to the feelings of the people who are still alive today.Stop ignoring us. Its a discrimination against the victims.

The voices of the dead.
A poem by Harry Riley

                                               REMEMBER ME!

                                               Remember me!

                                       Duty called and I went to war
                                       Though I'd never fired a gun before
                                       I paid the price for a new day
                                      As all my dreams were blown away.

                                               Remember me!

                                      We all stood true as whistles blew
                                     And faced the shell and stench of Hell
                                     Now battle's done, there is no sound
                                    Our bones decay beneath the ground
                                    We cannot see, or smell, or hear
                                    There is no death, or hope or fear.

                                            Remember me!

                                    Once we, like you, would laugh and talk
                                   And run and walk and do the things that you all do
                                   But now we lie in rows so neat
                                   Beneath the soil, beneath your feet.

                                          Remember me!

                                    In mud and gore and blood of war
                                   We fought and fell and move no more
                                   Remember me, I'm not dead
                                   I'm just a voice within your head.

At last, after 70 years we know where you are.

Last year when my husband and I were visiting my aunt Anneke in The Netherlands,my mothers youngest sister, the only one who is still alive today showed us some old photographs. On one of the photographs was a young boy sitting beside this young girl. When I asked my aunt Anneke who these people were she told me that the girl was my Oma (grandmother) and the young boy was my Oma's brother.She told me that my mother was named after him. His name was Sietze Stenekes and they changed the name into Sietske.I asked what happened to my Oma's brother and she told me that one day he signed up to sail on a ship.Then the war broke out in Europe and they never heard from him again.
The only picture we have from my great uncle, the brother of my grandmother, as a young boy. On the left my grandmother.

Will continue....

Of course curiosity got the better of me, and I started to dig into the internet. I thought if he had been in San Francisco on a merchant ship it could well be that just like my step-father he was on one of the ships which were taking supplies to the front lines during World War Two in the Pacific.
And there it was, Sietze Stenekes passed away on the beach in Brasil. Than to my surprise I read that a book had been written about the history of the ship the " ZAANDAM " ( 1939-1942 )
The books title is "Destination New York"

Zaandam put in service (January 1939)

This book tells the extraordinary story of the captain, crew members and passengers of the Dutch passenger ship ZAANDAM of the Holland-America Line (HAL) in the beginning of World War II. The Zaandam was a new vessel. with the capacity of 125 passengers and 10,000 tons of cargo. She was put into service in 1939 between Rotterdam and New York on the day that British prime-minister Chamberlain visited the Italian dictator Mussolini to discuss the political tensions in Europe.In the period that followed the vessels of the HAL had begun to experience the first signs of the coming struggle. During the summer an increasing number of German Jews and other opponents of the Nazi Regime were trying to leave Europe.It became worse on September 1st when war broke out between Germany, Poland, Great Britain and France.During this period, when The Netherlands staid neutral, her ships, together with those of the United States, bore the brunt of repatriating tens of thousands of Americans, mostly summer tourists who had been stranded in Europe. The British, French and Germans had taken their passenger ships out of service. The London, Paris and Rotterdam offices of the HAL were besieged by anxious travelers.

Dutch ships and the breath of war

In the fall of 1939 the vessels brought in more passengers, far above their regular capacities.Hundreds slept on mattresses in cabins and public rooms. This process brought to The Netherlands the first hot breath of war and the newspaper publicity on the arrivals of the ships in the United States was tremendous. Movie stars, diplomats, prominent businessmen and even royalty, were forced to travel under makeshift conditions due to the overcrowding.
Several ships were stopped at sea by the fighting countries, some by German U-boats and other by British warships.The rush of repatriates began to decrease within a few weeks when the dangers of travel became greater.
The sinking of several Dutch ships and the many casualties in that period were the reason that the management of the HAL decided to withdraw the larger ships from service. The Nieuw Amsterdam (36,0000 gross tons) was laid up at her Hoboken pier at New York and the Statendam (28,000 gross tons) at Rotterdam.The service was maintained by the smaller passenger ships. During the winter of 1939-1940, three ships of the company, the Binnendijk, Spaarndam and the Burgerdijk, were sunk by mines.Several crew members and passengers died.

On route to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia)

During the German invasion of The Netherlands on May 10th, 1940, the Zaandam was somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean on its way from New York to Cape Town with passengers and cargo. The final destination was Batavia (Djakarta) in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Captain Stamperius had received orders to bring his vessel in the New York-Java Line service. Far from home, but quite safe, ship and crew sailed the year that followed in the Pacific Ocean.

Equipped with arms

The situation in the Pacific changed on December 7th, 1941, when Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. This attack was also the start of their military operations in Southeast Asia. It was the second majar catastrophe for The Netherlands, because the Japanese were on their way to conquer the Dutch East Indies.
The day after Pearl Harbor was attacked; the Zaandam was almost ready to depart from San Francisco for Singapore with a hundred passengers and a full cargo. Sailing orders were cancelled and on the 14th the Dutch Government requisitioned the ship's services and transferred her to the Commandant of Sea Forces at Batavia. She finally sailed on December 26th, with her cargo, but during the delay, a four inch gun and two anti-aircraft guns were installed on board, as well as protection for the bridge and the radio room. Third officer Willem Broekhof was trained in San Francisco and became the gunnery-officer.
( Sietze Stenekes, my great- uncle had received training in San Francisco to handle the guns on board, that's how he ended up on the Zaandam, that's why his family never knew that he had changed ships)
The route was via New Zealand and the south coast of Australia to Oosthaven on Sumatra. Many warnings of Japanese submarines were received and on February 3rd the Zaandam arrived in Lampong Bay.
There was much confusion at Oosthaven and reports came in that the British had evacuated Malacca and withdrawn to Singapore. Thousands of evacuees, civilians as well as military, had reached Palembang (Sumatra) and had been transported to Java.
On February 8 the ship departed for Tjilatjap (south coast of Java), arriving there two days later to find the river crowded with large and small vessels, as well as United States warships. The next two weeks were spent in trying to get unloaded, but without success.

Attacked by Japanese fighters

On February 27, all the ships in the port were instructed to proceed to sea, but the Zaandam was ordered to return, as she had been designated to carry evacuees. She cruised off the coast all night. The next morning three Japanese planes appeared, but when they saw the ships guns open fire, they held off. In the meantime, the vessel began to turn in circles at high speed. After three attacks the Japanese gave up.

Escaping from Java to Australia with 892 evacuees.

Back in Tjilatjap the next day, March 1, people started streaming on board. There were British and Australian troops, Dutch air force personnel and their families, the staff of the U.S. Consulate and some civilians of various nationalities, including women and children. There was no check of the embarkations. To complicate matter, the British destroyer HMS Stronghold came alongside with a hundred persons, some injured, she had rescued from the British vessel City Of Manchester. It was finally determined that 892 persons came on board the Zaandam. There was a full clear moon. The little motorboat, which was supposed to come out to take off pilot  Droste, didn't show up. Captain Stamperius had no alternative then to take him and the assistant harbormaster Van Raalte along. As their families were ashore, their agony of mind can easily be imagined. In the evening the Zaandam was escorted by the Stronghold, but left her station during the night for unknown reasons. Later on that night the Stronghold was sunk by Japanese cruisers after a heavy and unequal fight.
The next day a lifeboat with 30 persons was picked up. They were survivors of the Dutch vessel Tomohon. The lifeboat itself had rescued three men from the Norwegian steamer Prominent. Both ships had also been sunk during the night by Japanese warships. Continuous calls were heard from ships being attacked by submarines, planes and surface ships. On March 6th, the Zaandam arrived safely at Fremantle in Australia where the refugees were disembarked.
It was April 27 before the Zaandam had been unloaded and loaded again with wool for Antofagasta, Cile, where she arrived on May 17. There she took abroad a cargo of copper for New Orleans. Despite many submarine warnings in the Gulf of Mexico the vessel arrived at the Louisiana port safely on June 4.

With the secret convoy AS-4 to the Middle East

In July, 1942, the Zaandam sailed in a small and fast convoy from Brooklyn with U.S. Army personnel, Sherman tanks and ammunition food for Cape Town. From Cape Town she was part of a British convoy proceeding to the Red Sea and Ismalia in the Suez Canal. Here the men and supplies were discharged to provide the British general Montgomery's forces for his attack on the German general Rommel at El Alamein a few weeks later.
The Zaandam returned to Cape Town, stayed there three days and sailed on October 21. She had 169 passengers, comprised for the most part of officers and crew members of torpedoed American merchant ships. The crew of the Zaandam numbered at that moment 130, so that the total aboard was 299.

Torpedoed on it's way to New York, 137 persons missing

On Novemeber 2, several hundred miles off Recife, Brazil, the ship was struck by two torpedoes of the U-174 and sank in thirteen minutes. It happened in the afternoon when second officer Willem Broekhof was on duty on the bridge.
The last seen of the Zaandam , were her screws sticking right out of the water. When she went under, bow first as though she was diving, she made a noise like a waterfall and there was a great big wave. There were a lot of bamboo rafts floating around, pieces of hatch covers that had been blown out by the explosion. People were hanging onto rafts which were built to give a man some support, but not to carry him to the hatch covers and to any piece of wreckage they could find.
Among the victim's in this vortex of destruction were captain Jacob Stamperius and captain Jan Pieter Wepster of the Volendam, who was a passenger. Stamperius was 58.Except for a short spell on leave, he had been her commander continuously since her maiden voyage from Rotterdam to New York, 1939. He decided to stay on the bridge.
About a month after the sinking, figures were released giving 162 of those abroad accounted for, with 137 dead and missing. For the latter little hope was held.

60 survivors reached the Brazilian coast.( one of them was Sietze Stenekes, my great- uncle)

The 162 men who survived landed at widely divergent points, in three lifeboats. Two boats, under the command of second officer Karsten Karssen, were picked up on November 7 by American tanker Gulf State and landed at Port of Spain, Trinidad, on November 13. One boat was carrying 72 men, the other carried 34.
The third boat, commanded by second officer Willem Broekhof, carrying 60 men, landed in a remote part of the Brazilian coast on November 10, after being in a leaking boat for eight days..(This was the leaking boat Sietze Stenekes was on) Broekhof kept a diary during these eight days. In the early morning of the 10th, land was sighted. He manoeuvred his boat carefully through the surf. The men got out of the boat and kissed the beach.

They found they were half a mile of Ponte dus Mongues and four and a half miles west of the Rio Perguicas. They found some fishermen who took them five miles up the river to Pharo. In the afternoon Willem Broekhof left on horseback for Barreirinhas, where he arrived at night and reported to the chief of police there. The British consul then took charge and the men were well cared for until they were well enough to travel back to the United States. Two men died during there stay in Brazil. One of them was my great- uncle Sietze Stenekes, who was badly wounded.
Sietze was buried in Barreirinhas. Later his remains were transferred to Puerto Rico National Cemetery where he is buried as an American soldier.Sietze was 56 years old.
Now we finally know, after 70 years. Your father and mother, your sister, your cousins, nephews and nieces always wondered what happened to you. So sad for your sister my Oma (grandmother) she has had her share. Two son in laws killed by the Japanese, one of them found a grave on the bottom of the sea and one of them (my father) worked to death on the Burma railroad as a slave laborer. May you all rest in peace.
Sietze, brother of my Grandmother.
Kanchanaburi , Thailand.
My grandmothers son in law Klaas van der Wal.My father.
 The  0-16 went down and found her last resting place
My grandmother's son in law Tobias van Driel.
Tobias was married to one of my grand mother's daughters, the wreck of the 0-16 was not found until 2005. The two daughters who made it safely home, after being captured by the Japanese and spend three and a half years in concentration camps on the island of Java.It has not been easy for my Oma (grandmother) Two of her girls so far away, both losing their husbands and to have never known what had happened to her brother.A war brings so many tears and pain. A war will end, the living will mourn, and can do nothing to cope...but cry....

83 days on a life raft

As harrowing as the eight days was on the life boat, it could not match that of a trio of other Zaandam survivors. Three months after the Zaandam went down, the total missing persons had been reduced by three, when a raft was picked up by a U.S. Navy patrol craft, PC 576. On the raft were Kees van der Slot, 37, of Rotterdam, an oiler, Nicko Hoogendam, a 17 year old Dutchman from Vlaardingen, and Basil Izzi, 20, from South Barre, Massachusetts, of the American gun crew on the Zaandam. The men had drifted for eighty-three days, from November 2, 1942, to January 24,1943. Originally there had been five men on the raft, which measured only eight by nine feet.George Beezley, an American sailor who had been a passenger on the Zaandam died after sixty-six days, Ensign James Maddox of the U.S. Navy, who had been in command of the gun crew on board of the Zaandam, passed away on the seventy-seventh day.They kept themselves alive with plenty rain water, food was the major problem. They finally managed to catch a bird on Thanksgivings Day, just after they had been passed by the first of three ships that didn't see them. After that they caught a shark, using their toes through a noose as a lure, but the meat would spoil in a few hours.
Finally they were rescued by the US Navy patrol boat, PC 576, which detached itself from convoy whose planes had spotted them, the men were living skeletons and had lost about eighty pounds each in the more than two thousand miles they had drifted.

                                                              WAR ( a poem by Win Rainer)

Can anyone forget the war
The principles worth fighting for,
Can we ever accept loss of life
The sadness and emptiness of a wife,
Times are changing that we know
Leave our young in peace to grow
How can they achieve and understand
Any nation over land,
Power is a mighty blade
That never achieved any grade
Young people have the right
To their life without a fight 
To make their way in peace
War is nobodies release.