FOUNDATION OF JAPANESE HONORARY DEBTS
NGO, STATUS ROSTER
His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague,10 March 2015
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.
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.
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.
Japan has still a lot to learn.ORAL HISTORIES ARE A DYING ART, WHICH IS SAD INDEED, FOR THEY SHOW APPROPRIATE RESPECT FOR THE LIVES AND EXPERIENCES OF THOSE WHO HAVE COME BEFORE US, AND HAVE EXPERIENCED THE HORRORS OF WORLD WAR TWO.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"
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.
|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.|
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.
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.