The liberation

Augustus 1945. The Japanese occupation was just as much a surprise to the civilians and prisoners of war in the camps as to the Indonesians. Even to the Japanese soldiers. The capitulation was announced days later in the camps; the announcement did not however take place on the same day. You were not yet able to leave. The Japanese were given orders to let the prisoners stay in the camps until the arrival of the Allies. They would be authorized then. This announcement was printed on tickets that were thrown out of airplanes together with food packages, above the camps at least because they knew where the camps where situated. There was no anti-Dutch attitude in the first couple of weeks. Hundreds of Indonesians and Chinese, for example, went to the camp Siringorfingo. They undertook a long journey from remote plantations or Medan. Willem Klooster, the former editor-in-chief of the Deli Journal, described how they greeted the former Dutch internees and how they were not able to suppress their emotions. They brought baskets filled with fruit, chicken, eggs, rice, sugar and cigarettes and asked if they could do more for them. They also told how they suffered from the Japanese occupation and how the Kempetai had murdered their friends. They described how they took everything and how they were beaten up and abused. How they lived in constant fear during three and a half years under the regime of the Nippon. The former internees received touching letters from Indische friends and former personnel, in which they showed their affection (Geschiedenis van Indonesie). This situation changed drastically, however, in September.
We did not really notice the liberation, because we were too dopey. We did receive more food and the medicine that the Japanese withheld before. We were lucky, because it was not until the year 1947 that the most remote camps were liberated as well!
As written down in reports that were later found in Singapore, it turned out that at 1 August 1944 the Japanese announced that every internee had to be murdered. The camp commanders had to decide for themselves how they would do this. Japan wanted to commit genocide. The surviving Dutchmen of those who had been imprisoned in 1942 in 155 camps were put together in August 1945 in 43 camps. A lot of prisoners had to dig their own graves due to the announced genocide. But this military order was never fulfilled, due to the two American atom bombs on Japan.
One bomb (Little Boy) on the army city Hiroshima at 6 August caused 66.000 deaths and 69.000 injured. The bomb Fat Man at 9 August on the navy city Nagasaki caused 39.000 deaths and 25.000 injured. These numbers increased after a while.
The very first atom bomb exploded in July 1945 in the U.S.A. There was thus no racist argument to throw one on Japan. Safeguarding the Kokutai (translated as national identity) and the emperorship was more important than the death of their entire population. The Japanese government hesitated even after the atom bombs exploded on Japanese soil (Hugo Röling, NRC).
Hideki Tojo, who had ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, wanted to continue after the American atom bombs were thrown on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Capitulation was a disgrace, according to him. Japanese generals, the army, were convinced that they could still win the war. At 10 August 1945, the first Japanese atom bomb exploded at the research center Hungnan in (now North-) Korea under the direction of professor Nishima. The Japanese centers in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka were not yet ready.
Hideki Tojo was hanged in 1948. Hirohito decided to give in to an unconditional surrender, on the condition that he could still fulfill the role of the emperor. Were the bombs thus not decisive? There is a discussion about this on See also “Voice of the Crane” lecture by Hans Liesker.
Cultural differences between West and East have made the communication about this difficult. The capitulation did prevent the genocide from happening, because the Emperor retracted this order just in time. The Korean Li Uck Kwan, who worked at the department of General Affairs of the headquarters for prisoners of war and internees at Java, testified at 23 April before the Allied War Crimes Investigation Committee. They were instructed to cause uproar with the 2000 men from camp Tjimahi, so that they could shoot the internees while they were on the run. If they did not succeed, they would move the prisoners outside of the cities and kill them there (De Japanese burgerkampen…..)
Even without the military order for genocide, we would have died within three months because of the hunger edema and our condition.
The question remained whether or not Japan would capitulate. It did not look like it. The amount of death and injured was estimated as very high if the war continued. This amount of death would even exceed the death caused by the atom bombs. It is of course not ethical to consider the numbers, but it is true that the amount of death in the participating countries would have been higher if the war had continued. The United States estimated that 250.000 more American soldiers would have died and 5 million Japanese.