Fleeing was not an option for us. Some people fled to Australia, but many of them either died or were captured and imprisoned. The Dutch government had instructed people to stay with "their own people." My parents agreed with this and decided not to flee. There were no sanctions later for those who did not comply with this.

The Japanese reasons for internment were political and military. The internment was meant as retaliation for the treatment that Japanese citizens had received after the declaration of war on December 8, 1941. These Japanese citizens had been arrested by the Dutch as a security threat and later transferred to Australia.

The Japanese also wanted to prevent resistance and conspiracy by interning the Europeans. (History of Indonesia).

Despite their extraordinary war strategy and preparation, the Japanese were not prepared for the mixed-blood population that had developed in the 300 years of Dutch East Indies. It was difficult for them to determine who their enemy was!

In Java, it was important whether you belonged to the Totoks (people of entirely European descent), the Indo's (people with one or more Indonesian ancestors), or were entirely of Indonesian descent. This became the guideline for the Japanese in determining who to intern among the Europeans.

There were also Indo-Dutch people who voluntarily went into the internment camps out of solidarity or to help. With the family of Jacques Movig, an English teacher voluntarily went along to take care of the disabled mother Movig. She didn't have to go because of her percentage of white blood! Fortunately, she survived!

Outside Campers.

The Indo-Dutch and natives (including the "Totoks" full-blooded whites, and those who had lived in the Dutch East Indies for 3 generations) remained partly outside the internment camps, but they were also exploited. They were also at the mercy of the cruelty and arbitrariness of the occupier. Their women were also at risk of being forced into prostitution.

Outside the camps, it was also necessary to bow to the Japanese. You had to stay out of sight. Medical care, medicine, and food remained the top priority for the occupier. Income ceased in most cases. Women and children of Indo-European descent had to do without their husband/father and were left uncared for. Salaries were stopped. The scarce possessions that remained after the Japanese had evicted them from their homes were sold in exchange for food. They had to survive and could not count on help. They became isolated.

To prevent Japanese soldiers from molesting their daughters, mothers cut their hair short and dressed them in boys' clothes. Boys were recruited and had to answer whether they were anti-Japanese. According to the Japanese, Japan is a corruption of the noble word Nippon, the name that the sun goddess Amaterasu bestowed upon Japan. Those who refused to show solidarity were imprisoned in, among others, the Glodok prison in Batavia and suffered greatly.

They remained loyal to the Netherlands. A loyalty that many of them paid for with their lives. Locked up six or seven at a time in a single cell. Slowly worn down by dysentery, hunger, and torture. (Glodok)

For which queen, for which fatherland?

a map of the philippines
a map of the philippines
a letter from a man who is holding a document
a letter from a man who is holding a document

Men were imprisoned first. My father was called up. When his work stopped, so did his salary, as well as that of those who were in his service. Below is his registration form. Pendafteran: passport for foreigners, showing the percentage of white blood, costs 150 guilders.

a letter from a man who is holding a piece of paper
a letter from a man who is holding a piece of paper

Because father had already been captured, mother was alone with us on the plantation. It was a fearful period. Some Javanese people "guarded" our house in the front and back. Mother was afraid to go to sleep and would occasionally shine her flashlight outside to see if the men were still awake. The danger did not only come from the Japanese, but also from rampaging extremists who could also pay us a visit.

Mother was even able to stop such a group by calling a Japanese commander. She was very brave.

Some time later, some high-ranking Japanese military officers also came, and she had to provide them with accommodation. This was easy because we had a guest wing. However, considering the reputation of the Japanese in their treatment of women, she placed the four eldest girls with the Indonesians in the village, where they were well taken care of until the men had left.

After the men, women and children were also called to be interned.

Here is also Mother's registration form, which used the Japanese calendar!

We left with a grobak, a large chest with wheels underneath (pulled by horses) (cars were already requisitioned), in which we had placed cushions and some luggage, towards Soekaboemi. The house keys had to be turned in.

Japan is not a party to the Geneva Convention. It does try to give the outside world the impression that the conditions in the camps are good. The outside world, including the Japanese population, knew virtually nothing of the actual conditions in the camps. The image – to the extent that it existed – of the camps was strongly colored by the official Japanese reports. Japanese military censorship ensured that only approved information reached the outside world. There are prisoners who were forced to participate in film recordings. The films made show prisoners of war who look well. The reality, however, is different.

If one paid 150 guilders for a man over 18 and 100 guilders for a woman, they could stay out of the camps. (Chinese people cost less!) That turned out to be a lie. You would still be arrested and imprisoned. Shortly after the city of Soekaboemi was taken by the Japanese, the Government Controller was executed without any legal procedure. His crime: he had refused to provide women for the Japanese troops. His body lay in the street as a deterrent to others who were disobedient.

(Witnesses of War Jacques Movig)

We all stayed together, because we were five sisters. In families with boys, the boys (sometimes as young as nine years old) were separated from their parents. The Japanese had the theory that the time spent in the mother's womb counted towards a person's age. So a child of nine years old was actually considered to be ten years old, and therefore already an adult and had to be separated from his mother. It sometimes happened that a boy was coincidentally placed in the camp with his father. The boys were treated as adults and subjected to inhumane treatment. They often had to take care of the sick and the deceased in the men's camps.

Because I arrived in such a distressed state (due to my asthma), my mother managed to get some delay from a Japanese officer, so we entered the camp a little later. We had to report to Soekaboemi and stayed for a short time at a boarding school. During that time, my mother, being religious, arranged for me to have my first communion. Trees took me to the priest, who tested me on some catechism lessons. Behind the priest's back, Trees even whispered the answers to me! Then we were taken together to large halls of the SOG (Soekaboemi Educational Institution), where guards were stationed. They were the Hei-Ho soldiers. That night, I quietly sneaked on my bare feet past sleeping people and card-playing Hei-Ho soldiers to the toilet, because I really needed to go and I still knew the way in that other corridor!

After finding my way and returning past the guards, they suddenly sprang into action. There was a commotion, and my frightened cries woke up my mother and her friend, Mrs. Koomen (whom we called Aunt Katrien), who needed all their persuasive skills to free me from the guards. They succeeded. The next morning, we were transported to Bandung.

The internees ended up in camps. The word camp was a collective term for many different places of residence. These could be: Schools, convents, barracks, plantation shacks, warehouses, prisons, a kampong. So you could end up in the jungle, but also, as in our case, in a secluded district of a city. Enclosed with bamboo weaving about 2.60 meters high, they were fenced off, so that you could not see anything from the outside world and an additional barrier of barbed wire alongside. This was called "gedek". There was to be no more contact with the outside world.

In the camp, you did not know what was happening outside the camp. There could also be a big difference in which camp commander you encountered! Sometimes you could encounter a "good" Jap, but also a brute! Guards could or could not be bribed. Korea, which was annexed by Japan in 1910, provided over 200,000 people who served in the Japanese army and to guard the camps. All these factors could decide life or death. You could have to move 3 times, but also 5 times. Sometimes notes could be written in Malay. In those notes, with example sentences and a few words of your own, you could write that you were doing well. Receiving several notes at once could mean that the sender had passed away. Often one only heard after the liberation who was still alive.