The world is changing

Before May 1940, even before the Germans invaded the Netherlands, my father and mother left the country with Claartje and were on their way back to the Dutch East Indies.

On September 27, 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact. A sign of things to come. I was eight years old when our peaceful life in the countryside came to an end.

As early as 1937, when Japan began its expansion in China, it became clear that the Samurai sword played a significant role. There are photos and films of competitions showing how many people they could behead in one minute. This photo shows how much enjoyment they took in it.

a man in a black and white photo of a man holding a gun
a man in a black and white photo of a man holding a gun

They show a total lack of respect for human life. The individual does not count. Everything was sacrificed for the war. Even their own women and children had to contribute to this. More than 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers were systematically raped, tortured, and murdered (The Rape of Nanking). This is also referred to as the other Holocaust.

John Rabe, a representative of Siemens, lived in China for 30 years. He turned his residence in Nanking into a safety zone and was able to save 250,000 people from the slaughter. He wrote to Hitler asking him to make the Japanese stop this! (apparently unaware of what Hitler himself was doing!) (The Good German of Nanking). His house has been a museum and an international research center for peace and reconciliation since 2006.

Now, Japan's eye had fallen on the large and fertile Dutch East Indies. The Japanese primarily wanted oil. Contrary to what the Japanese portrayed about the Dutch, the following were the opinions of a Japanese lieutenant general about the Dutch colony to his government in Tokyo.