Food, Food, Food


Dutch Indonesia Concentration Camp, Women mopping

Filling a barrel used to distribute the food to the barracks

The moment of jubilation or disappointment came when the kitchen crew filled the barrel used to distribute food to the barracks. Food was the center of our universe. All of our thoughts revolved around food every waking hour and even in our dreams. How much would we get to eat today? When would we get it? What would it consist of? Would it be glue soup with green vegetables floating in it, or would there be some rice mixed in as well, or even some meat like we had last week? And ketela (cassava) maybe?

As time wore on, our rations slowly became slimmer and more sporadic. We could no longer count on receiving at least a splash of something to eat three times per day, and even our most substantial allotment wasn’t sufficient to help us ignore our hunger aches for a while. A bleak fear started to overwhelm each of us, a hopeless feeling that we would not make it. When was this War ever going to end?  When would this be over? When would we finally be free?

But at the moment that this fog of despair started to engulf all of us as a group, a voice far in the back would release a ray of defiant humor that lifted all our spirits. It could be a shred of a folk song with a double meaning, or a derogatory comment that had not been heard for a long time, or a flippant “At least we can all use the soup to glue photos in our photo albums tonight”.
concentration camps ww2

Carrying a barrel of food from the kitchen to the barracks