We need to commemorate this day and not allow it to fade into a vague memory.

I wonder what is happening there today. It will not be the remembrance that the Dutch Navy Community had visualized now he wrecks of the two cruisers are completely gone and of the destroyer largely gone. The sacred war graves have been desecrated.

Other than grumblings from the English Navy and the Australian Navy and hints of the cooperation of the Indonesian Government I have read very little about implementation of plans to stop the looting.


  1. Henri E, Sebek October 3, 2018 at 11:34 pm #

    Dear Leo,

    Quick intro: born november 24th, 1929 in Tegal (Central Java), lived in Bandoeng two years prior to and during the Japanese occupation including the Bersiap debacle.
    Before the schools restarted I worked in the OR at Bandoeng’s Borromeus hospital and saw the products/results of atrocities perpetrated by the alleged Indonesian freedom fighters. After some arm twisting I agreed to write about said atrocities and was completely blown away by the affect it had on me while writing the paper and after completion of same. Relived the trauma as if it was this morning. Therefore, I decided to refrain form discussions pertaining to the occupation and Bersiap fiasco, we all have our own unique experiences and views of these situations. To clarify: “Ask three Rabbi the same question, get five answers.”

    I do admire your desire to write your book and wish you the best of luck with your endeavor.
    “Pukul Terus.”


    P.S. My wife and I never had the desire to visit Indonesia, the country has changed and so have we.
    Lilian Harvey sang: “Das gibts nur einmal das kommt nicht wieder.”

    • Leo Keukens October 6, 2018 at 1:29 pm #

      Dear Henri,
      I share your feeling about visiting Indonesia. I am afraid to and more and more so as time goes by and things deteriorate. When friends ask why I have not gone back and introduced my wife to the land of my wonderful early memories, I always hesitantly mumble a different analogy from my travels to other parts of the world. “Das gibts nur einmal …” will have to suffice from now on.

      My experiences during the Bersiap period were in Soerabaja during the month of October 1945. It was such a traumatic bloody chaos from our arrival in Soerabaja on “the last train to Soerabaja” till the last few days prior to our evacuation to Singapore in the beginning of November 1945, that I can only remember those last few days. I need to mention here as a point of reference that the British did not land in Surabaya until October 25, 1945, represented by the 49th Infantry Brigade (Mahratta). My mind continues to protect me by hiding everything I suffered in its deepest catacombs. I never had the vaguest of dreams or a wisp of a hint. It did not happen. I believed for 60 years that we were in a house in the Darmo Wijk of Soerabaja for just 3 or 4 days, till I read the 2008 book Silenced Voices by Inez Hollander and exchanged many emails with her. Silenced Voices covers the colonial history of her grandfather’s family and graphically describes the deadly evacuation transport in the early evening of October 28 attempting to move the last group of women and children from a more dangerous part of Soerabaja (Goebeng quarter) to the safer Darmo quarter. Her aunt with 2 daughters and 1 son were on that transport, now known as the Goebeng Transport. The 2 girls were grisly murdered and the boy was wounded by shrapnel in his legs. Many “Gurkha” (actually Mahratta) were killed. Based on Inez Hollander’s research and other reports, all the ex-internees on the last train to Surabaya were taken to the Goebeng quarter and we must also have been in the Goebeng quarter. As my mother, older brother and I arrived in Singapore unscathed, we must have been among the lucky ones who were transported to Darmo earlier that day.

      The three of us never discussed or acknowledge what happened to us that month. It is years too late to do that now. Some people knowledgeable in hypnosis have suggested that I tap into my memory of that period through hypnosis. They have also warned me about the danger of doing that. I am fine were I am and don’t want to unleash an avalanche of memories that my mind is signalling me to stay away from.

      To help me fill that gaping hole in my memory, Inez Hollander has gracefully agreed to allow me to quote sections of her book dealing with that month of October in my memoir.

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