Please help me get this story told
In today’s topsy-turvy book publishing industry it does not matter that you have written the most compelling, forceful, soaring, and moving novel or memoir with sharply etched characters, displaying deep wisdom of the nature of human beings. No publisher will look at you unless you have a successful social media presence, what they call a “platform”, with a soaring number of followers.
I can do that but only with your support. Here is how:
- It is all about comments that readers (you!) make in response to my blogs and in response to other people’s comments about the blogs …….
- So, if you like the subject of with nothing but our lives and what my web site represents, please help the cause by making a comment about the web site and/or the book by scrolling to the bottom past the previous Comments and using the Leave a comment feature – I have created it for this very purpose.
- Please leave comments about other blogs as well. Do you like the subject? Do you agree with it? Do you disagree with it? Would you like me the cover it more in depth? Do you agree with an earlier comment? Please use the Leave a comment feature below the Blog.
Let me put your mind at ease if you are concerned that the information you provide
will become public:
Only the name you enter will be shown on the web site – the rest of your information
will remain safe with me.
Thank you for your help in getting this story told.
I trust you are well and that your book will soon see the light of day. Please keep us informed about your progress.
Leo has ceased to reply to this comment section,nor has he replied to any of the private emails I’ve sent during the last year and a half. Does anyone reading this know if Leo is still alive?
I wonder if you or your blog readers could give advise about whether there are actual records/names of children interned/imprisoned by the Japanese in camps on Java. The reason I ask is that a gentleman I met last week at a kampulan in a retirement village in Brisbane is trying to find ‘evidence’ for the Dutch Government that he was in a camp. He was born in 1939 in Poerworedjo and said he was ‘orphaned’ at the time of the War. He said he no longer has anyone living, in Holland or Australia who can verify his claims in order to be able to receive any compensation payments from the Dutch Government. (My own parents are Of Dutch heritage who survived the prison camps, the Burma railway and then the Bersiap time). I have been trolling the internet looking for free sites relating to civilians or children prisoners of the Japanese in NEI but with no success. I would be most grateful if anyone is able to direct my search. Unfortunately I don’t read Dutch but have started using the online translator website which are useful. Thanks for your time and all the best with your writing endeavours.
Well, Bonnie, I must say that I don’t have a good feeling about the situation that you describe, but let us see what we can do to help you roll this bolder uphill for the gentleman. I will cover some generalities here and contact you directly later once specific, and more personal information, about this gentleman develops.
There are a number of key times when information was generated and any questions that he can answer pertaining to these times will help immensely. Everyone will understand that his answers will be second or third hand considering he was barely 3 when the Japanese conquered the NEI and 6 when the War ended.
1 Registration Cards
In the spring of 1942, the Japanese Government issued the decree that all adults (basically women as the majority of the men had been rounded up by that time) had to register themselves and their children and carry their registration card with them at all times. The card displayed a photo and thumbprint of the adult and was in Japanese, including using the Japanese calendar year 2602 for 1942. Children were described but not listed by name
As the card is in the name of the adult, the question is whether he was still with his mother at that time or with another person who was taking care of him. This is a major source for tracing him, so names are crucial.
This site used to provide copies of the Registration Cards of the KNIL and the Dutch Navy. They may be able to give you more than that.
2 Transfer to camps
As Poerworedjo (I assume the larger Poerworedjo East of Jogjakarta) is in Central Java it is likely that he was in one of the many camps for women and children in Central Java. Does he know the name of the camp he wound up in?
This site lists all of the camps on Java (individual camp details are in English): https://www.japanseburgerkampen.nl/Java-kampen.htm
It is also known as the “Henk Beekhuis website”. I have not had a need to seek Henk’s help but I have been told by a number of people that he is a good bloke.
This is the home page of the above site that provides a number of links to additional sources: https://www.japanseburgerkampen.nl/
Another source, also partially in English, is: https://www.indischekamparchieven.nl/
I know of no surviving formal lists of the occupants of the respective camps maintained by the Japanese. Starting with the registration cards, the Japanese were meticulous record keepers but the commandants of the camps were instructed to destroy all records. Some apparently did destroy partially and some destroyed completely. However, former occupants of some of the larger camps gradually started to assemble lists of occupants that were continuously improved and are generally publicly available. My mother, older brother and I were transferred from Soerabaja to Moentilan and a comprehensive, but not complete, list of the occupants of Moentilan exists on the japanseburgerkampen site. All three of us are listed by name. In the beginning of August 1945 my mother and I were transferred from Moentilan to Banjoebiroe 10. The japanseburgerkampen site has a list of the occupants of Banjoebiroe 10, but we are not on it.
If you are lucky, he may be listed on such a list of a camp.
3 Repatriation boats
Did he get repatriated to The Netherlands and later emigrate to Australia or did he go directly to Australia? I know that there are some sites that provide full passenger lists of the ships that repatriated people from all areas to The Netherlands but I am not sure about “repatriation” to places like Australia. I got the details of my family’s repatriation from one of those sites but that is so many years ago that I am not able to locate the source. There used to be an official site for Tjideng that had a link to all boats with complete passenger lists but it looks like that site no longer exists. At least I could not find it.
4 Government sources
This would be my fallback source even though I know that the Dutch Government has been drawing back and relegating all material into the catacombs. I have obtained information about my father from the Dutch Red Cross that included sketchy but correct information about the three of us. I believe that part of their information came from the Red Cross in Switzerland. Their site is: https://www.rodekruis.nl/
Good luck, Bonnie. I hope this helps.
Wow thanks so much for taking the time to give me all that info. I wanted to acknowledge your reply. Until I can talk to this chap again to clarify his somewhat unclear recollections, I will refer to a couple of your suggested websites which I haven’t yet accessed.
Thanks so much again. Now that I know how a blog works I will keep a keen eye on your progress
Bonnie, Leo is probably fully immersed in finishing his book to answer immediately, so in the meanwhile I would like to say you have many mountains to climb. Few camp rosters survived and as far as I can tell, children’s names were never recorded – mine wasn’t. If your friend knows the ship and/or date he was repatriated (or sent to Australia) on he has a chance. There are some superb websites and I would suggest you begin with ‘Japanse burgerkampen.nl’ (most of it is in English). Henk Beekhuis has an exhaustive data base on the camps and has been extremely helpful in my own searches. There are also other sites (e.g. of passenger lists of those repatriated to the Netherlands – and Australia). You will find Henk’s email address on his website. As I say, it’s a start. Let us know how you get on and maybe other readers here can help with further sites to explore.
G’day Peter. Wanted to acknowledge your response, thanks very much. If I have any success in my search I will write again. You know the thing about this chaps case in his quest to provide ‘written evidence’ to the Dutch Gov so he can access compensation that so many former prisoners have received is ‘where else could a Dutch fair-haired boy, aged 3 and ‘orphaned’ have spent and survived the war but in a camp! Bureaucracy trying to cover their *%#€.
Bye and thanks again
I am relieved to read that you finally will be able to finish your much-awaited book. I know from our private emails that there were many obstacles during the last few years that precluded you from writing. I – and I am sure I speak for many others – look forward to reading your finished book in the near (?) future. Sterkte, Leo.
Thank you, Peter. I am bringing my website up to snuff and am eager to start writing again in all earnest when I am done with that in a week or so.
I came across this website looking for information on Banjoebiroe 10 where my grandmother and her 3 young children (my father and his 2 sisters) were held prison. It is good but also very hard for me to see under what conditions they were living. I found out they were in a room nr. 23 together with many others.
I will definitely try to find your book to add to my collection because this can never be forgotten.
Greetings from Holland.
Hello to Rotterdam, Holland. Good to hear from you. Thank you.
I hear frequently from people who are second and third generation, telling me or wanting to know about the experience of their parents or grandparents in the concentration camps under the Japanese on Java during WWII. Are your father and your aunts still alive? Any of the 3? I hope so.
I indeed was in Camp Banjoebiroe 10 during the last month of the war, in a new section added to the Camp to house the 2,000 additional people transferred from Moentilan. I remember very well the original section where your grandmother and your father and aunts were housed. Number 26 was a large room (one of three like it) located next to an open area near the water well that you see in the photograph on the right bottom of the Home Page. The water of that well saved my live. CLICK HERE
Please stay in touch and check my website so you will learn firsthand when my book is finished.
Dear Mr. Keukens,
Thank you for your response. My father and his older sister are alive (Thank God) and I recently spoke to my aunt about her memories of Banjoebiroe. However she says they were never in a larger room with more people, not before nor after the japanese left.They were in a cell with the 4 of them and also looking at the drawn map that is online, she says they had to turn right to enter their ‘room’ while on the map it seems like turning left. Also she said there were no trees and bushes as drawn there. But she will think and look at it again she said. I wrote/write down all she told/tells me as this should never become a forgotten part of Dutch history.
I just stumbled onto this site by chance. Tanah, the woman who commented above, is my niece. I was startled to find the pictures of the camp, Banjoebiroe. I was in that camp with my sisters Emmarie and Nita and our mother Maria. Wow, pretty awesome. Will check them out more tomorrow. Thank you.
This is a rare coincidence, Dorothy. I hope that you will be able to spend more time on my site and share with us any memories that you may have. I also hope that you use this opportunity to get together with your niece.
My Mother Emmarie Goudriaan was in a Japanese concentration camp on Java in 1942 with her Mother and 2 younger sisters….My mother was 5 yrs old. Her Father Hank Goudriaan was in different concentration camp on Java. We have photos of life in Java before and after concentration camp. My Grandmother was full Dutch and My Grandfather was Dutch Indonesian and ran a coffee plantation on Java before the concentration camp.
These are the first pictures I have seen of the concentration camps…they are truly amazing.
I am excited to hear your story…
I am glad you found your way to my web site, Tanah.
Yes, we are lucky to have these rare pictures that were taken 5 weeks after the end of the War. There are no pictures whatsoever of our first concentration camp, Moentilan (Muntilan).
I hope your book will be published, stories like yours are an important part of our history, history we should never forget.
Hartelijk bedankt, Remco. Thanks for your support. I agree and I will do my best to have the book finished by July. Please spread the word – every little bit helps.
First I like to thank you for writing your story. Not many books and films are made about this subject. There are so many things missing about this part of WW2 history. It always seems like that there was only one Second World War in Europe and little about the war in the Pacific, and nothing about the war in East and Southeast Asia. Not many people know it was a global tragedy which started in Asia in 1931 with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria. As Werner Gruhl tells in his book that this was very likely the beginning of World War Two. When you say Holocaust, people immediately connect it with the Jews and Nazi Germany. Little is known about the other holocaust committed by Japan.
My mother and I, her sister and two children were in camp Moentilan and later in Banjoebiroe 10. It seems like we have been in the same camps on Java. My memoirs were published in 2010, “I Thought You Should Know” is the title. I wrote my memoir for my children, who told me that I should publish it. I live in Canada but was born in the former Dutch Indies in Bandoeng. Every year we visit The Netherlands for a month and participate in a demonstration which takes place every second Tuesday of the month in front of the Japanese Embassy in The Hague. I meet so many interested people. Japan is very arrogant and the new PM Shinzo Abe likes to take back the few excuses they made about the atrocities they inflicted during WW2 . He likes to take back the unofficial excuses from Japan’s past. He is well known as the most supra-nationalist ever. The more books about this subject the merrier. There has been silence long enough.
Thank you for your further comments, Thea. You are right, the part of history that we lived, WWII in Southeast Asia, is something of which very few people have any inkling. I believe the reason is that we were liberated in one fell swoop by the atomic bombs with no Allied troops within two thousand miles, leaving a total void. No gradual liberation of the concentration camps by American Armies closely followed by reporters, photographers and film reporters recording the appalling scenes, as happened in Europe. No photo ops with American Generals. No photo coverage in American newspapers and magazines. The first Allied (English) troops did not land on Java till more than 2 months after the War was over. The War was no longer news by then.
Please don’t get me started on the subject of the attitude of the Japanese towards the atrocities that they committed during WW2 and even before WW2 started. I have many stories to tell, including conversations with Japanese exchange students in California in the 1960’s and 1970’s. There will be a time to deal with that after my book is finished.
Memories are there to be transmitted, they have to be shared, it would be a shame if we would not share them because they will be forever lost. Today the demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy is taking place again in The Hague. A dear friend of mine is participating every second Tuesday of the month. She travels from Tilburg to The Hague and is 87 years old. She was like me in Banjoebiroe 10, her name you might know is Elizabeth van Kampen.
My mother passed away in 2003 and I would have liked to ask her so many questions. Although I always did and she always denied my questions which were in my head. She and her sister were abused by the Japanese in camp Moentilan and in all places in the church on this property. I sat outside waiting for her to come out. I always remember her crying, and as a 4 year old I would ask her if she had been a bad girl and had received a spanking. Now I understand what happened in that church and to my mother and her sister. We were transferred to Banjoebiroe at the end of July beginning of August. Rumors said that we would be killed. We did not leave Banjoebiroe until the end of November and were in the same transport as Elizabeth van Kampen and her mother and two sisters. Our mothers were very sick and barely survived. I spend three months in a convent because my mother was in hospital. Later we were taken to Bandoeng to the Java Center were my mother met a friend of my father who survived the ordeal on the Birma railroad. My father did not make it. It’s very hard not get emotional, when I think about how my mother and her sister have suffered during that time and tried to keep us children alive. My mother’s sister’s husband died on the 016 submarine two weeks after The Netherlands had declared war to Japan, his name Tobias van Driel. One person survived his name was Cornelis Wolf he swam for 38 hours and visited my aunt in Surabaja. Her husband and Cornelis Wolf were friends.My mother’s sister was pregnant and gave birth 5 months later to a little girl. In October 1942 we were taken to Moentilan concentration camp.
Today I will receive petition 231 and will put it on my blog again, http://www.coconutconnections.blogspot.com
All the best with your book and greeting from Thea
Hi there! This article could not be written much better!
Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always talked about this. I will send this information to him.
Fairly certain he’ll have a great read. Thanks for sharing!
Leo, I’m anxiously awaiting the book. This is a fascinating topic and your first-hand experience is invaluable. I’m curious as to your thoughts or plans on the delivery of the book itself, with so many different avenues available these days. Best wishes, David
Good question. My present plan is to have the book published the old fashioned way, by a publishing house using an agent. Considering the amount of professional interest that I have received so far I have high hopes of being able to accomplish that. If this does not come about quickly enough, however, I intend to use one of the other avenues that provide the highest quality. One way or the other, I hope you won’t have to wait too long.
Your book will be of particular interest to me as I was also interned as a young boy. I was in Tjideng, Kramat and by war’s end Kampong Makassar. I was 2 years old when first interned and 5 liberated. I, too, am writing a story about those awful years but only for my younger siblings and their families and my grand- and great-grandchildren. My parents never talked much about their experiences while they were alive and I came across your site during my research. I’d like to know more about you – perhaps we may even have known each other back then!
I am glad you found my web site, Peter. Like most families, my family did not talk much about their camp experiences either. Few people did. Why would they? As all adults and boys older than 10 – 11 were in different camps, most members of a family had their own traumatic story.
I understand that Tjideng indeed was an awful camp, even for someone only 3 – 4 years old like you were then. My camps were on the opposite end of Java: Soerabaja (Surabaya), Moentilan (Muntilan) and Banjoebiru (Banyubiru).
I’m extremely impressed along with your writing abilities and also with the format in your blog. Is this a paid subject matter or did you customize it your self? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s uncommon to see a great blog like this one these days..
Thank you for your comments regarding the quality of my blog posts. To answer your flattering question, yes I write all of them myself except in the few instances when I indicate I am quoting another source.
A friend sent me information about your book and your web site. I found it extremely interesting and admire your courage and dedication to getting your life story out. Keep up the great job you are doing. Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t wait to read your book.
Thank you for your encouragement, Marlys.
This is a most amazing story, told by a most amazing man. Linda and I have had the pleasure and honor of knowing Leo and Billye for the past three years in Santa Fe. If you are at all interested in the untold stories of human struggle and the determination of the strong-willed, then you should follow Leo and his journey to tell his story, “with nothing but our lives“
Thank you, Jim.
I appreciate your heartfelt comments and putting your finger on the essence of the story, the power of hope and determination.
Very good blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any tips? Many thanks!
Yes, there are indeed so many ways to go that it is easy to get confused. I would start with paid WordPress as that gives you the option to start with a blog with all the tools and later expand to a full web site as I have.
This is an amazing story. I’ve been trying to do additional research myself to learn more about it but there doesn’t seem to be a lot out there. I do hope you get this story out. It needs to be told.
Thank you Juliette. It is indeed hard to believe that a story such as this is covered by cobwebs in a far corner of the attic that holds the memories of WWII in South East Asia.
Leo, I am pleased to be the first one to write a comment about your book and your web site.
I started reading about you and couldn’t stop. I read all the descriptions on the photos and viewed the photos. It made me cry! Now I am convinced more than ever that your book is going to be a very precious gift to all that read it. I am glad you are finally making it happen.
I just read “The Only Well” again. It really touches your heart. I can visualize you sitting there working on that ulcer and being fearful of getting caught. You are telling an amazing story and the words and visuals on your web site are making your story beautifully told. I can’t wait to read the entire book!
I am amazed at what you have accomplished in your lifetime and admire you so much!
Thank you for your lovely comments, Sharon.
I am pleased that you are indeed the first one to respond to my “Help me get this story told” Blog.