The year 1941 was a very busy year, we had many visitors on Sundays and we were often going somewhere. Also my school life was very busy, and I had lots of fun with my friends as well. I still see 1941 as a very happy year in my life.
My uncle Pierre and aunt Miet came to visit us with their expensive Ford.
I could see that they were a lot richer than we were, but somehow I felt that there was more happiness in our house. Anyhow it was always fun when my uncle Pierre came to visit us, especially for my father, I really liked this uncle.
And then all of a sudden on the 7th of December Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Over 2400 Americans were killed, five of the eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk, most combat planes were knocked out. It was dramatic!
Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government staying in London, since the Netherlands was occupied by the Germans, issued the following proclamation:
“The Kingdom of the Netherlands considers itself in a state of war with Japan”
It was as if the world stood still…
Many Dutch panicked, yet others were still optimistic as they were convinced that Japan could never win from America, Australia and Great Britain.
My father was one of the optimistic ones, but of course both my parents were extremely worried, most of all about their three girls.
At school we learnt a lot about Pearl Harbor, about Hawaii, about America, about Australia and about the British colonies in the Far East, books and maps were all over our desks.
Christmas was celebrated soberly in 1941 since the Japanese were slowly coming closer towards the Dutch East Indies. We had no visitors that year for Christmas, just the five of us.
My father told the Indonesians from Sumber Sewu that we were in war with Japan but that he hoped that the Japanese troops wouldn’t come to the Indonesian islands.
I guess that the Indonesians already knew all that bad news, because they have their “Kabar Angin” meaning that the news was brought on by the wind. What the Indonesians really thought of a coming war…we didn’t know.
When New Year came we just hoped that our country would be spared, or at least the island Java. My father received an order from the Army in Malang that he had to protect Sumber Sewu and some other plantations in the neighbourhood. He also had to train some of the young Indonesians from Sumber Sewu, he said that he liked doing this.
My father received weapons and ammunition to keep at home in order to protect his region. He took it all very serious.
Life went on as usual, but at that moment none of us knew that the attack on Pearl Harbor would change our lives forever.