The gate was opened by a group of shabby looking Indonesian men who were very surprised when they saw all those Dutch women and children.
They received orders from the Japanese military and that had to be translated in Malay again while we stood there in front of the gate just waiting for what would happen next to all of us.
Slowly we walked into the prison, into a new nightmare. It was a very old and very dirty prison and later on when we lived there with 5000 women and children, we learned that this prison was built for 1000 prisoners only.
My mother, Henny, Jansje and I were brought to ward 14, an empty ward. We were told to wait for our mattresses so we just stood there as tired as we were from our horrible journey. There was not much light either, but thank goodness there came our mattresses… or not? My mother and many of the other ladies were angry because we all received some very dirty mattresses. Where were ours? They must have been stolen.
Thank goodness our cabin-trunks arrived, so we found some clean sheets to cover these stinky mattresses. We lay down, Henny, my mother, Jansje and then I, the four of us, close together. We were very hungry by now and frightened because the Japanese had barred the door of our ward and that had made an elderly lady, Mrs. Schaap cry, she kept on saying that her heart was hurting her and that she couldn't breath well. We all felt very sorry for her, but we couldn't help her, she looked so helpless on her mattress, the poor woman.
At last the door was opened and the Indonesian prisoners brought us some sort of a soup in a big barrel and we each we received a small bow with soup. It tasted good but don't forget we were very hungry. Everybody in ward 14 said “goodnight” to each other but hardly anyone of us slept that night. The elderly lady was dying, she kept on crying from pain, she died around 5 o'clock in the morning, she was the first dead woman in this prison. It was all so terribly sad, it made a deep impression on Henny and me. I was half asleep when Mrs. Schaap was taken away from our ward. I had to go to the toilet so I went out to find one. Luckily there was a toilet not far from our ward, I saw others going there too. When I came back “home” to try to sleep a little, I noticed that we everyone of us looked red all over.
This was just another nightmare, everybody in our ward was bitten by thousands of bed-bugs! So we all started killing those bugs and when we went outside the ward while the sun was rising we saw that the whole camp had the same type of visitors that night. In the meantime we found out that all the Indonesian prisoners were gone, we never saw them back again. But they had prepared a barrel with tea (without sugar) and our breakfast. We each received a small bowl of starch that I could hardly get through my throat, but my mother forced me to eat it, for there was nothing else but starch.
A couple of women were ordered to work in the filthy kitchen from then on. They had to clean the kitchen before starting to cook. What a mess, Mrs. Zeewald was in charge of what had to be done in and around that kitchen.
We also had to choose one of us to be at the head of each ward, and at the end also one lady to be at the head of the whole camp and she would be hold responsible for everything that went wrong in the camp/prison.
We all did our best to get this prison, our new home, a little cleaner. Quite difficult because there was not enough water and nothing else to clean with than our hands.
I looked up at those high walls around me, was this going to be our life and for how long? Luckily for me and everyone else we didn't know yet how long we had to stay in this place, it was only the 15th of February 1944, for the Japanese 2604.
Three days later, the 18th of February we heard a lot of noise and people talking outside the walls and then when the gate was opened, we saw 950 more women and children walking into our prison, they came from Kediri and Madiun, East-Java. One of them was our aunt Miep. When they met she told my mother that my uncle Pierre was taken to the Kempeitai prison in Batavia, today Jakarta.
This meant that both brothers were now imprisoned by the Kempeitai, it made me feel very sad that day.
Two brothers Pierre and Theo in better times