Sixty-five little boys

On the sixteenth of January, sixty-five little boys had to leave their mothers. The boys were ten and some of them were even nine years old and now the boys had to leave Banyu Biru 10, they were brought to Camp 7 in Ambarawa, a camp for boys and old men. Those frightened boys, were with their little bit of luggage, loaded on trucks and driven outside the gate on the 16 th of January 1945.Their fathers were somewhere in Burma, Japan or somewhere else, and from that day on, they were also without their mothers. Most of them were ten years old but they looked not older than eight years, this because of the malnutrition.

It was a real nightmare for their mothers, who felt so helpless since they could no longer look after their sons. There were so many questions, will their little boys be treated well? Will they get at least a little more food in their new home? There were sixty-five broken mothers left behind in Banyu Biru. Incomprehensible that Japan could be so cruel.

Maybe there were more, but I have known two mothers who did lose their mind because they were acutely so worried about their sons. One of the poor mothers I knew started looking everywhere, she thought that someone in the camp was hiding her son away from her. Her daughters tried to protect their poor mother as much as they could. This was especially very difficult during the roll call early in the morning. I don't know if she ever saw her little boy back again.

The second mother I met during one of my night duties. We (as a teenager, I always had to walk with an adult) heard someone screaming in a very scaring way and all of a sudden we saw a woman completely naked running towards the Japanese quarters. We run to Mrs. Eichelberg our camp head, to tell her what was going on. But we were too late, many people had heard the woman screaming. The Japanese guard posts grabbed her. The poor woman was loaded in a car and then they drove away with her. That was really very sad and it has upset many of us. We never saw her back again. Much later we heard that she died, but how she died we shall never know.
The Japanese turned more and more nasty. It was very clear that Japan was losing the war, but many of us couldn't wait any longer, they were too ill and many died of starvation, especially little children.

My youngest sister Jansje was very apathetic, she sat there most of the time in front of our home, just staring in front of her. And poor Henny had to endure a lot with my mother, who could be quite unreasonable now and then. There were also quite often quarrels with the lady next door, who had a daughter and two younger sons. Those two boys always tried to steal our washing from the clothesline, so that their mother could use our clothes for some smuggling. My sister Henny always had to watch our clothes. Yes, life was really hard in our prison in Banyu Biru.

I had a very bad malaria attack, doctor De Kock was afraid that I would die. My temperature was dangerously high, I remember that I could see myself laying on the mattress while my mind was floating. I heard doctor De Kock saying to my mother; “I hope that she will stay alive, I am extremely worried., I have hardly any quinine left, but I'll give you some tablets for your daughter.” I started fighting to stay with my mother and sisters. Luckily the quinine helped me quickly to get that temperature down, but I couldn't rest too long because I had to go back to my work again.

Will I ever go back to Sumber Sewu, will I ever go back to my school in Malang, it all seemed too faraway.
And where was my father? Was he still in Malang, what was happening to him? I was absolutely certain that my father was still alive. I knew what the Kempeitai did to their prisoners but maybe my father was no longer in the Kempeitai prison, maybe he was brought over to a camp for men in Malang or elsewhere. Maybe he was in a camp not too far away from Banyu Biru 10. I never stopped thinking about my father, I missed him so much.