A nightmare

When we came back from our work outside the prison, we saw some cars standing outside the prison, so we understood that we had important Japanese visitors. When we walked through the gate of our prison, we couldn't belief our eyes. Teenager-girls and young women stood in a queue, while Japanese officers were looking at them from top to toe.

We were ordered to stand in the line as well. I could feel a malaria attack coming up, so I started to tremble a little. I can't remember how long we stood there, I was very scared to faint and had only one thought; “Let me please lay down on my mattress”. When the Japanese officers past me, I didn't dare to look up. I kept my head down in despair.

The very young women who have been taken away by the Japanese were crying, this was a real nightmare, after all we had been through so far, this was just too horrible for words. When we could go “home” at last, I found my mother very upset, but she was more than happy when she saw me coming back. She had been so scared that the Japanese would take me away, she had wanted to tell them that they could take her instead of me. But luckily some of the others had hold her back and said that she would only make things worse. And at last I could lay down, I had a high fever by then, but I was so tired that I fell asleep right away. Later on I heard that several of the young women who had been taken away while they had to leave their child or children behind them in our prison, the children were looked after by other mothers. All this was a real nightmare!!

Not long after this drama, there were some rumours going around our prison; “All the girls as from ten years old would stay in Banyu Biru and Ambarawa and the mothers with the younger children would be send to Borneo” but luckily this didn't happen.

On the third of may 1945, 600 women and children came walking into our prison, they came from Ambarawa camp 9 and on the thirty-first of May 350 women and children came in from Solo.
The next day, the first June another 150 women and children, they also came from Solo. On the fourth of June 21 women and children came in from Ambarawa camp 6. and on the third of July 47 came in from West Java. But on the third of August 50 women left the prison and were transported to Ambarawa camp 9 and then on the eight of August 2094 women and children walked into our prison.

(Figures and data from “ Japanse burgerkampen in Nederlands-Indië”)

It became extremely crowded, people had hardly any room, we were with round and about 5300 women and children trying to stay alive in this filthy and smelling unfit declared prison, this was really disgusting. I think that it was just to torment us, to upset us as much as possible. I was absolutely convinced that Japan was going to lose this war against the Allied Powers. Surely this couldn't go on forever?

My mother and Henny looked ill, they had pallagra, big red spots especially on their arms and legs, this was because of a deficiency of certain vitamins. Jansje was completely apathetic, the poor girl just sat their in front of our cell, waiting until some food was brought to us. And I had beri-beri, also a deficiency of vitamins, my face and belly were swollen, full of water, or at least that is how it felt. My mother was losing some of her teeth it gave her lots of troubles and there was nothing we could do to stop this.

My poor sister Henny looked so dangerous yellow from the jaundice, and my poor mother was one bundle of nerves, I was often quite worried about her. My mother had to be better when the end of the war would be a fact, and when my father would try to find us.
We really had to fight to stay alive, day after day.