Our Dutch Anthem, the Wilhelmus

Something strange was going on, we received a little bit more food than usual, and maybe it was just a tiny bit of better quality as well. It was very silent in the Japanese corner, we could see them moving, but they didn't come anywhere near us since a few days.

My group didn't have to go out working outside the prison, which was a pity in a way because now we couldn't see what was going on. Was the war almost over? Were the Americans or the Australians or their way to set us all free? Or was something horrible going to happen very soon? We were just guessing and hoping!

The 24th August 1945 all the prisoners from Banyu Biru 10 were called to come together to the office of Mrs. Eichelberg, our Dutch camp head. Next to Mrs. Eichelberg stood our Japanese guard with a very sad face.

And so at last we were told that the war was over, Japan had surrendered to the Allies on the 15th August, and that was 9 days ago. Nine long days the Japanese had kept this wonderful news for themselves, they knew that they had lost the war and that they should have given their Dutch prisoners their freedom, but they didn't.

And then all of a sudden a small group of women started singing our Dutch anthem, the Wilhelmus, many of us joined them, it sounded so beautiful in the middle of this dirty and smelling prison, it was very impressing.

We received different food that day, we were all very happy but we could hardly belief that this really happened to us. My father would come to find us, we would all go back to Sumber Sewu, my family survived all the misery of this prison but now we could go home, the war was over. My mother was very happy, Jansje didn't understand exactly what was going on all of a sudden, but she was more than happy that there was more food to eat. Henny and I went through the gate and walked with many people around the prison. Of course I had seen it many times, but for my sister this was all new. We were free at last and yet we still couldn't believe it.
The next day I walked to Fort Willem I, also in Banyu Biru, not too far from our prison. I knew that there were quite some men who came from Malang. I asked the first man I saw if he knew if there was a Mr. Th.G.van Kampen, he didn't but brought me to someone who knew many of the prisoners names. This gentleman looked it up for me, and indeed there had been a Mr. van Kampen, he died not so long ago, but he was around 15 years older than my father and the initials were not the same, so he couldn't be my father. I was told that as soon as he knew something about my father he would come to our prison to tell my mother immediately where my father was staying at that moment.

In the meantime, several Indonesian women came into our prison, looking for work. My mother who had hidden a little bit of money, was very happy to find an Indonesian woman willing to help her, because she was too weak to do anything at all. Our neighbours advised my mother not to take this Indonesian woman to help her, because she had a Merdeka badge, which meant that she was against the Dutch, Merdeka stands for political freedom. Luckily my mother didn't listen, and she trusted this lovely Indonesian woman, because while my mother paid her, this Indonesian woman brought us all sorts of food from her home, because she felt so sorry for the four of us. Reminded me of our Rasmina.

One day she asked my mother if she could take Henny, Jansje and I to her home in the nearby kampung , her village. And so the three of us went with our very nice Indonesian woman who really spoiled us and her whole family was so nice towards us as well, we had a wonderful afternoon.
I can't remember the name of our Indonesian angel, but I shall never forget her kindness!
Fort Willem I My youngest sister took this picture in 2003