World War Two in the Dutch East Indies
We all had to gather around our Japanese guard who stood there waiting for us, with next to him the Swedish interpreter, who's Dutch was fluent.We were called together, because one or two of us had tried to smuggle. The Indonesianswho were caught by the Japanese soldiers from our camp, so we were told. The Indonesians had already been punished so now it was our turn.
The Japanese guard asked us: “Who has tried to smuggle this passed night? If none of you will answer then the whole camp will be punished! So come forward”.Some of the women became angry and called out aloud: “Just say it if you have smuggled the passed night, otherwise we will all be punished even the little children!!" But no one came forwards, the Japanese guard became really furious and said: “Then the whole camp shall be punished today, you shall have no water until tomorrow morning.”
Later on my toil and moil group leaned that it was not our prison but Camp 11, the camp behind us where the Indonesians were caught. So in Camp 11 the smugglers were beaten up and we from camp 10 had no water for a whole day long and that is really horrible in a tropical climate. On top of a day without water, we also became suspicious towards each other after this incident. Very sad.
Not long after that cruel punishment, and once again we were all called together, the Japanese guard and the Swedish interpreter told us that we all had to watch how three women who had tried to smuggle would be hanged that day.
Bamboo poles were installed, then two women and an young girl were brought forwards, there hands were tied behind their backs, their toes could just touch the ground, their heads fell forwards and so the sun was shining for a couple of hours on the back of their necks, this must have been terrible for them and very dangerous too.
We all had to stand and watch them, while the Japanese guard warned us all that next time when there was anymore smuggling, the punishment would be even worse. When at last the two women and the young girl could go, they had to be carried to their mattresses, they couldn't walk. We were all very depressed, it was one of those days that one could lose all hope for a better future.
The third cruel punishment happened when I was on duty as a night-watcher.
There was hardly any moonlight that horrible night and it was quite cold as well. I heard a woman crying out aloud from pain, you could hear how she was beaten up with a split bamboo stick, the Japanese soldiers were always using split bamboos since that would give one splinters in the body. Mrs toe-Water and Mrs Damen were in the Japanese quarters, they both had been caught smuggling. This beating up didn't stop while I was on night duty from two till four o'clock in the morning, it just went on and on.
Mothers were desperate, their children were starving, they didn't grow, they didn't get their vitamins, they were sometimes dying in their mother's arms. That is why they took the risk when they went out smuggling, hoping to find something extra to eat for their children. Those mothers risked their lives. But also the Indonesians outside the prison took a lot of risks when they started smuggling with the Dutch women.
You feel that you want to run away from it all, You keep on hoping that all of a sudden the news comes that the war is over. That night I really wished that I could walk right through the gate of this most horrible prison, into the free and normal world again.I knew that those poor women were beaten up in such a cruel and mean way, because Japan was losing the war. I knew that the end of the war was very close, but for us in this dirty smelling disgusting prison, every day we had to stay there was one day too long.