Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Was Only the First of Many

Hawaii, and the United States, were attacked on Dec 7th, 1941, but were saved from occupation. Japan's attack was repulsed, and the Japanese Military was unable to gain a foothold on US soil. Other nations, including our ally The Netherlands, were not so lucky.

Three months later, in March, 1942, the Japanese made their push into the Dutch East Indies when they landed on Java. By June, the Dutch were defeated, and their horrific ordeal began.

From "The Netherlands Indies in WWII" Website: "Of the approximately 350,000 Dutch the Japanese first interned the men and later on the women and children.... Cruelty and violence were often typical for the behaviour of the Japanese guards. ... the internees in the overcrowded and insanitary camps suffered from chronic malnutrition, hunger oedema, dysentery and malaria. Many thousands... died as a result of these diseases."

The poem below was written by a survivor of those civilian prison camps:

Men of ten years and older

The heiho flogged with well aimed lashes
Ten year old boys behind an army truck.
By incomprehensible decree they were
declared a man - and men
don't belong with their mother anymore.
He was in line with in his one hand his teddybear
clenched around the one paw left
In the other hand a bag with in it
The final bit of sugar and some malaria pills.
His mother put it in at last
He forced back his tears
After all, he was a man now.
His mother prayed and intensily hoped
To once see him again.
At his birth she had
thought of such a nice name for him.
She, she died of malnutrition and malaria
Lacked the pills that saved his life.
He ended up in a Dutch contract pension
Cold, wet, uncomfortable and not so nice either
The hunger winter was more important in conversations
Than his story of his – cruel - departure.
About good and evil he always thought differently
All his relations broke down
Booze and drugs sometimes helped, for a moment avoiding reality.
His career failed over and over
The only thing he missed was his old, one-armed, soft teddybear.

'Fragments, memories of a camp boy', by Govert Huyser (2005) General b.d. G.L.J. Huyser (Surabaya 1931) stayed during the war in the Japanese internment camps 'Darmo' in Surabaya, 'Karangpanas' in Semarang and in the boys camp 'Bangkong' in Semarang.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails