The Defining Years of the Dutch East Indies, 1942–1949

Survivors’ Accounts of Japanese Invasion and Enslavement of Europeans and the Revolution That Created Free Indonesia


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About the Book

Following their invasion of Java on March 1, 1942, the Japanese began a process of Japanization of the archipelago, banning every remnant of Dutch rule. Over the next three years, more than 100,000 Dutch citizens were shipped to Japanese internment camps and more than four million romushas, forced Indonesian laborers, were enlisted in the Japanese war effort.
The Japanese occupation stimulated the development of Indonesian independence movements. Headed by Sukarno, a longtime admirer of Japan, nationalist forces declared their independence on August 17, 1945. For Dutch citizens, Dutch-Indonesians or “Indos,” and pro-Dutch Indonesians, Sukarno’s declaration marked the beginning of a new wave of terror. These powerful and often poignant stories from survivors of the Japanese occupation and subsequent turmoil surrounding Indonesian independence provide one with a vivid portrait of the hardships faced during the period.

About the Author(s)

The late Jan A. Krancher survived the Indonesian independence movement and was repatriated to the Netherlands in 1956. He lived in Utah.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Jan A. Krancher
Format: softcover (5.5 x 8.5)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: chronology, glossary, appendix, index
Copyright Date: 2003 [1996]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1707-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8106-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface     1
Introduction     5

1. Andrew A. van Dyk     11
Overview of the Imprisonment Experience
2. Frans J. Nicolaas Ponder     25
A Soldier in the Royal Netherlands-Indies Army
3. Willem Wanrooy     39
A Letter to My Grandson
4. Arthur Stock     43
A British Prisoner of War
5. Anton Acherman     56
Glimpses of Camp Life
6. Johannes Vandenbroek     64
A Teacher Turned Soldier and Imprisoned by the Japanese
7. William H. Maaskamp     71
A Dutch Youth Tortured and Imprisoned by the Japanese, Then Pressed into Service
Against Indonesian Freedom Fighters
8. Denis Dutrieux     85
“They Can’t Be Human Beings!’”
9. Mathilde Ponder-van Kempen     98
A Wartime Girlhood
10. Barend A. van Nooten     103
The Mouse-Deer and the Tiger
11. Willy Riemersma-Philippi     117
Imprisoned in Our Own Home
12. Maria McFadden-Beek     126
Ode to My Mother
13. Karel Senior     133
New Terror on the Way Home
14. Hendrik B. Babtist     148
The Protectors Abandoned Us
15. Pieter Groenevelt     155
The Bombs That Saved My Life
16. Jan Vos     162
Memories of an Indo Boy
17. Feite Posthumus     175
An Unlikely Friendship
18. K.A. Peter van Berkum     188
Saved by a Stranger
19. Rita la Fontaine-de Clercq Zubli     196
Disguised as a Boy
20. Greta Kwik     214
The Loss of My Father
21. Gerda Dikman-van den Broek     225
Innocence Denied
22. J. Alexandra Humphrey-Spier     234
Never to See the Land of My Birth Again
23. Amani J. Fliers-Hoeke     249
The Missing Years
24. Joyce F. Kater-Hoeke     252
Liberated, Yet Not Free


I. Chronological Summary of Events in the Former Dutch East Indies from December 3, 1941, to December 31, 1942     257
II. Foreign Terms and Abbreviations     262
III. Mortality Statistics of Civilian Internees     263
IV. New Versus Old Indonesian Placenames     268

Index     271

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Captures the nightmarish drama of the physical and political landscape of Indonesia under Japanese rule with a number of scenes possessing extraordinary cinematic potential. The first-person narrative employed is more riveting, vigorous, and credible than if the stories were told in the more conventional third-person historical text. This unusual and moving compilation richly augments the existing canon of literature”—TEMPO
  • “Excellent translating and editing”—Sandra Phelps
  • “A must-read…most thorough”—Bernice Harapat-Terluin
  • “Reading these pages is a journey that leaves an indelible impression as well as an understanding of the importance of this relatively small piece of history”—Internee Affairs
  • “An unusual collection of 24 personal stories…accounts that engage the reader emotionally. There is much to be learned from this important book. These are wonderfully instructive pages”—Cenografix
  • “Highly recommended”—Argunners Magazine