WATCH: What is left of the concentration camps of my grandparents in 2012?

Sanne van Oosten

During the Second World War my Dutch grandparents lived in Indonesia. As happened to many other Dutch people there in that time, they were incarcerated at Japanese concentration camps. My grandparents were newlyweds and had just been blessed with their first child, my aunt Corrie, when their family was ripped apart.

They were both sent to separate concentration camps more than 400 kilometers apart. My grandfather Willem van Oosten was near Bandung and my grandmother Anneke van Oosten and the young child Corrie were sent to a concentration camp near Semarang. They didn’t know if they were ever going to see each other again and missed each other very much. They didn’t even know if they were going to get enough food from the Japanese every day. To deal with this pain my grandfather kept up a diary in which he wrote letters to my grandmother, hoping that one day, they would see each other again and she could read what he had to say to her. But in the end, my grandmother never heard the stories that he wrote down in his diary.

My grandmother survived the war and the family was reunited. They even went on to have five more children, one of which is my mother. But my grandfather was so traumatized that he couldn’t bring himself to show her the diary. By the time he had worked up the courage to read it again, more than fifty years had passed. My grandmother had gotten Alzheimers and could no longer understand it. He regretted this very much. So he had his diary translated to English so his children and grandchildren living in Canada could read it as well. This is what he wrote in the introduction:

“I saw horrible things during the war. I saw people picked up by the Japanese military police who disappeared and never came back. I saw people who were horribly beaten by the Japanese, not to mention the people who died a slow death in the camps. They kept back food, medicine, and letters just to torture us. I want my children and grandchildren to know how it was in that time”.

More than 66 years after my grandparents were free, I went to Indonesia. I wanted to find the concentration camps where they had been to see what was left of the places that had defined so much of their lives. With some help from our very kind Indonesian friends we actually found both camps.

First stop: the concentration camp of my grandfather. The concentration camp was in Chimahi, now a suburb of Bandung. The city is the regional military base and signs of the military are still visible on almost every corner. After our friend Benny asked around we found the camp of my grandfather. It turned out that it is still in use as a prison up to this day.

Second stop: The concentration camp of my grandmother. This camp was considerably harder to find. We went to the small town of Banjoe Biroe and our Indonesian friend Herman asked people if they knew where it was. People looked puzzled and started pointing in every which direction. After a while they sent us to a former camp in the next town, Ambawara. This was a beautiful old fort that now lay in ruins, but it wasn’t the concentration camp where my grandmother and aunt had been. Apparently, the people of BanjoeBiroe, had no idea that there once was a concentration camp in their town. A few days later we had figured out where the camp had to be. It wasn’t in use anymore, but we were allowed to enter.

The former concentration camp was empty. After the War it was used as dormitories for students of the police academy, but since the sixties it had just been left unused. Grass up to our middle, volunteer trees, broken glass, a few beds and closets. There was nothing pointing to the gruesome past that had taken place here. No memorial, no remembrance, nothing.

I was disappointed that this was all there was. The location of such a traumatic time in so many lives is just rotting away. People from Java are known for their fear of old abandoned houses. Therefore, I think it is just a matter of time before this former concentration camp will be demolished. This makes me sad, for my family who have a history here and for all the other people who have been in this camp. Through this video I hope people will remember what happened here during World War 2 and how anything like this can never happen again.

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105 responses to “WATCH: What is left of the concentration camps of my grandparents in 2012?”

  1. Paul Sutorius says :

    Hi Sanne, thank you for your lovely film. I have just come back from Indonesia and visited the camp at Ambarawa, which is now a school, with my aunt who was interned there during the war. I also visited Fort Willem I where my father was taken for a time. I never found the Banyubiru camp. Could you give me it’s location so that I may find it if I go back. I believe my mother, sister and brother were interned there for some time, though they finished the war in Tjideng camp in Jakarta.

    • hans van leenhoff says :

      van Kampen and others have been therein it is abandoned and overgrown. It was an old jail and lies in Banju Biru village or town. In her book van Kampen had photos of it and somewhere there is a photo taken by a Dutch aircraft in August 1945, the one that dropped a cloud of leaflets

      • Henk says :

        I was in Ambarawa Camp 6. It was originally an old KNIL encampment in the south of the city, then it became an abandoned police cadet training centre before becoming a concentration camp. I can find nothing about it post-war so assume it has been demolished. If anyone has any information about it before or after the war I would appreciate knowing about it. Thanks.

      • Hans van Leenhoff says :

        Banju biru, camp number 10 was an old prison with 3 cell blocksand 2 or 3 large halls. Many people were crowded cheek by jowl in rowson coconut husk mattresses in rows on the floor with a narrow gangway between the rows of mattresses leading to the door.There were cell blocks with a large oblong open space in the middle lined by at least50 cells facing into the large open area. Each cell had a steel door, always kept open,had 2 concrete bunks with space underneath each one. 4 people shared each cell which measured 2 metres by 2 metres. That meant 2 people had to sleep under the concretebunks on the concrete floor. I can still sleep on a hard floor. The whole camp was surrounded by a huge heavy wall looking like a fortification and there was one large entrance gate. Remember, this was a jail built in the 18th century for longterm prisoners. That wall must still be there as it was huge and I have seen photos by Mrs van Kampen.The cells were much more comfortable than the large halls and I experienced, first the hall and then the cell. My job each morning was to catch the lice that crawled up the wall. I tried not to crush them as the blood would sink into the white wash. Due to my stunted height, the ones above 150 cm would get away only to visit us again the following night. A temporary camp was put up next to our jail with flimsy housing. That was Banju Biru number 11 and was an overflow as more and more internees arrived from camps closer to the coast. The Japanese realised the war was going against them so they tried to putthem out of reach esp. after the Americans succeeded in liberating their POWs in the Philippines. There had been a rumour that we were all to be shipped to Borneo but I guessthe American submarines put paid to that. After the war, amongst the Japanese papers,they found orders to kill all prisoners by whatever means available to stop them being liberated by the Allies. Luckily the sudden surrender put paid to all their plans and it saved millions of lives paid for by the relatively few Japanese who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. ( about the same as died in Dresden). Anyway, they did not tell us anything, nor did the food improve until 2 days after the signing in Tokyo bay. Soon the Gurkhasor Sikhs arrived and Lady Edwina Mountbatten flew in to organise the evacuation of all the camps. Amazing that she herself came seeing that her husband, Lord Mountbatten,was Viceroy of India.      Henk commented: “I was in Ambarawa Camp 6. It was originally an old KNIL encampment in the south of the city, then it became an abandoned police cadet training centre before becoming a concentration camp. I can find nothing about it post-war so assume it has been demolish” | | Respond to this comment by replying above this line |

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        | | | Henk commented on WATCH: What is left of the concentration camps of my grandparents in 2012?. in response to hans van leenhoff: van Kampen and others have been therein it is abandoned and overgrown. It was an old jail and lies in Banju Biru village or town. In her book van Kampen had photos of it and somewhere there is a photo taken by a Dutch aircraft in August 1945, the one that dropped a cloud of … Continue reading “WATCH: What is left of the concentration camps of my grandparents in 2012?” I was in Ambarawa Camp 6. It was originally an old KNIL encampment in the south of the city, then it became an abandoned police cadet training centre before becoming a concentration camp. I can find nothing about it post-war so assume it has been demolished. If anyone has any information about it before or after the war I would appreciate knowing about it. Thanks. | Reply |    Comments |



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  2. Marnie Roelink says :

    Hi there
    I am trying to find which concentration camp my Oma and dad where in? My dad’s name is Auke Roelink and he was just two . My Onas name was Christina Roelink ( formally Back) My dad said the name of the camp was Sewoegalour in Java. I am wondering if this is the same camp as your grandmother? I wonder if they new each other. I would love to know. Marnie Roelink

  3. Carrie S says :

    Hello, I am Indonesian of younger generation and IMHO, Memorial for victims of dutch POW during japanese occupation I think is necessary, not to provoke old time negative sentiment but to present history as is.
    I personally think both ends lacking information of both histories, The Dutch lacking information of the struggles and suffering of indonesian people especially on the earlier period of colonialism. Likewise, Indonesian lacking information the suffering of the Dutch people during Japanese occupation.
    Before internet era i often wonder what has happened to the dutch after japan arrived? We assume they just boarded large dutch vessels n safely home thats it. Also we often heard abt KNIL only as dutch troops who become our ‘independence army’ enemy and thats it. We never know that lots of KNIL members suffered forced labour as far as burma (cmiiw) and sumatra, and being torpedoed in the ocean. All suffer from inhuman condition doing transport.
    So in the end, it’s a universal humanity suffering.

    Imo, most Indonesian now don’t mind if both Indonesian and Dutch govt build camp memorial in indonesian ex japanese camp. We are more open minded now moreover in the age of internet where anyone can just read almost anything on both side version.

  4. Amanda Pont says :

    My mum and her sister and mum were in Malang camp 10. Her father was in a men’s camp but as he died there I don’t know where that camp was. They were given a small amount of watery rice pudding each day and a very small loaf of bread that would fit in the palm of your hand every second day. Mum said their sleeping space was 48 centimetres wide and the toilet arrangement was a long trough with a little bit of water running through it and no privacy. Mum said most of the women had dysentery most of the time and she often had nightmares about the toilet situation. When she came out of the camp she was 38 kilos. Mum told a story about when her mum stole some food from the kitchen and she was caught, the guards tied her up in the middle of the camp by her wrists with the tips of her toes touching the ground for most of the day. I remember Mum saying that they would trade their jewellery 4 blocks of brown sugar from the locals who would come to the fence of the camp. I wonder who scored my grandmother’s jewelry? Mum said that when the Japanese found out they were losing the war they were going to walk all the prisoners into a local Lake and all the prisoners were very fearful. And the Americans arrived and warned the Japanese they were not to do anything bad to the prisoners or else. The Dutch were put on American aircraft carriers and taken back to Holland via Sri Lanka. My mum was 19 years old in 1945. We have a book written in Dutch about the Japanese camps and my mum identified her sister in one of the pictures.

  5. Bob Bekins says :

    Writing a book on Kramat Camp and my co-author a camp internee can’t remember the Dutch name for the Salak volcano near Bogor. Need a little help with this small detail. Anyone else know it, or how to find out?

  6. Bob Bekins says :

    Need a little help on a small detail. Writing a book on Kramat Camp and my co-author a camp internee can’t remember the Dutch name for the Salak volcano near Bogor. Anyone else know it, or how to find out?

  7. Fred Bruggink says :

    Dear Sanne
    What a sad memory you brought back to me, my mother and I were also interned at banjoebiroe 10. We were housed in the horse stables. You might think that i was to young to remember this terrible ordeal was born on September 21 1938, in South Africa, at the age of two My mother left my father and returned to Indonesia where she was born and grew up there until the age of 15. I have very vivid memories even before we left SA.. It was a horrible experience and can add quite a bit, but not for now. The replies of Gerard Lemmings, Rod Shipley and Robert Bekins also added to the memories. I would like to say that your film and replies are a living monument to this tragic episode in so many peoples lives. I too am what is known as a ‘kampkind’ and do have psychological problems. throughout my life. I can speak dutch fluently and read it too but do not ask to write in dutch. My email address is and I am on Skype +2721 8565063

  8. Natasja says :

    Hi everyone,

    First of all, Sanne, thank you for this post. My grandfather was a young lad who were also sent to a Japanese camp during the war. I remember when I was younger, he would tell me stories of the things he had to endure while he was imprisoned. However, he died of Cancer when I was 12 years old, and I was too young to fully grasp the cruelty that had happened.

    I recently became more and more interested in his story. I was born in Amsterdam but grew up in Jakarta as my mother married an Indonesian man. Hence, I think it would be a little bit easier for me to visit the camps the Japanese had built.

    I would like to know if anybody here knows about the camp in Malang? My grandfather’s family were living there and my grandfather was imprisoned there. It would be great if any of you could tell me more information about it. Also, my grandfather is a member of the Moormann family, quite a large Dutch family living in Malang at the time. If anyone knows any story about his family, would be great to share 🙂

    Thank you all very much!

    • glemmens1940 says :


      We were interned into Camp Malang but were only there for 3 month, As I was born in 1940 I do not remember much about Camp Malang, only that we were suddenly in a house full of people and my mother, sister, brother and myself shared one room in that house. After 3 month we were taken by cattle trains for two days and two nights – without food or drink – to mid Java the train station Ambarawa (which is not far from Semarang) and had to march 5 kilometers again without drink in the heat to Banjoe Biroe where there was a prison – Kamp 10 – where of the 9000 POWs only 4,400 survived ! My mother nearly perished as she weight only 67 pounds after the war in August 1945.
      I will ask my older sister if she remembers the people in Malang you are trying to find information about.
      There is a recent good book produced by the Indonesian Herinnerings Centrum, Bronbeek, which is in Dutch – De Terugkeer – and in English – The Return – which is very educational!



      • Natasja says :

        Hi Gerard,

        thank you so much for the info!! I will check out these books for sure 🙂 I managed to find several articles of my family in Malang, will post them here once I have found the soft copy 🙂


      • Anonymous says :

        Hi Fred and Gerard and others, I came across the film by Sanne van Oosten and marvelled at suddenly coming across people whose paths had crossed my path in that we were first interned in “de wyk” in Malang and then sent by train to camp no 10 at Banjoe Biroe. I still remember the excitement in Feb,1945 when a plane with Dutch markings dropped leaflets over the camp but to be handed over on pain of death. I kept mine until my mother found it. After the Japanese surrender, Lady Edwina Mountbatten visited the camp and as my mother and my sister were at death’s door, she arranged for us to leave on the first transport to Soerabaja where we still had to experience a civil war before being shipped off a beach on a tank landing craft to HMS Newfoundland which took us to Singapore. Here I weighed 12Kg. After returning to Jakarta, thence to Netherlands, I spent the
        next 50 years in Durban,South Africa before moving to Suffolk in the UK. My sister Dorien, still lives in Johannesburg.

        Hans van Leenhoff born 27/12/1938 in Hong Kong

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  12. lukas says :

    Hi.., i am indonesian, and now stay and work in Banyubiru (Banyubiru camp 10 in the past). The camp now become education compound , used by Indonesian National Police as Community Development Education Center. We still use the buildings: BLOK I, II and III. Blok I as our main building, that is offices, Blok II and III are student dormitories , also blok EF. but Blok AB and CD we do not use because in bad condition. if somebody need the pictures of recent situation, please contact me and i will send the last pictures of “Banyubiru 10 Camp”. the compound did not active from 2009-2012 because the local police academy moved to Yogjakarta. So yes, when people went there in those period, all in bad condition. Now, all better. Many thanks.

    • Rod Shipley says :

      Hi Lukas

      My mom was there 1943-1945 so some current pictures would be great. Thanks for posting.

      Best regards


    • Anonymous says :

      Hi, my name is Beppie Jones. I understand from your post that you work now in Banjoebiroe Camp and that you have recent pictures. I would greatly appreciate any pictures you may have that you could send to my email. I was born there in 1946. Thank you, in advance for your kindness.

    • MCM says :

      I realize this blog is a couple of years old. My grandmother and mother (and siblings) were in this camp during the war. My cousins and I will be traveling to Indonesia on a “roots” trip this summer and camp Banybiru is on my list of stops. If you still have some pricutres I would greatly appreciate seeing them as it is now changed. you can send them to Thank you

    • Jude Kave says :

      Hi Lukas,

      I would like some up to date photos – I am planning a trip like Sanna – my email is My father was in a couple of camps as was my Oma, Opa and Tante and Oom – all of whom have no passed away. I would like to know where I can find these places – thanks.

  13. alif ks says :

    well……war is bad maam……and by the way….its me in your video

  14. Beppie Jones says :

    Dear Sanne. Thank you for sharing this very moving video. My grandmother, mother, aunt and two step brothers were also in BanjoeBiroe. I was born there. I’m a bit confused though because the war was over in 1945 but I was not born until 1946 at least that’s what my birth certificate states. Did people stay after the war was over or where they released right away? I’m 68 years old and my mom really did not want to talk about it. I would appreciate any info you can give me or refer me to. I would like my children to see this video. Is there a way to copy it. I just stumbled on to it. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Rod Shipley says :

      Beppie – my mom didn’t leave ’til early ’46. They stayed on because of Sokarno’s independence movement, which put the Dutch in great danger. So yes, it’s possible you were born there in 1946.


      • glemmens1940 says :

        Hello Rod,

        We stayed (my Mum and my elder sister) in Kamp 10 till December 1945 and then a very large convoy with British planes above the convoy took us to the nearest town Semarang. There we waited a while until my mother had recuperated and then we got onto a boot (MS Loch Killisport on which Prince Philip served!) to Singapore where we were reunited with my Dad. I shall ask my sister next week if she new your family. Sincere regards,

      • Rod Shipley says :

        My opa was Reinier Annas Bovendorp. He was born in Nieuw-Helvoet, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands on 21 April 1894. On 19 September 1917 he married my oma, Wilhelmina de Jong, in Bussum, Noord-Holland. Wilhelmina was born in Amsterdam on 8 November 1891. Wilhelmina had one older sister, Cornelia, who was born on 27 August 1886, also in Amsterdam.

        Reinier and Wilhelmina’s first child, a son who was also named Reinier Annas, was born in Amsterdam on 29 February 1920. Soon after his birth the family and Cornelia de Jong emigrated to Java in the Dutch East Indies, where Reinier senior became a wood work teacher at a local school for Indonesian boys. Their first home was in Soekaboemi.

        On 11 April 1922 Wilhelmina gave birth to the Bovendorps’ second child, a girl who they named Cornelia Wilhelmina (the forenames of the two sisters). Cornelia, my mother, was born in Magalang but was soon back at home with the Bovendorp family in Soekaboemi. Usually known as Corrie, mum had a conventional – that’s to say privileged – upbringing in Java. The family had servants and Reinier junior, always known as Ray, went to school at the Jongenshuis in Soekaboemi before joining the Dutch East Indies Navy. In 1928 the family travelled to The Netherlands for a 12-month holiday. After returning to Java Reinier senior moved to a new teaching job in Djokjakarta and the family moved there with him. Reinier also became a book binder, carrying out commissions for an Indonesian publishing company in Djokja.

        Around this time Wilhelmina began volunteer work as a nurse at a local orphanage and in 1937 the family adopted an Indonesian orphan who they named Sumilah (known as Mimi). Also in 1937 Corrie left school and became a student teacher.

        When the Japanese declared war in 1941 both Reinier and Ray received call-up papers. Reinier joined the landstorm, in the Terr. Troepen II Division.
        When the Japanese invaded Java both of them were arrested and sent to a prisoner of war camp, I believe near Djokjakarta. Meanwhile Wilhelmina, Corrie and Sumilah were interned at Banjoe Biroe. I’m not sure what happened to Wilhelmina’s sister Cornelia (she may have remained in The Netherlands after the 1928 holiday).

        When the Japanese surrendered in 1945 they simply left the keys to the camp with the internees, but far from being free they now faced great hostility from the local Indonesians who, led by Sukharno, were determined to overthrow colonial Dutch rule. All the internees remained in the camps until the British and Australians had taken control and it wasn’t until early 1946 that the family was reunited. Corrie always spoke very highly of the British Ghurka regiment that had helped rescue them.

        Ray decided to move to Australia, where he married a German woman and had three children. Wilhelmina, Reinier, Corrie and Mimi returned to The Netherlands by sea after a brief period of recovery in Surabaya. Reinier soon found a job at a publishing company in Amsterdam, where he worked until his death in 1958. Wilhelmina suffered mental problems in her later years and died in 1976, no longerable to recognise Mimi.

        Mimi became a student nurse, married and had four children. Her mental health declined as she got older and she died in 2011. Corrie joined the Marva and was stationed at the Hook of Holland. Here she met my father, Maurice Shipley, who was in the British army. They married in Amsterdam in December 1947. They then moved to the UK and had three children, of which I’m the eldest. And yes, somewhere in my name there’s a ‘Reinier’ too, so the family tradition continues! My father died suddenly in 1977 but Corrie lived on until 2007. During her later years she had severe mental problems, saying she could hear childrens’ choirs singing and sometimes convinced I was broadcasting messages and music to her through the walls of her hospital room.

        It’s always seemed to me that the mental health issues suffered in later life by all three female survivors can only have originated in their experiences in Banjoe Biroe. Thank you Japan…..

      • Rod Shipley says :


        Did I read right that you are in East Sussex? I am in Dorset…..


      • deleted says :

        Hi Rod, thank you so much for your information. I really appreciate your response. Were their any records taken of those that were in the camp? Do you know? I have the little booklets that were given to my mom indicating what was given to her and to me as a baby i.e., clothes, etc. thank you again.

      • Rod Shipley says :

        Hi again Beppie

        OK – I did some more research for you, and this is what I found. The Japanese surrendered on 15 August 1945, but the inmates at Banjoe Biroe weren’t told the war was over until 24 August. Then in theory they were free but the allied forces quickly imposed a sort of martial law to protect the Dutch from the Indonesian Independence fighters (the ‘Permuda’) because Sokarno had declared independence from the Dutch and many Indonesians had become hostile to them. All the internees were ordered back to camp, and ironically the Japanese camp guards were now ordered to protect the inmates from the permuda. The Japanese were soon replaced by British Ghurka and Anglo-Indian Sikh troops who secured the area and then began moving the inmates to a camp in Semarang. The evacuation began in October ’45 and carried on thru November. Elizabeth van Kampen says she was in the last group to be evacuated from Banjoe Biroe at the end of November 1945, but I have a feeling there were still Dutch internees there after that date.

        Semarang was used as a staging post. It had hospital facilities and the weakest prisoners were there for quite some time. Once they were recovered enough to travel they were moved by ship to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and then, again by ship, to The Netherlands. EvK says she left Ceylon in mid-May 1946 and arrived in Rotterdam on 11 June 1946.

        My mum’s few conversations about her experiences always included her saying how grateful she was to the Ghurkas and how she was ‘de-loused in Semarang’. She also mentioned travelling to The Netherlands via Ceylon.

        I just found, in the back of an old photo album, the letter she received admitting her to the MARVA. It’s dated 25 June 1946 so she must have reached Amsterdam before then.

        My best guess is that if you were born in the early part of 1946 it’s quite possible your mother was either at Banjoe Biroe or in Semalang. Do you know exactly where you were born?

        Best regards


      • deleted says :

        Hi Rod, thank you for the additional info. Greatly appreciated. I was told there were 2 banjoebiroe camps. Camp 10 and camp 11. Are you able to confirm this. The booklets I mentioned in my previous email are labeled “Departement van justitie” Dienst van Sociale Zaken. K.P.D. Tijdelijke Identiteitskaart voor Bevrijde Geïnterneerden. Binnen in zijn datums met handtekeningen en ontvangen goederen. The dates range from June 1946 to Oct 1947. Could it be possible that we were in a different camp? I remember my mom said that she went to Semarang after they were released but she stayed in “Huize De Witt”. Does that mean anything to you? I really feel I am imposing on you but I have no clue where to look or go for info. Again, my heartfelt thanks for everything so far.

      • Rod Shipley says :


        Here’s some info on Huis de Witte:

        Huis De Witte in Salatiga (English translation below)

        Plaats: Salatiga
        Residentie: Midden-Java
        Regio: Java
        Ligging: Salatiga ligt in Midden-Java, ten zuiden van Semarang. Huis De Witte stond aan een kleine zijstraat van de Toentangseweg, in het centrum van de stad. In de periode 13 december 1945 – mei 1946 was dit een republikeins kamp.
        Geïnterneerden: vrouwen en kinderen
        Aantal geïnterneerden: 180

        Informatie: Half december 1945 werden in Huis De Witte ongeveer 175 vrouwen en kinderen uit Salatiga en omgeving ondergebracht. Het ging onder meer om bewoners van de De Witteweg en de Toentangseweg, die ‘s nachts uit huis gehaald waren. Het gebouw was overvol. Men sliep op matjes op de vloer, er was geen meubilair. Het eten was slecht en onvoldoende: bij het ontbijt wat maïs of ketela’s middags en’s avonds wat rijst met gekookte groente. Na een inspectiebezoek van het Rode Kruis op 9 februari 1946 werd het eten beter: 215 gram rijst per persoon per dag, voldoende groente, koffie, thee en suiker. Ook mocht men nu in groepsverband eten koken en mocht, eenmaal per week, een groep inkopen doen op de pasar. Van het Rode Kruis kreeg men 1 gulden per persoon per dag als zakgeld. Er waren toiletten en een badkamer, maar nauwelijks voldoende. Medische zorg was er aanvankelijk niet. Na het bezoek van het Rode Kruis werden een ziekenzaal en een polikliniek ingericht, en kwam eenmaal per week een dokter op bezoek. Ernstig zieken werden naar het Gemeentehospitaal overgebracht. Na het Rode Kruisbezoek mocht men tweemaal per week bezoek ontvangen of op bezoek gaan. Ook kon men via het Rode Kruis briefkaarten verzenden. In mei 1946 gingen de vrouwen en kinderen lopend – een afstand van twee kilometer – naar de wijk Sinoman, elders in Salatiga.

        Kampleiding: mw. Ketting Olivier; F. de Thurton Bruyn.

        The White House in Salatiga

        City: Salatiga
        Residence: Central Java
        Region: Java
        Location: Salatiga is located in central Java, south of Semarang. The White House was on a small side street of the Toentangseweg, in the center of the city. In the period 13 December 1945 to May 1946 this was a republican camp.
        Internees: women and children
        Number Of internees: 180

        Information: In mid-December 1945 there were in the White House about 175 women and children from Salatiga and environment. It was also open to inhabitants of the Witteweg and the Toentangseweg, who were removed from the house at night. The building was crowded. We slept on mats on the floor, there was no furniture. The food was poor and insufficient: at breakfast wheat maize or ketela, afternoon and evening white rice with cooked vegetables. After a visit from the Red Cross on February 9, 1946 the food was better: 215 grams of rice per person per day, sufficient vegetables, coffee, tea and sugar. Also you are in groups cooking food and, once a week, group shopping on the pasar. From the Red Cross we had 1 guilder per person per day as pocket money. There were toilets and a bathroom, but hardly sufficient. Medical care was initially none. After the visit of the Red Cross there was a long ward and polyclinic furnishings, and a doctor came to visit once a week. Seriously ill patients were transferred to the municipality hospital. After znother Red Cross visit if we received a visit twice a week. We could also send postcards via the Red Cross. In May 1946 the women and children went on foot a distance of two kilometers to the district of Sinoman, elsewhere in Salatiga.

        Camp Leaders: mw. Ketting Olivier; F. de Thurton Bruyn.

        It’s my belief that Banjoe Biroe 10 and 11 were physically in the same place but had different functions. I rather suspect Gerard (glemmens1940) would know better than I – he was there.

        I’ll let you have more bits and pieces as I find them.

        Ciao for now


      • Rod Shipley says :


        Here’s some info about the THREE camps in Banjoe Biroe…

        Banjoebiroe 10 in Banjoebiroe

        Town: Banjoebiroe
        District: Central Java
        Region: Java
        Location: Banjoebiroe is situated in Central Java, south of Semarang. The military encampment with the prison was in the northeast of the city.
        From 17 August 1943 to February 1944 this location served as a civilian camp
        From February 1944 to 23 August 1945 this location served as a civilian camp
        From 23 August 1945 to 01 December 1945 this location served as a relief camp
        From December 1945 to June 1946 this location served as a republican camp

        Banjoebiroe 11 in Banjoebiroe

        Town: Banjoebiroe
        District: Central Java
        Region: Java
        Location: Banjoebiroe is situated in Central Java, south of Semarang. The cavalry encampment was in the east of the city.
        From 26 December 1942 to 23 August 1945 this location served as a civilian camp
        From 23 August 1945 to 26 November 1945 this location served as a relief camp

        Banjoebiroe 12 in Banjoebiroe

        Town: Banjoebiroe
        District: Central Java
        Region: Java
        Location: Banjoebiroe is situated in Central Java, south of Semarang. The military encampment was in the east of the city.
        From 13 August 1945 to 23 August 1945 this location served as a civilian camp
        From 23 August 1945 to 25 November 1945 this location served as a relief camp

        Tot siens


      • Rod Shipley says :


        The evacuation of the Republican camps (return to Allied territory) occurred mainly in the period April 1946 – May 1947. These shipments can be classified into 5 categories:

        1 Begin 1946 T/B W/O-Java Batavia 1.246
        2 20-5-1946 21-7-1946 V M/O-Java Batavia 4.591
        3 20-5-1946 23-7-1946 V M/O-Java Semarang 14.638
        4 27-9-1946 30-5-1947 T M/O-Java Batavia 15.637
        5 22-12-1946 22-12-1946 B Madoera Surabaya 80

        B=Boat, T=Train, V=Plane

        The data in this table shows that the evacuation transports were carried out in 5 different periods, in which different means of transport (boat, plane or train) were used and that a number of times evacuations were interrupted. The latter happened because of political disturbances. A total of 36,192 people were evacuated. Rosters of these shipments are in the archives of the Dutch Red Cross (War Aftercare Department) in The Hague.

        Phew – I’m off to bed now!


      • deleted says :

        Hello Rod, wow, it’s amazing how much info you have. Where do you go to obtain all this info? So after I read your email, I’m still not sure if I could have been born in Banjoebiroe. I just celebrated my 69th birthday yesterday. Is it possible that my mom was still in the camp when she had me? They stayed in indonesia until 1953 where they lived in Adek Kamp, then took the boat to the netherlands where we lived for 7 years and then immigrated to the US. Do you still live in the Netherlands? Were you able to get all this info from your mom and sister? I’m going to look deeper into all this info and try to work it out. I sure do appreciate all what you have provided for me to this point. Thank you so very much.

      • Rod Shipley says :

        Hi Beppie

        I have some more answers for you, but I think Sanne may be wondering how much more information you and I are going to clutter up her blog with! Maybe it would be better if we move our chat to e-mail. Mine is and I’m in the UK, in the south of England. If you drop me an e-mail I’ll happily answer your latest questions. if you’d prefer to continue here then please put up another post and we’ll see how long Sanne’s patience lasts! You can also find me on facebook.

        All the best


      • deleted says :

        Hi Rod, I clicked on your email and send you two emails. I wonder if you had received them. I was not aware or was not thinking that our communications were on Sanne’s blog. That shows how much I know. I thought we were emailing each other. My apologies to Sanne.

  15. Kerry van says :

    Sanne thank you so much for this article. My grandmother, aunt and uncle were in malang before being moved to this banju biru 10. I am going to Java in 2weeks time and am hoping to visit the camp as I feel it is a very important part of my families history. If you have a more exact location on google or GPS or even just a description of its location so I can find it, I would be very grateful.

  16. Rod Shipley says :

    This is truly remarkable. My oma and her daughter Corrie were also at Banyu Biru, and also survived. Corrie (Bovendorp) is my mother. I totally agree with all your comments and I’m truly grateful you have had the time, opportunity and good sense to make this video. Thank you

    Rod Bovendorp Shipley, UK

    • sannevanoosten says :

      Dear Rod,

      What a coincidence, my aunt who lived in Banyu Biru as a baby was also called Corrie. It is hard to believe! I also know of another Corrie who was in that camp, but she was older. She had a daughter called Liesbeth. This other Corrie later died and her daughter was adopted by the List family, she is now known as Liesbeth List.

      Thank you for your reply!

      Kind regards,

      Sanne van Oosten

      • Anonymous says :

        Hi Sanne

        I spent some time with my sister recently, going through boxes and boxes of stuff left when my mother died. Included among it all was a book about Banjoe Biroe written and published in 1995 along with a reprint of 3 camp diaries from inmates. I’m not sure if I can attach more info here – if not I’ll upload it and let you have a link.

        Tot siens


        PS – seems I can’t post attachments here so watch this space…….

      • Anonymous says :

        Dear Sanne,

        My father Felix and my grandfather were in Tjimahi, my grandmother and her 3 daughters were in the other camp. One of them my aunt is also called Corrie! She now lives in Canada with her family. How many coincidences! Thank you so much for sharing this video. 25 years ago I was in Tjimahi, but could only find the military base, not the camp it self.
        So again thank you very much

        kind regards
        Hanka zwanikken

      • Bob Bekins says :

        Sanne, Loved your video and it has helped me. I am writing a book about the camp at Bogor with Rudy Van Der Biesen who was interred there as a nine year old. Most interested in getting in touch with Rod (on the blog) about the book and the journals he has . Do you have better contact information for him. You may call me at 760-505-9397 or email .

      • Anonymous says :


        You can use my direct email –

    • glemmens1940 says :

      Hi Rod,

      Yes I came over in 1967 as a student in Edinburgh (Biochemisyry and Brewing Science)where I also met my Scottish wife. We have lived since 1992 in Wadhurst, East Sussex. In 1947 a Dutch medical couple published their medical forecast about – The Camp Children (de Kamp Kinderen). They forcasted Asthma and yes my siblings and I suffer from Asthma but they also forecasted mental illnes (depressions) between the age of 50 and 60 for the Camp children. I suffered from a massive depression when I was 60 years old (only wanted suicide) and then two years later again, however after one year my mental problems were thank God over. Only my spelling has suffered since then.
      The Japs do not know how much damaged they have inflicted on their POWs for the rest of the POWs lives!
      Strange Indonesia is still my – Home Country – and not The Netherlands !



      • Ron Geenen says :

        Strange Indonesia is still my – Home Country – and not The Netherlands !

        I think it is not strange. We Indo’s are all very different. Some prefer Indonesia, others the Netherlands and I prefer just being in the world and being away from the two countries.

      • glemmens1940 says :

        Hi Rod,

        Correction – Unfortunately I am not an Indo but a Totok ! I wish had some Indonesian blood but I have not !

        Cheers ,


  17. Marcia says :

    Hello Sanne,

    This is a powerful documentary. I am fascinated with this story and the diary involved. I would like to connect with you and wonder if you could email me privately.
    My email address is



  18. jacquelynmcvicker says :


    Thank you so much for sharing this, it brought tears to my eyes. My Oma and Opa were both in concentration camps, I don’t know the names….it is very hard still for my Oma to talk about. Her mother died 6 months after the war of malnutrition. She once told me, with tears in her eyes, the experience she remembers of being taken away by the Japanese. She lived in Malang. Her mother and brother were taken away in a pick up truck, she was 7 years old. Her dalmation, Spotje, ran after their car. In the camps they were starved. She remembers finding her Aunt murdered and thrown in a trash can. She saw a mother, who was caught stealing food for her family, brought in front of the camp, gasoline poured over her and lit on fire for all to see. Her mother would give any food that was given to them to her children (my Oma and her brother). When she thought the Japanese soldiers weren’t watching, she would stand near the barbed wire fence and beg and barter for food from the locals outside, giving away any jewlery, etc she had just to feed her children. Many times she was caught, beaten in front of my Oma, and the food was taken. All I have left of my great grandmother is a few pictures and a pair of diamond earrings that I treasure. My Opa remembers being outside when the Japanese planes game and the Japanese soldiers came down in parachutes to take them away. My Opa’s father (we called him Opoo), was in Nagasaki doing slave work for the Japanese (I guess they separated the men) when the atomic bomb went off. He remembers being in the coal mines and they felt a great rumble. They came out of the mines and the Japanese soldiers started bowing to them.

    It’s just so sad but it makes me more grateful for all I have in my life. My great grandmother gave her life for her children and without her I would not be here. One day I would like to visit Indonesia and find my Oma’s old house in Malang and the camps they were in. In the meantime, I keep a food blog of my Oma’s Indonesian recipes, it’s an important and tasty way to keep the culture alive!

    • Bloggers Without Borders says :

      Dear Jacquelyn, Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment. So many horrible things have happened, I’m happy it is all being remembered so we will be carefull to start any new wars. Also, I’m thankful that I haven’t had to endure through such horribleness myself. I can really recommend visiting Indonesia. Not only will you be able to see where your family lived, it is a great place to travel and the people are so kind and friendly.

  19. Helen Jansen says :

    Dear Gerard
    You misunderstood me – it was a point abount international politics being often unjust / unjustified. You’re correct I’m the next generation ; the descendant. My dearest mother was at Banyu Biru 10 and her whole family endured injustices as did others mentioned in this blog. She is not on the internet but she’s active and in solidarity with other remaining survivors. I wrote these blogs for her, her sister and in living memory of my grandmother, grandfather and uncles (the men who worked on the Burma Railroad). I am interested in any peaceful initiative / organisation dedicated to the memory of the POWs and the concentration camps. That’s all.

  20. Helen Jansen says :

    Sanne, this is a great movie which I will share with my mother Neeltje as she was held captive at 6 yrs to 10 yrs of age with my grandmother and aunt at Banyu Biru 10 during WW2. She was so young to have experienced the violence and maltreatment. It would be a tragedy for the buildings to be demolished. I would be interested in any initiative for a memorial to be placed there.
    Many thanks, Helen Jansen

    • glemmens1940 says :


      The survivors of Banyu Biru will never have a memorial – as the Indonesian gouvernment deliberately did not want that, so they converted the prison immediately after WWII into a police academy !!

      I am one of those survivors – I was 3 years old when we went in and 5 years old when peace finally came on 15th August 1945.

      You should read – Silenced Voices – by Inez Hollander which is written in English !!


      • Helen Jansen says :

        I can perfectly understand why the Indonesian Government would not want to support a memorial. Many thanks anyway

      • glemmens1940 says :

        Dear Helen,

        If you would be a survivor then I think you would not understand why the Indonesian and the Dutch Gouvernment would not organize a memorial for all the Trauma etc. we had to endure ???

        What about all the memorials the Jews have got ??

        We are the forgotten survivors and the forgotten Holocaust !

        Sorry, you do not see it that way, but then you probably do not know what hunger and thirst really are ?


      • Bloggers Without Borders says :

        Dear Gerard, I don’t blame the Indonesians for not supporting a memorial as the Dutch were very horrible to the Indonesians as well. It’s a miracle the Indonesians still are nice to us even. Just goes to show what a warm and kind people they are.

      • Bob Bekins says :

        Gerard, I am writing a book on the camps with Rudy Van Der Biesen who is 83, I would like to chat with you about your experience there if you feel up to it. You can reach me at 760-505-9397 or at

    • Bloggers Without Borders says :

      Dear Helen, I know, it is very strange to hear that there isn’t any memorial or anything. And the people who live in those towns don’t know much about the horror the Dutch went through in these concentration camps. I must say, I don’t blame them, because the Dutch were horrible to the Indonesians as well and it is therefore very logical that they don’t feel like commemorating the pain the Dutch had. Nevertheless, this also means that much is going to be forgotten. Hopefully this video will inspire people to find the concentration camps of there grandparents or parents and at least try to keep some of it alive.

  21. glemmens1940 says :


    Ik ben het met je eens over het woord ingenieur! Het is mijn tekst ook niet maar Bussem Bridgehead en ik had er zelf ook al een opmerking over gemaakt. Ik zie dat jij ook zo’n ellendige tijd gedurende de oorlog hebt gehad, maar wij hebben het gehaald!!! Denk toch eens aan al die mensen die op het laats nog zijn overleden zoals mijn neef, Kees van Benthem, die een vliegveld in de Molukken moest aanleggen en toen de terug weg van de Molukken naar Soerabaja niet 5 dagen maar 30 dagen duurde, toen overleed hij in 1944 aan boord en kreeg een zeemansgraf! Als doodoorzaak schreven die rot Jappen op – Hartaanval en malaria !!!
    En dan moet die mooie nieuwe Koning van Nederland toch die rot Japanse prins of keizer uitnodigen op zijn kroning ?? Een grote schande vindt ik het – laat de Japanse Keizer maar eerst eens sorry zeggen en ons financieel steunen – net als de Duitsers de Joden gedaan hebben, ja dan pas kunnen ze eens uitgenodigd worden door die Oranjes.


    Gerard Lemmens

    • Ronny Geenen says :

      >>>>>>En dan moet die mooie nieuwe Koning van Nederland toch die rot Japanse prins of keizer uitnodigen op zijn kroning ?? Een grote schande vindt ik het – laat de Japanse Keizer maar eerst eens sorry zeggen en ons financieel steunen – net als de Duitsers de Joden gedaan hebben, ja dan pas kunnen ze eens uitgenodigd worden door die Oranjes.<<<<<<<<<<<<<

      Helemaal mee eens.

  22. Ronny Geenen says :

    Gerard Lemmens, East Sussex, England

    Thank you also for your story.

    • glemmens1940 says :

      Hello Ronny and others,

      If you would like to see my Dad’s War story on the web, look at :

      You are in age between me and my late brother, who was taken away from the prison Banjoebiroe, camp 10 when he was 10 years old and put in Ambarawa no. 7 which was a camp for old men and young boys. My mother always said it was the worse moment in her life when the Japanse camp commander announced that boys of ten years and older would be taken away. My Mum was then so worried what they were going to do with those boys. Luckily he survived but got blinded in one eye because of a catapult shot in his eye, which armed him for the rest of his live as he could not become a navy officer like my Dad which was my brother’s great wish.

      It is a war not many people know about , sadely.

      Sincere regards,


      • Ronny Geenen says :

        Dag Gerard,

        Interessant en mooi verhaal. Nooit geweten dat ze vroeger mensen op een schip ingenieur noemden. Ik heb zelf ook gevaren als scheepswerktuigkundige op de tankvaart. Na 10 jaar ben ik gestopt als 2de wtk. Ook heb ik met familie in o.a. Bangkinang japans concentratie kamp gezeten, dat bij Padang, west Sumatra ligt. Een bijzonder ellendige tijd met haast geen eten.

  23. glemmens1940 says :

    Dear Sanne,

    I was with my Mum , Sister and brother interned in the prison Banjoe Biroe (Banyu Biru is the modern spelling) , Camp 10, which now is a police academy, which I visited with my Scottish wife in 2008. However there was later on another Camp build at Banjoe Biroe which was called Camp 11, which they have pulled down after the War. Extremely good books to read are Silenced Voices by Inez Hollander (in English) and in Dutch more recently published is – Soerabaja by Yvonne Last.
    From the 9000 prisoners in Camp 10 apparently only 4,400 survived. Elizabeth van Kampen has also got a web site in English which tells her story very well, which is also our experience as they and we started of in Camp Malang and then Camp 10. My mother nearly did not survive as she was in August 1945 in the “dead” cell and she was only 67 pounds. But she made it ! However we have all experienced depressions because of it and I still hate the Japs for what they have done to us and for killing my family members. My mother’s cousin, Willem H. Verplak, head of police in Balippappan was beheaded by the Japs.
    The Dutch people do not know much about our war, initially they were not interested at all and thought their WWII experiences were far worse but in recent years far more has been published in the Netherlands about “our” war in the Far East. it was time though !!

    Thanks you so much about your family’s story.

    Sincere regards,

    Gerard Lemmens, East Sussex, England

    • glemmens1940 says :

      Dear Sanne,

      I have now watch the video you have on your web site. The buildings you areshowing at Banjoe Biroe are the same which we have seen in 2008 and we took photographs of but my sister who is 10 years older then me and who was born in 1930 and also lives in England told me that those buildings were later on build against the outer wall of the Prison Banjoe Biroe, camp 10. We were in cell (Kamer) 11 of the prison and most likely your Oma also was?

      I think it is scandalous that the Indonesian and Dutch government have lacked in putting up a War memorial and restore the buildings as a memorial too for honouring the poor Dutch people who lost their lives in that camp/prison. How many war memorials have been put up for the Jewish people but our dead are the forgotten war sufferers !!
      What about our Far Eastern Holocaust ??? That is what makes me slightly anti jewish – they always push and push their own Holocaust!

    • Bloggers Without Borders says :

      Dear Gerard, thank you so much for your reply. I should read Silenced Voices to find out more. It is great that you replied this because this way we are joining forces in collecting information about our past! Kind regards, Sanne van Oosten

  24. Ronny Geenen says :

    Another site and another story about a concentration camp in old Dutch Indisch. I am 77 old and spent 3 1/2 years in Japanese concentration camps and the last 1 1/2 years in Bangkinang in Sumatra east of Padang in the middle of the jungle. My years were in the women camp, because I was younger than 12 years. A few miles further was the men camp. My father and many others from the mining company were tortured and the ceo and assistant were brought to the city square in daylight end both were headed.
    My dad were wounded with the bayonet through his upper legs and after that even castrated.
    If you want to know what happened more in Sumatra, you should read the book KURA!

    Ronny Geenen

  25. Sonja Moore says :

    Thank you for your story and video. My parents also was in concentration camp. But they never talked about it, so I have no idea what camps they where in. All I know that my dad was beaten by the Japanese almost everyday. My aunt told me this after my dad passed away in August of 2009.

    • Bloggers Without Borders says :

      Dear Sonja, amazing that it took over half a century for you to hear the stories about the war. How much pain they must have had gone through for them to not even want to talk about it to the people close to them.

  26. Catherine rodaway says :

    Thank you so much shauna. So well written and so motivating for a discovery of our heritage. Catherine Rodaway nee vanOosten

    • Erik Rouffaer says :

      Dear Sanne,
      Very interesting to see your movie. My father was also in the camp Chimahi there and deceased in May 1945. I was in camp Banjoe Biroe 10 with my mother. In June 2013 I will visit the different places with my son where I have been. Born on 19-03-1942 in Pengalengan and the locations of the camps in Bandung, Banjoe Biroe, and after the liberation Tjideng camp in Jakarta.

      Erik Rouffaer, 02-05-2013

      • Anton says :

        Interesting to see how many people were in the same camps as my mother, sister and I were. Erik, you are 5 months older than me, wonder if we were ever together. I still have some of the documents of that time but memories are vague.

        Anton van Doornum, 16 Aug 2013

      • Erik Rouffaer says :

        Beste Anton,

        Wellicht kunnen wij nader contact met elkaar opnemen.Mijn email adres is

        Met vriendelijke groeten,


      • Bloggers Without Borders says :

        Dear Erik, that is so interesting that your parents were in the exact same camps as my grandparents. Even though these camps are more than 400 kms apart. I’m so sad about how it ended for your father. I makes me think that this is what could have happened to my grand father, and if that was so, my mother would have never been born and I wouldn’t have been here today. Very strange to think about!

  27. Ruud Thea Bisenberger says :

    My mother and I were in this concentration camp Banjoebiroe.Before the war we lived in Bandoeng, where I was born. My father was killed on the Burma railraod tracks and my mother and I her sister and two children were first put in a camp in Moentilan and later at the beginning of August we were taken to Banjoebiroe, where the Japanese had planned to kill all women and children.I wrote a book: “I Thought You Should Know” written under my maiden name Tetske T van der Wal. I also have a blog, you for sharing your story. Have you ever read the blog from Elizabeth van Kampen? She too was in Banjoebiroe, with her mother and two sisters.I met Elizabeth in Holland at a demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy. We live in Canada and every year we go to the Netherlands to visit our family. When my husband and I are in Holland we attend the demonstration in The Hague. with the members of The Foundation of Honorary Debts.Every second Tuesday of the month a petition is handed over to the Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihiko Noda. We are still hoping for a solution , and the Foundation does not allow the passage of time to offer Japan an escape from its responsibilities.The grandchildren question the morality and integrity of the present Japan.We should never forget our past, so it can not be repeated.

    • Sanne says :

      That is so interesting to hear! Unbelievable that there are so many people protesting in front of Japanese embassies, when will they ever apologize properly? We also attended a protest in Seoul Korea and wrote this blog about it:

    • Jan bakels says :

      I was with my mother in Moentilan.
      I was a small boy, but remember everything clearly .
      From Moentilan we were transported to Banjoe Biroe .As the camp was full my mom and a friend (rie herding ,lived after the war on Vancouver island) settled in between the latrines ,there was not other space available.
      As our name Bakels starts with a “B” we were put on first transport ro Soerabaja.
      From there to Singapore where my Father found us when he returned from the Birma Railroad .Repatriated first group on ss Nieuw Amsterdam.
      One year later back in Slerabaja to build up the country.
      Went back to Moentilan twice last time in 2013.
      Would love to communicate with people that have been in same camps.

      • glemmens1940 says :

        Hello Jan,
        I was born in 1940 in the R.C. hospital in Soerabaja (now Surabaja) and shortly afterwards my parents moved to Malang. We were first put into Camp Malang and after three month transported by trains to mid Java to the prison Banjoe Biroe (now Banyu Biru), Camp 10 . Like you my 10 year older sister got us after a while (giving my mother time to recover as she only was 67 pounds on 15 aug. 1945) on a boat to Singapore ( the MS Loch Killisport on which Prince Philip served as an officer, my sister remembers), where my father was supposed to be. We found him as his last camp was Changy Jail in Singapore.
        My e-mail address is all in small letters and all my first names gerard willem charles then my familyname lemmens with @ and then
        I have had my computer hacked twice and hence the complicated e-mail address.
        We are the survivors !!!



      • Ron Geenen says :

        You wrote: “I have had my computer hacked twice and hence the complicated e-mail address.”

        More important is to make your password very complex with capital and small letters including all kind of signs in between. My website had been hacked also and I do change my password every month and like now it consist of 21 items.
        I also write it down and save it at 2 different places. It is better that way than paying $300 every time, right. I also have now a plugin software attached to my web, which is called Wordfence.

  28. Janneke Jobsis-Brown says :

    Thank you so much for your journey and what you posted. I am writing a novel, based on Dutch-Canadian-American family’s journeys surviving the Japanese Concentration Camps, and life later. My website is also a blog and features real life family stories, and light and love for the generations after World War II.

  29. Geraldine Colenbrander Vaccaro says :

    I believe your grandfather was right to not look back and move on. And somehow I believe your grandmother was much better of not have read what he wrote. In his soul I think your grandfather knew that. There is nothing to be gained by it.
    Having survived three bombings in Doetinchem by the allies with a faulty atlas, with a father in the resistance, grandparents who risked their lives daily by having a safe house for Jews, the war was not discussed in our home and neither by my grandparents. War is horror. There is nothing to be gained to live in the past and to constantly relive it. The past is gone, we cannot set back the clock, the future is unknown BUT today is a present, “een cadeau”
    Let us celebrate today and make it special. We should never consider places of horror as a monument to visit. The quicker they disappear the better off humanity is. Instead we should remember and honor our grandparents that suffered. Your grandfather sounds like a very wise man. I hope you’ll have him for a very long time.

    PS It was after my fathers passing in 1986 that I learned a great deal of what he had done in the war from his best friend. My father had his reasons not to tell me. He was right.

    Be well!

    • Sanne says :

      Thank you for your reply! I think that every person deals with their past in their own way. My opa didn’t have the courage to talk about it with his wife is a personal matter. But I don’t think people can ever forget what happened in the past. In order to learn from our mistakes we should be willing to learn about our mistakes in the first place.

  30. Annelieke Dirks says :

    Thank you Sanne, for your story and your research. My Grandmother and her family were in camps on Sumatra. She has told me stories about it as well. Would it be possible to read your grandfathers’ translated diary or is it just for family? All the best to you and your family, Annelieke Dirks from the Netherlands

  31. Sanne says :

    I left a map on the Van Oosten page on Facebook. But if you ever find yourself in Indonesia and want to visit the two camps, here is the information to find it. Opa’s camp was near the Javanese city Bandung, in Cimahi (used to spelled Tjimahi) was on “Jalan Poncol” (street). Oma and Corrie’s camp was south of Semarang, in Banyu Biru (used to be spelled as Banjoe Biroe, the camp was called Banjoe Biroe 10), now part of the police academy called Bhayangkara Pandeganing Nagari. As you can see on the map, the two camps were 423 kilometers apart! And their home was far away too, near Surabaya (east Java).

    • Corrie Speelman says :

      I still have a physical reminder of that long train ride to one of the concentration camps. While on the train, I got a boil on my knee. The poison spread through the vein or artery, (what do I know?) and finally erupted halfway between my knee and ankle. There is still no flesh on that spot, just skin over bone. Can you imagine my mother’s despair traveling on that filthy train with no way to treat the infection. I also would think that I cried a lot during that time.

      • Sanne says :

        Crazy to have such a physical reminder up to this day! I’m not even a mother, but I can imagine this comes pretty close to a mothers worst nightmare!

    • Jude Kave says :

      6 years later… Sanne I couldn’t find the map would you be able to email me or message to me on face book – thanks Judith Kavermann

  32. Jeremiah says :

    Wow, this is really amazing. This is the most information I have ever received about our families history. Do you think you can post maps (google maps?) where these camps existed?

  33. Lisann says :

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experience with all of us.

    • Michele Duggan says :

      My Dutch grandfather was also at Tjimahi (Cimahi) where he died of a heart attack in May 1945, 3 months before the war ended. It’s the first time I have seen any footage of this place even though I have been back to Bandung to the Dutch Cemetery at Cimahi (actually Leeuwigadjah) outside Bandung to his grave.

      This was so moving, thank you so much, my heart was in my throat as I watched.

      My dad (half Dutch, half Indonesian) was taken to Japan to a POW camp called Ohasi, and his brothers were in various camps in Thailand and Java from 1942 – 1945.

      There is so much material available in Dutch about this era of our history in Java, but very little in English – I probably own most of it !

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