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Other Times – Teenagers under Japanese occupation part 1 (English subtitles)

(c) Dutch Public Broadcasting ‘OTHER TIMES’ Good evening. We’ll take you
the coming half hour … to the occupation of our country.
“Again”, I hear you thinking. But there is an aspect of the occupation
that we never discussed on Other Times”… and which we don’t know
much about in our country. This is part 1 of a two-part series … about the occupation of the Dutch East Indies … that began 75 years ago, by the Japanese. If there was a Japanese soldier on guard … then you had to make a bow. You had to pay attention
when you cycled … and you passed a post … a Japanese post was usually concealed … that you got off your bike and bowed. You have to bow. If you do not bow,
you get a kick. You just get a kick. And of course, I refuse to do that that.
And not just me, believe me. But then you were called back
and then you got hit. Bow. Then you nodded, but that was not enough. Then you got a blow and then
you had to bow deeply. You really have to bow, you know.
Not just bend like that, you have to … And that was in honour
of the Japanese emperor. Yes, they were not exactly … pleasant to deal with. Bowing for the Japanese sentry … that is still a familiar
image of the war. But then our knowledge will soon run out. Believe it or not, the only book
that gives an overview … of the occupation in the Dutch East Indies,
is this. By famous historian Loe de Jong,
published 33 years ago. That’s why we keep thinking … that is the other familiar image of
the occupation in Indonesia … that all Dutch people were
in a concentration camp. While two-thirds remained outside. Namely the Dutch with a tan. Eurasians, whom we overlook
for convenience … but who were actually Dutch citizens … and just did like most citizens
here in the Netherlands: Stay at home if possible
and get on with life. Share in the experiences of twelve
Eurasian Dutchmen. Teenagers, back then. We follow them from May 1940,
the German invasion in the Netherlands … when the war started a little bit
for them too. Through the radio we heard … how Rotterdam was bombed flat. My grandfather had many family members
living in Vlaardingen. Yes. That was very sad for him,
when the war broke out. I also know that people could buy
a map of Europe … with flags, German flags … English flags, French flags … that map was on the wall,
my father also had one … and then you could follow
the course of the war. My father adjusted them every day … But you clearly saw
that the German flags … went more to the west. Teachers at school were so fiercely … against the Germans. I had one teacher,
I will not name names … but one man hit a pupil … who had a stepfather, a German. We had a German boy in our class … and then he was badmouthed by the teacher
and sent out the class. And he was not allowed to come back. Forever dismissed from the school. So I lived with my uncle in Lawang … and my uncle was German … and he had the habit … to keep getting into conversations
with people … and then to argue about what he had read
in the newspapers … because he was … all for Germany. On the tenth of May he was promptly
interned at noon … removed by the police … and I was allowed to stay at home. But come midnight … then they came knocking on the door
and they said: I’m sorry, boy, we have to take you too. And I was very happy because
I had bad grades for German. And German class was canceled. The Japanese cinema newsreel
reports in October 1940 … about the cooperation agreement
that Japan, Germany and Italy … signed in Berlin. This treaty is signed
as a first step to world peace. Retaining the old order is certainly
not how to achieve true peace. For the first time, the world community
can achieve stability… thanks to all nations
that understand this… and all people who think about this. After minister Matsuoka’s
forceful speech… German ambassador Otto
honoured the emperor. Long live the Emperor! Japan was an ally of Germany … but we feared Japan much earlier. So we had a bit of fear … that the Japanese would also
participate in that war. It was a few days after Saint Nicholas … we had just had fun
celebrating Saint Nicholas… and eh … yes. Then I came there and everyone … was in despair and said:
Japan has attacked us. That was the attack on Pearl Harbor. News from Japan: Extra Edition A fleet camouflaged in dignified
black conquers the Pacific Ocean We taunt an old enemy
and put the fate of the Empire at stake The warriors do not expect to return alive They have performed their oath of duty. They will hurl themselves onto the enemy. We received the message:
Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. Then immediately the next day
the Governor General … Tjarda van Starkenborgh,
declared war on Japan. Then my father said: You must not continue
to live in the city. And he had a house there … where he always went with
his friends to hunt … but that house was big enough to put
his whole family in there. It was in the middle of the jungle. The Dutch East Indies is still awaiting
Japanís actions. Much remains to be done before
the colony can face a war. They close the borders,
the supply stagnates … then we make it here. The stock is running out. We supplement it. We are short of hands. Then we work longer. From our own strength. With our own hands. To be ready. To be prepared … prepared to the end. In the beginning we were encouraged
to build shelters … in case there would be a bombing. Most buildings,
at least of the government … but also other large buildings,
were painted in camouflage. That is bleak. The beautiful white, the sparkling white,
that was gone. The windows were blinded. Oh yeah! Also one of the things. The windows were blinded with cover paper. I remember that. We had to take a helmet
to school if possible. Just in case. We were issued these rubber things,
if it came to war … then we had to lie on the ground … and put those rubber things in our mouths. Boys aged 15 years were assigned
to the air protection service. We were taught how we could reach … the switch boards on the streets … to help turning off the street lights … when sirens roared in the evening. The might of the Japanese empire
cannot be vanquished… by the forces of the American, British
and Dutch armies in Asia. On three days, three mornings … we had to go to the governor’s house … and wait there for an evacuation
with the bomber. Terrible. Because we had to leave everything behind.
Everything. My mother happened to have
a pillow case with gold … she only took that. One by one their fortresses are being
destroyed by the Japanese army. It might be a bit weird, but it was … now history is going to happen,
and Iím in the middle of it. So I started making notes. A diary of what happened. But the first days, the first week
nothing happened. So the diary remained empty. The KNIL,
the Royal Dutch East Indies Army … is ready and can tackle any enemy. That is what pre-war parades
should demonstrate. The inhabitants of the colony
must feel safe. But it is an illusion. The KNIL is powerless against
the hardened Japanese troops … who land on main island Java
on 1 March 1942. Then the Japanese invaded. And so they were on the north coast … and… Yes. One of my schoolmates, I believe … he was serving there … and they told me later … the only thing left of him
were his red underpants. When the Japanese came … we fled to a village. We had to walk past sugar cane fields … I still have nightmares… of those cuts of those sugar cane leaves. They were small people,
in our opinion, small. And all with those fluttering things. They had hats on. Waving things. And heavily armed. They had bad uniforms, looked dirty. Real Japanese, with those Japanese hats … with those flaps on the back. And then with those folding bikes,
those scary little men. Horrible! Horrendous. Yes. They were not people. They were like monkeys! Filthy, smelly monkeys on a bike! I could smell them. I smelled their clothes. It was a certain smell … which they spread. March 8 was the final fall of the KNIL … so the Dutch East Indies were finished. My father came home in his uniform.
Had a white towel. He had to wear that as a sign of surrender
when the Japs would come. He had that white towel around his neck … and that’s the first time I noticed
my father crying. Well, my mother too, of course.
We were all despondent. We did not understand exactly
how it would continue. Did we lose against that? With those flaps behind their cap. Yes. But it was true. We had heard all this time: The Indies are resilient,
we can handle them. And the stupid thing was, they said,
those crook-legs and those squint-eyes … they cannot do anything. But… Yes, it is always the case,
the enemy is always underestimated. They surrendered unconditionally. It was 8 March 1943 at 3 PM. This way, the Netherlands lost
a large country in the Far East… … and Japan showed its invincibility. It was a bamboo house. 43 kilometres south of Makassar. We went there. And then it was 2.5 kilometres
from the main road into the jungle. My father went back to the city
because he ran a boarding school. There were children who could not
go home anymore … because of the war … and he could not leave them alone. Then the Japanese came and they asked him
about his papers. My father was a Belgian citizen. So he showed his papers
and that he was Belgian. They did not believe it,
because the Dutch were the boss. Then they said: False papers. Then they shot him in the schoolyard. There were three students
who came to tell my mother. My mother got the message
that he was shot … and she told us: Dad is not
coming back … because they shot him. The first occupation,
at the beginning … it happened to be Saint Nicholas time … and then a few neighbours asked … they had small kids, if someone
wanted to play Black Pete. Well, I volunteered, because I thought
that was great. So I cycled in my Black Pete costume … from one house to another house … and that moment a Japanese came along
and he arrested me. I said: I have to go to my father. Then they came to our home. My father and I had to go to the Kempeitai. That’s the Gestapo here. Well, they tortured my father
pretty badly, mind you. In my presence. He got hit a hundred times
on his right ear … one hundred times on his left ear and … I thought it was so terrible
and if you cried … That was not allowed, right. So I just had to keep my composure. My father was an Arab language teacher,
he was originally from Tunisia. We were so-called Foreign Orientals. And when the war was over,
the Japs came in … father was happy at first … that the Dutch had lost the battle … and he thanked God and Allah for that … but on the other hand,
he was also disappointed. Because he had spent so much effort … and his money … on me. He gave me a Dutch upbringing … hoping that I would later
become a decent citizen … with a nice position. And now everything had disappeared. The Japs had won the war … and the Dutch, western upbringing … He had lost the battle.
So he cursed God in the end! The schools had to be closed. Dutch schools certainly. And a lot of schools had to be
cleared immediately for … the military.
Very nice. We did not have a school, we had a holiday. In the beginning it was: It is only three months,
then we will be liberated. But well, it was taking longer and longer. Then you think: well, this is
not funny anymore. A little later the teachers were … rounded up by the Japanese
and thrown into camps. Then a friend of mine told me … that female teachers, most male teachers
were in a camp … and female teachers started
a clandestine school. But secretly. If we are discovered,
we are done in for. Very quietly that had to… get started. Word must not get out. So it was all eh … Yes, rather exciting. In those few months that it lasted … we had to change address every time. Sometimes we arrived at an address
and someone standing guard would say: No, not today. Go there and there. But soon we were watched by several
Japanese and Indonesians … then we were warned … that we should not do that anymore. I think we only had one and a half months
of lessons. Japan has prepared the occupation
of the Dutch East Indies well. Along with the invasion army,
suitcases with money arrive. Banknotes, printed in Japan. I have Japanese banknotes here … that were used in Indonesia
during the Japanese occupation. It says here:The Japanese government
pays ten guilders. That is all mentioned on all of them.
The Japanese government. While in fact it used to be the bank … the Dutch Central Bank is the one
that issues the money. So that’s a bit weird. Afterward these were introduced
with the Indonesian language. The Dutch language was forbidden … so they had to issue these
with the Malay language. Sepuluh rupiah. So, ten rupiah. Ten guilders in fact. In addition to the money,
there is more change. The clock is set
to Tokyo time … and December 8, 1942
becomes December 8, 2602. The Dutch language is forbidden … and disappears from the streets. The same applies to white Dutch people. They are locked up in camps during
the first occupation year. But not everyone with Dutch nationality … is interned.
It became a pigeon hole registration. So much Dutch or European blood
and so much Indonesian blood. So those who had the
most European blood … they had to be interned immediately. First the men, of course.
Prisoners of war first of all. For that it did not matter
what colour you were. You were in the military,
so you had to go behind bars. Behind the barbed wire. If you’re a real ëbelandaí…
a Dutch expat … without ties to Indonesians
in one way or another … then you went into the camp. Half-caste.
How do you call that? Indoís, Eurasians, they were
allowed outside. The Japanese was a bit … stupid. If you say you were born in Java … Well, then I am not Dutch, right?
They believed that … Of course, we had Dutch passports. But my father had hidden all that stuff. We were still Eurasian kids. And… Not blond and not white … and so we were left alone,
for the time being. Almost all white people had vanished. And when there were white people … then we thought: Those are traitors. The Japanese internment system is based … on the colonial population register. A new identity card must be purchased. A so-called ëpendafteraní. This is an identity card
with passport photo … I only got it after I paid for it … in installments. For a Dutchman it costs something
like 150 guilders … and for the Arabs and the Chinese
it was less, it was 80. Father had to sell my new bike
that I needed … to go to school… to be able to pay for the passports. When there was talk of pendaftaran
it was also said: You could enjoy the protection
of the Japanese. On the other side of the street,
diagonally opposite us … there was a small Protestant church … the minister had paid
dutifully for a pendaftaran … and when they came to intern him, he said: Yes, but I have protection. Look. ‘Oh yeah. Come here.’ Away with it. Done. ‘Come along.’ So, it did not mean anything at all. At one point my father had to report … at some office … and there was … his whole … life course he had to tell. Many did not dare to say that
they had a Dutch father. They just told a lie. My father has said in all honesty: He has an Indonesian mother
and a Dutch father. Then he was locked up. Never seen again. Never seen again. My father was not arrested. Because my father was
useful for the roads … and the bridges. So, he had to work for the Japanese.
He was allowed to go home. But he had to work for them. He walked with a white band and a red ball. But he had to bow every time … and I do not know what else he to do. My father worked for the state railways. So, he went on his bike
to the head office … to ask:What am I supposed to do? He had the choice:To a labour camp … or just continue working. Yes, he still had a family
with three children at home … so ehm … “I keep working.” The Japanese needed people … at the Bandung Milk Factory. My father applied … because the person who always
delivered the milk … was a good acquaintance of my father. My father said:I want to work. But you did not get any money, you know. What my father did was … reject all cheeses … reject ice creams … and he always brought that home. We divided that among the people
who were hiding … in our neighbourhood. The overseers at the railways,
Indonesians … they were so jealous of that Dutchman,
my father … who would do nice things with the Japanese. Business trip and stay somewhere else. Your father then disappeared. Completely. Gone. The Kempeitai did it. Not just the police or the military …
No, the Kempeitai. Well, there are stories about them… That is unspeakable. I gave piano lessons to the Chinese,
because they still had money. I used to practiced on my own… after I came home from teaching,
to keep it up. And on one occasion there was hard banging
on the front door. And Grandma went right away … to the door to open it … and to see who stood there. It was an officer.
That was obvious right away. The funny thing was:
he took one step inside … waited for Grandma,
who opened the sliding door … and then bowed to her. And Grandma, in full consternation,
also bowed. And I thought: What should I do?
What should I do? Sitting at that piano. And he sat down and he said to me: Bach! Like that. So I had to play Bach for him. And when it was over … I did not dare to look backwards,
I thought: What now? Then he said:Chopin! Then I had to play Chopin. And that was enough, then he stood up,
he left … but he came again the next day. And it went on like that for a long time. We were used to him. Just one of the things
that could happen to you. That occupier, someone to get used to. That became the motto throughout Indonesia. Get used to a country where the white Dutch
were removed … and where a wedge was driven
between them … and what at the time you called
the native population. Squeezed uncomfortably in between … were the Indonesian Dutch of mixed blood.
What were they supposed to do? More about that next week in
the final part of this series. In the meantime, you will find a lot of
interesting things on our site. Portraits of our twelve teenagers
for example … to be found via an interactive map … plus unique extra archive images
and much more. This was ëOther Timesí, back to ours. So next week is the sequel. How during the Japanese occupation
the awe… for those incarcerated white
Dutchmen diminished… and what that meant for the Eurasians. The people themselves were, I think,
happy that the Japs came in. Asia for the Asians. The Indonesians, who now felt more
like the boss … they could be very cheeky. Then we felt very humiliated already.

One Reply to “Other Times – Teenagers under Japanese occupation part 1 (English subtitles)”

  • Thank you for this Documentary, so i know about the perspective of the Dutch, Indonesian, and Japanese.

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