A Japanese Method

12 The Japanese Occupation (2)

Arrival of the Japanese Army

Entry Japanese army on the bike.
Entry Japanese army on bikes. www.verzetsmuseum.org
The arrival of the Japanese army and their vehicles in Batavia - which large crowds came to see - is worth mentioning. It was impressive, but in a negative way. Japan needed large amounts of high quality steel to fight the war and steel of all things was a scarce product. The arrival of the troops therefore took place mostly in military trucks made of timber and the military bicycle platoon rode on bikes with timber frames and timber pedals. It was difficult to imagine that an army equipped like that could have overrun our, admittedly small, army in less than no time!
Jarak (Jatropha)
Jarak (Jatropha) “From planting to harvest. Treat the jatropha plant as good as possible to get a maximum harvest! “(A reference to the compulsory planting of Jatropha in Indonesia for the production of oil as a machine lubricant and fuel for the Japanese WWII war.) Wikipedia
It soon become apparent that the need for steel was indeed large, as soon after the “Japs” started taking apart everything in the Indies that contained iron for their war industry.

Another scarce item was motor oil, so soon everyone who had a garden was forced to plant jarak bushes. Of course, the oil obtained from these jarak bushes was of a lesser quality, which significantly shortened the lifespan of the engines of the cars the Japanese had confiscated.

Internment Camps for Civilians

From late March 1942 (i.e. the year 2602 according to the Japanese era) and for the entire period of the Japanese occupation, the Dutch men were separated from their wives and children and put into separate internment camps for civilians, i.e. camps for men and camps for women with children. East Indian women with young children were generally left alone.

Taken Prisoner and the Humiliating Treatment by the Japanese

Personally, I had the misfortune of being a young man of 16 years of age, so I was done for. I was taken prisoner, and many other East Indian people with me, during one of the many raids under Japanese authority by the police of Section 6 in Batavia (now Jakarta). By then, due to lack of ‘storage space’, the Indonesian long-term prisoners had been released from the ‘Bijzondere Strafgevangenis’ (Special Prison), renamed Penjara Luar Biasa Jatinegara, in Bukit Duri/Bidara Cina in what used to be called Meester Cornelis (which is now called Jatinegara and which was, at the time, still a suburb of Batavia). We were put there instead, with four people in each single berth cell. The long trip from the police station on Tanah Tinggi in Batavia to this prison in Meester Cornelis took place by bècak, a tricycle, which was flanked by policemen. We even had to pay for the cost of the transportation ourselves! It was a real prison, with cells of 2 by 3 meters with barred windows as seen in old American movies, and without any sanitary facilities. The person who was in the worst condition could sleep on the bunk, the other three had no other choice but to sleep sitting on the floor. So there was no toilet, we drank water from a tin can and we had to relief ourselves in a metal bucket with a lid as the cells got locked up at night. The next morning the cells were unlocked again and the roll was called in the narrow hallway. We were lined up in two rows and the front row had to start counting in Japanese, in the so-called Katakana, the Japanese everyday language. If the counting went askew, everyone in the front row received a serious beating. (The higher level of the Japanese language was the Hiragana, but fortunately the people weren’t taught this language).

Marked for Life

Poster 'Awas mata-mata moesoeh!'
Poster 'Beware of enemy spies. Bron: GvN Oorlogsaffiches
Fortunately, I only spent less than a year in those horrible conditions, thanks to my resolute aunt from Semarang who had connections with a Dutch officer at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Jakarta. This officer managed to provide evidence, black on white, that I had a female Indonesian ancestress on both sides and therefore I was released after a period of somewhat less than a year. It's a sure thing that, for the rest of my life, I won’t forget what I had to endure in that prison as a young adult. So I have been fortunate to have intensely enjoyed all the good things of life until adulthood, including all the mischief we were up to in our childhood, while, without any form of transition period, I then landed smack bang in the middle of the most toughest adult world.

Beautiful view on Java, there in the Emerald Belt.
Beautiful view on Java, there in the Emerald Belt.
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