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Letter: ‘Peace was short lived for those of us surviving the war’

‘Peace was short lived for those of us surviving the war’

Today I was reminded that on Aug. 15, 1945 all of South-East Asia was liberated and peace had returned to the occupied countries. I remember those days as a child growing up in Indonesia.

I remember some of the hardships we went through while occupied. Most of families of first generation Dutch descent were put in detention camps and their husbands put to work in labour camps in Japan or Burma like the Dutch POWs. Those, who had been of multigenerational Dutch-Indonesian descent were detained in certain Ghetto like areas. We were “Displaced People”; many succumbing to the pressures of the occupants and collaborating Indonesians.

Peace was short lived for those of us surviving the war. Indonesia demanded its independence and anybody holding a Dutch passport was sent out of the country, back to the Netherlands. All Armed Forces personnel, first generation Dutch-Indonesian had no choice but pack what they could as all their assets were confiscated by the newly formed government. All others were given the choice to become Indonesian or “return” to the Netherlands too.

Most of us chose the latter, knowing very wel that life as we knew it was gone; that in the eyes of the Indonesians we would remain the descendants of the Colonists. The political war in Indonesia was a brutal one, and also targeted the Chinese families who like the Dutch had lived there for generations. I was sent back as a child to live with my estranged father and his family in the Netherlands.

Today we remember those who fought and given their lives during WWII and ensuing political war in South East Asia. Thank you, may you rest in Peace.

Judy van der Boom

Mill Bay

Afghan war