Hardy's memories of life in

  Tjideng Camp - 1942 to 1945

(a women and children's internment camp in Batavia)

 

"The garden behind the house was a mess. The sewerage was broken down and the dirt and shit  was canalized

 in open gutters throughout the garden."  

 

 

We lived on Westerweg 28 in Batavia. In march 1942 my father was captured (by the invading Japanese forces) and sent  to Tjimahi Camp (we visited him there one time). Afterwards he was sent to Burma.  

 

In the middle of 1942 we were interned by the Japanese in Tjideng. We were moved several times. First we lived at the Moessiweg on the corner near the gedčk (barbed wire and matted bamboo fence). Across the street lived several nuns. Indeed there is a nun’s house on the map of Tjideng. Sometimes we could hear them sing. At that time, my sister [3 years older] worked in a Cook-“shop". Daily she brought a few grains of rice for the only chicken we had. Sometimes we had an egg from it. On the street alongside the house older boys made glazed wire for kite-flying competitions. Glazed wire was used to cut other lines during competition. Most of the time we played on the street. I got a severe ulcer on one of my toes. They put me in a hospital  at Laan Trivelli. It became a very big ulcer and at last they have to remove the nail. I was lucky because of the good food there. One day I stole a piece of bread from a truck in the market-place. A guard saw what I did and came after me. I ran away and I hid myself. He did not find me.

 

Radio and photo-equipment was gathered by the Japanese in big trucks. Several times the people were driven out of the houses to a square or out of the camp. Looking for hidden money, jewels, radios,  flags, etc. Once we spend the night in a room with 20 other people, some suffering from diarrhea. I can still remember the dark and the smell....

 

I remember screaming and crying  mothers when boys above 10 years were gathered in huge trucks and sent to boys-camps.

 

The second place we lived was in the middle of the Tjitaroemweg along a canal. This house was not so big although there were 64 people “living” in it. We were housed in the half of a garage with a friend of my mother and her two children. We slept under each other. The regime of the Japanese became more and more severe and cruel. The food rations became smaller and smaller. There was a little bit bread, rice, and “starch- paste". Instead of meat (of course there was no meat) the cook-shop made milled intestine. Some people loved it! People exchanged bottles for little fish with the “ ěnlanders” outside the camp. It was thrown over the gedčk  and the canal. We tried to grow  fish in the water well in front of the garden. It was a hopeless task because most of the time there was no water in it. The garden behind the house was a mess. The sewerage was broken down and the dirt and shit  was canalized in open gutters throughout the garden.

 

I don’t know why, but I sucked on blocks of salt. At night I was thirsty and sneaked water from our water supply.

 

One day my mother and her friend carried me on a stretcher to the dysentery-house. I screamed very much because we all knew that you would never come back from there. I stayed there for a month and went through the dieing of a little girl (two years old?) in a baby-bed. The atmosphere was horrible. I heard screaming and crying in the opposite houses under big trees. I was told there were mad people housed there. In spite of everything I recovered.

 

Sometimes we had to join a “kumpulan” (roll-call) and stay for hours in ranks. When it was done too slow the guards beat the women who were in charge of a (street) block. Once we stood a full night long and those who fainted were beaten up. On one of the kumpulans I was sick and felt on the road, but my mother picked me up and helped me to bow. She told me afterwards she was very terrified. We had to make endless bows. At that time the notorious Sonei was commander of the camp. He was very cruel. Sometimes we had to work in a field, I think to grow crops. My physical condition was very bad. On the hottest moment of the day I sat shivering in the sun. I was not malaria, but because of weakness and severe loss of weight I was very cold.

 

I think I did survive because of the atomic bomb.

 

Some weeks after the liberation of the camp we joined a big festival on one of the warships in Tandjong Priok. Was it an aircraft carrier? We were brought to the harbour in big open military trucks. I shall never forget the taste of the first green apple.

 

Our family did not have problems in the “Bersiap-period”.

 

In this story I mentioned events which impressed me the most.

Click here to go to the TJIDENG CAMP main page to read more about this camp.