HerStoriaMagazineIssue9_japs.pdf Mar. 2014 - Page 2
Family photograph taken on Java during the occupation. Dee Kiesling in on the right
in a bibbed gingham dress. Note the hideaway shelter in the background.
were being treated. They communicated
in Malay. Every so often he would
smuggle us treats - a tin of sardines or an
egg passed through the bamboo fence.
Mother won Ando’s trust enough to ask
if he could find out where my father was
interred. A few days later Ando came
and told us that father was in Tjimahi, a
men’s camp in Bandoeng. Mum wrote
him a letter and, thanks to her work
in the hospital, she was able to get
him a pair of specs from a patient that
had died. We were all over the moon
when Ando brought a letter back from
father. He wrote that he was well and
thanked mum for the specs. He weighed
just sixty-five kilos by then, hungry
all the time, but still in good health.
Once Ando asked us to meet him
at the sentry box after dark. Ems and I
were totally without guile and went to
meet him without considering possible
dangers involved. Our trust in him was
rewarded - he had brought us a Chinese
takeaway! It was the first decent food
we had eaten since entering the camp.
The last time we saw him he was in
tears, devastated by the news that he
had to go and join the fighting. We
never knew what became of him.
My sister and I, although in our late
teens, were naïve and had no idea that
some women exchanged ‘favours’ with
the Japanese in the hope of getting
better treatment. They would later be
labelled ‘Japanese whores’. After the war
we heard of the appalling treatment
of the inaccurately named ‘comfort
women.’ The Japanese handpicked single
women, aged seventeen to twentyeight, and took them from the camps to
work as prostitutes for their officer élite.
They were raped systematically every
day. Many of these women were virgins.
There were accounts of older, married
women asking to be taken instead of the
younger women who were innocent of
sex. They thought they would be able
to handle enforced prostitution better.
few possessions and a rolled-up mattress
on our backs. We had no separate rooms
anymore. We slept in a barrack on a
raised platform which ran the length of
the building. My mother took us into
the corner which she anticipated would
offer some cover from the Japanese
when they checked in on us. We had
forty-five centimetres per person and
had to forgo any ideas of privacy. We
washed in full view of the guards. After
a while we became immune to their
gaze. Toilets were a long plank with
holes where you defecated into an open
sewer. Dysentery soon became rife.
Camp Karees was cushy in
Some women exchanged ‘favours’
with Japanese guards
We spent eighteen months in
Bandoeng and then had to make
a thirty-six-hour trip by train to
Amberawa in central Java. The train’s
windows were blocked off and we
were all huddled together like cattle.
There were no toilets. My sister had
diarrhoea and she had to go out onto
the carriage balcony to do her business
and then wipe it off with a broom.
We had to walk from the train to
Banjoe Biroe, our next camp, with our
comparison with Banjoe Biroe. Young
healthy women such as myself were
put to work. In pairs we had to carry
big metal drums containing hot food
from the kitchen to the barracks. It was
a precarious task. One either side of the
barrel, we lifted it off an un-mortared
brick furnace with a bamboo stick
placed through two handles at the top.
We had to work outside the camp
as well, chopping trees down for
firewood. As we worked Indonesian
HerStoria magazine Summer 2011