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 17