Shared history in the Dutch East Indies , and our future
27 july 2000, Voorthuizen
- A short service: “A biblical perspective on sufferings wilfully caused by fellowmen”
- A Shared History in the Dutch East Indies and our Future
- Memories of Indonesia: Dutch Internment-camps , With the publication of E. Hayashi’s book
- Words for Hayashi’s book
- In Everthing Give Thanks, for This is the Will of God
- With the publication of my father’s diary
- Japan after the War
- Thank you address — Closing words
1. A short service: “A biblical perspective on sufferings wilfully caused by fellowmen” ⎮ Herman Goudswaard
Most welcome to all of you in this building of Near East Ministry. The organisation which resides here has the aim to bring reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and also between Christians and Arabs by sending volunteers to the Middle East, to Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. There are about 60 people working in this part of the world in all kinds of social and ideal work. There is information in this hall to give you some insight in the work.
I was asked to say something about the biblical perspective on suffering, willfully caused by fellowmen. I will not give an extensive analysis about the consequences of the WW 2, and talk about the atrocities imposed on civilians. So I do not have a political talk, but I want to describe the attitudes and responses on suffering from the perspective of the Kingdom of God. I just choose three persons from the Bible who suffered a lot without having done anything against the law. One person comes from the Old Testament, Daniel, and another one from the New Testament, Stephen, and the last but not the least Person is the Son of God, the Son of man, Jesus.
Daniel was taken prisoner in the land of Juda about 600 B.C., during a razzia where he was rounded up by Babylonian soldiers, and deported against his will to a foreign country, a strange culture, to Babylon, living far from his homeland. There he died after many years in Babylonian captivity without seeing Jerusalem again in his lifetime. But he never forgot to serve his Creator and Father God.
Once upon a day his colleagues in power, the presidents and the satraps tried to eliminate Daniel, because they were not so powerful and full of wisdom as he was. They made a law that nobody in the kingdom was allowed for 30 days to worship anyone else than the king, Darius, himself. Daniel knew what was going on, but he went on praying to the God of Israel three times a day. He would not forsake his Lord and God, though he knew that it would mean that he would be killed. He even knew his prosecutors, but he said no word to blame them.
The New Testament man is Stephen, an evangelist who preached the gospel among his fellow countrymen who were so jealous, because they could not withstand his wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit in which he spoke. He was stoned to death by his enemies. But he kept his faith, unwavering, in spite of all the threats of the demonic powers, imposed on him.
And the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, Jesus, who never sinned, was nailed to a cross by his Roman oppressors and the religious leadership of Israel. He was unacceptable, because his preaching was so challenging that it undermined the establishment. He warned the rich Pharisees, He turned the tables of the money-changers in the temple, He ate with harlots and tax-collectors. And His teaching was completely opposite the attitudes of the leaders of Israel, and was full of power and the Holy Spirit. It was Kingdom-preaching. That made the religious leaders jealous and stirred up hatred, so much so that the leadership wanted to kill Him, because His teaching was so powerful and so completely different from the rabbis’ in Israel. But Jesus went His way, doing the will of His Father in heaven, but meek and humble.
All three men suffered, willfully caused by fellowmen.
What interests me and puzzles me at the same time is their responses and attitude in these times of suffering. In the world around us we have the conventional responses when someone else has taken an evil initiative. In general we see negative responses: anger, hatred, beatings, screaming, cursing. One day seeing television gives you all the negative aspects and responses when agressive power is practised. How good it is to see the biblical perspective that is completely upside-down. As an example I read to you Luke 6:27-30.
‘But I say to you that hear. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not even withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.’
The conventional response towards enemies is: Kill them. Maybe there are still many people with this kind of attitude. The kingdom response is love. So did Daniel, Stephen and Jesus. They did not scream, they just loved. If there are haters around you, usually we hate back. But the kingdom response is: do good to those who hate you. For cursers, do not curse back, but bless them and forgive them. Pray for abusers. Offer strikers the other cheek. Do not avoid beggars, but give to them.
Here you see an upside-down reaction. Kingdom responses are: not to reataliate, even in the midst of insult, curses, hatred.
Do you know the secret of Daniel, Stephen and Jesus? The answer is PRAYER. You know what Daniel did at the moment he heard about the evil plans of his enemies? He went up to his prayer-room, opened the window and started to pray. “Forgive us, our Father, because we failed, forgive us, our King, our wrongdoings, blessed are You, Lord, the Merciful, Who forgives so much.”
You know what Stephen did, when the crowd took up stones to kill him? He prayed and said, kneeling down: ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and do not hold this sin against them.’
You know what Jesus said to those who crucified Him? ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ These are all kingdom-responses.
Forgiveness is a key. Forgiveness is the key.
Before closing, let me quote an impressive prayer that was found in the ghetto of Warsaw, written on a paper bag. This prayer combines all the prayer elements of Daniel, Stephen and Jesus. You have to listen carefully to grasp its contents:
‘Adonai, when You come in Your glory
do not remember only the people of good will.
Remember also the people who wanted to do wrong.
Do not remember only their cruelties,
their anger, their violence,
but remember the fruits
that we bore,
through the violence they imposed upon us.
Think of the patience of one of us,
and the courage of the other,
and the comradeship, the humbleness,
the greatness of our souls, the faithfulness,
they stirred up in us.
And make, Lord, that the fruits we bore
may become their redemption.
This is a real Kingdom prayer, of forgiveness amidst the most cruel situation.
The lesson the Lord gave me in preparing this word is that Kingdom-life is the key to cope with suffering that is willfully caused by fellowmen. You cannot learn this lesson from books, but in following Jesus, denying yourself, and walking in His footsteps, anointed by the Holy Spirit.
2. A Shared History in the Dutch East Indies and our Future ⎮ Rev. Shojiro Ishii
(Rev. Shojiro Ishii, pastor of the Japanese Christian Fellowship Church of the Netherlands (1998-2001), spearheaded the planning and managing of an annual European conference of Japanese Christians held at Elspeet in August 2000 with “Reconciliation” as its theme where Mrs Annie Goudswaard spoke on her experiences at an internment camp in Indonesia and her subsequent spiritual and inner struggle leading to her forgiving of the Japanese and achieving inner peace, an address which made a profound impression on many Japanese participants.)
My brief talk was first composed in Japanese, then put into English by Prof. Muraoka, to whom I am grateful for his labour.
My wife and I are truly thankful for the invitation extended to us to attend this gathering and meet you all here. I am also delighted with the publication of the two significant books and wish to congratulate those who are affiliated to the books and those who took part in efforts to have them published.
On the other hand, my heart sinks and fills with a deep sense of profound sorrow when I think of the painful stories told in them, sinful acts committed by mankind and by Japanese people.
These are, however, facts of history. Unless we face the past history squarely and consider it with utmost sincerity, our vision of the future would be distorted. This is also an important realisation. If we would move into the future with only a vague view of our past history or try to forget the past without first apologising for sins of the past and seeking and reaching reconciliation, then we would run the risk of allowing the history to repeat itself.
The enormity of this issue is such that it extends into areas of politics, economy and intellectual history. I doubt that we are adequately equipped to cope with this issue fully and reach its resolution within our limited life-span. Yet, I believe that we are morally obliged to make our best efforts to grapple with this issue and persevere in this struggle. We owe this to our recent history.
Being a pastor by profession, I naturally tend to look at these issues from a Christian, biblical perspective. A Christian would think in terms of repentance of sins and forgiveness of sins by God.
It is often said that forgiveness and reconciliation entail much pain and sacrifices. Forgiveness and reconciliation without pain and sacrifices are not genuine. When God forgives sins of a man, it is possible only by virtue of the great pain suffered by God, who allowed His only Son to die on the cross for this purpose. God’s love which leads to forgiveness of enemies is rooted in Jesus’ death on the cross.
As the Apostle Paul says in the first half of the fifth chapter of his letter to the Roman Christians, While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly … God proved His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us … While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son. This is indeed a very precious sacrifice. When we are overwhelmed by this love and forgiveness, we confess and repent our sins before God and take the path of justification by faith.
If people who have experienced God’s love and forgiveness could forgive and practise acts of love towards past enemies who once made them suffer and grieve, it would be truly wonderful. In a book which I recently read I came upon a sentence which said .A sweet smell left by a flower on a shoe which trampled it. I was deeply touched and moved. Christians who forgive and love those hateful enemy soldiers of the past who trampled them with their boots are exactly this sweet fragrance. I thank you, Mrs Goudswaard, Mr Lindeijer, Mrs Lindeijer his mother, and many others among you who share their painful experiences. Blessed are those who make peace. May God richly bless them and all those who are gathered here, wishing to work for a future of peace and love. Amen.
3. Memories of Indonesia: Dutch Internment-camps , With the publication of E. Hayashi’s book ⎮ Annie Goudswaard
(A story of Mrs. Goudswaard, which was published in a Dutch women’s magazine, drew attention of a community of Christian women centred at Darmstadt (Kanaan) and their colleagues in Japan, from whom a Japanese non-fiction writer, Eidai Hayashi, heard Mrs. Goudswaard’s life-story and came to interview her in her home town, Voorthuizen. That lead to the book, which was just published before htis conference.)
It was really beyond my understanding that a Japanese journalist should have wanted to write a book about someone who was interned in a Japanese camp in Indonesia. Actually it started in a meeting with a couple of European nuns, who are working in Japan as Mary-sisters.
These sisters came like us for a retreat in Darmstadt, Germany.
Believe me, they came from Fukuoka!! For me this is a place to which many emotions are attached, because my father died over there. I told these sisters something about my camp-experiences, and those of my father. They were so impressed that they wanted to do something with this information. Especially the element about reconciliation through the cross appealed to them. Back in Japan they contacted an important Japanese newspaper, and it published the story of my life. The journalist Eidai Hayashi felt that it touched his heart. He is the son of a Buddhist priest, who was tortured and murdered in the war, because of his anti-Japanese ideas. Hayashi did not hesitate, and came to Voorthuizen, because he wanted to write a book about my life.
It is already two years since Eidai Hayashi stayed here in the same place in an appartment in the big house that you see beside this building. Every morning he woke up by moowing cows in the nearby meadow, and twittering birds in trees outside of his window, he wrote in his book. He used to walk to our home every morning at nine and till 3 or 5 p.m. we had our interview-time. In the evening, in the silence of the woods, he had the opportunity to start drawing up all the stories he heard during the daytime. By the way: the first question I asked at the beginning of the interviews was: Would it be possible to read the manuscript myself before it will be published? Of course it was possible, but we had heard, just before his arrival, that Hayashi did not speak a word of English. And, immediately I thought: Who would be able here in Holland to translate a book from Japanese into Dutch??? Of course we never had heard of a Professor Muraoka. We barely had enough interpreters to help us with the interviews. You can understand that it was literally a great adventure of faith. We asked ourselves in those days: Who would have the greatest faith, Eidai-san or we? Many people have prayed with us, and prayer changes everything. We got seven interpreters during the time of the interviews. And now, two years later, we only thank God sincerely for his guidance during these twelve intensive days. God had a plan with this state of affairs. Just imagine that Mr. Hayashi had spoken English fluently. Then we, who are gathered here together, would never had met each other, and the opportunity to forgive each other through Jesus.
You, dear, esteemed , and helpful Japanese people, have carried me through, and the helping Dutch missionaries, we got to know these days, as well. Everyone of you had his or her own special life-story: so different, and yet so touching. I would never have missed this contact with you. We have not only written a book together, but moreover we built a precious relationship of peace with one another. Thank you very much.
The aim and the contents of the book.
A certain Mr. Bossebroek is writing a book about reception and return of war-victims. He writes: The war hangs over this book as a shadow. Yet you can find little pearls in all these stories. Looking at this book I can say the same about this book. Mr. Hayashi wants to make it clear to mankind, passionately, that a war is not just about soldiers and weapons, but that a war destroys the human spirit and soul. I believe that he was succesful in this matter. Yet I am so glad that Hayashi did not forget the little pearls. He tells about the power of my parents’ faith. They did not allow the enemy to wreck their spirits. They went through all the difficulties with their God. And many times they experienced the peace that goes beyond all understanding.
I want to add some thoughts and impressions I received when I read the book.
It troubles me that in this book the Japanese are painted as such bad guys. My mother said in the internment-camp: Do not hate Japanese, because there are good Japanese as well. And now I am not willing to point my finger at any Japanese. When we were in the old people’s home for retired soldiers in Bronbeek, near Arnhem, Hayashi was called names by two old men, who were former prisoners of war in Japan. With deep feelings of guilt Hayashi left Bronbeek that night. How could anyone know that Hayashi was so completely different?
I accept that Hayashi writes honestly about the role that was played by the Dutch during 300 years of colonisation. The huge, black cannons in the Bronbeek-area witness to the Dutch agressive attitude in the Dutch East Indies in the past.
Yesterday it was written in the headlines of our newspaper: Where respect ends, agression starts. So it is in Holland, here and now, within me, whether we are Dutch or Japanese. It seemed in Bronbeek as if nothing had changed after 53 years. …….. .
My conclusion is that Mr. Hayashi is a great author, with a fantastic feeling for understanding situations. Reading the English version of the book (in the translation of Prof. Muraoka, thank you) I have been back in war-time. I saw myself walking in the camp. With all the women and children, hundreds of them. And yet I was so lonely, so homeless, with that eternal longing in my heart that children can have, when they miss their familiar and safe surroundings and their toys to play with.
The death of my father was the deepest hardship to face. Hayashi had the capacity to strike the right note describing the moment that my mother brought me the message of my father’s death. At that moment I was somewhere in a hospital, far away from the other members of the family.
During the interviews I sometimes shared the information in a rather detached way. But now reading the book I am amazed that he understood my feelings so well. We could not go into depth during our talks, because of the language-barrier and difference in culture, I never knew what was in his inner being. To be honest, my expectations for this book were not so high. But in reading the book I saw Hayashi’s heart. He is a man, warm and full of compassion about those who suffer injustice. I hope, and pray that many readers will understand how you can survive, be healed, forgive, and be liberated out of a spiritual prison. I asked God to forgive me for my condemning attitude towards the Japanese people. Because of his eye-operation Mr. Hayashi was limited in his time. Yet, he finished his mission to preserve and transmit truths. He wrote to me in a personal letter: I suppose that this book will be my testament for the future: your message for the Japanese people! I agree with him, but my message would go a bit farther. It must be a message for the whole world, because many other countries did similar things. May this book become a bridge of peace and reconciliation between our nations, between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, praying together in the grace of God.
Eidai-san, you got my point, you understood me, thank you so much.
4. Words for Hayashi’s book ⎮ Rimpkje Groenevelt
(A story about Mrs. Groenevelt is found in Hayashi’s book on pp. 278-300, which was just published before this conference. Refer to the speech conference 01, 4.)
Tomorrow, the 28th of July, was the birthday of my Dad, Pieter Hendrik Groenevelt. He got no older than 36 years and died in January 1944 due to starvation and exhaustion in a POWs camp in Japan, “Fukuoka 9.”
This loss and separation preoccupied me for years and years after the war. It was a senseless death, caused by men. A man-made disaster. I couldn’t get it.
In November 1990 I got the chance of visiting Japan with a group of ex-POWs and their relatives under the guidance of Mr and Mrs D. Winkler, an ex-prisoner of Camp 6. Nearly 50 years after the day when my father set foot on shore aboard Hawai-maru at a port near Fukuoka named Moji.
For me it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
For years I had been busy organising the chaos of my war memories. Because not only my Dad was imprisoned; we, too, my mother and four children, were put in concentration camps during three and a half years on the island of Java occupied by Japan. I was there from the age of three to six and half. In those years, fear, hunger, exhaustion, illness and death ruled the days. Fear of losing my mother. She was my anchor. I owe a lot to her courage, optimism, her loving care and her trust in God. She relied upon Him and sought refuge in Jesus. She experienced His care via camp fellows and even via some kindly Japanese camp-commandants. I remember some Japs throwing a banana in the pan of my youngest sister Wies. When the fear was at its worst, my mother began to sing Veilig in Jesus armen (Safe in the arms of Jesus). And with that knowledge I have been able to survive until now.
Nevertheless, the war left deep traces in me. Since 1946 the war would come back in nightmares: about transports from one camp to another, about separation, dying, and violence. The things my eyed had seen were beyond comprehension and could not be erased. Japan was the symbol of dying, starvation, cruelty and destruction.
That’s why I began to explore the past. A visit to Japan could help me. I took the chance and the risk to brave the lions’ den, going to the country of the enemy. The purpose was twofold: I intended to find the place where my father died and to meet the Japanese people.
The dark, inhospitable Japan of my thoughts opened. It became a journey full of contrasts and surprises. To my big astonishment I met friendship, kindness, hospitality, superabundance and love. Moreover, much delicious food! It was heart-warming and at the same time it did hurt.
An essential and far-reaching meeting was one with Eidai Hayashi. Far-reaching because of the fact that I was allowed to speak to a Japanese man about my sadness over my Dad’s death, but even about my own fear and powerlessness as a child in a Japanese camp. I realised that I could tell this to the former ruler, so to speak. And Hayashi did listen! Unbelievable! And he understood! That is a healing.
Moreover, he was my guide to the coal-mine camp in Miyata where my father died. For a moment, time stopped for me.
After that important moment my life could go on. Building bridges to each other and to the future. I am sure my Dad would do the same.
5. In Everthing Give Thanks, for This is the Will of God ⎮ Wies M. Groenevelt
(A story about the speaker is found in Hayashi’s book on pp. 261-70; she entered a camp when 7 months old.)
For me it was a real eye-opener when I read that, after the terrors of the war, each age-group had its own problem. It was obvious, really, but I had never realised it before. Finally I started to understand myself better.
I think the problem of very young children is underestimated and not recognised enough. They have got no clear memories, and, later in life, they can’t categorise their experiences, so that these experiences affect the rest of their lives. My problem doesn’t stem from the experiences and hardships of the camp but more from a root feeling of not wanting to live. I need all my energies just to survive, even now, too. I think that, as a child, I quickly understood that I had arrived into a chaos. Really, I never took my life in this world seriously. Until today I am not rooted in life itself, and with hindsight I am grateful for this. As a young child I already lived with God, and so the word of God says: “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God,” and this saying suited me well, because I don’t like the world.
I also despised adults. I think that, as a child, I already had the intelligence enough to judge their behaviour negatively. I also found it strange when at school I got punished for things that were normal in the camp, compared with the atrocities of the adults.
Yet I can say: “Thank you, Lord.” We know that all things work together for good for those that love God, and I love God. By not putting my roots down in this world, I have been kept safe from many dangerous things and have not become a friend of the world. I could differentiate at a very early age and I dared to have my own opinions, not just swimming with the stream. Yet I made some big mistakes, of which I still bear the consequences. But in those years I have learned to trust God, and if I still have fear, that is because of me, and not because of Him.
I hope the Japanese people have also learned lessons from the war.
6. With the publication of my father’s diary ⎮ Dr. E.W. Lindeijer
In preparing this book many accidental circumstances have played an important role to ‘synchronize’ the necessary activities. I mean this in the sense by the infamous Carl Jung. Anyhow, early December 1999, it was decided at the initiative of Japanese friends of ours that my father’s diary written in epistolary form during his voyage to and stay in various POW camps in Java, Singapore and Japan should be published in Japan.
How did all this come about?
Well, as a young boy in my teens I discovered my father’s diary in his bookcase. My Dad agreed to reading this together at a later stage. Unfortunately, this plan was never realised. Especially due to my busy life as a family man and daily work, I could not free myself. Besides, far too young for us (73) and all of a sudden in November ’81 my father passed away in Delft.
With EKNJ my wife and I took Dad’s diary with us to Japan for the first time. It was November ’95. The diary contained a number of photos ‘secretly taken’ by Hiroe Iwashita-san from Tokyo, who treated the POWs humanely. He was a civil employee with the iron-mines of Ohashi, a mining village up in the most eastern mountain-range of Iwate-ken, Northern Japan. And not far from Kamaishi on the east-coast, where the two blastfurnaces were situated.
This first visit was followed up by a second trip by my mother Adrie and myself. And again we took the diary and the photos with us. Yet again, it took us by surprise with what a great interest the Japanese reacted to the diary. We found enormous response both from private persons, press, local authorities and schools. It was obvious, in order to give the Japanese access to the diary itself it was absolutely necessary to have it translated into Japanese.
At long last we succeded with this plan in April 1998, when I had found 2 Japanese young ladies, Noriko Kato from Kamaishi and Kaori Abe from Sendai, who translated the diary from an English version made by Dame Elisabeth H. Foppen. In the beginning of this year, Mrs. Sumiko Aochi from Helmond saw her way to computerising the text and the next step of the huge amount of work on editing and compiling was undertaken by Prof. Dr. Takamitsu Muraoka in Holland in close co-operation with the publishing company, Misuzu Shobo Ltd, in Tokyo.
Remarkable was the unexpectedly keen interest this publisher took in the realisation of this book. Apart from the many valuable questions with regard to form and content forwarded by her, especially Mrs Masako Kuriyama, who showed herself as a professional and deeply interested communicator, we do highly appreciate her contributions to the design of the jacket and the moving title of the book. Originally the deadline of publication was fixed for 31 July. The unbelievable happened and the date was brought forward to the 13th of July. Look at the result!
It is with sincere gratitude for the volunteers who all of them in their own way did so much with so much devotion and enthusiasm to achieve this grand result.
The story of Job?
This book is the biblical story of Job, but aplicable to the life story of my father.
When the wars both in Europe and South-East Asia started, my father Wim Sr., was still a happy man who lacked nothing. He had a healthy family and a fascinating job, but above all he trusted his Lord.
The war forced him to embody this confidence in himself, in his existence, to live it, maybe. In the end he succeeded after a vehement inner struggle, and all that he lost was returned to him by way of Love, just as was experienced by Job, who, like my father, was doubly rewarded.
The last battle between ‘Holland’ and Japan, the battle over Bandoeng, caused the capitulation of the former Dutch East-Indies at Kalidjatti (8.3.’42) and bit by bit Wim was deprived of all he had; after his freedom, money and material goods, he lost his family and at last, more dead than alive he was a solitary man with his confidence in the Lord. However, existing in complete isolation he was aware that this confidence was being severely tested.
His wife, Nel, had the same experience in Java, but in her case, four little ones constituted her joy, her care and her life. She, too, put her trust in the Lord, to which she testified when, on the 25th of July 1945, she died of exhaustion in her third concentration camp in Moentilan, Central Java. From a letter written by Mrs. Chr. Slotemaker de Bruïne we gather that, after a violent spiritual struggle, Nel succeeded in gaining peace and complete submission to this trust. After all, her spirit conquered!
She was worried about her children and that is why she wanted to reach that spiritual state and peace to pass this trust in a new future effectuated in family life on to her little ones. Her farewell letter to Wim, which has been preserved, bears a wonderful testimony to this attempt when she encouraged Wim to contact Adrie and Riek van der Baan.
And that is how this confidence of both of them was not put to shame. Indeed, Adrie and Wim became the worthy parents of our future and in this way we grew up in a happy family of eight children.
Was Nel sure of the fact that her husband Wim was still alive? She was, for, with Job, her deep faith in the Lord gave her the assurance that “the Lord, our/her spirit, will bring about a future beyond our/her wildest hopes.”
The epistolary diary
The letters to his wife Nel and children constitute only a part of the work my father took with him out of the POW camps. He served as a Red Cross orderly, but in May 1944 he was transferred to “Denki,” the electrical workshop of the Ohashi mines, where he had to work a lathe and enjoyed a lot of leisure. He used this time surreptitiously to make, for example, chess-boards and pieces, lampshades, candlesticks both for friends and enemies.
In order to practise mathematics he wrote textbooks and developed a kind of ‘trade’. As he himself concluded later on, it was pure luck that he was never sent to work in the mines. In the same period there happened a serious mining accident, resulting in more than 50 deaths, which miraculously did not belong to their group.
The diary starts in May 1942. Practically all the military of the KNIL (Royal Dutch East-Indian Army) were in POW camps and had nothing to do, while their wives and children were still outside the camps. In all possible ways, on either side of the fence, men and women tried to contact one another.
The Japanese staff were waiting for instructions from Tokyo. Nobody really knew what Tokyo was up to. Order and discipline had to be maintained with ever increasing severity and punishments. Food was going to be a problem.
Among the prisoners-of-war were many highly educated people who tried their utmost to continue the customary educational training so that exams might be taken and afterwards recognized as such.
In the second half of 1942 transports of POWs were started to have prisoners operate in all kinds of projects all over South-East Asia.
Dad was forced to join one of the first transports to Northern Japan. The more than inhumane voyage from Batavia (today: Jakarta) to Shimonoseki took the lives of many prisoners, not only during the voyage but especially thereafter as the result of the voyage.
Just like his friend, Jür Stenfert, and a dozen others my father was in danger of succumbing to the consequences of that voyage round about Christmas 1942. But by miracle (a deed of charity by Wim Gribnau), he was saved.
He was lucky that he needed not to to go down into the mines, but with Gribnau might stay on the sick-ward where the supervisor was a friendly Japanese orderly named Sergeant Neko, a farmer from Hanamaki, who passed away in 1996 during my second visit to Japan.
Because there were quite a few patients the nursing was very hard, especially in winter. There was also a night-shift, which was done by turns. Especially during those nights Dad could keep up with his diary in secret. Besides it kept him awake.
His strategy of survival would seem to have been based on the adaptation of his sorrow and the strengthening of his confidence in the Lord –his own spiritual abilities– and entrusting them to paper for himself and, later on, for his family, too, by way of a test. Besides, he occupied himself and trained himself with mathematics, the compilation of material for secondary education and whatever may serve as a means to comfort others.
A very peculiar tie arose between Iwashita-san and some prisoners, including the two military nurses, Wim Leindeijer and Wim Gribnau. Iwashita-san fancied the French language and my Dad supplied him with a ‘textbook’ written by himself.
In his turn Iwashita-san tried to get hold of an English math book for him in Tokyo.
However, the most remarkable thing that happened between the Japanese staff and some prisoners was their written request in German to have the prisoners describe their experiences and opinions concerning:
the Japanese soldier
their ideas of Japan
their view on the outcome of the war.
The correspondence which came into being between Gribnau and the Japanese authors is very interesting, but not complete. It clearly brings to light, though, the enormous cultural gap which existed between the Japan of those days and the then Western world.
My father’s reply to this request is also printed in this book.[Translated from Dutch by Dame Elisabeth H. Foppen]
7. Japan after the War ⎮ Takamitsu Muraoka
Among the Japanese present here this afternoon I can recognise only one who can be said to belong to the pre-war generation, the rest being all virtually or factually of the post-war generation. I myself was born in 1938. The war ended when I was in grade 2 of the primary school. Since my father, who was an officer in the Imperial Army stationed on the mainland China, made us move back to a remote, obscure village in the south of Japan, my family was fortunately spared hardships of the closing years of the war such as bombardment, let alone the atomic bombs. The only hardship I still vividly remember is that of severe shortage of material resources following the end of the hostilities. Since my father returned home crest-fallen, the lost war and his experiences in it were hardly mentioned in the family, probably out of respect for his hurt feelings. The life in general, however, underwent radical changes as a result of the arrival of the occupation forces. As a professional military my late father was barred from taking up a public post, reduced to learning farming from scratch. Instead of being taken around in a chauffeur-driven military limousine he now had to move among rice-paddies on a cart driven by the family cow. Disillusioned by the failure of his military career he wanted his eldest and only son to become a diplomat or a senior public servant. In his wildest dream it never occurred to him that his son would end up one day teaching Hebrew in Holland. My mother’s family, which owned more than half of the farming land of the village, was forced to sell most of it at a nominal price to petty peasants.At school there was no more daily bowing in front of a small shrine which was supposed to contain a photo of the emperor. He had demoted himself to the status of flesh and blood, although for many a year thereafter officials of the Imperial Agency would do everything to maintain a high wall of partition between the emperor and the general public. During the years immediately following the end of the war he would tour up and down the country, encouraging his subjects in their strenuous efforts to rebuild the nation out of its ruins. On one such tour he came to our region and pupils of all schools in the region were bussed early one morning to a certain spot along a highway to welcome him. At the signal of the approaching emperor and his entourage we were sternly ordered by our teachers to keep our heads down until we were told to raise them. When we did raise our heads, the imperial mortorcade was a tiny speck hundreds of metres farther down the dusty road.
Democracy was now the order of the day. Free labour unions were legal. School textbooks were rewritten. For some years after the war the school teachers’ union was under the leadership of the far left. Self-criticism and denunciation of the militarism and the imperialistic Pacific War nearly took a masochistic tone. I do not recall exactly when the tide began to turn. Most probably with the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 when the USA, in the interests of its own global politics, began to encourage Japan to change gears in the direction of slow, but steady rearmament. A sizeable modern army was reborn under the euphemistic name of “Emergency Police Forces.” The general political drift which began about this time has never stopped since then, and there are clear signs these days that the old spectre once thought dead for good is beginning to rear its sinister head again. A distinguished elderly historian, Prof. Ienaga Saburo, who was a professor at my alma mater in Tokyo, won only recently, after tens of years of fierce legal battles, a court case which declared the Japanese Ministry of Education guilty of unlawfully excising passages from school textbooks on history he had authored or unlawfully directing him to rewrite them in conformity with the Ministry’s view of the course of the war.
Not only that we were taught with revisionistic history books, but also our history lessons followed and still follow, I believe, a chronological order starting with the prehistoric age. When we finally got to the modern era, everything had to be rushed to cover the set curriculum. There was hardly time for reflection or discussion. You just had to learn names and dates by rote.
While at a senior high school, I became Christian through an encounter with an American Protestant (Baptist) missionary. As a result I read some books which were not on the standard reading list of the average Japanese highschool kid madly preparing himself or herself for the hellish university entrance examination. Among those authors were pre-war liberal intellectuals, many of whom Christian, such as Uchimura and Yanaihara, who had stuck their neck out, speaking up against the then government’s aggressive militarism. Yanaihara, for instance, was relieved of his chair at Tokyo University only to be welcomed back as President with open arms after the war.
With this Christian and slightly leftist baggage and inclination I left Japan in 1964 to study Hebrew in Jerusalem. I did not know then, however, that I would still go through a baptism of fire overseas. During the ten years I spent with my family as a lecruter at Manchester University in England, we were treated year in year out on the first Sunday of November to a famous (or infamous) film called The Bridge over Kwai by the courtesy of BBC. We also witnessed ugly scenes when the Emperor Hirohito came to visit England on a state visit. When we were subsequently in Melbourne, the Emperor died, which occasioned a heated national debate who, if anybody at all, was to represent Australia at his funeral. This was, alas, not to be the last of our bitter dosage of reeducation. In the summer of 1991, when I arrived in the Netherlands to take up the Hebrew chair at Leiden University, I sensed that there was something in the air. It turned out that a wreath of flowers recently laid by the then prime minister of Japan, Mr Kaifu, at the Indisch Monument in The Hague, had found its way into the waters nearby on the very evening. I was annoyed, to put it mildly, when I could not locate a single mention of the incident in two of the leading Japanese daily papers subscribed to by the Japanese department of my university despite a legion of Japanese journalists who routinely accompany their prime minister on such an official overseas visit. Each of these three countries to which my academic peregrination has taken me and my family retains, we were to discover, bitter memories of what many of its nationals went through during the Pacific War at the hands of Japanese militaries. The bitterness must have been exacerbated because they had, after all, defeated Japan. Since we knew that we were going to be in this country for a while, my wife and I decided to do something about it and began to read and reflect about the subject. We watched out for any article appearing in the NRC Handelsblad we subscribe to. In Feb. 1996 the paper published a full-page article on a territorial conflict between South Korea and Japan which appeared to me slightly undeserving of the journalistic standard one would expect of this leading newspaper. The article carried the title: “Een oorlog tegen Japan zou het mooiste zijn.” A letter of protest I sent in and subsequently printed resulted in a totally unexpected contact with Ms E. Prillwitz, who in turn introduced us to Dr Lindeijer and his mother, all three present among us. Our bond with Mrs Goudswaard and her husband was forged through a network of relationships with members of The JCFN, to which we belong as members.
Did I learn anything else apart from Hebrew in my six years in Jerusalem? Yes, I learned a great deal. For the first time in my Christian life I learned of the dark pages in the long history of relationships between the Christian Church and the Jewish people: ever recurrent blood libels in the Mediaeval period, atrocities inflicted by Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem against Jews, countless murders, persecutions, humiliations, exploitations perpetrated against Jews, conversions by force u.s.w., u.s.w., all in the name of the Church. Until then I was under the impression that the Christian faith was superior to the Jewish faith, from which it had branched off. I was humbled, my pride was gone, it was a misplaced pride. A great 8th century prophet of Israel, Isaiah, proclaimed: “It is from Zion that the Law goeth forth and it is from Jerusalem that the word of the Lord goeth forth” (Isaiah 2.3). In other words, not from Rome. I believe that the Jewish nation is the conscience of mankind. This conscience has been awakened in the minds of members of a recent Dutch parliamentary commission, resulting in public recognition of moral and financial debts owed by the Dutch government and people to members of the Jewish community in their midst. This recognition would subsequently trigger awareness of debts to other sectors of the Dutch population. Some years ago I was told by a Japanese friend of mine who works with a major insurance company in Tokyo that his company was receiving enquiries from some elderly people in Taiwan about insurance premiums they had paid under the Japanese colonial rule. My friend, on enquiring with the Ministry of Finance, was advised to keep those enquirers at a bay as long as possible. I cannot claim any expertise in economics. But I cannot somehow shake off the lingering suspicion that the now decade-long serious recession, which the Japanese economy has not yet been able to recover from, is rooted in some fundamental defect in the moral fibre of the post-war Japan and her leadership.
Admittedly there is a sense in which it can be justly claimed that we of the post-war generation cannot be held responsible for crimes and atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers half a century ago. This is a valid argument as far as the narrow, technical, juridical terminology goes. We cannot be taken to court and sentenced for those deeds committed by our fathers, uncles, grandfathers. But many such deeds were perpetrated as Japanese, as nationals of a particular nation, as members of a particular ethnic or racial group, and in the name of an emperor, a Fu¨hrer, a president, a king or a queen. As long as you do not renounce your affiliation with the particular group to which you belong, you are part of its history, share its history, and are responsible for it. No German can be allowed to pride himself only of Beethoven, Goethe, and Schiller and quietly sweep Hitler and his henchmen under the carpet. When German civilians knew what was going on in a corner of their village and did not raise a hand or a voice, they were what Goldhagen called “Hitler’s willing executioners.” Moreover, the war crime trial in Nu¨rnberg introduced a new concept into the international law, a concept called crimes against humanity, crimes which transcend ethnic, racial or national boundaries. I did not play any role whatsoever in injustices meted out to Jews in Amsterdam or any other place in Holland during the war. I am quite willing, however, to pay my full Dutch income tax, a fraction of which I suppose would go towards financing the compensation settlement recently signed. Just this week I read a newspaper report on a German historian who had chanced upon an old document in the archives of a Berliln church which showed that during the Nazi era twenty-eight Protestant and Catholic churches in the city forced Russian and East European POWs to bury German civilian casualties of the Allied air-raids. The German Evangelical Church in Berlin is reported to have announced that the presentday German Church also bears responsibility for this forced labour and have pledged to contribute DM 10 million towards a fund earlier set up by the Federal Government with a view to compensating similar victims from the war era.
The God of the Old Testament declared: “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me” (Exodus 20.5, Deuteronomy 5.9). On the first reading this strikes us as a rather puzzling thought. You might even find it unreasonable. Indeed, generations of Bible scholars have racked their brains over it. My reading of this statement is that its intention is basically educative, the punishment being spoken of here is first and foremost that of parents, and not of their posterity. Nobody would like to see their own children, grandchildren, great grandchildren suffer because of their own wrong deeds. When this does happen, you parents feel the pain of it. Some of you will be familiar with the history of an Old Testament hero, King David. He had to agonise over a critically sick baby begotten through his relationship with a woman whom he had taken as his sixth or seventh wife after having her foreigner husband cowardly murdered and eventually he had to mourn over the baby, an anonymous prince since he lived only seven days, one day too short to be circumcised and given a name. His own loose sexual morals cannot have failed to leave some marks on his own children. It was not long before one of his sons murdered a brother of his to revenge him for an act of incenst committed against their own sister. Some years later this surviving son found a brutal and tragic death and that at the hands of the trusted military commander and counsellor of the king himself. At the news of his dear son’s death the king cried his heart out: “O My son Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom, would that I had died, this me in your place, O Absalom, my son, my son.” Repeating my son as many as five times, and Absalom three times! The whole city heard this heart-wrenching cry. This underlines the importance of education, educating ourselves and our future generation, getting to know the past history and its facts and learning lessons from them for the sake of our future. It is my sincere hope that these two books will help to educate and inform the Japanese public, particularly the youth, over the place of Japan in the modern history of Asia and the sufferings willfully caused by the Japanese to tens of thousands of Dutch nationals, and to move them to a determination not to repeat this history ever again, but work towards creating a world in which people of different complexions speaking different mother tongues and observing widely divergent customs and cultural traditions can live together in harmony and mutual respect, not hurting, but caring for one another as equally created in the image of God, free of a sense of superiority or inferiority complex. My modest contribution towards the publication of these books is a tangible expression of this thinking of mine. I agree with Crown Prince Willem Alexander, who on his visit to Nagasaki last April said: “We zouden deze [donkere] bladzijde moeten incorporeren bij het gedenken van onze betrekkingen om ze te kunnen verwerken en in staat te zijn onze speciale relatie te hernieuwen.” (We need to take into account these dark pages in our shared history as we ponder over them so that we can deal with them and be in a position to renew our special relationship.)
I am conscious of the fact that I am in the presence of people who suffered at the Japanese hands in the former Dutch Indies, Thailand and Burma, and in Japan and their family relations and friends. For Mr Hayashi’s book I retranslated the letter written by Mrs Goudswaard’s father to his family, which would become his last letter to them, and I also translated the farewell letter to her husband which Mrs Nel Lindeijer, the natural mother of Dr Lindeijer Jr., was too weak to write herself, and had to dictate to a friend instead. Neither of them contains a single word of accusation and denuciation of the Japanese. This is all the more remarkable when you realise what they and their families went through. I have read the letters countless times. Every time I have a hard time trying to control my emotions. Speaking about them in public is not easy, either. They suffered not only physically, but also mentally and psychologically: humiliation, contempt, degradation. Moreover, the authors of the two letters had won an inner battle which must have raged in their hearts, a battle against natural human instincts and reactions of hatred, spite, wrath, revengefulness. In the end they were able to submit to the will of God, in whom mercy and justice meet. Mrs Nel Lindeijer testifies to this struggle: “Je begrijpt, wat een strijd het voor me geweest is om te moeten berusten en dat God zal beslissen. Maar nu, kan ik het alles rustig overgeven.” Mr De Vries’s letter concludes with a quotation from the New Testament, Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians: “Want onze lichte verdrukking, die zeer haast voorbijgaat, werkt ons een gans zeer uitnemend eeuwig gewicht der heerlijkheid; daar wij niet aanmerken de dingen, die men ziet, maar de dingen, die men niet ziet; want de dingen, die men ziet, zijn tijdelijk maar de dingen, die men niet ziet, zijn eeuwig” (2Cor 4:17-18).
I would like my Dutch guests here to know that I am beginning to feel some of your pains and sufferings and I stand here utterly ashamed of the indescribable hardships and injustices wilfully inflicted by the Japanese on you and others, many of whom did not survive the ordeal. I am particularly moved and touched by the fact that some among you with whom I am personally acquainted extended your hand of forgiveness and reconciliation before we Japanese asked for it. I trust these sentiments of mine are shared by all Japanese nationals around the table.
May I propose that we stand and hold a minute of silence to show respect to tens of thousands of innocent war victims, some who survived and some who did not, Dutch nationals, soldiers of the Allied Forces, Indonesians, Chinese, Koreans, peoples of other nationalities in the South East Asia and the Pacific Islands, and Japanese.
8. Thank you address — Closing words ⎮ Adrie Lindeijer – van der Baan
DEAR AUDIENCE, FRIENDS,
We’ve come to the closing end of this meeting, and to me is left the honourable task to say: “Thank you”.
The reason why we, Japanese and Dutch, are gathered here, in this hospitable house, I would like to mark as a high point in our relationship.
Ever since the ship “De Liefde” (love) arrived in Usuki, Japan, 400 years ago, the relationship between the two countries was a history of ups and downs. Often guided by prejudice, indifference and selfishness, many mistakes were made.
The lowest point was WW-II, when our feelings towards each other were far from ‘love’. But now, two initiatives from the side of Japan, to bring the hidden past into the open, to build a new relationship, are here to-day: these two books.
Actually, it is the end of a long process, with the thread of scarlet running through it. Feeling the danger and risk of forgetting somebody, I would like to say how good it is to see here faces of people who were, with many others, involved in this process. Like Dolf and Carry Winkler, who took the initiative with their Japanese counterparts for the Cross-monument in Mizumaki, where hundreds of people found comfort for their grief. Through the EKNJ, we were able to visit Japan and the places of the POW-camps of my husband, Wim’s father. In Mizumaki we had the privilege of meeting Mr Eidai Hayashi, the author on Mrs Goudswaard’s memories.
I see here Hiroshi Ishiguro and his wife Eri. He and his friends from Delft University were convinced that the diary should be published in Japan and placed a call placed on his web-site was noticed by our dear friends Prof Takamitsu Muraoka and his wife Keiko from Leiden University.
Prof. Muraoka introduced the diary to the publisher, Misuzu Shobo Ltd, in Tokyo and took on the huge job of coordinating, correcting, translating and editing, while Mrs Sumiko Aochi, also present here with her husband, typed it out in Japanese. Thus, in an amazingly short period of time the result is now here and in the bookstores in Japan. Hopefully, many people will buy and read it, especially youngsters.
Our dearest wish is, though, that the book will find its way in the schools for the studying of projects concerning war and peace and human rights, and make its message understood, namely that hatred can never bring about peace and a better world: only Love (‘Liefde’) will conquer in the end.
Further, I would like to thank the Board and Staff of the NEM through which this meeting could take place and so many people could be with us to-day. We realise that much organising and work was done beforehand and that many hands and people were involved. Much of our gratitude goes to them, Herman Goudswaard, his wife Annie, family and friends.
Wim, you are the last, but not the least to whom I like to say some words. Years of work you put in this project. You grew in it and it did not let you go. You started it as a therapy for yourself, to find answers about yourself and the past (to occasional annoyance of your wife Ada, who, however, always supported you). You found reconcilliation, comfort and peace. But what you did in fact, at last, is: You brought your father back to Japan! This time not as a humiliated, despised, worthless POW-slave. The title of this book, his epistolary diary, does say it already: he puts down his concern about the wellbeing of his wife and 4 small children, his suffering of being cruelly seperated from his family, not knowing what happened to them, and, whether he would ever see them again.
Thank you Wim, from the bottom of my heart, in his name and in those of all your brothers and sisters.