Family History, Introduction

This is my family history. My family is Dutch-Indonesian (Indo), and their history shouldn’t be forgotten.

Much has been written of the Japanese-Americans in American interment camps, with a lot of restitution paid to the survivors and families of these survivors. But they were treated lavishly well by comparison the Japanese concentration camps established in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). There, prisoners were abused, tortured, and killed. Some were enslaved to build the “Death Railroad.” Roughly 10% died in the concentration camps by murder, malnutrition or diseases.

From the book, The Defining Years of the Dutch East Indies, 1942-1949: Survivors Accounts of Japanese Invasion and Enslavement of Europeans and the Revolution That Created Free Indonesia, “Very little is known in the United States about what actually transpired in this particular part of the world during World War II and the period immediately after. One Dutch observer noted, ‘It is unconscionable to allow future generations to forget what happened in the Indies, just as it is folly to turn our backs on the holocaust in Europe.’ What happened during the Pacific War is fading fast from our collective memory. Many of the younger generations know little, if anything at all, of its consequences. The passage of time also tends to obscure the reality of war and its consequences, and that should not be.”

“One of the various ethnic groups which suffered from this decolonization conflict was the Dutch-Indonesians, or Indos, a sizable segment of the population. They were descendants from Dutch as well as native individuals. And it was this group which was afforded the choice to stay out of the internment camps if they cooperated with the Japanese. Very few took advantage of this option. The overwhelming majority joined their Dutch compatriots who were already interned. And those who stayed outside often suffered as miserably as those on the inside of the concentration camps.”

My family was one of the ones who chose, or were chosen, to be interned. I can say with pride that my family, both sides, did not cooperate with the Japanese.

After the war, the Japanese camps became Indonesian camps, with the Indonesians taking control of them. My parents related to me how it wasn’t until some time had passed, before they were finally released from the now Indonesian camps.

In 1967, my father sat down and wrote brief autobiographical accounts of both his and my mother’s. What follows are their stories. I’ve typed them the way they were written, misspellings, grammatical errors, and all. Many places were renamed after the Indonesian independence, and many old names no longer appear on current maps. And there are not often references to the now politically correct Japanese. They were referred to as “Japs,” in that place, in that time, as they referred to themselves that way as well.

No website remains forever, but as long as this one does, I want this history remembered.


  1. bianca says:

    Hi Jack,
    There are quite a few Indos living in the state of Washington. We’re just not too swift at organizing ourselves. I have one good Indo girlfriend of over 20 years whom I cherish like a sister. If you’re interested in networking let me know. Please visit my blog particularly the earliest posts introducing our culture.

  2. […] You’ve probably read my father’s and mother’s stories here, and maybe the introduction to these autobiographies. I’m not one for big autobiographies of my own, but I’ll give you a little background in how I grew up being an Indo. […]

  3. […] a while back, I posted Family History, Introduction,  My Father’s Story, My Mother’s Story, My Indo Heritage, and My Indo Heritage 2. This is […]

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