Many Indisch Dutch put away their memories of the war and the Japanese camps. For a long time there was little recognition for their experiences and suffering in the Netherlands, Rutte said in his speech. His father did tell about that time regularly.
At the time, Rutte senior was ‘called under arms’ in the Dutch East Indies and ended up as a prisoner of war in a different camp than his wife and their three children. His wife died of exhaustion there in July 1945, a month before the capitulation of Japan on August 15, 1945. He remarried and had four more children, including Mark. He grew up in The Hague in a family “in which the Indies was always present.” My parental home was full of smells and flavors that were reminiscent of that time, said Rutte.
As a boy, the prime minister listened to his father’s stories about the Dutch East Indies. For him it was “often exciting and educational, but you also noticed that you sometimes didn’t have to keep asking questions.” His father spoke of his experiences in captivity “only sparingly” and he did not want to go along to a famous 1983 film about prisoners of war in Japanese camps. Rutte thinks he tried to avoid ‘the dark corner’. His father told his own story “cautiously, in tatters and sometimes without words. More impressive to me than a Hollywood movie could ever be, ”said the prime minister.
“My father’s stories are now part of my baggage. I learned a lot from that, ”said Rutte. He pointed out that much more is already known about the camps where “tens of thousands of men, women and children died.” The people outside the camp also had a hard time, as well as the Chinese, Moluccans and Indonesians. Many were forced to work in the Indies or elsewhere in Japanese-occupied territory in Asia, Rutte recalled.
Indian Monument defaced
According to the prime minister, the war in the Dutch East Indies is “an inseparable part of our collective history.” Rutte referred to the Indisch Monument – which was defaced this week. It only came about 40 years after the end of the war, because for a long time in the Netherlands it was “considered unnecessary and inconvenient to pay separate attention to the war story in the Dutch East Indies.” But stories, awareness, recognition and commemorations are important, according to Rutte, every year and also for the next 75 years.
Rutte spoke earlier during the commemoration of the Indies in 2015, but not with such a personal character as now.
It will be exactly 75 years ago on Saturday that Japan capitulated. At the same time, this meant liberation for the entire Kingdom of the Netherlands. King Willem-Alexander laid a wreath.
“Anyone who knows its history understands the present better. And that is why we commemorate. ” That is what Erry Stoové, chairman of the National Remembrance August 15, 1945, said in his speech.