In Japanese Captivity: Story of a Teenager in Wartime Java

When you read my Memoir Rising from the Shadow of the Sun: A Story of Love, Survival and Joy, you will hear two voices. The voice of my mother describes  in letters to her parents in the Netherlands the traumatic years in Japanese captivity when I was a little girl . The second voice is mine, describing the fate of my father who escaped the camps and cameos of my life after the camps.

Recently, through emails, I met a lady who contacted me after she had read my book. She now lives in Australia and has an amazing story to tell. She is twelve years older than I and when the war started she lived in Soerabaja, as did I. Not only that, she was imprisoned with her mother in a Soerabaja jail during the second year of the war and was sent to another part of the island the year thereafter, as were we. Being a teenager when the war started, she remembers everything vividly to this day. The gruesome memories haunted her for many years, but finally she was able to take charge of her life again and she wrote her memoir in 1995.

Her name is Vera Radó. She gave me permission to relate her experiences in my weekly blog, as a comparison with and addition to my Mamma’s experiences of the camps which you will find in her journal upon which part of my book is based. Please read along with me; these are Vera’s (copyrighted) words:

It’s August 1995, and I am sufficiently far removed from the traumas I suffered as a teenage prisoner of the Japanese more than fifty years ago to tell about my experiences.

The process of rehabilitation and healing I went through can be visualized as a very long, stony, winding, uphill path, full of obstacles over which I kept tripping, stumbling and falling, only to scramble up and limp on – at times too depressed and despairing to want to continue. But at times also buoyed up by an understanding, caring remark.

I have made that weary journey, and I have reached the top, and, although nothing will ever erase the memories, deeply etched as they are within me – within all of us who were part of it – I can now walk reasonably erect and even with a measure of stability. Pain and distress will never fail to strike me again and again at recalling this period of my life, but the all-consuming terror, the continual feeling of crisis, the anxiety, have left me. I am in calmer waters now and almost daily find myself thanking that universal force of which I am a tiny fraction for steering me safely through the tempests of my earlier life…
© 1995

To be continued…

I welcome your comments and additions: please let me know your thoughts.

Until next time,




2 thoughts on “In Japanese Captivity: Story of a Teenager in Wartime Java”

  1. Ronny – what a wonderful addition to the collection of stories your are collecting about WWII in the Pacific. How interesting that you found someone who was also on Soerbaja, as you were. There are many stories to tell about this devasting time in our history. I am so glad that you are keeping it alive. Carol

    • Thank you Carol. These are amazing “encounters” as more people read my book.
      If you want to read the whole story, why don’t you subscribe to my blog and you will get a new segment every Saturday.


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