Hannie Blaauw – Part Two
One of Hannie’s fellow prisoners had a small radio. One day, he whispered to Hannie, “Hannie, come, listen! The Americans dropped a bomb on Hiroshima in Japan! Lots of dead Japs, man! Perhaps they will surrender.”
But the Japanese did not give up that easily. For help they turned to Russia, with which they had a Non-aggression Pact for five years. However, the Pact had ended on August 6, 1945, and Russia refused help. The Allies dropped a second bomb, this time on Nagasaki, on August 9. Still the Japanese did not surrender. Why not? Researchers found out that Japan tested an atomic bomb of their own, which they had just finished, on one of their small islands in the north. It failed. Only then Emperor Hirohito announced “Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives”, referring to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that occurred days before. He, however, never mentioned the Soviet invasion that had also begun a few days before. Finally, and most famously, he said: “However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.”
Eighteen-year-old Hannie Blaauw and his fellow prisoners were unaware of all of this, but the tension in the camp grew. Finally, they were liberated along with 10,000 other Dutch, French, Australian, British and American POWs on August 15, 1945. However, during the years that followed it was not safe to leave the camps because young freedom fighters, led by newly elected President Soekarno, started a bloody fight for their independence from the Dutch with weapons acquired from the Japanese. It would last almost two years and cost the lives of more than 20,000 innocent people. Japanese soldiers shipped in from Formosa were assigned to protect the prisoners who were still in the camps; the gates were open, but at night curfew was strictly enforced.
Lists of prisoners in other camps circulated among the inmates in Camp Tjimahi. Hannie found out that his mother was in camp Kramat near Batavia, and on another list he discovered to his great joy the name of his brother Adriaan in camp Tjikudapateuh near Bandung. Immediately he made plans to go visit him.
To be continued.
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Until next time,