World War Two in the Pacific: 1942 – 1945

Survivors’ Stories

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.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Until next time,

Ronny

2 thoughts on “World War Two in the Pacific: 1942 – 1945

  1. Aloha Ronny,

    As always, enjoyed you post. It is interesting about the American born Japanese citizens in the new issue of AZ Highways magazine. It’s about the interment camps the Japanese were put into in Poston, AZ, near Parker. I have seen them in my travels. The Americans were much more humane than the Japs over where you were, but their lives were disrupted as well. Good artice. If you don’t get the magazine, let me know.

    The latest post about the US atomic bombing of Japan ending the war and their reluctance to surrender as they had their own atomic bomb in the works was interesting. Glad we beat them to it, or it could have turned out very differently. Now China is trying to take over some of the Japanese Islands, and our world is in terrible turmoil again. We are so fortunate to have lived for almost 70 years with USA dominance and power keeping the world in relative peace, but that is changing rapidly. The next 10 years may be very bad for us, as the liberal left wants to make our military weaker. The USA as we know it may cease to exiat. Very sad for the world.

    Enjoy your visit to the Big Island, hope the Vog is not too bad during your visit. I will look forward to a report from you.

    Best Regards,

    Don

  2. Hi Don,
    Thanks for your comment. Yes, the detention camps…many people don’t know any better. The difference is that the Japanese Americans were detained, while in Asia the Japanese were out to murder the whole western race inside and outside the concentration camps…
    Glad their efforts failed and I am here to tell people about it.

Leave a Comment