Books of Note
The Diary of Prisoner 17326 by John K. Stutterheim, Fordham University Press , New York 2010.
John Stutterheim was born in 1928 , and therefore was fourteen years old when he and his mother and younger brother were ordered out of their home in Malang, Eastern Java, by the invading Japanese army. Thus began their internment, taking them to Surabaja, and Solo. Eventually John was ordered to leave his mother and go to a boy’s camp, where he had the presence of mind, and tenacity to maintain a diary, complete with sketches. This book therefore gives a rare, detailed glimpse of the horrors experienced by boys in those camps and moreover provides information about internment in eastern and central Java . This book is a good read .
In Deze Halve Gevangenis, (In this half Prison), a Diary by Dr. L. F. Jansen, Annotated by G. J. Knaap, Uitgeverij van Wijnen, Franeker, 1988 (CIP/ISBN 90 5194 016 5).
This is a most remarkable account of a little known aspect the Japanese occupation of South East Asia, unfortunately only available in Dutch. At the outbreak of the Pacific War, Leo Jansen, a recent arrival in the Netherlands East Indies, had thanks to his legal education and a gift for language, acquired a senior admininstrative position in the Netherlands East Indies Colonial Government. This, along with his near fluency in Japanese and Malay (inn addition to his excellent command of French, German and English) made him a prime target for rendering assistance to the Japanese propaganda work , centred in Jakarta. Refusal to participate in this form of forced collaboration was not an option, but Leo’s reputation was such that the Japanese Director offered him limited choice: he need not broadcast propaganda. His task was to translate Allied broadcasts into Japanese.
The Japanese Propaganda Bureau had three objectives: to create despondency among European listeners ( especially in Australia), to assure Indonesian listeners and readers of Japan”s assured victory and to ‘hide from Japanese troops the scale of Japanese reversals. Leo, having a modest amount of freedom of action, had daily dinner table discussions with his English, Dutch, Singhalese, Indonesian and Japanese counterparts, which he confides to his secret diary on a daily basis and in great detail. The discussions range over politics, the progress of the war, nationalist movements and philosophy. Leo’s final undoing was the fact that he knew too much and attempted to alert the Allies about the chilly reception they could expect after Japanese capitulation in Indonesia. He was apprehended, suffered torture at the hands of the kempetai (the Japanese military police).
Assisted by a Eurasian girl friend and a sympathetic Japanese soldier he barely survived the war, only to suffer a mis-diagnosis in hospital after liberation.
The story of how this remarkably insightful diary survived the war, eventually was found and after years of research, placed within the proper historic context of occupied Java is almost as amazing as the contents.