The Rev. Dr. Han van den Blink
St. Paul’s Church, Troy

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
Psalm 13:1

The War in the Pacific ended abruptly after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs. Following the surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945, three things happened on Java in rapid succession.

The first was that Indonesian leaders, who had fought for many decades to obtain more self government, understandably made use of this opportunity to declare independence before the Dutch government could reassert control over its former colony.

The second was that everywhere survivors of the concentration camps began to return to where they had lived before, most of them completely unaware that Indonesia had claimed its independence. We managed to return to Malang, a city in East Java.

And the third was the ill-advised and tragically wrong decision made by the Dutch government, which had resisted repeated requests for more self government long before the War in the Pacific, to suppress the revolution militarily.

The situation on Java soon became chaotic. Civil authority in many places broke down, killings of minorities were common. A number of people who had survived the concentration camps were killed. Many of us were soon imprisoned again, this time by the Indonesian revolutionaries. The threat of massacres hung in the air.

It was a very frightening time that lasted ten months. It did not end until an agreement was reached to exchange civilian prisoners like us for revolutionaries who had been captured by the Dutch forces.

Sometime at the end of June, 1946, we were taken by train from Malang to Yogyakarta, a city in Middle Java, from where we would be transported to Semarang which was at that time controlled by the Dutch military. That train ride is still vivid in my memory.

to be continued