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West Java
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East Java

West Java

During the occupation the POW and civilian internees in West Java were assembled in a few large camps in Batavia, Bandung and Tjimahi. A large number of native prisoners of war were released, the others were mostly taken to labour camps outside Java. Only about 5,000 POWs remained in Bandung and Batavia. The male civilian internees were concentrated in Bandung and Tjimahi, the women and children in and around Batavia.f

Battle for West Java

During the night of 28 February to 1 March 1942 the Japanese 16th Army landed at three locations on the coast of West Java: more than 20,000 troops near Merak and in the Bantam Bay on the north-western tip of Java, and approximately 3,000 men near Eretan Wetan to the north-west of Cheribon. The main Japanese targets were the cities of Batavia, Buitenzorg and Bandung, and Kalidjati airfield to the north of Bandung.

The Japanese combat group that had landed near Eretan Wetan was able to capture Kalidjati airfield, some 80 kilometres from the landing location, on March 1st. The next day the Japanese fighter planes and bombers started using the airfield. The KNIL hastily carried out improvised counterattacks towards Kalidjati and the landing spot at Eretan Wetan, but these failed.

The Japanese forces that had landed on the north-western tip of Java met little resistance and were impeded mainly by bridges that had been blown up. Only at Leuwiliang, to the west of Buitenzorg, the strong resistance of Australian troops managed to hold them off for a while. The KNIL leadership decided to concentrate the defence on the Bandung plateau. On the 5th of March the first Japanese soldiers marched into the undefended city of Batavia; Buitenzorg was taken the next day.

On 6 and 7 March there was heavy fighting at the KNIL-positions north of Bandung. Japanese airplanes dominated the skies, and morale among the KNIL troops was low due to the many retreats. Many of the native servicemen, especially the Javanese among them, had deserted. When the Japanese were finally on the verge of breaking through to Bandung, the situation seemed hopeless. On March 8, it was agreed at Kalidjati airfield that the general capitulation of the KNIL would be announced the next morning.

Prisoners of war

The more than 30,000 Dutch, Indo-European, Australian, British and American POWs in West Java were initially assembled in large camps in Tasikmalaja, Leles, Garut, Sukabumi, Bandung, Tjimahi, and Batavia.

The assembly camp in Sukabumi, centrally situated in West Java, was gradually evacuated to camps in Tjimahi in May and June 1942. The POWs in the assembly camps in Garut, Leles, and Tasikmalaja, all located in the eastern part of West Java, were transferred to Tjimahi, Bandung, Batavia, and Surabaya in July 1942. In the course of 1942 and 1943 POWs from Central and East Java were also brought to Tjimahi, Bandung and Batavia.

The large POW camps in Tjimahi were the military barracks of the 4th and 9th Battalion Infantry, Mountain Artillery, the 6th Depot Battalion and the Train camp. In addition, in the area surrounding Tjima two labour camps were established on farms in Leuwigadjah and Tjimindi. In Bandung the prisoners were concentrated in the encampments of the 15th Infantry Battalion, the 1st Depot Battalion, and the Anti-aircraft Artillery.

Between September 1942 and September 1944 the majority of POWs in West Java were transported by ship via Batavia harbour to labour camps outside Java. These transports went to Burma, Thailand, Japan, Sumatra, and Singapore. The largest POW camps in Batavia were the ‘Uniekampong’ in the harbour, Glodok prison and the camp of the 10th Battalion Infantry in the city centre.

Halfway through 1944 most of the POW camps had been cleared. In August 1945 there were only permanent camps left in Bandung, where approximately 3,600 POWs were housed in the LOG (Lands Opvoedings Gesticht - Borstal), and in Batavia, where approximately 1,500 POWs were put up in the 10th Battalion encampment.

Civilian camps

Civilian internment started in March 1942 with the rounding up of prominent figures from government and industrial circles. In Batavia they were imprisoned in the Struiswijk prison, in Bandung in the Sukamiskin prison.

In the months that followed the other totok men aged 17 to 60 who were not already in POW camps were also rounded up. They were assembled in the camps Struiswijk and ADEK in Batavia, in Kedungbadak near Buitenzorg, and in the LOG, Stella Maris, the Palace Hotel, Zeelandia, and the Dick de Hoog school in Bandung. Also in Bandung, old and sick European men and their families were housed in the small Rama quarter. Some of the totok men from the eastern parts of West Java were transferred to Pekalongan in Central Java.

From September 1943 to February 1944 the LOG at Tangerang, west of Batavia, was used as an internment camp for men from Kesilir and Bondowoso in East Java. They later moved to Tjimahi.

The mass internment of totok women, children and old men started in October 1942, in Batavia. Here the American, British and Australian women and children were interned in the Struiswijk prison. Internment locations for the Dutch women and children in Batavia were the quarters Tjideng and Kramat, and later also Grogol.

The internment of the totok women and children from the Bandung-Tjimahi region started in November 1942. In Bandung they had to move to the Bandungese Tjihapit quarter, a process that took months and lasted until the spring of 1943. In December 1942 a second quarter, Kareës, was designated for the internment of women and children from the rest of West Java and from the western part of Central Java. British and American women and children were interned in the Lengkong school. In Tjimahi the Dutch women and children were housed in the camp Depot Mobile Artillery on Baros road.

The women and children from the eastern parts of West Java were transported to Kareës in Bandung in December 1942, and to the Kramat camp in Batavia in June 1943.

The Kedungbadak camp at Buitenzorg, a men’s camp until February 1944, from March to October 1944 served as a women’s camp for internees from Buitenzorg, Sukabumi and Central Java (Tegal and Pekalongan), and after that until March 1945 as a women’s camp for internees from Bandung. All of these women and children eventually ended up in camps in Batavia. About 500 women and children from Sukabumi were transported in July 1943 from the Sukabumi Opvoedings Gesticht (SOG) to the Kareës camp in Bandung.

From September 1943 to the spring of 1945 women and children from all over Java were housed in a camp near Tangerang: at first in the Tanahtinggi detention centre, from March 1944 in the Lands Opvoedings Gesticht (LOG). Among them were many British and American women and children. From June 1944 groups of internees were exchanged regularly between the LOG and the camps in Batavia. In March-April 1945 the LOG was evacuated to the ADEK camp in Batavia, which functioned as a women’s camp from November 1944 onward.

Concentration of civilian internees

During 1944 and 1945 the interned women and children were concentrated mainly in Batavia, the men and older boys as much as possible in Bandung and Tjimahi. Many internees from Central and East Java were also transported to these locations. Former men’s camps were used as women’s camps and vice versa.

Batavia became the largest assembly location for interned women and children from all over Java. The final camps for civilians in and around the city were Tjideng (approximately 10,000 women and children), ADEK (approximately 2,000 women and children), Kramat (approximately 2,000 women and children), Struiswijk (approximately 1,400 women and children), Kampong Makassar south of the city (approximately 3,500 women and children), and the two camp hospitals Saint Vincentius (approximately 1,200 sick men, women and children), and Mater Dolorosa (approximately 1,000 sick men and older boys from Tjimahi and Bandung).

From October 1943 the camps in Tjimahi and Bandung served as assembly camps for men and boys from all over Java. In August 1945 there were three internment locations in Tjimahi: the 4th and 9th Battalion men’s camp, also known as Tjimahi 4, the VIP camp 6th Depot Battalion, also known as Baros 5, and the boys’ camp Depot Mobile Artillery, also known as Baros 6. In August 1945 there was only one men’s camp left in Bandung: the 15th Battalion Infantry. At the time of the Japanese capitulation these camps held a total of about 20,000 men and boys. In August 1945 only a few dozen women and children were left in the initially very large Bandung women’s camp of Tjihapit.

In July and August 1945 several thousand men and boys from the camps in Tjimahi and Bandung were put to work to the east of Bandung on a new railway between Tjitjalengka and Madjalaja. In July two labour camps were established along the line for a total of 2,500 internees. Four days after the Japanese capitulation these men and boys returned to Tjimahi and Bandung.

Special camps

In Bandung men who were still working (so-called 'Nippon workers'), were housed, some with their families, in the Tjibunut or Oosteinde camp from March 1943 to August 1945, and from August 1943 to halfway through 1944 in the so-called ‘ Bloemenkamp’, an annex of women’s camp Tjihapit. In Batavia workers and their families were housed in the southern part of the Kramat camp from September 1943 to May 1944; the men were subsequently taken to a regular men’s camp in Tjimahi. In a small camp in the Buitenzorg quarter Kedunghalang working men and their families were housed from August 1943 until the Japanese surrendered. Initially there were some 250 people here; in August 1945 almost 100 were left.

In May 1944 more than 100 Dutch women and girls, who had worked voluntarily or otherwise in one of the Japanese army brothels on Java, were put up in camp Kota Paris. Early November they and any family members were taken to the Kramat camp in Batavia.

In addition to the regular civilian camps there were also many other assembly locations in West Java where Dutch Indonesians in particular were placed. Between January and March 1945 a total of about 600 Indo men and boys who had been rounded up during various raids in West Java, were assembled in the Glodok prison in Batavia. They remained locked up here until after the Japanese capitulation. Approximately 170 of these people were initially imprisoned in the Sukamiskin prison in Bandung.

There were also many reception camps for non-interned, indigent Indo-European and native civilians, especially in the large cities, and various labour camps for unemployed Indo boys and impoverished Indo families, for example Halimun in Batavia, Tjiomas near Buitenzorg, Kelapanunggal to the northeast of Buitenzorg, and Gunung Halu and Pasir Benteng, to the southwest of Tjimahi.

Central Java

As elsewhere on Java, the POWs and civilian internees in Central Java were transported elsewhere or concentrated in a limited number of locations during the occupation. The POWs and the majority of male civilian internees were eventually taken to West Java. The interned women and children in 1944 and 1945 were assembled in Semarang, Ambarawa and Banjubiru. At that time a number of separate boys’ and old men’s camps had been set up here.

Japanese advance

On 1 March 1942 a total of about 24,000 troops of the Japanese 16th army landed in the northeastern part of the province, near Kragan, east of Rembang. The majority of these forces left in the direction of East Java, one combat group of about 4,000 men swerved to the southwest to occupy Central Java. This relatively small unit encountered only limited resistance on its march to its final destination Tjilatjap, the main harbour on the south coast.

Because the allied defence of Java was concentrated on the Bandung plateau in West Java and on Surabaya and the highlands around Malang in East Java, only few KNIL troops had stayed behind in Central Java. Surakarta and Djokjakarta were taken on March 5, the first Japanese drove into Semarang in the night of 6 to 7 March. The next night they reached Tjilatjap. In the afternoon of March 9, a little to the west of Tjilatjap, the remaining KNIL troops in Central Java surrendered.

Prisoners of war

The main assembly location for the KNIL and allied troops who were taken prisoner in Central Java was Tjilatjap. About 2,900 of them ended up in Hotel Bellevue and two military encampments here. Hundreds of Javanese POWs were soon released, the others were taken to Tjimahi in West Java until mid-June 1942. In February 1943 a group of approximately 5,000 prisoners of war who had been taken from Bandung to Tjilatjap in June 1942, returned to Bandung and Tjimahi.

The only other POW camps of consequence were located in Djokjakarta, where a total of about 1,800 Dutch, native, and British military were assembled. Here also, several hundred Javanese were released. The British went to Surabaya in May 1942, the Dutch and remaining native POWs were transported to Bandung and Tjimahi in July 1942.

The almost 450 town guards, Landstorm soldiers and reservists captured in Semarang were taken to Surabaya in East Java as early as April 1942. Between May 1942 and January 1943 a group of approximately 300 British and Dutch POWs from Surabaya were put to work at the Kalibanteng airfield near Semarang. In January and February 1943 they were sent back to East Java.

Internment of civilians

The European civilian men were interned in camps from April 1942, the Dutch women and children from November-December 1942. These internees were initially assembled in camps in Tegal, Pekalongan, Purwokerto, Banjumas, Semarang, Ambarawa, Banjubiru, Salatiga, Magelang, Muntilan, Djokjakarta and Surakarta/Solo.

The interned men from the western part of Central Java were assembled in the prison and in the Mulo school of Pekalongan. Part of these men were transferred to Bandung in West Java and Ngawi in East Java in September 1943, the others were transported to Tjimahi in West Java in February 1944. The totok women and children from the westernmost residencies of Banjumas and Pekalongan were assembled in schools and hotels and then sent on to the Kareës quarter in Bandung in December 1942. In the north-western part of Central Java 1943 a second wave of internments of women and children followed in October, consisting mainly of Indo-Europeans. They were assembled in Tegal and Pekalongan and taken to Buitenzorg in West Java in March 1944.

In Semarang the male internees from the city and the surrounding area were assembled in Djatingaleh camp. In August 1942 this camp was evacuated to Surabaya and Kesilir in East Java. In September 1942 about one hundred British and American women and children from Semarang and the surrounding area were interned. This group left for Tangerang in West Java towards the end of 1943. The internment of the Dutch totok women and children in Semarang started in November 1942. They were housed in the Lampersari-Sompok district. Early March 1943 the internment operation in Semarang was almost completed.

In Djokjakarta and Surakarta civilian totok men were imprisoned in Fort Vredenburg in Djokja and in the Ziekenzorg hospital in Solo respectively. The men from Ziekenzorg and some of the men from Fort Vredenburg were transported to Ngawi in East Java in September 1943, in February 1944 the rest of the men from the fort went to Tjimahi in West Java.

From August 1943 to March 1944 there was a small family camp on Batjiro road in Djokja for several dozen so-called Nippon workers, who were maintained in their positions by the Japanese for a period of time. The men were later taken to Tjimahi, their families were probably taken to Semarang.

The totok women and children from Djokjakarta were not assembled in the city first; between December 1942 and August 1943 they were taken in groups directly to camps in Ambarawa, Banjubiru and Semarang. The totok women and children from Surakarta were brought to a camp in Sumowono, about 10 kilometres northeast of Ambarawa, in December 1942. This camp was closed down in March 1944, the internees were transferred to camps in Ambarawa.

After the male internees left, Ziekenzorg became a camp for women and children. Some 850 of them came here from Malang (East Java). They were supplemented with hundreds of women and children from Surakarta and the surrounding area, mostly Indo-Europeans who had not experienced internment yet. In November 1944 another 700 women and children arrived from Bandung. Late May and early June 1945 Ziekenzorg was evacuated, the internees were taken to different camps in Muntilan, Ambarawa, Banjubiru, and Semarang.

The male civilian internees in Salatiga were taken to Semarang (April 1942) or Bandung (early 1944), the women and children went to Ambarawa in December 1942 or June 1943. The interned women and children in Magelang also went to Ambarawa in December 1942, the men were transported to Tjimahi in February.

In a monastery complex in Muntilan there was an internment camp for women, children, and clergy from that town from December 1942. In 1943 and 1944 women and children from Surabaya, Bandung, Ambarawa, and Surakarta were also placed here. Early August 1945 the entire camp population went to assembly camps in Ambarawa and Banjubiru.

Concentration of civilian internees

From the spring of 1944 and in 1945 the women, children and boys who were interned in Central Java were concentrated as much as possible in a few very large camps in Semarang, Ambarawa and Banjubiru. Many interned women and children from West and East Java also ended up here. By that time most civilian men had already been taken away, sometimes via East Java, to camps in West Java.

In Semarang various camps were set up as assembly locations. When the Japanese surrendered, the women’s camps Lampersari-Sompok and Halmaheira, and the boys and old men’s camp Bangkong were still in use, holding a total of about 12,000 internees. In Ambarawa and Banjubiru, about 45 kilometres south of Semarang, there were almost 16,000 internees in the final month of war.

Reception camps

In addition to the regular civilian internment camps there were reception camps in various locations for non-interned Indo-European and other civilians without any source of income. These were frequently family members of captured Indo-European and native KNIL soldiers. Such reception camps could be found, for example, in Gombong (the KNIL encampment), near Magelang (Rawa Seneng), near Djokja (Demakidjo and Mudja-Mudjo) and in Surakarta/Solo (Gilingan).

East Java

During 1942 and 1943 the prisoners of war and civilian internees in East Java were concentrated mainly in Surabaya and Malang, and from there they were taken elsewhere. The POWs in the first months of 1943 were transported to West Java or to the east of the Indonesian archipelago; the civilian internees from late 1943 were transported to Central and West Java.

Japanese advance

The Japanese 48th Infantry Division, about 20,000 men, that had landed on 1 March 1942 near Kragan, east of Rembang, was to occupy East Java. The main target of this force, that was hampered mainly by destroyed bridges, was Surabaya. There the destruction of installations with military significance, especially in the harbour, started already on March 2.

The majority of the KNIL troops evacuated Surabaya on March 5 and retreated in the direction of Java’s ‘Oosthoek’ (eastern salient). The remaining troops offered some resistance on March 6 to the Japanese who had now arrived, but the next day the regulars among them crossed over to the island of Madura. On March 8 the Japanese troops occupied Surabaya. The following day the KNIL troops in the eastern part of Java and on Madura, weakened by the desertion of native soldiers, surrendered.

Prisoners of war

The approximately 17.000 soldiers taken captive in East Java were assembled in Surabaya and Malang. The KNIL troops on Madura were also transported to Surabaya in March and April 1942. Many native POWs were released in April or May.

The main assembly camps in Surabaya were set up on the fair grounds, in the HBS school and in the Darmo barracks. Large numbers of POWs had to do cleaning and repair work in the harbour and in the city’s military complexes. This was usually done in outside fatigue duty from the assembly camps, but also from separate labour camps. From March 1942 to September 1942 a semi-permanent labour camp was set up in buildings of the Java-China-Japan Line (JCJL). This JCJL camp later also served as a transit camp for POWs who were transported elsewhere by ship.

Separate labour camps were set up at Grissee, some 18 kilometres northwest of Surabaya (March 1942 to November 1943), and at Singosari to the northeast of Malang (until September 1942). On both locations there was work to be done on an airfield: in Grissee by about 700 Moluccan and Menadonese POWs, in Singosari by approximately 500 British nationals.

Part of the group of KNIL soldiers who were east of Malang at the time of the capitulation were taken directly to Surabaya, the others were locked up in various military encampments, schools and hospitals in Malang.

Starting in October 1942, the assembly camps in Surabaya and Malang were gradually evacuated, initially especially to Batavia and Tjimahi in West Java, in April 1943 also to labour camps in the Moluccas and on Flores. Many British-Indian and Indonesian POWs were sent away, for example to the Palau islands, as heihos. In February 1943 the camps in Malang had been cleared; in May 1943 the evacuation of the camps in Surabaya was also completed. However, hundreds of Moluccan and other native KNIL soldiers stayed behind in East Java; they were sent to Bougainville or New Guinea as heihos in the autumn of 1943.

Men’s camps

In April 1942 the first senior European officials and other male VIPs were interned. They were assembled in the Bubutan prison in Surabaya, among other places. Some were released because they were Indo-Europeans, or because they were still needed in their old positions. The men who were still held here in February 1943, about 385 in total, then went to Ngawi. In the autumn of 1943 a group of some 50 predominantly non-Dutch men were locked up in Bubutan, in February 1944 they were taken to Bandung in West Java.

The remaining totok civilian men were assembled during 1942 and 1943 in the prison of Kediri (approximately 220 men), in the Marine barracks (about 1,000 men and boys) and the old prison or ‘kleine Boei’ (some 700 men and boys) in Malang, and in Fort Van den Bosch in Ngawi (more than 1,500 men, including Brits and Americans).

From late January 1945 until after the Japanese capitulation more than 700 previously not interned Indo-European men and boys, who had been picked up during raids in East and Central Java, were locked up in Fort Van den Bosch.

A different story was the experimental agricultural camp Kesilir in the easternmost district of Java, where from July 1942 to September 1943 more than 3,000 totok and Indo-European men from Central and East Java (from Malang and Surabaya, among other places) had to apply themselves to agriculture and horticulture. When the camp was evacuated most of the Indo-Europeans went to Tangerang in West Java, the totoks to Banjubiru in Central Java.

Women’s camps

From the spring of 1942 British and American women and children were being interned in the Werfstraat prison or Kalisosok prison in Surabaya, and in a sanatorium in Batu, west of Malang. Later on Dutch, Armenian and Iraqi women and children were also locked up in the Werfstraat prison. In December 1943 the approximately 200 British and American women in Batu and the 50 or so non-Dutch internees in the Werfstraat prison were transported to Tangerang in West Java.

In East Java the internment of Dutch women and children generally occurred a little later than in West and Central Java. The largest women’s camps were the Darmo quarter in Surabaya and De Wijk in Malang. In Surabaya the removals to the Darmo quarter lasted until September 1943: first to go were the families that were no longer able to support themselves - mainly wives of navy personnel -, followed by the other families. Ultimately there were about 6,600 persons in this camp. Between November 1942 and January 1943 about 7,000 women and children ended up in camp De Wijk in the Bergenbuurt (Mountain quarter) of Malang.

Smaller assembly locations for women and children were camp Galuhan, 12 kilometres south of Kediri, where some 350 persons lived, and the camps Kawarasan I and II, about 13 kilometres east of Kediri, where a total of some 370 persons were held. Furthermore, from May 1943 an unknown number of women and children were housed in Kediri prison.

In October 1943 the women and children from Madura came via Surabaya to the Muntilan camp in Central Java.

Nippon workers

A number of European men continued to work at the agricultural enterprises for a considerable time; they were allowed to stay there with their families until further notice. Afterwards these men were assembled, for example in Kediri prison and in Fort Van den Bosch in Ngawi. Their wives and children generally ended up in camp Redjosari near Madiun, or in the women’s camps Galuhan and Kawarasan near Kediri.

Other families from plantations were put up in Bondowoso, in two small separate camps for men, and for women and children, from July 1943. The men left in September for Tangerang in West Java, the women and children were taken to Semarang in January 1944.

In a separate section of camp De Wijk in Malang was a camp for so-called ‘Nippon workers’ and their families; after their ‘dismissal’ in the course of 1943 or early 1944 the men were taken to the men’s camp in the Marine barracks. The longest existing - from September 1943 to February 1945 - family camp for Nippon workers was the camp on the Van Hoogendorplaan in Surabaya. Starting in June 1944 these people were gradually transferred to Semarang.

Reception and labour camps

In many places in East Java reception and labour camps had been set up for non-interned, indigent Indo-European and native civilians, for example in Surabaya, Magetan, Lawang and Malang, in and near Kediri, and near Bondowoso, Plaosan and Berasan.

One infamous example is the labour camp for Indo-European boys at coffee and rubber company Soember Gesing near Dampit. Between September and December 1944 some 300 to 400 boys were made to work here in groups. In the context of latihan (exercise) they had to cut down trees, carry water, and grow vegetables, among other things. Two small fires that had occurred during an air-raid alert - one at the plantation, the other in Malang - were probably the reason for the execution of thirteen Indonesian boys in June 1945. Dozens of others were sentenced to long terms in prison.

Evacuation to Central and West Java

The internees from the Darmo quarter in Surabaya were taken in groups to Ambarawa, Muntilan and Semarang in Central Java and Tangerang in West Java between September 1943 and April 1944. From November 1943 to August 1944 the inhabitants of camp De Wijk in Malang were moved to camps in Central Java, mainly Surakarta, Banjubiru and Semarang.

The men and boys in the old prison or ‘kleine Boei’ of Malang were transferred to Tjimahi in West Java late January 1944. The men and boys in Kediri prison, Fort Van den Bosch in Ngawi, and the Marine camp in Malang followed in February. Also in February 1944 the women and children from Kediri prison, and the camps of Galuhan, Kawarasan, and Redjosari were taken to Banjubiru in Central Java.