In 2016 I made a return visit to Java to see Today’s Tjihapit. This was the part of Bandung where I was first interned. Before the war the area was a middle class residential suburb laid out in the urban garden fashion with curved streets and lots of green areas, and that is still so today. These houses are now in far better shape than they were after the war. At that time the entire area was condemned as being uninhabitable, owing to the deplorable condition of the houses. During the war the acute shortage of firewood and desperate overcrowding had taken a heavy toll on the fabric of these homes with doors being removed for fuel and walls having been knocked down to create more space and access.
Down the road, Serayu 8 , my second camp residence we found to be in equally well-restored shape, as was out third and last residence , located on what formerly had been known as Houtman Plein, now Jalan Lap. Supratman. The entire area has an air of being a well-to do, middle class neighbourhood, and with its red pan tiled roofs and generous eaves, along a neat paved street would not have looked terribly out of place today in a typical Dutch town.
Even the interiors reflected this atmosphere. I was startled to see in one of these Indonesian homes a beautiful antique, eighteenth century Dutch wardrobe, and a vitrine with a splendid collection of Delft Blue chinaware. Our gracious Indonesian host clearly was a connoisseur and art collector
No trace remains anywhere in today’s Tjihapit to remind anyone of the misery, tragedies and horrors affecting fourteen thousand women and children that these streets witnessed for three-and-a-half years. A dramatic history has been obliterated and is all but forgotten.