The Ockerse Book, Our Childhood in the Former Colonial Dutch East Indies by Ralph Ockerse and Evelijn Blaney, a memoir of colonial family life presents the childhood recollections of Ralph Ockerse and his sister Evelijn Blaney. They were raised in the 1930s in the former Dutch East Indies, while major events gradually led to the disintegration of its colonial establishment. In October 1942, their family life as such abruptly came to an end with the intense suffering, hunger, extreme privation, and despair under horrifically dehumanizing conditions they and their family endured during their three and a half-year internment by the Japanese occupation forces in World War II, and succeeding terror that arose and targeted the Dutch after the 1945-proclamation of independence of the country, now known as Indonesia.
The story takes the reader on a journey of their lives and that of their family, first as they memorably grew up on the islands of Poelau Kisar, Sumatera, and Java, on to their subsequent struggle for survival inside the Japanese concentration camps and repatriation in 1946 to the Netherlands.
Remarks by Boudewyn
This book is noteworthy because it provides information about internment in Kramat, Grogol , Tjideng and the boy’s camp at Baros 6 in Tjimahi. What is also noteworthy about the book is the unvarnished description it provides of the position of children under these horrific circumstances: Mr Ockerse was eleven years old when he was interned in one of the notorious a boy’s camps while his sister barely ten years old, was left in Tjideng to look after younger siblings while their mother was hospitalized. Both children emerged from the war as pre-teens with a streak of independence and strength of mind caused by their struggle for survival. But in these experiences also weighed heavily on post-war family life and integration into a normal social environment, a recurring theme among refugees.