Tangerang

Main entrance of Tangerang (LOG) Youth detention centre
Tangerang Youth Detentions centre on West Java before the Pacific War.

Tangerang Prison Camp

Tangerang Prison camp was a women’s and children’s World War II concentration camp on Java

History and Location

Before the Pacific War the Tangerang LOG had served as a youth detention  centre and was located  two-three km north east of Tangerang town, which itself lay some twenty-eight kilometers to the  west of Batavia (today’s Jakarta).  It had a capacity of 300 (?) youths, housed in twelve dormitories and about two hundred cells.

During the war the Japanese army of occupation  turned this into a womens’ and childrens’ concentration camp for problem  prisoners. Problem prisoners included the wives of former high officials in the Netherlands East  Indies colonial administration, women who had offended the Japanese military administration  and women who did not neatly fit into the categories of “non Asians ” that the Japanese declared unwelcome  in their new East Asian paradise.

This camp fell under the control of the notorious Captain Sonei Kenichi  along with other camps in the Batavia area. It was Sone who determined who should be punished by internment at Tangerang. It was ironic that the distance from Batavia sheltered the Tangerang inmates  from his torments.  There were other benefits to being interned in Tangerang:  the water supply remained good throughout the war, and the toilet facilities, though primitive continued to function. The grounds surrounding the buildings moreover provided scope for a vegetable garden.  From these perspectives Tjideng was far worse.

One prominent  group of internees  had come from Surabaya, where they had thwarted a scheme to staff a brothel with young girls. For them Tangerang was supposed to be a form of punishment. At a later date a number of women were moved to this facility for other forms of non cooperation.   The Tangerang Prison camp also housed some Iraqi and Jewish women and children , after the Japanese authorities had decided that they were not really Asian.  The facility also housed a small number of senior civil servants’ wives and children.  By the end of 1944 its population had grown to 1870 women and children.  A list of internees has been archived. Then the camp was cleared and by the time the war had ended (August 1945) all women and children had been moved mostly to other camps in Batavia.

After the war the facility provided temporary accommodation  to distressed families

Today the Tangerang LOG facility houses a Co-operative organization, while the entire region now forms part of the greater Jakarta conurbation, and is close to the Jakarta International Airport.

Tangerang stories

I am aware of two sources of information about life in the Tangerang LOG facility during the war. Elly Campioni ‘s unpublished memoir, written between 1975 and 1980  includes a 3600 word description of the camp and life in the camp.  A copy of this document can be found at NIOD  (Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogs Documentatie) in Amsterdam.

Ada Hartgrink , then around 21 years old, wrote a “Tangerang ABC” ( in Dutch) reproduced here with an English translation

ABC in Tangerang  By Ada Hartgrink

A is Appel waarbij we heel diepzinnig “A” zingen A is Appel[1] where we sing “A”with deep feeling
B is de bongkar[2] dag waar we gewoonweg iets van krijgen B is the bongkar day from which we are reeling
C zijn de carriers, die met Tangerang delicatessen snellen C are the carriers, who bring Tangerang delicacies
D is de dokter, die heel wat met ons heeft te stellen D is the Doctor, who so often us sees
E is de emperan [3]die soms net de kalverstraat lijkt E is the emperan, that sometimes resembles the Kalver street
F zijn de “flats” die men per ladder bereikt F are the flats to access a ladder we need
G is de glibber pap, een Zondags specialiteit G is the glutinous porridge, a Sundays treat
H is de honger die hongerig uit onze ogen kijkt H is the hunger that hungrily stares out of eyes
I zijn te Irakkers waar velen hun schamel bezit verpatsen I are the Iraquis, to whom many sell their goods
J zijn de Jappen met hun onbegrijpelijk fratsen J are the Japs with their incomprehensible moods
K is de kliekjesgroep, een bron van vreugde kreten K is the clique group, a source of happy cries
L is de lontjeng [4]waarop we ontwaken, slapen en eten L is the lontjeng that governs all our lives
M is de Malaria, die ons steeds maar blijft plagen M is the Mmalaria that never goes away
N zijn de Nummers die we met gratie dragen N  are the Numbers we proudly display
O is de Omheining waarachter wij zuchten O is the Enclosure behind which we sigh
P is de poepploeg die men gebruikt om zich te luchten P is the Poop team which we use for alibi
Q daar kan ik niets op dichten Q: not good for a rhyme
R is de renteng[5] volbenauwde gezichten R is the Renting, full of anxious faces
S zijn de slakken, het nieuwste gerecht S are the Snails  the latest culinary delight
T is de tuin zo meesterlijk aangelegd T is the Garden, so beautifully maintained’

 

U is de uitkijkpost waarboven eens onze drie kleur zal hangen U is the lookout tower above which the tricolour will be displayed
V is de vrede waar we zo innig naar verlangen V is the Victory for which we long so fervently long
W zijn wij twaalven bij elkaar W are We twelve together
X slaan we over met een breed gebaar. X we will skip with a broad gesture
Y zijn de Yankees waarop we blijven vertrouwen Y is for the Yankees of whose coming we are sure
Z is de zakkenauto het glanspunt voor de sterke vrouwen Z is for the bag truck- the focus of the stronger women

[1] Appel is Dutch for tenko or roll call

[2] Bongkardag= day of upheaval

[3] Emperan: Gallery ?

[4] Lontjeng:  clock -time signal

[5] Renteng : stack of food pans- She is referring to the row of toilets (squatters) lacking any privacy

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