Camp Children

Camp Children

Camp children refers to the children who were incarcerated in the former Netherlands East Indies by the Imperial Japanese Army of occupation  during the Pacific War of 1941-1945.  For the purposes of this discussion these children were born after 1 January 1927 and before December 1942.  These children fall into three categories broadly affecting their post war fate. Children born between 1927 and 1932  emerged as refugees with seriously interrupted Secondary education. Those born between 1933 and 1939 had a post war opportunity to make good  the missed education. Children born after 1939 may have had no obvious educational interruption, but  suffered from serious malnutrition at a critical stage of their development.  All children probably  suffered from some form of PTSD that affected their adult life.

It seems that male children suffered the most  because of the Incarceration policies implemented by the Japanese army.  Army regulations defined a male as a person who had attained the age of ten years.  This implied that male children initially incarcerated with their mothers  were from time to time winnowed out of the women’s and children’s camps  and sent elsewhere, either to pre-existing men’s camps or to boys camps. Almost no attempt was made to   ensure  preservation of family ties.  The boys thus separated were frequently used as slave labour while those who remained in the women’s and children’s camps became aware of the threat they face upon reaching the age of ten.  This topic  was sadly neglected by the PhD thesis of Dr van Velden, published in 1961

Dr Stutterheim’s diary  describes in some detail  conditions in a boys camp