Tjimahi Yeast Factory

Tjimahi Yeast Factory.

Yeast Factory
Do your duty: remember the yeast factory. By 8am we need tow full drums otherwise no bread tomorrow! . ( M.G. Hartley, Tjimahi)

The Tjimahi Yeast Factory was an example how necessity is the mother of invention. The regular supply of yeast had  been disrupted by the war and without a substitute it was virtually impossible to use the poor quality flour that was still available  into a digestible food product. An interned Shell Chemist developed a process for converting urine into “liquid yeast”.

The Tjimahi (Cimahi) men’s camp was located about ten km  west of Bandung and had among its population  of 10,400 men, a large number of highly trained engineers and scientists. That is where my father was interned for most of the war.

Once the Yeast factory came on stream, so to speak, enough liquid yeast was produced to also permit a daily shipment to be delivered to Tjihapit, the Women’s and Children’s camp where my mother and I were interned. The Japanese army made a truck available and every day two drums of liquid yeast were delivered to the Tjihapit bakery. This lasted until the Tjihapit camp was cleared of inmates, or “liquidated”, for about six months. The story is told in greater detail in chapter 8 of Tjideng Reunion.

M.G. Hartley, who before the invasion had been a sugar cane planter captured many cartoon images from camp life. After the war he found a new life on sugar plantations in Argentinia.

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