Java Camps: Introduction


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INTERNMENT CAMPS. During 1942, all white Dutch men, and towards the end of 1942, all white Dutch women and children, were taken into custody by the Japanese and detained in internment camps.Later - throughout 1943 and 1944 - Indo-Europeans (Dutch nationals with multi-racial ancestry) were also interned. At first the camps were scattered throughout Java. Later on, internees were concentrated into camps in and around certain major cities: the men and older boys to Bandoeng/Tjimahi; women and children, partly to Batavia (now Jakarta) and partly to Semarang/Ambarawa. All remained on Java however (there were no overseas transports).

The order in which the camps are presented on this website is determined first by the geographic location of cities to which camps were nearest, starting with western Java and progressing eastward (along the lines of the layout on the ďAtlas van de Japanse KampenĒ), and then by alphabetical order (per name of the camps clustered in and around a particular city).


CAMP ADMINISTRATION. Originally the internment camps were run by Japanese civil authorities. Around April 1, 1944, management of the camps on Java was transferred to the Japanese military authorities (16th Army). Shortly thereafter, the number of internment camps was reduced to 28.The camps were divided into three regions (Batavia/Buitenzorg, Bandoeng/Tjimahi and Semarang). Each region had a separate Japanese commander, all of whom came under the central authority of Colonel Nakata, commander-in-chief over all the camps in Java (not just civilian internment camps, but prisoner-of-war and labor camps as well).


CAMP NUMBERS. In April, 1944, all internees on Java were issued an individual camp number. If transferred to another camp within the same region, they kept that number.If transported to a different region, then they received a new number. These camp numbers provide the data used to ascertain the transfer/transport movement of internees. An overview of the camp numbers issued by each region is presented on a special webpage.


TRANSFERS/TRANSPORTS. During the internment years, internees were relocated to other camps throughout Java, mostly by train and in large numbers. Precise details of these relocations are not known, but day-to-day population records at the camps afford us some insight into the bigger picture. Transfer and transport data are provided on these webpages up to August 23, 1945, the day the Japanese surrender was announced in the camps.After this date, circumstances in the camps became so chaotic that no reliable data exist with respect to camp population sizes. Transport rosters were not preserved (if indeed they ever existed).


MORTALITY. Many internees died, both in the camps and during relocation. This explains, in part, why camp population figures are no more than rough estimates.Available data indicate a mortality rate of 13%, averaged over all the internment camps.


REFERENCES. For each camp all the data sources found in Dutch archives as well as the mention in the Atlas van de Japanse Kampen in Nederlands-IndiŽ are given. The term "Personal communications" refers to telephone calls, letters, diaries, etc. of former internees (in the archives of Henk Beekhuis).


PHOTOGRAPHS AND DRAWINGS. No known photos exist from the internment period.Immediately after the Japanese surrendered, aid agencies visited many of the camps, at which time photos were taken. Existing photos therefore reflect the situation in the camps at the end of August, 1945.

Many drawings made during the internment period survive.They can be found at the sources listed on this website.

CAMP ROSTERS. On orders from Japanese authorities in Tokyo, camp administrators destroyed official records immediately after the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945. Rosters were preserved in some camps however, and often provided internee camp numbers, as well as housing or barracks numbers. Where available, links to these rosters are provided on the individual camp webpages.


CAMP MAPS. Certain maps of the internment camps are known, preserved in diaries or, after the war, reproduced from memory. Where available, links to these maps are provided on the individual camp webpages. Some of the maps referenced (especially those of the large camps) provide additional details.


ABBREVIATIONS. The abbreviations used can be found on a separate webpage.


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