Open Door

Open the Door

I grew up with words like this, “It’s too terrible to tell you,  it’s too much. I do not hate the Japanese; they were cruel to each other too.” Those words came from my father, every time I asked him what it was like to survive WWII in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). He never told me.

Every survivor of WWII has differences in how they survive and thrive… After. For my father it was never to talk about 1942 -1945,  except occasionally to cousins who also survived, or to a combat-survivor soldier. My father’s “combat” survival was in Japanese Concentration/Labor camps for Dutch civilians in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). He was almost 16 and near death when the camps were finally liberated. His survival became to experience daily life as fully as possible – and to close the door on the past.

My aunt in the Netherlands (Holland) also a survivor, does talk sometimes, and has NEVER bought a Japanese car.

My father had no problem with the Japanese or Japanese cars, only the cruelty, torture, starvation, loss and more. (Although it should be known that civilian and POW slave labor was used in Japanese Labor camps where anywhere from 25% to 66% died. The owners of these factories went on to manufacture Japanese cars. Neither reparation nor formal apologies has ever been given by the Japanese government to survivors.)

So what is it like for you, me, our family members, or any survivor to open the door to the past?

courtesy of Vera Kratochvil

Beginning to come to terms with enormous loss and trauma, what is left? Trust is impaired. One’s body is on high alert when least expected. Survivors wonder, if we could figure out every trigger for memories of old trauma, perhaps this high alert, tension, or memory flashbacks wouldn’t occur? This is just one form of wondering, the wondering goes on and on.

As the door opens and grieving advances, the time comes when healing thoughts replace the wondering, and replace false painful thoughts which wove their way into the past.



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4 Responses to “ “Open Door”

  1. judy says:

    This is really beautiful and healing. Thanks Janneke.

  2. Mark Noce says:

    Deep stuff. Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed meeting you at the SF Writer’s conference:)

  3. Janneke says:

    Thank you Judy and Mark. When beauty and healing can be used as words for the past, then we know there is a message there, even though as we all say, “you’d rather pay a different price for beauty and healing.”

    And deep. I think one of the reasons writers are “my people” are because we tend to go deep. If we were all a river, we would be the ones exploring every current, every spray, every hidden eddy, every depth.

  4. Janneke says:

    Hi Mark, here is is four years later, and I am replying. I hope your endeavors are going well. I am reactivating making blog posts, as I am nearly complete with the 7 plus years it has taken to complete my novel. Take care,

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