By Annick M. Doeff
While there was much talk about the German concentration camps and the Holocaust in Europe during the WWII, there was less insight about the concentration camps on the other side of the world – across the Far East and specifically about the occupation by the Japanese of the Dutch East Indies.
Tempo Dulu is a diary of the events in Indonesia at the beginning of World War II as seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old Dutch girl. The author describes her experiences leading up to her incarceration in some of these concentration camps as well as her relationships with her family and friends. The period covered is between 1941 and 1945.
It is a moving story, akin to The Diary of Anne Frank that took place in Holland, but in this case, the story is set in the Dutch East Indies. It is remarkable in its vivid description of the events and in the sharpness of her memories that took place some sixty years ago.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Penn. – In her new memoir Tempo Dulu (published by Trafford Publishing), author Annick. M. Doeff offers readers the narrative of her time interned in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II.
In this intense first-person narrative, Doeff carries readers through her childhood in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). When war came to the island, she and her family were forced to submit to the Japanese.
An excerpt from Tempo Dulu:
A native boy on a bicycle brought us a notice written in Malay. It instructed us when and where we were to present ourselves for internment. It also contained the message that boys sixteen and older were to be sent to a separate man’s camp. Mama refused to sign the notice as required, claiming she didn’t understand Malay and the messenger left with the unsigned notice.
Within days, a harsher summon arrived: “If you do not sign this notice, severe punishment will follow,” read the notice issued by the Kempetai.
Doeff, who cites The Diary of Anne Frank as a template for her own work, knows that her story will have appeal and impact on readers. “It is a story of survival against all odds”.