Tjideng Internment Camp: Playing Red Indian (1945)

Figure 1.--Here are two of the Dutch children at the in Tjideng Internment Camp at the end of the Pacific War. Tjideng was a camp for women and children, near Batavia on Java. This was the capital of the Dutch East Indies and the Dutch name for modern Jakarta. The portrait was taken after the Japanese surrender (September 1945). While the Japanese has surrendered, getting to the internees and moving them to safety was a monumental undertaking because of all the camps located throughout Japanese-occupied East Asia and the South Pacific. At least desperately needed food and medical supplies had reached Tjideng. The older boy is Boudewyn van Oort. Boudewyn tells us that he had just turned 7 yeats old. [Oort, E-mail.] The younger boy is Pieter ten Cate. Pieter is playing Red Indian. Boudewyn and Pieter survived the War Only aittle worse for War. Even though food was short, most adults made sure that the children got food. Boudewyn now lives in Victoria, Canada. He has written a book about his experiences, 'Tjideng Reunion'. Put your cursor on the image for details about his book.

Boudewyn van Oort tells us, "There is a story about that headdress which I included in my book. It was part of a complete American Indian costume play suit made of heavy brown cotton with tassels. It had long sleeves and long pant legs, and so was totally unsuited for the tropics. In July 1945 it was given as a birthday present to another boy in the camp, and I suspect he was as thrilled by it as I was. I wore it once and then quickly abandoned it--it was too hot. This information I got from a compilation of camp diaries I purchased from the ( Netherlands Institute of war documentation (NIOD) in Amsterdam. Somehow my mother got / purchased it from his mother, possibly a day or so before my birthday when we learned that the war had ended (August 23). The diary even contains a picture/sketch of the boy wearing the suit. I have no idea what happened to that family. I should include that picture on my website, now that I think of it. There was a time before the war when the stories about Winnetou, an Apache Indian brave, by German author Karl May were popular in Dutch as well as in German child literature circles. I think the suit was inspired by those stories. I recently made contact with Pieter, the little boy standing next to me, who had borrowed my headdress. He now lives near Sidney, Australia, and stumbled onto my book via I think. The combination of a somewhat unusual name and the list of names I have of people who travelled with us in May 1945 from Bandung to Jakarta and finally his age (reported in the name list), nailed it."


Oort, Boudewyn van. E-mail message (October 2, 2016).

Oort, Boudewyn van. Tjideng Reunion.


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Created: 6:00 AM 10/3/2016
Last updated: 6:01 AM 10/3/2016