Nationale Herdenking 15 augustus 1945, on 15 August 2023 in the Hague

Anne de Jongh on 17 August 1943, on the day the Japanese Prisoner Camp Weihsien in Shantung, China was liberated by American soldiers

Finally: acknowledgment of the suffering of the Dutch victims of the war with Japan in Asia outside the Dutch Indies

Liberation of prisoners of the Japanese Internment Camp in Weihsien, Shantung, China , on 17th August 1945. (78 years ago) My aunt Anne de Jongh is the 14 year old girl second from left, holding her brother Fransje. Anne is 93 years old today. Last week she was deeply moved when after all these years not only the war victims in the Dutch East Indies but also elsewhere in Asia were commemorated for the first time during De Nationale Herdenking 15 augustus in The Hague. Anne immediately wrote the following letter to Leopold Pander who manages the Weihsien website:

” Dear Leopold, yesterday we were all remembering the end of the war with Japan. Here in The Hague there was the annual commemoration in a large park with an enormous crowd, also due to the fine weather!! It was an impressive ceremony- I watched it on TV, with beautiful music, a choir and a brass band, with good speeches from ex-internees and the next generation and also with our prime minister, the military forces and other officials and of course, beautiful wreaths with flowers!This is an annual event that in the early years only mentioned the Dutch East Indies, who had suffered great losses and had numerous internment camps with civilians, who were treated very badly and cruelly. Of course, many here had relatives and friends out there and it was governed by the Dutch. I always felt lost, all the other Dutch prisoners of war in the far East were not remembered. However, later on yesterday the ceremony was dedicated to all those who had lost their lives or suffered in this war, also Burma, China, Indo China, and other countries, also in Japan (my uncle died of exhaustion in Fukuoka, working in the mines)This was an emotional evening for me – I called my sister Louise in San Francisco to share our memories. She and I are the last of the siblings left, 91 and 93 years old and this gave us consolation.”

More letters about the liberation, 78 years ago, on the website of the Japanese prisoner camp Weihsien

Dear Fellow Weihsienners,

I am constantly amazed, when I do the math, that it has been 78 years since we were liberated from Camp. We were not able to leave camp till late October 1945. I am grateful to all those who made Camp life so bearable, and even enjoyable at times, even for the adult internees. The strict discipline of the internees by the internees themselves made for a more organised and controlled life within those walls. We were lucky to have been in such a well run camp. Thank you, Leopold, for all your work with our site. It is still enjoyed by many. So nice to hear from Anne de Jongh who was a good friend of my sister, Gay, who died so suddenly last November. 

All best wishes,

Christine Talbot Sancton 

Dear Leopold                                                                                                                   17th August 2023

It is both hard to believe that I am 93 and that liberation was 78 years ago when I was 15. It is important the history of what and why we  were in that situation. My parents told me that the Chefoo schools after the war was on in Europe asked the British govt  If the school should be moved to a part of China not occupied by the Japanese. The answer was the Japanese will never touch British citizens After Pearl Harbour the Japanese walked in to our compound within 24 hours and our houses at any time until we were moved to camps The boys found it amusing when the Japanese had a ceremony on their playing field declaring it the property of the Japanese emperor. My father brought up in the heyday of the British Empire could not believe the Japanese walking in to Hongkong on Christmas the fall of Singapore and the sinking of 2 British battleships within a few days after the war started on Dec 7 1941 Hopefully we do not bear grudges but do not forget the history of what happened in those times I still say that the most exciting day of my life was when the Americans parachuted down in the fields outside our camp and liberated us One of the parachuters who liberated us had asked to go on the mission because he was an alumnae of the Chefoo schools Parachuters

Maida Harris Campbell Sent from my iPad

Thank you Leopold and to all the survivors to leave this history behind for those of us that were not there and can understand what happened back then. This should never be forgotten! This website is a godsend for just this reason. I knew of my g.Aunt’s history in the camp, but only to a point. Others have contributed greatly in their stories, books, and research that have filled in the gaps and holes I would never have found out about on my own. Bless all of you and safe travels to those who go back to Weifang to revisit the former camp.

Terri Stewart (g.niece of Ruth H. Kunkle)

Japanse bewakers Weihsien

Dearest Leopold, fellow survivors of the Weihsien Internment Camp and family members,

My name is Solange Jacqueline de Saint Hubert (married name MacLean). I am Belgian and my entire family: my father, my mother and my brother, Christian, were interned in the Weihsien Camp. Christian, only a teenager at the time, was known for making diagrams and sketches of the Weihsien Camp. Although I am 101 1/2 years old, the years I spent in Weihsien, I still remember clearly. I was in my early 20’s at the time. As my family were friends with the Pander’s, I remember the young Leopard, and his older sister Janette. At the time, my father was the Director of Le Credit Foncier de L’Extrême Oriente in Tientsin where Mr. Pander also worked. 

I was born in China in 1922 in a small village in Honan Province. My father was an engineer arriving in China in 1920 to develop the railroad system. I had a well-to-do upbringing attending English, French, and German schools, living between Beijing, Shanghai, and Tientsin. We were very grateful to the Chinese who helped us before the War, during our Internment, and after Liberation. 

As survivors, we all share similar memories of those years in the Camp, including the weather extremes between the harsh winters to the hot summer sand storms. We all had our rotating duties, including making coal balls, pumping water, peeling vegetables, etc.

One special memory that I still clearly remember was when I stole a chair from the Japanese quarters for my father. His health began to fail in the Camp. He had been an officer in the Belgian Cavalry Army during WWI and had been gassed in the trenches by the Germans. Another memory was when I foolishly visited my dear Italian friend, Yolanda Morente, with her baby son, Valerio, in the Italian section. The Italians, who arrived months after most of us, were placed in a special section of the Camp and we were not allowed to have any communication with them. While I was visiting her in her room, there was an unexpected Camp roll call. Once the guards realized someone was missing, they conducted a search of the rooms in the Italian quarter. I hid under her bed, with firewood placed in front to conceal me and Yolanda managed to have her baby scream and scream until the Japanese soldiers left. As I recall those experiences now, I must have been naive, feeling the invincibility of youth.

As I remember those years, I know the many lessons they taught me. I learned tenacity, strength and resilience. How to survive difficulty and how to be frugal. I learned, first hand, by the many kindness and acts of generosity of those experiencing the same hardships and suffering, the world is full of wonderful people and though evil exists, goodness and righteousness can prevail. Those years changed us all and made us who we ultimately became years later. 

I send you greetings from our shared past on this 78th Anniversary of our Liberation. 

Thank you, Leopold, for keeping our story alive and your tremendous efforts to keep our connections going through the generations.

My best wishes to all,

Jacqueline, her daughter, Carinne Cunningham and granddaughter, Alexandra Cunningh

You will find more information on the website of Camp Weihsien

De kinderen de Jongh vlak voor hun vertrek naar het Japanse kamp

Mieke Melief

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