By Kareen Richard

The “Glodok Affair” is a little known chapter in the events that occurred during World War II in the Dutch East Indies.

In mid-1944, a man named Piet Hein van den Eeckhout was released from the Japanese Civilian camp in Tjimahi because he vocalized his pro-Japanese feelings.  A number of same-minded others were released with him.  Their task was to seek out young men who would support the Japanese and the Indonesian cause for independence.  This was accomplished by conducting a so-called loyalty poll amongst young Indo men aged 16-23.  They thought that this would not be a difficult task, but they met with more resistance than they had counted on.

On September 27, 1944, a group of 46 of these young men were arrested in Batavia (now Jakarta) for refusing to show loyalty to the Japanese and Indonesian cause and put in various jails. Even though van den Eeckhout and his men tried to coerce the young men, they continued to refuse and held fast to their loyalty to the Dutch flag and Queen, for they were Dutch nationals, after all.  As a result of their continued refusal, the young men were transported to Glodok Prison in Batavia (now Jakarta) on January 25, 1945.  My father was one of these young men.  During the period of Jan. 25 to Mar. 15, 1945 an additional 350-400 were arrested during raids in Cheribon, Tegal, Pekalongan, Semarang and Bandoeng, and transported to Glodok as well.  Seventy five perished as a result of the tough regimen, which included cruelty, mistreatment and malnutrition.  The remainder of the young men was released on August 25, 1945, ten days after the Japanese capitulation.

What follows is a sketchbook made by one of the imprisoned young men, B.W. Rietveldt, and provided to us courtesy of Mr. Charles Koot of Watertown, MA.  Mr. Koot was one of the young men imprisoned at Glodok who thankfully survived.  The sketches depict the dire circumstances in Glodok prison and are captioned in both Dutch and English.  For those interested, further information (mostly in Dutch) is available at De Java Post and on Wikipedia.

More pictures will be posted soon.


  1. Dear Louisa, you are indeed on a journey (as many of us have done) to find out more about our family history. Thank you for sharing the story of your step father.
    As we come across historical accounts and old documents, fragments of the stories told to us in childhood and throughout our lives start to take shape and some of it is horrifying and painful. With this knowledge comes regret for not having listened more closely, for not being able to ask pertinent questions now that we want to know more. The people with roots in the former Dutch East Indies are on a quest and where most information is found in Dutch archives, history books and even now videos, it is difficult for English speaking generations to obtain factual information to fill in the gaps in their family history. That is why The Indo Project only publishes in English to educate and assist those who do not know the Dutch language. The bits of family history you have shared in your comments makes me want to ask you if you would like to submit the story of your step father, even if it is only to give us a small glimpse of what he was like and the trauma he overcame. We encourage people like yourself to write about their loved ones as a way to honor their courage and strength in the face of adversity. At the same time, setting an example for others to do the same. If you want more information or want to consider writing a short article write to us. We would love to hear from you and I’m sure so will others as well.

    • Dear Ms. McMullen,

      Thank you so much for expressing interest in my wonderful stepfather’s life! I would love to write down as much of his history as I know, and to have it be carried on and for him to be appreciated. I collected so many notes and suggestions as to where to obtain more information that might lead me to his family in the Netherlands, or at least to some facts as to the locations of where he spent his time as a POW, that I wore myself out researching everywhere only to go nowhere. So, I quit for a time and now I’m back.

      Just a little footnote, I recently reconnected with my best friend from high school and I learned that both of her parents had been POW’s of the Japanese during WWII, and that they were interned at Santo Tomas in the Philippines. I reached out to her to try and reconnect with her, after 50 years, and in my initial email to her I told her that I had a feeling we have been living parallel lives, all along. When she responded to me she revealed that bit of her family history which I did not know about, until now, because as kids we were told never to mention it. Then I told her that Henry had been a POW of the Japanese as well. It amazes me how these poor people just picked up and moved on with their lives after such incredible horror.

      Well, It’s 12:22am in California so I will contact you in the very near future so I can begin to tell Henry’s story. Thank you for your interest!

  2. I have never heard of Glodock prison until now. My stepfather, Henry Dykman, spoke of Sumatra so I have a very ugly feeling that he was one of the poor souls who was forced to build that horrible railway, and/or it’s bridges. He spoke of there being “many bridges on the River Kwai, not just one” right after we saw that movie, when I was a kid. Or, maybe he meant that there were many bridges over many rivers that were built for that railway, not just that one over that river. In the group photo I saw of him when I was a child, just after they had been freed, the men were in their uniforms, all of them looked like cadavers, and to this day, it’s really disturbing to me that none of them looked happy, or relieved. They looked like they were in severe shock, in complete disbelief, and as if they had been left without their original innocent soul. It was not the photo I had imagined to see of men just liberated. It was awful. He told me that they all had to have transfusions because of the severe malaria and dysentery they had all suffered throughout that awful ordeal. He said they ate any creature/bug they could find, and he mentioned a people called Dravidas (?). Mind you, I heard these stories more than 50 years ago, and he said that they would not eat everything, in order to survive, and that therefore many of them died. I believe he was able to survive partly because he was born in the DIE and therefore he was acclimated to the region, therefore he was able to survive the intense climate. When I was in my teens in one of his narrations he did detail torture he witnessed, first hand, being inflicted by the Japanese on prisoners, purely for their pleasure. But, I will not detail it here. For me to hear what the Japanese did to them was not earthly. I wasn’t even animalistic. I was much much worse. I had would never have imagined doing those kinds of things to another human. But I am so glad he told me. Sadly, those stories came to me in small increments, over a long period of time, and they were far and few between. I said in a prior comment, out of misplaced respect I was not allowed to ask questions nor could I bring up the subject. If he spoke of it I could only listen. My stepfather was a pure gentleman. He did not deserve to experience such horror. He was only 21 years old, not a mean bone in his body! He spoke highly of the culture and of the people of the DEI who were not of Dutch ancestry. He said they were a beautiful people. He was wonderful. My wish is to honor him even if it’s just on these tiny spaces where I can write about him, and what he went through, for no reason at all because the bridges and the railway were never used for the purpose they were built! I want these gruesome little vignettes of his life to be remembered. I want to validate his existence, and what he was forced to endure, and be a witness for him, to tell as many as I can of his truth. Henry was not vindictive, even if he may not have been forgiving. He never mentioned it if he was or wasn’t. Great man.

  3. A manuscript that my father (a Dutch Marine) wrote of his experience of being captured in Indonesia in March 1942, before being taken to the Burma Rail, has just come into my hands. In that manuscript he talks about the Japanese guards and the train journey from Java to Siam and a short period he spent on Glodock prison. He said it was a good time for him because they got regular meals, there were English entertainers, and the prison had a good library.

    I am rewriting the manuscript into English and was doing some research on the names he has mentioned, which is how I got to be on this Glodock prison site. In his article he talks about leaving there on Jan 16th (Im not sure what year though).

  4. My father L.A. Thepass and his twin brother were also prisoner at the Glodok Prison. It was a very hard time but they did survive. We do not know/hear many stories of my father of this period. Just a few stories he shared with us. Last May 4, 2013 my father died, 88 years of age.

  5. B W Rietveldt was my father.. He wrote a book with a lot of memories of that period of his life. It is a invaluable book for all our family . I am very proud of my dad.

    • Dear Francis,
      We, in the Indo community, are grateful to your father and Mr. Koot for giving us this opportunity to educate others about this horrific part of WWII in the former Dutch East Indies. Your pride in your father is shared by many.

  6. Bernardus Willem Rietveldt was my father. I saw you refer to him as B.V. it is actually B.W.
    It is very nice to see that my father’s pictures still are telling stories. Thank you for publishing them.

      • Dear Editor,

        I love this web site and the stories shared. I was born in Batavia in1940, survived the war, the Bersiap era and the mass slaughter that came with them, the police actions and the Merdeka era. My family repatriated from Indonesia to the Netherlands in 1952 and immigrated to the United States in 1962.
        I would like to comment on the explanation of the word Indo. It was not derived from the word “Indo-European”. Many of the older generation of “Indos”, and especially of the younger generation, may not know the true origin of that word as it was used in the old colonial days when the Dutch were Lord and Master in the Dutch East Indies. The word “Indo” was a contraction of the derogatory remark used to differentiate between the “volbloed Nederlander”, or the “full blooded Hollander”, and that of the lowly “Dutch-Indonesian” of mixed parentage or otherwise known as “Nederlands-Indonesier”, later known as “Dutch Indonesians” and shortened to “Indo”. Similar to the British identification of “British-Indian” for the natives of India to differentiate between the British and American Indian. The natives used the names of “blanda”, “totok” and Indo” for the non-Indonesian. These can all be put in the same category of the demeaning expressions used such as “kaffer” in South-Africa and “nigger” in the United States. Later on those of Dutch and Indonesian descend took ownership and pride of that demeaning expression by adapting it as their “ethnicity”.
        Ironically here in the US it is the people from India who lay claim on the name “Indo”. When many of us arrived in the country of our “Dutch ancestry”, that was as foreign to us as it was hostile, in the late 1940s and in the 1950s, the ignorance of the Dutch people and the lack of their knowledge of the “Dutch-Indonesian” showed when they used the word “Indo” as it was by the Dutch colonials . Many times the words “kaffer” and “neger” were used on us also.
        The greatest irony of it all is that the expression “Dutch-Indonesian” or “Indische-Nederlander” is a great misnomer. It was not until the time of repatriation that many “Dutch-Indonesians” who had to proof their “Nederlands Staatsburgerschap” or “Dutch Citizenship” and thought they were citizens of the Netherlands woke up to the cruel reality that they were not. It was then that it became apparent that the “Indo” was a true “E Pluribus Unum”, literally an ethnic group comprised of descendants born to fathers from many European countries and native Asian and SE Asian mothers, and not just from Dutch fathers and Indonesian mothers. That’s why I always identified myself as a “EurAsian”, one being of European and Asian descend, rather than as a “Dutch-Indonesian”.
        However, many of us are also descendants of “Indo” and native mothers, and of African fathers. Fathers from African countries contracted into the Dutch Colonial Army, and of fathers of African and Dutch or German descend from the former Dutch colony of Suriname and the smaller Dutch colonies in the Caribbean. These African people were brought to the colonies as slaves to work on the sugar plantations and of whom many had succeeded to buy their freedom from slavery.
        In my study of my family’s genealogy and of the “Indo” I also learned that many among us are also descendants of Ashkenazi (European) and Spanish and Portuguese or Sephardim (Oriental) Jews who came to the Dutch colonies to escape the religious persecutions that took place throughout Europe since the Jewish Diaspora.
        Our “Indo” history is unique and, just as with our “Indo” cuisine, followed us from Indonesia, to Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Suriname, the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, whereever there is an “Indo” family, it will follow us all over the globe. As the older generation is fading away into the heavenly “Gordel van Smaragd” it is our duty to continue their legacy for the next generation “Indo”, lest it will be forgotten.
        I also learned that there those are among the younger “Indo” generation here in the US who know nothing about their history because … their parents did not tell them, because … the grandparents did not tell the parents and now parents and grandparents are gone. When asked at school about their ethnic background they cannot tell because they do not know, and when they do tell they are being shamed into feeling guilty because of the Dutch colonial past as a reminder.
        This is my contribution to the subject. Thank you very much.

        Robb Hoekstra
        Phoenix, Arizona

        • Thanks so very much, Robb, for your compliment. Knowing how much you appreciate our website motivates us even further in our efforts to educate the world about Indo history and culture. Your sharing your views and experiences on this page adds tremendously in accomplishing our mission. We have captured the word “Indo” as our own and consider it a badge of honor for what it represents. We, at The Indo Project, are inclusive and consider everyone who has roots in the former Dutch East Indies as Indos and as such we are growing in numbers. Throughout the Internet, second, third and even fourth generation Indos are aching to know more about their heritage and as you have shown with your posting that there are many of us that are willing to share whatever knowledge we have with the younger generations. Thanks again for taking the time to write. Please continue your support of our work!

          • My Oom Fred was also one of the young men that refused to sign their loyalty to the Japanese. He was left for dead and thrown on my grandmothers porch after they held him prisoner and beat him relentlessly.

        • Right on. As a totok born in 1947 in the Ambon islands, I have many Indo cousins who feel discrimination in the NL.
          We immigrated 1961 to the US and adhere to our roots. Even though we ate Indonesian food and did other traditional things, our kids remain uninterested and our grandchildren even more so.

  7. One of my uncles was there and so was a man who later married one of his sisters. My uncle is Teddy Smeets, his brother-in-law, Gerard Wolf (rip). According to Teddy, the Batavia Post has published a picture of the release of the young prisoners from Glodok on which he is shown. Does anyone have photos of the Glodok men?

    • Recently, I came across a photo of Glodok men sitting on a truck arriving at Halimoen Camp at the time of their release. This photo was taken for the Batavia Post at the time. I can mail it to you if you would like to have it.

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