by Inez Hollander

This week we received an e-mail from Mindy Kotler at the Asia Policy Point in Washington DC, concerning Japan’s continued historical revisionism with regard to slave labor by POWs at Japan’s foremost industrial sites.

The Indo Project is joining a number of POW-organizations in writing a letter to the UN cultural organization, UNESCO, asking them to have Japan amend its application for World Heritage sites to include explanations that most of these sites used and abused Allied POW slave labor.

Later this week (July 3), the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will vote on Japan’s nomination of 23 sites related to the country’s Industrial Revolution. Links which will enable to watch this session, you can find here:

I am quoting from Mindy Kotler’s e-mail here: “The Japanese World Heritage nomination focuses on the early history of mining and steel industries. It lacks, however, any reference to the Allied POW slave labor portion of the history of these sites. By doing so, it contradicts UNESCO’s mandate of ensuring that World Heritage sites have ‘Outstanding Universal Value.’

Nominated sites include Omuta (Fukuoka #17), Tagawa (Fukuoka #27);  Keisen, Yoshikuma (Fukuoka #26-B); Nagasaki-Kawanami (Fukuoka #2-B), and  Kamaishi (Sendai 5B). The ports of Nagasaki and Moji where most Allied POWs arrived in Japan are also included.

We now calculate that the nominated sites include 26 POW camps with nearly 14,000 POWs at liberation.”

Significantly, the POWs are said to include 4,385 Dutch, 3,860 British, 3,023 Americans, 1,207 Australians, 358 Canadians, 133 Indians, 5 New Zealanders, 22 Chinese, 9 Portuguese, 6 Norwegians, 4 Jamaicans, 2 Czechs, 2 South African, 2 Arabs and 2 Malays.

Kotler asked us to protest this blatant oversight with our own letter to UNESCO or our local German Embassy as the Germans are heading the World Heritage Committee. If you want to write your own letter, the e-mail address for UNESCO World Heritage is and the e-mail address for the German Embassy in DC is Also, Congressman Honda is circulating a letter in support of American POWs of Japan, and you could write your own Congressman too, to urge him to sign this letter.


  1. Hello Louisa,
    Do you have that photo of your stepfather right after the war? Or a photo of the metal box showing the names of the camps where he stayed? I’d love to add a photo of it in the Summer Newsletter that’s coming out next week.

    I would also suggest reposting your comment at the Old Dutch Indo Community Facebook page because you can get information from the members there. Also check out our Resource page for links where you can look up records:

    Ingrid McCleary

  2. As I wrote in an earlier comment, my dear stepfather was a POW of the Japanese during WW2. I have been desperately trying to locate any of his family members in the Netherlands, or anyone who may have known him in Indonesia during those days. He was born in Indonesia, and his name was Henry (Henri) Dykman (Dijkman) but it was altered a bit when he came to the US, from what’s in parenthesis, I believe. If anyone recognises this surname I would love to hear back from you. My stepfather passed away too young and I never got the chance to speak to him about this experience as an adult. As a child I wasn’t supposed to bring it up, or ask questions. He did bring it up, every now and then, and it was very hard to take, as a kid. But, it was so interesting, and I was so amazed that he LIVED through it all, and for so long. He showed me a photo of him just after he was freed, and he looked bad, like he was in shock, and the other men in the photo looked just as bad. They were in an office, or in doors somewhere, and they were wearing khaki clothing or their uniforms, if I recall correctly. He had a small metal box, that I saw just a couple of times, and it had the names of all the camps he was in engraved on the lid, but I don’t recall any of them. It was about palm sized and it was powerful to see that. I just wish I could have been allowed to ask about this. Now, everyone who knew him is gone, and so is he. He had family in the DEI and I know his father survived and one other family member. So, if anyone remembers the name, please contact me. I would love to hear from you! Thank you so much!!!

    • Louisa
      His name as stated in the Birma or Burma Camp roster is Henri Louis Dijkman
      See comments below
      My father was in Burma as well while my baby brother and I were with our mother in camps on Java and luckily we all came back out of Hell although my father died 19 years later at age 56.
      Willem ten Wolde
      The Indo Project

      Dijkman, Henri Louis

      Henri Louis Dijkman was a Corporal in the KNIL (Royal Dutch Indisch Army)

      Burma_ Siam railroad

      Naamlijst Nederlandse krijgsgevangenen (andere rangen)
      List of Names Dutch POW’s
      (inclusief overledenen; alle namen met beginletter D)
      including deceased

      Datum: 1 November 1944

      Bron: National Archive Washington (Record Group 407, Box 121; Volume III, Thailand)

      SER=Service: A=Army, AF=Air Force, N=Navy
      NEW: 4e en 5e kolom: laatste afdeling en kampnummer (in Thailand)
      4th and 5th column lastdepartment and camp number
      OLD: 6e en 7e kolom: eerdere afdeling en kampnummer (in Thailand)
      OLD 6th and 7th column: previous department number in Thailand
      CAMP: 8e en 9e kolom: kampnummer op Java
      CAMP: 8th and 9th camp number at Java
      REG= Name number
      J/D: J=Java, D=Dead
      DATE=datum van vertrek naar Thailand of datum van overlijden
      Date: date of departure to Thailand or decease date

    • Dear Louisa, your stepfather was my uncle. My mothers brother. My mother and their mother were in a Japanese concentration camp on Java during the war. Their mother died in the camp, from malnutrition and exhaustion. My mother and her brother Henri, met again after 30 years. They visited each other, Henri (or uncle Harry as we called him) came to Holland several times and my mother visited him in Oregon. They have both passed away since…

  3. By the way, I was also a Hollander before I married. I just wanted to commend you for keeping this issue of slavery by the Japanese relevant. It’s alarming how few people know about it because the Japanese are masters of deceit, have artfully dodged blame, have refused to admit to themselves, to their own people, and to the world that they were capable of such subhuman behavior during WWll in SE Asia. My dear wonderful stepfather was Dutch and was one of their victims; he was forced to build their railroads in the sweltering jungle. What really gets me is the huge stink that the Japanese have made in California regarding reparations for being interned here, and for losing property. None of their babies were bayoneted, none of them starved to death, like my stepfather’s mother did. They were detained, fed, housed, and received medical treatment. They are a quiet, soft spoken, and gentle people because they live in paper houses! You can’t be any other way or you’ll be over heard, and you’ll collapse your house. End of their story. Thank you for your great work. I’d like to help & will donate. Take Care!

    • Agree 100%. At this moment Japanese art made during the internment of Japanese in the USA and Japanese US citizen are exposed in the Holocaust Museum in Houston called THE ART OF GAMAN :“The Art of Gaman” showcases more than 120 artifacts made by Japanese Americans while incarcerated in camps during World War II. It explores the creativity and ingenuity of these internees, as well as the Japanese concept of gaman, “to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.”
      I am glad they were in better and safer circumstances than we were.

      • Hello Mr. Tenwolde,

        I finally got a chance to look at the websites you included in your comment. Very nice. Thanks. It is so very sad that these prisoners, which also include women and children, have gone for so long with such little recognition. So many have passed away without being honored in any way, or if they have, it wasn’t enough because I have never heard of any memorial or day of remembrance in their honor. They truly suffered and moved on in complete dignity.

    • Have you ever spoken to any Indonesians who lived under Dutch colonialism? I have. They were really happy to see what the Japanese did to the Dutch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment