The Diary of Prisoner 17326: A Boy's Life in a Japanese Labor Camp

The Diary of Prisoner 17326: A Boy's Life in a Japanese Labor Camp

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by John K. Stutterheim, Mark Parillo
     
 

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In this moving memoir a young man comes of age in an age of violence, brutality, and war. Recounting his experiences during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies, this account brings to life the shocking day-to-day conditions in a Japanese labor camp and provides an intimate look at the collapse of Dutch colonial rule.

As a boy growing up on the island

Overview

In this moving memoir a young man comes of age in an age of violence, brutality, and war. Recounting his experiences during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies, this account brings to life the shocking day-to-day conditions in a Japanese labor camp and provides an intimate look at the collapse of Dutch colonial rule.

As a boy growing up on the island of Java, John Stutterheim spent hours exploring his exotic surroundings, taking walks with his younger brother and dachshund along winding jungle roads. His father, a government accountant, would grumble at the pro-German newspaper and from time to time entertain the family with his singing. It was a fairly typical life for a colonial family in the Dutch East Indies, and a peaceful and happy childhood for young John. But at the age of 14 it would all be irrevocably shattered by the Japanese invasion.

With the surrender of Java in 1942, John's father was taken prisoner. For over three years the family would not know if he was alive or dead. Soon thereafter, John, his younger brother, and his mother were imprisoned. A year later he and his brother were moved to a forced labor camp for boys, where they toiled under the fierce sun while disease and starvation slowly took their toll, all the while suspecting they would soon be killed.

Throughout all of these travails, John kept a secret diary hidden in his handmade mattress, and his memories now offer a unique perspective on an often overlooked episode of World War II. What emerges is a compelling story of a young man caught up in the machinations of a global war—struggling to survive in the face of horrible brutality, struggling to care for his disease-wracked brother, and struggling to put his family back together. It is a story that must not be forgotten.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The story of a young man and his truly triumphant surmounting of a long and terrible trauma."-Mark R. Peattie, Stanford University

"The brutal, racist Japanese treatment of Dutch civilians in World War II is told here through the eyes of a young boy who somehow survived captivity, but found he couldn't go home again. This should be required reading for anyone who studies the Pacific War."-Linda Goetz Holmes, author of 4000 Bowls of Rice and Unjust Enrichment

"A personal perspective of World War II not often heard and a chapter of history underrepresented, John Stutterheim uses his story to give quite the history of the time and the struggles of the imprisoned under Japan at its most ruthless."-Library Bookwatch

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823231515
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
Publication date:
01/21/2013
Series:
World War II: The Global, Human, and Ethical Dimension (FUP) Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
228
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

John K. Stutterheim, M.D., born in the Dutch East Indies, survived Japanese prison camps as a boy, moved to the Netherlands, and became a family physician in the United States. He is now retired.

Mark Parillo teaches history at Kansas State University, where he specializes in Japanese and military history.

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