[Press Release] Databank Japanese POW Registration Cards of the Netherlands Navy in Asia online

On 14 August 2015 at 11:00 AM, the ‘Stichting Oorlogsgetroffenen in de Oost: met Japanse archieven en contacten (S.O.O.)’ presents the website http://pow.s-­‐o-­‐o.nl at the Marinemuseum in Den Helder.

The website contains 1803 translated Japanese POW Registration Cards of the Netherlands Navy personnel and other seafaring personnel, who since the Japanese occupation of the Netherlands East Indies in 1942 were prisoners of war of Japan until August 1945.

After the end of WW2 many ex-­‐POWs did not dare to talk about their experiences or just did not receive a listening ear. Many people died in the Japanese camp or cherished in the sea. However the family did not receive enough information how they spent their lives during the war. The translations give the bereaved the possibility to obtain more insight in this difficult time in the lives of the POWs through this new source.

More than 4000 Netherlands Navy POW cards were transferred to the National Archives of the Netherlands in 2011. The colleciton contains information about personnel of the Royal Netherlands Navy and the (militarised) personnel of the merchant navy, the governmental navy.

De “Stichting Oorlogsgetroffenen in de Oost” translated 1803 cards from Japanese into English and made the translations accessible online for the next of kin.

Contrary to general expectation not all Japanese documents were destroyed at the end of the war. The Japanese language acts as a barrier for most people. The cards hold a treasure of information concerning one of the most sad periods of the Japanese occupation. With substantial research grant of the Toyota Foundation, Japanese specialists of SOO and POW Research Network Japan were able to abolish this barrier so next of kin and researchers are now able to use this valuable source.

The Japanese military governement created records of all prisoners of war. The Japanese POW Information Bureau was founded in 1941 as part of the Army Ministry. After the Japanese capitulation the bureau was continued as the 1st & 2nd Repatration Bureau and eventually ended up at the Japanese Ministry of Welfare. The records were maintained until 1955 and 47.818 POW cards and other related records were officially handed over to the Netherlands Government on the 1 March 1955.

The “Stichting Oorlogsgetroffenen in de Oost” was founded in 2012 and is a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation (ANBI) that aims to make Japanese archival material available for the victims of the Japanese occupation of the former Netherlands East Indies in the Netherlands. SOO supports the search of Japanese-­‐Netherlands war children for their biological father. The stichting also aims to intensify the cooperation on academic/scientific research of the Second World War between the Netherlands and Japan.