july 2003 |
Losses and damages? What losses and damages ?
According to the official Commission Van Galen the Japs were not interested in private bank assets
We are busy investigating the loot of and damages to the possessions of private persons who were encaptivated
during the Japanese occupation in 1942-1945. We are doing this in order to be able to get an overall picture of all
things lost during this bleak period in our history. According to the inquiry of the Committee (Van Galen),
commissioned by former minister of VWS, ms Els Borst, under whose auspices Het Gebaar (the ex gratia payment
for all the evacuees and emigrees from the Indies) ) came into being, everything was not so bad as it has been
remembered. However, former victims who took the pain of reporting to the Committee (Meldpunt Indische
Tegoeden) gave a different and often contrary picture. Who is right?
What did the Committee Van Galen report? Here is a short overview of the findings of the Committee. In
juxtaposition is the story by Jos Hagers in De Telegraaf. If you have anything to report about the following issues,
we would highly appreciate if you would share this with us. Send your short summary to:
P.O. Box 9103
1180 MC Amstelveen
or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We don't intend to use the information for individual claims. But we need a better insight of all things lost and not
reclaimed or compensated, in order to make a reasonable estimation of the losses suffered by encamped victims.
Our target is an acceptable compensation by way of an ex gratia lumpsum for all the damages and losses, e.g. the
same amount for all the contributors registered with SVJappenkamp. With your individual help we hope to
be able to prove what the Committee Van Galen "might" have overlooked.
- Committee Van Galen (Indische Tegoeden)
What struck our researcher is that the commission for the inquiry was only centred around the bank accounts and
life insurances as part of the postwar rehabilitation procedure in the Indies. Material and immaterial damages were
no issues under investigation.
- Minister Borst sounds quite relieved when she was able report to the House of Commons (Tweede Kamer):
- On closing the inventorial inquiry the Committee has been able to convincingly establish that the problems around
the bankassets were not causd by confiscation by the Japanese but by a combination of measures by the Dutch and
NEI administrations, the banks and the insurance companies.
- A second inquiry will be concentrated around these measures, which will produce a historic overview of what
happened to the assets in the period betweed 1945 and 1957.
Conclusion, the bank assets were never looted although in the postwar chaos only small amounts could be drawn
from the bank accounts, and in a later period nothing at all. What was paid or not and to whom cannot be traced
back due to lack of documents or because archives were not made available. Whether the assets of the encamped
victims were channelled through the Yokohama Specie Bank to Switzerland could not be confirmed. The successors
of the YSB were not inclined to open their archives, if any. It is known that a large part of the documents
detrimental to the Japanese government, the army authorities of the emperor were ordered to be destroyed between
15th and 26th August 1945.
- Looted - by whom ?
According to the report under reference "only" the private bank safes with valuables and paper money were
emptied, without the looter leaving a receipt. Not a word about confiscation of land and real estate, looting of cars,
household goods and furniture, antiques, art, books, privately owned businesses and farms, shops, stock and
inventory etc. Shipped to Japan, seized by third parties or destroyed during the Besiap. Apparently the minister
was not eager to get informed.
- Reports to the Meldpunt
In a highly formal and businesslike report the Committee Van Galen concluded that all proved to be better than is
being perceived by the victims.
Eventually also the Dutch Life Insurance companies paid their dues, although quite a list of lost customers is still
sitting in the archives (if not destroyed). Apparently persons who died in concentration camps and were never traced
back. What happend to their widows and orphans?
According to the letters to the Meldpunt Indische Tegoeden things were not so bright. On the contrary. Most
respondents reported that payments were refused by the banks as a result of lacking documents (who bothered
about documents when one could only take what one could carry, on internment).
Or, as one bank stated: sorry the money has not been recovered.
Especially the owners of small businesses and self-employed were highly duped. Several persons reported that their
family exchanged their business capital to gold bullion before the Japanese invasion. This gold was plaed in safe
keeping with the bank. However, after the war the gold was not available
(looted?) and all they could get in return were valueless Indische bonds. One SVJ contributor wrote that his mother
,a business woman, had a well stocked store and 90.000 guilders business capital in the bank. She has never been
able to reclaim store nor money.
- The gold loot
Two years ago, now retired editor of De Telegraaf and a former detainee, Jos Hagers, published a reveiling story
about the looting of the Japanese army in former Dutch East Indies. She concluded that loot was the main purpose
of the occupation of the Indies (now Indonesia). This has been confirmed by the book Gold Warriors by long time
researchers and authors Stirling and Peggy Seagrave . The president of the Java Central Bank, mr Ohlenschlager,
was able to have the monetary gold shipped to South Africa and Australia just before the Japanese invasion in
january 1942. Only two days after the capitulation of the Royal Dutch Indies Army (KNIL) on March 8, 1942, he
was arrested by the Japanese army and tortured until he died, in revenge of the disappeared gold bullion. The
same fate was suffered by the CEO of the Central Bank in Palembang, Sumatra, mr Wiillemsz Geeroms. Meanwhile
the Kempei-tai (secret police comparable to the nazi S.S.) cracked all the private safes and loaded the contents
(valuables, gold, banknotes, documents etc.) onto trucks for transportation to the harbour, where Japanese ships
would be waiting to be filled for shipment to Japan. Albert Wenzel, a boy of 12 at the time, was ordered to help fill
crates with gold nuggets from the Central BankÝs vault. Wentzel remembers as if it had happened yesterday how
waggons full of gold and valuables stopped at the harbour Tandjung Priok (Jakarta). His stepfather, who worked
as a doorman at the Java Central Bank, told him that he had to sign the freight forms for 752 crates filled with
looted gold, valuables and antiques, each with a value of 2 million guilders (1943) which amounts to 1,5 billion
guilders in total (at least 10 billion euro in value today)..
- No upheaval - no public scandals
Does anyone still remember the upheaval in the media and the public scandal about the looted Nazi Gold a few
years ago ?
Jos Hagers' story and the eyewitnesses indicate that there was still a considerable amount of gold in the bank.
Could that be the gold of the private entrepreneurs who exchanged their business capital for gold nuggets according
to the Asian tradition in times of emergency? And am I wrong in assuming that the gold could not be returned due
to the fact that it is still sitting in the secret vaults of some Japanese bank or in a private safe? And why hasnÝt
there been a similar uproar when this was publicized in de Telegraaf as was the case with the Nazi Gold war loot?
I am looking forward to your reactions.
Secretary General SVJappenkamp