Many of the memoirs and books coming out of the digital book age are historical treasures that reveal nuggets of history and fascinating slices of life. This week as I toyed with the idea of collecting and organizing an anthology of Christmas Memories from World War II books, I was reminded of the unusual story of Ronny Herman de Jong and decided to feature her author interview. I had no idea I lived for three years so close to where she attended school in Leiden.
When the Unbroken movie was about to come out, Isabel Wolff, author of Ghostwritten, noted in BBC Magazine:
Indeed, when we reflect on that part of World War Two [i.e.POW camps in the Pacific] we think, automatically, of these brave military men, of whom there were 132,000. Yet there were 130,000 Allied civilians in the region – predominantly women and children – who also endured appalling privation and cruelty, but whose story is barely known. (BBC Magazine)
Movie deals aren’t there, and books in English are sparse. For your consideration, here is one account based on the secret diary kept by the author’s mother, Rising from the Shadow of the Sun: A Story of Love, Survival and Joy.
Interview with Ronny Herman de Jong, Author of Rising from the Shadow of the Sun: A Story of Love, Survival and Joy
When you were a little girl in the Japanese concentration camps, were you aware that your Mom kept a secret diary?
Do you have memories of your life in the camps?
I have two bad memories and one happy one. Mamma protected us and kept us away from the cruel punishments the women had to watch. And because I was always hungry and we had nothing, no food, no books, no toys, few clothes, I have a tendency, even to this day, to buy two of everything: two pairs of shoes, two bags of grapes, two notepads, to give you an example. One bad memory is that a soldier stuck his bayonet through the bamboo fence and tried to kill me. The second one is that we had a bedbug plague in the camp and I had to squeeze them with a rag, in my bed in the top bunk to kill them; they bit me all night and they stank when I squeezed them. The happy memory is that one of the old men that were brought into the camp gave me a little brown truck, a Dinky Toy.
You wrote several books. When did you write your first book and why did you write it?
Why did you write your second book and how is it different from the first?
Tell me about the other books you published.
In August 2014 I published an Anthology: Survivors of WWII in the Pacific. It is a compilation of stories by Navy men and survivors who went through the camps as teenagers; all along the same parallel lines of suffering but from a different perspective, all serving as historical evidence for future generations.
In January 2017 I published an e-Book Anguished to shed light on the devastating elder abuse that happens to this day in families and nursing homes. And in January 2018 my new Audiobook of Rising from the Shadow of the Sun became available for purchase everywhere. Listen here: Audiobook!
Is there any special publicity we should know about?
Yes! The most interesting interview was by CHINA TV after the movie Unbroken was refused in Japan. A reporter and film crew came to Prescott for the interview: they wanted to compare Louis Zamperini’s story about the Japanese camps for men with my story about the Japanese camps for women and children. All the other interviews can be found on my Amazon Author Page
Where is your book available?
All my books are available on all internet sites. Signed copies are available from the author’s website: http://www.ronnyhermandejong.com/
Big thanks to Ronny.–Kristin
Asian Camps, a Dutch Woman and World War 2 – Ronny Herman de Jong Interview