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
Category Archives: Living in Holland
Seriously, uncommon cold hitting Kentucky but with none of the white stuff to make it seem worthwhile–or at least fun for a bit. -8 degrees this morning as I dressed to return to the gym for the first time in probably a month (Yes, I’m one of those.)
Our family enjoyed the cool yet never bitter winters in Holland to the max. And I’ve always bought into the theory that central Europe, though further north, was warmer than North American because the Gulf Stream carries warm air from the warm ocean waters across the Atlantic. Now scientists are saying that stream only accounts for 10% of the difference in temperatures. Really?
My young life in North America taught me to think in terms of go north for cooler temps and south for warmer ones. That life experience changed when we moved to Germany where heading south meant colder temps from higher, headed-into-the-Alps altitudes. That was an adjustment to my perspective.
Yet my mind still struggles to grasp that in our recent Holland home it is 48 degrees today even though Amsterdam is about 900 miles north of my old Kentucky home. Yes, 1600 kilometers to the north of Kentucky as you follow the latitudes around the globe your finger runs across The Netherlands.
Whatever the reasons, I’m wearing a beanie indoors as well as two pairs of socks and my comfy Dutch house shoes as I remember fondly the heated floors in Germany and the fact I never needed so many layers in our old flower-kingdom home.
You may have a different Christmas Market to recommend, and I’m more familiar with Europe than America when it comes to these sorts of fests. If you know of others you’d recommend, please comment!
1. Bremen, Germany When: to 23 December Where to stay Hotel Am Hillmannplatz Nr.1 is a good choice, with both the main train station and the Christmas market area a short stroll away.
2. Prague, Czech Republic When: to 4 Jan Prague is fairytale fabulous any day of the year, but come Christmas the Czech capital really twinkles.
3. Brussels, Belgium When: to 1 Jan At 2km long, with over 250 chalets selling all manner of seasonal souvenirs, plus a fairground and a constellation of Christmas lights, Brussels Christmas market is Belgium’s biggest.
4. Dusseldorf, Germany When: to 23 Dec The atmosphere at this huge German Christmas market is unbeatably cheery. Dusseldorf is not just one market but several, with the entire city center caught up in festive celebrations for five full weeks.
5. Amsterdam, Netherlands When: to early Jan Santa Claus really comes to town in Amsterdam where you’ll find not just one Christmas market but 26!
6. Gothenburg, Sweden When: to 30 Dec. Daylight may be in short supply during Swedish winter, but you’ll be tripping the light fantastic in ‘Scandinavia’s Christmas city’, Gothenburg.
7. Edinburgh, Scotland, UK When: to 7 Jan Home to one of the finest Christmas markets the UK has to offer, the Scottish capital certainly knows how to throw a party (have you ever been to Hogmanay?) and the festive season rivals Edinburgh’s famous festival in both size and spirits.
8. Strasbourg, France When: to 31 Dec Strasbourg is charming any time of year but at Christmas it’s the picture-perfect winter wonderland, with towering fir trees on the Place Kléber (a 400-year-old custom), timbered houses festooned with red and white hearts and fairy light stars strung across its cobbled streets.
Excitement is high. Photos on phones not so good. The temperature has dropped 6 degrees since crescent began crossing the sun. By .1 second Makanda, Illinois near Carbondale, Illinois has the longer totality.
The point of greatest eclipse is where the axis of the Moon’s shadow passes closest to the center of the Earth. Since this is a strictly geometric concept, scientists use this point to compare different eclipses with each other. For example, each eclipse on NASA’s list of past and future eclipses is described by the date and time at its point of greatest eclipse. The point of greatest eclipse for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse will see 2 minutes, 40.1 seconds of totality. The closest towns to this location are Cerulean and Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which each will experience 2 minutes, 40 seconds of totality.
Our family is transition from Europe to the US, from military service to civilian life, from assigned housing to home ownership. In the midst of that, my heart and prayers are over our charity and the support for Vacation Bible School coming in 6 days. If you have any interest in the environment, Jesus or the church, please check us out. Source: Ready for VBS this year!
My understanding is that the Dutch find displays of nationalism suspicious. This is quite understandable when one considers a very patriotic neighbor once promised on one day that they would leave The Netherlands alone based on their previous neutrality, and then same country invaded them the next day. So although Holland is well known for flowers, I doubt one would find an entire field carefully planted to represent their nation’s flag, especially considering that the Dutch flag is only allowed to be displayed on certain days and at well defined times.
The U.S. has a different take.
Floral Flag is 740 feet long and 390 feet wide and maintains the proper Flag dimensions as described in Executive Order #10834. This Flag is 6.65 acres and is the first Floral Flag to be planted with 5 pointed Stars comprised of White Larkspur. Each Star is 24 feet in diameter. Each Stripe is 30 feet wide. This Flag is estimated to contain more than 400,000 Larkspur plants with 4-5 flower stems each for a total of more than 2 million flowers. (Link)
Thus, to honor the 240th Flag Day of my home country, I present you with the image of the US flag, this over the top display–and I hope my tolerant Dutch friends will understand.
We’re actually cleaning things out of the house, but I couldn’t resist sharing the book mark I came across today. One side says KEY DUTCH PHRASES and includes such classics as “I didn’t see the sign,” and “I’d like to rent a bike” as well as “What happened?”
The kicker is number nine out of ten: Wil je met me mee naar huis?
Translation: Would you like to come home with me?