Japanese civilian internment camps

At first, European civilians were interned in residential neighbourhoods. Later, they were moved to buildings such as former prisons and old hospitals. The camps were fenced with panels of woven or plaited bamboo (gedek) and barbed wire (kawat). From 1943 onward, they were increasingly isolated from the outside world. Camp life was governed by strict rules. The internees had to do all the work: cleaning, cooking and washing up, collecting rubbish, and caring for the sick. Because food was scarce outside the camps, they had vegetable gardens and raised animals. In the camps on the island of Java, they were forbidden to educate their children but gave them lessons anyway, in secret.

From 1944 onward the camps were more strictly guarded, and each internee was assigned a camp number. The internees had to bow to the Japanese and attend roll call. Starting in September 1944, they were moved to larger camps. Many of them died in transit. As the number of internees grew, there were increasing food shortages and more cases of illness and death.

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