Lieke must have been about four years old when Willem Alexander Fransz felt that his daughter needed a good upbringing and in his eyes that meant that Tjang - being a babu - could not do that, in other words she could no longer stay with Tjang and so he would take her away. He visited her in her little hut and made it known that his two older sisters - with the 'good Dutch' mentality - would continue the upbringing. Good Dutch manners, good education etc. for little Lieke.
Tjang of course did not agree with this, but she could not say much. As a native woman she did not have much to say, she lived off Willem Alexander Fransz, her hut was paid for by him, he took care of her income, he could make or break her. Heartrendingly she had to say goodbye to the little girl and little Lieke did not know anything else but to go with daddy to aunt Engeline and aunt Louise and there it was quite pleasant.
Save your tears for later are some of the winged words that Lieke often uttered, I myself have long thought about using that as a title for this book, but with that title one might think of a book with a wagon load of misery, and that is not the case, however, you can also cry with laughter. Furthermore, "Don't complain, but carry your burden and pray for strength" was also often used by her; it is a typical saying of that time for Indos, but also for Dutchmen.
To write about Lieke is to know that her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren know who their grandmother is. All the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have contributed to the realisation of this book. All events are true and much of the factual material was given to me by Jan, Erna and Rob, but some events we do not know and therefore I have let my imagination run free in those cases.
That morning Lieke went to school early, at seven o'clock, but it was only for a short time, which she regretted, as she loved being at school. All subjects interested her, because she was very eager to learn. She was already in the last year of the U.L.O and would have her final exams this year. What was she going to do after secondary school?
Briskly, but sure of herself, she walked back to her house, which was behind aunt Engeline and aunt Louise's Hotel Du Pavillon. Both aunts managed the hotel and behind the hotel was a small area furnished like a cottage where she lived together with both aunts. It was not large, but it was fully equipped and she had her own private space. Her father did not visit often and when he did, it was only for a short while. He would check on her, see if she looked healthy, ask how school was going. Then he would go to the restaurant for something to eat, before going back to his busy job. She had no relationship with him at all except the knowledge that he was her father and that both her aunts were looking after her. That day she had only been at school for two hours, as the last two hours of education were cancelled due to the absence of a her teacher.
Aunt Engeline was waiting for her and asked her to clean the restaurant immediately, as a group of 10 people would arrive at noon for a sumptuous lunch. While cleaning the outside terrace of the restaurant, she felt someone watching her. At first she did not look up and continued her work, knowing the course of action very well. First she would clean the tables, then arrange them, then sweep the terrace, set the tables with plates and cutlery, and finally arrange everything neatly.
Aunt Engeline had expressly told her that the tables had to be set before 12 o'clock. It was not difficult for her, she did this with the utmost care every single day and enjoyed doing this to the best of her abilities. Before the guests arrived, she would always look at all the beautifully set tables and feel proud of herself. Soon the guests would make everything dirty and it would become quite messy.
Whilst doing the work she still felt that someone was watching her, maybe Aunt Engeline or Aunt Louise was checking on her? However this was not the case, she looked further ahead to the left and right and finally across the street and saw a native woman dressed in sarong kebaya. The radiance emanating from this person confused her. The woman had a sweet face and her hair was in a kondé (bun), she did recognised her, but had no idea from where. She turned around and went on with her work, there was still so much to be done before the guests arrived. The woman stayed on the other side of the street and stood upright with her hands folded in front of her body and continued to just stand there and observe. Lieke felt the woman's piercing eyes and it made her nervous. Did she know this woman? The woman kept looking at her and suddenly she beckoned Lieke to come over. Lieke looked around to make sure that nobody saw her, because she was very disciplined and otherwise the work would not be finished. Slowly she walked towards the woman, while walking her heart started beating faster from the anticipation. She could not control it, this was unusual, she did not know the woman.
At that moment she was called by Aunt Engeline who asked her if everything was all right and told Lieke that the guests would probably be arriving half an hour early.
Oh! She had no time to spare and had to go back to work! She shouted back to Aunt Engeline that she had understood and excused herself. Completely bewildered, she went back to the terrace to continue arranging the tables, always looking back at the woman, who first moved her right index finger towards her mouth (in a gesture to keep quiet) and then held both hands in front of her chest in a heart shape. This mysterious woman did it in such an enchanting way that Lieke got even more upset.
Willem Alexander Fransz, was born in Bondowoso on the 11th of February 1887 and lived for quite some time in Semarang (1913) where he was an employee of Standard Oil as well as of the Export and Commission Trading Company. The Fransz family really belonged to the elite. In the Indische Navorscher there are whole pages dedicated to them. They have a link with that other elite family: Burgemeestre.
The scorching heat made him tired, it was the month of December and the clammy monsoon season made him more and more languid and less alert. Added to this was the indolence of the natives, which made him indifferent. The natives made him impatient; indeed sometimes ferocious, he could not help it, but neither could they. He did not have the necessary distraction and was only busy with work, work and work; arranging projects, managing people and making sure everything was ready on time, but that was a heathen task here. Finishing on time was not in their nature, they were not used to that here. He may have had a nice watch on his wrist, but those natives had all the time in the world and were never pressed for time. He was too serious and had to make more fun and make the best of it. He had to find a wife, there were plenty of women some of them really beautiful and all of them willing to commit. The object was to choose a wife with the same breading and upbringing, but there were none in Semarang.
Time was of the essence as far as finding a suitable wife was concerned and he had already set his eyes on a beautiful babu who was one of the staff members in the house. She was not of the same upbringing, but his need for a woman was stronger than the so-called class issue. He thought she was very beautiful, she had that special look in her eyes, an observant person that kept an eye on everything always knowing what to do when asked. Every time he looked at her, she looked away, but he still saw her attentive and typical gaze, which was always different, and always refreshing to him. Her face was oval with high cheekbones beneath her almond-shaped brown-green eyes, her hair always tied back in a classic bun. Her forehead was large, her hair was attached to her scalp in a heart-shape and she had a beautiful light, flawless skin. She did not have the dark complexion of many a native woman. She walked with the grace of a model and had an attractive body. Her name was Asti and it seemed that apart from the typical Indonesian, she also had some Chinese features. Yes, he would definitely try and court her.
Her full name was Raden Ayu Asti, and her nickname was Tjang a name used later by Lieke and the children because that name means grandma in Malay. As a little girl she had started to work in the big house that was now occupied by Willem Alexander Fransz, a man who kept an eye on her. She felt that he followed her every movement, but she was not aware of her beauty, nor of her graceful way of walking. With small steps - she could not walk faster because of her sarong - she executed the work to be done in the house.
Once in a while she helped Manus the gardener in the garden, he took care of the fruit trees, the crops and she helped him taking care of that. She also had her own little herb garden, which they took care of. They got on well together and talked little during gardening activities and actually Tjang liked that the most about living and working in this house, cooking and housekeeping she liked the most. Manus, was a real native young man who was quietly crazy about her, but she saw Manus as a friend with whom she got along well. They laughed a lot and really taught her all around the garden, in short they seemed like brother and sister. Manus thought he had an extra sense and could predict everything, so in a crazy mood he told Tjang that she would give birth to a son in the next year. How could Manus say that? She knew that Manus was often right, he had a well-developed foresightedness and had been right more than once, but she did not want to hear any of this.
In those hot monsoon days, Tjang was courted by Willem Alexander Fransz, the Indo-Dutch gentleman. He was completely infatuated with this woman and they spent many afternoons, but especially nights together. Soon Tjang was pregnant with their first child, Louis Eduard, called Eddy, who was born on 21 July 1908.
Willem Alexander stayed with Tjang for a long time, but did not regard her as his legal wife and therefore Eddy was not recognised as their legal Eddy was brought up by his mother. Soon Léonie - later called Lieke - was born on 25 May 1916. However, it took seven years before the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies gave Lieke the permission to adopt the surname Fransz, whereas Eddy did not receive this surname until many years later.
Lieke must have been about four years old when Willem Alexander Fransz felt that his daughter needed a good upbringing and in his eyes that meant that Tjang - being a babu -was not able to do that. In other words she could no longer stay with Tjang and so he would take her away from her mother. He visited Tjang in her little hut and made it known to her that his two older sisters - with a 'good Dutch' mentality - would continue the upbringing of Lieke. He wanted her to have only good Dutch manners, and a good education etc. for little Lieke.
Of course Tjang, did not agree with this at all, but she could not contradict him. As a native woman she did not have much to say and no rights. She lived off Willem Alexander Fransz, her hut was paid for by him, he took care of her income, so he could make or break her. Heartrendingly she had to say goodbye to the little girl and little Lieke did not know any better but to go with daddy to aunt Engeline and aunt Louise and the fact that it was quite nice at their place.
Willem Alexander Fransz did give Tjang permission to stay around so she could always see the girl, but under no circumstances was she allowed to approach her. From that day on, Tjang's daily routine was to catch a glimpse of little Lieke, but there were days when she did not see the girl at all. The years passed and passed and slowly she saw the little girl getting bigger and bigger. She saw how she was dressed, how she played with the animals, but most of all how she became more and more beautiful. Tjang also followed Lieke, without her noticing, on her way to school to see how she interacted with the other children. Those must have been very difficult years for Tjang,to follow your own daughter but not being allowed to approach or touch her, but she knew that one day things would change. It has never been clear why Lieke and not Eddy or both were taken away from Tjang.
Lieke did not receive a warm welcome by aunt Engeline and aunt Louise. The two sisters were asked, by their brother to give the girl a good upbringing and that is what Lieke received. Lieke became an exemplary pupil at primary school, but even after that she would eventually pass the U.L.O, which was unique for that time. She was a very intelligent child and was good at languages, but also at arithmetic and as a girl she was pushed more in the direction of languages, she even learnt shorthand, which wasn’t achievable for many people in those days.
From the age of 14, she worked at the Hotel du Pavillon during her free time from school. Because of her good looks she was given tasks in the reception area, but also helped out in the restaurant. The hotel was run by both her aunts. Besides a good education, and also because of the work in the restaurant, she learned the etiquette; she could eat without hearing the sound of cutlery! She grew up to be a beautiful mature woman and besides for the food, customers also visited to the restaurant to see her.
She walked just as gracefully as Tjang and was always beaming. The girl was well "brought up" by her aunts, but they could not surround her with the love that her real mother - Tjang - would have given. A hug, a caress or an embrace was never given to her and this was also very difficult for her to give when she had children of her own later on in life, because she was not accustomed to it.
Lieke never asked how and why, not even when her father visited her in the restaurant. Was she too shy to ask? Times were different then, people accepted the situation as it was. No one ever told her anything and so time went by in days of joy with the babu's, coolies, aunts and of course at school. But there were also times of loneliness being alone in her room not knowing that her mother was so close and whom she missed without knowing it; the hug, the kiss on a wound, a loving embrace or the stroke on your cheek.
There would be a party of 15 people eating at the restaurant. They would arrive at 1 o'clock and Lieke was already busy arranging the tables, she was ahead of schedule and pleased with herself. Again she felt that someone was watching her and again she looked toward the other side of the street where the woman with the piercing eyes kept gazing at her. Again her hands were folded in front of her body and she was just standing there watching her. A serene beauty emanated from her as she stood there. Because Lieke was on schedule, she reacted immediately when the woman beckoned her and Lieke walked towards her taking fast little steps. The woman unfolded her hands and stretched both arms upwards as if thanking God and then she made an embracing gesture with her arms towards Lieke, who became more and more confused as she approached the woman. When she stood one metre away from the woman she saw that the woman was crying and she did not realise what was going on. The woman stammered, meanwhile collecting her tears with her hands, she said that Lieke was her daughter who had been taken from her some 15 years ago. Lieke was 18 years old and she knew by now that neither of her two aunts, who had raised her, was her own mother. The woman took her in her arms and rocked her as if she was still a little girl and Lieke felt the intense warmth that emanated from this, she had never experienced this at all. She gave in to this; the woman stroked her thick head of hair and softly mumbled her name, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Lieke did not know how to deal with this, her suppressed feelings were suddenly aroused. She could not cry, because she was always told to be brave, but she did feel that this was the real love of a mother and that this had been taken away from her. Tjang could only embrace her little girl and cry continuously. Neither of them knew how to handle this situation.
Through the shutters of aunt Engeline and aunt Louise's living room, the aunts saw how Lieke and Tjang had a very emotional encounter. They themselves did not have any feelings about this at that time, but they understood very well that the moment had come when they could no longer keep the two women away from each other. As Willem Alexander had already passed away the two sisters now had to decide what to do with the situation and they summoned Tjang to their home. As cold-hearted ladies and true aunts, they had a business-like - none emotional - conversation with Tjang, who, although distraught, was older and wiser and therefore able to respond well to the aunts. Full of emotion she told them that she had waited long enough. Lieke was her child and whether they wanted to see this or not, Lieke was old enough now to know who her real mother is. For a moment she had forgotten her role as a babu and she fought in emotional terms for her little girl, not that Lieke was a little girl anymore. In the end both aunts gave in, Willem Alexander had died, Lieke was a grown woman and the aunts had completed their task after all.
So after this event, Lieke spent most of her free time, being from school or work in the restaurant, with Tjang in her hut. Mother and daughter talked a lot. Tjang told her that she was always close to Lieke; almost every day she had been able to see Lieke, but unfortunately had not felt her. She had watched from a distance when Lieke worked in the restaurant or went to school and she had always softly said little prayers that Lieke would have a nice day, week or weekend and especially that nothing would happen to Lieke, upon which Lieke smilingly told her that she had always felt that radiation.
Tjang taught her about the special local herbs that are good for body and mind. They often walked in the herb garden of Tjang and Lieke was an inquisitive girl who quickly absorbed all the information. Tjang showed her how to use the herbs for various ailments, such as young bamboo shoots against joint diseases and inflammations, sereh (lemon grass) against headache, fever and diarrhoea. Furthermore, djahe (ginger) against stomach cramps and inhaling its steam against lung infections and colds. Laos, related to ginger, is versatile for external and internal use. Then there is turmeric, which has a detoxifying effect, but which is currently being attributed even more beneficial qualities. Tjang taught Lieke that tamarind is also delicious in meat dishes to make the meat nice and tender. Tjang taught Lieke that cinnamon increases in quality as the tree ages. It must have been one of Lieke's favourite spices, because many years later Lieke laughingly told her children that her grandmother's family name was Canèla and that her roots were in Portugal. She identified herself with the spice cinnamon!
However, it is only many years later that we find out this to be the truth with the help of an online family tree.
Tjang's garden was full of the most delicious fruits you could imagine and she taught Lieke the names of the different fruits and what you could do with them. There were mango trees, banana trees, papaya trees, but also soursop and sugar apple. And then, of course, there was the durian, which, when eaten in excess, can increase the level of serotonin in the brain, affecting mood, sleep, emotion, sexual activity and appetite. Furthermore, the jeruk (all citrus fruits) of which the orange is called jeruk manis (sweet lemon). The papaya could also be used when not yet ripe and does very well in a spicy salad. And then there is the pisang - banana - the most widely eaten food in the world after grain, corn and rice!
Lieke used her nose to the smell the various fruits in such a way that she would never forget each specific smell. Tjang also taught her the intricacies of local cooking, the red, yellow and white onions and of course the inevitable garlic. Tjang laughed at her with her hands at her sides when Lieke cut the onions into julienne which made Lieke cry a lot and then Lieke would laugh as well whilst her tears would fall down her cheeks. Tjang taught Lieke how to use the different herbs and in what combination, showing her all these different herbs. Tjang taught Lieke to taste the herbs blindfolded and then guess that specific herb. They played this game until Lieke knew how to distinguish each and every herb.
She was taught how to crush the different spices to make a delicious bumbu (spice mixture) for the various dishes and of course the chillies, of which Lieke later told Anne that they are full of vitamin C. According to Lieke her eyes, which were diminished due to the poor diet during the war, became a lot better by eating these chillies. Tjang also told about the special jamus for her limbs, jamu stands for traditional Indonesian medicine and is made up of what nature offers in the way of leaves, carrots, rice, fruit, herbs and/or eggs. It was pounded, boiled, made into an infusion or mixed. Tjang also told Lieke to drink a very bitter jamu every day. This jamu was made out of branches, roots and looked like dried unground compost. This was then used to make tea for a whole week. According to Tjang, it was good for your skin and would help against acne. These jamus were only used after the first menstruation and according to Tjang this was not to be used during menstruation.
Later, when the food shops (Toko’s) came to the Netherlands, Lieke bought ready-made jamus to give to her daughters from their first period, but it was only the youngest who ended up having it forced on her, so she had no choice. Lieke swore by jamu galian singset, a herb that is now being made into pills and advertised to reduce body weight, this bitter jamu was one of her favourites.
As it befits a babu - for this is what and who Tjang was thoroughly - Lieke also learned to eat with the Ten Commandments (eating with your bare hands). Lieke wasn’t taught this by her two aunts and certainly did not eat like this in the restaurant. Years later in the Netherlands, her children caught her eating this way every now and then, and she only did this on special occasions because she didn't want to offend her Dutch surroundings.
All the lost time had to be made up for, mother and daughter did what they could to make good use of this precious time but they could not change time, it was inescapable. In the meantime the aunts watched how the contact between Tjang and Lieke developed, they did not restrain or stop the contact at all, as long as Lieke did her homework and helped in the restaurant, it was fine. Only then Lieke got to know her brother Eddy whom she didn't know existed.
Lieke became a beautiful mature woman who had a mind of her own and became slightly rebellious because of the patronising attitude of both her aunts.
It was hard for her to see, in retrospect, that Tjang was around, her own mother, who had been deprived of her all this time. In that rebellion she met Johan Schenk (born 21 April 1897), a fine arts painter. He was a man of few words, a true artist, a bon vivant, but also an alcoholic who brewed all sorts of things himself and sold them to liquor stores. He was his own best consumer.. Lieke fled the house of the two aunts to move in permanently with Johan and soon she was pregnant with their first child, whom they named Jan. Shortly afterwards, Erna and Alfredo were born.
A short while later it was the end of an era "the good old days (tempo dulu). In Europe Hitler ruled and in the Far East the Japanese army was advancing. It was on the eve of the invasion by the Japanese army, which marked the beginning of the war and the end of the Dutch East Indies that Lieke and Johan and their three children were placed in an outer camp (buitenkampers) Outside camps were a kind of kampongs where you lived, you were free to go wherever you wanted, but it was an area where the Japanese could visit and enter at any given time. The area that was allotted to them was too small to house the five of them. The common washroom was the kali further down the road. The facilities were very poor and hygiene was non-existent; rats, bedbugs and flies were common in the barracks where people were stuffed together like sardines in a can. In a short period of time Lieke had grown up and hardened by this life, she had to manage in these harsh times. There was a shortage of good food. Now and then they were given flour and rice and she tried to make the best of it.
With her ingenuity, she decided to bake biscuits from these ingredients and sell them. She put them in a wicker shoulder bag and went out to sell them, barefoot in her sarong kebaja. With her charm and her experience in her aunts' restaurant she knew how to sell the food. The biscuits that were not sold were often eaten at home.
The Japanese looked up to this beautiful young woman and her graceful walk and her appearance made many a man's heart beat. She was an enterprising, strong woman, who took good care of her children, but the Japanese did not have that respect for others. She would come home to the small place where they were living and where the children and Johan were waiting for her for dinner.... if there was any food at all. Many times she was bleeding from being terribly beaten or sexually abused. This only made Lieke stronger and tougher on herself and her children. Just like all the children in the kampongs Jan, Erna and Alfredo were always hungry and severely malnourished, receiving food every day was a luxury and Lieke spared the little food from her own mouth to give to the little ones.
Apart from being an alcoholic, Johan Schenk was also severely asthmatic and so this young family would not be allowed to enjoy a long life together. Johan died shortly after they moved into the kampong (outside camp). Tears were not spared, they must have been the first tears Lieke had shed, this beautiful young family was no more. Full of love Lieke washed Johan's body and laid him in a coffin made out of an old cupboard and sprinkled his lifeless body with red roses. She had to carry on living all by herself with her three little roses.
It was at a time when Alfred had been deprived of food for a long time and Lieke had just been beaten again by the Japanese. The reason for the beating was that she had forgotten to greet the Japanese as was custom in the camp, because Lieke was so excited to have some more rice and sugar - which was a special thing - for the children. Everyone in the camp had to bow to the Japanese as a tribute to the Japanese emperor, but in her enthusiasm Lieke had momentarily forgotten to do so. Alfred was waiting for her in the little bamboo hut and was so delighted with the bowl of rice and sugar. When he saw it he put it all in his little mouth, like a glutton, and forgot to chew properly. The rice got stuck in his throat and he stopped breathing. Lieke shouted for help, but in the internment camp there was always shouting, so no-one looking up from yet another person to shout for help. She shook Alfred, she tugged at the boy, with her little knowledge of how and what to do in such a situation, she could not help him. She watched the little boy choke on the food with the bowl of rice next to him. No one was around to help him. The bowl of rice was left untouched, even his sister Erna, who was so hungry, was not allowed to eat the bowl of rice, for Lieke was firm, the bowl of rice was for Alfred even when he could not eat it anymore, it was and remained his food. It was a month after she had buried her husband Johan
Wilhelm Johan Jozef Hoemakers (nickname Willy) was born in Semarang in 1907 and grew up there. It turns out that he and Lieke's brother Eddy where in the same classroom at primary school!
Willy stood somewhere in the middle of the prison 'Djoernatan' in Semarang, the internment camp for men on Java, he stood by his barracks, which he shared with many other men, in short, too many men were packed away in too small a space.
Before the war he had run a nice business in cart bikes (becaks), renting or selling them and it had been a good little business; he had employed as many as 45 people! However, the war brought an end to that good life. At a young age he had trouble with his eyes and consequently could not finish the Technical School.
He was conscripted and had served the fatherland until 1940, but had become slightly paralysed due to beriberi, a tropical disease that occurs mainly in Asia due to a lack of vitamin B1. That is why he was placed in the internment camp Djoernatan.
Slowly but surely he became weaker and weaker because of the shortage of food, the beating of the Japanese and the other harsh conditions. But he lived and even in the barracks of the internment camp he remained optimistic about the future.
Once in a while he played an old piano that stood somewhere in a corner of the internment camp. It was a mystery how that piano ended up there, but to him it was always a bright spot in his dark existence in the camp. It was a piano with old-fashioned ivory keys, certain keys were missing, broken or removed, but who cared, those keys were skipped when he played. For a while he played with only one hand, because the other hand was injured. He was surprised that he still knew many songs - by memory. If he could remember the melody, he would get it right and the other hand could heal nicely. He played spiritual songs, which he used to know from his meetings with the Salvation Army, but also from missionary Bilderdijk.
Before the war he had translated many songs into Malay for them. He also knew some classical songs that he had learned in the past. They were all fragments of the pieces, which he tried to remember and accompanied by his own humming he tried to play the notes. All in all, the fragments ended op recognisable but incomplete pieces of music. Playing the rickety piano in the internment camp kept him going, literally and figuratively, and partly because of playing the piano his view of the future became more optimistic and he forged a plan to escape from the camp.
The internment camp was well fenced in with wire entangled poles. The wire was often, under electricity. When the siren sounded loudly again, you knew that yet another prisoner had tried to escape between the wires, but had lost his life because of the electrical current passing through the wires. For Willy this was not an option, he walked with a limp and was not agile enough to crawl between the wire and run away. He had to try something else, and came up with a plan. When the gate in the fence was open and the Jap wasn't looking, he would take the opportunity to run away. He observed the daily routine of opening the gate, for a while, the moments and the duration that the gate was open. He noticed that the times that the gate was open were in the morning at seven, at noon and at six in the evening, when everyone had to be back within the fence. He thought about it, six o'clock in the evening would be best because it was already dusk and he could slip away more easily.
He checked for a fortnight how the schedule of gate opening times ran and what happened during that opening. At 7 o'clock in the morning, the gate would open fully and a truck would often enter, and the same thing happened at 12 o'clock. The truck sometimes carried goods on board, but often people as well. The gate would then open fully and the Jap would stand at the side and let the truck pass, there was always just one Jap standing at the gate and watching everything. In the evening at six o'clock a truck with or without people was often let in, but more often that was the time that new prisoners were arriving on foot. Willy chose to escape at six o'clock in the evening when people arrived through the gate, as it would be open that little bit longer. He would wait for that one time in the evening when many people would be arriving so that he could slip away more easily.
On the day in question Willy escaped the internment camp, the Japanese (further referred to as Jap) did notice him, they recognised the limp. As far as they were concerned this was a weak man who played the piano nicely. Yes thing only thing he would miss was the music here in this godforsaken camp. The Jap laughed and probably wondered how long it would be before this weak man was lying dead somewhere, eaten by the beasts or birds. The Jap found himself very clever, because this was a better solution, now he didn't have to bury this man somewhere in a pit outside the camp. Willy ran as fast as he could, he was weakened and could not run well with his ailing legs, but he was glad that it was getting darker outside so that he was not too visible. He knew his surroundings, and soon he was far from camp on one of the main roads into town. He curled up against a tree to sleep, thanked God and fell asleep with a smile on his face.
After the war, a turbulent struggle took place in Indonesia between everything that was Dutch - read Dutch East Indies - and Indonesia. The latter wanted to be independent of the Netherlands. Anything which was slightly white or had Dutch blood was no longer welcome in their own country of birth. Many Dutchmen and Indo-Europeans remained in the camps, because it was too dangerous to go outside. Slowly but surely, repatriation began, to ship all those people to Europe or the Netherlands in safety.
It was in those days that Lieke and Willy got to know each other. Willy saw her one day and immediately fell in love with this beautiful appearance; he could not know that she had already given birth to three children, and it was not noticeable either. Lieke was in quite a state at that time, because she was told that an orphanage would be found for her two children. She was told that as a single woman of her age she could not take care of them and that the children would be placed outside the home.
In those days, a single woman was not supposed to raise her children by herself. Erna was, because of her fair coloured hair, a beautiful attractive child, who had been abducted by Indonesians before. With that in mind, there was more reason to take the children into foster care. Her darlings would be taken away from her, what could she do? Willy was immediately full of adoration for this woman as she was impressed by this man who was full of life, but walked with a limp and moreover had poor hearing and sight; he was engaging, serious and optimistic in spite of his shortcomings. At that moment, his attitude gave her courage and she knew immediately that she would share the rest of her life with him. Her lifesaver promised her that he would take care of her and her children; however the official appointment of a legal guardian - Willy Hoemakers - for Jan and Erna only became official on 2 December 1959 through the cantonal judge in Enschede.
They married on 22 August 1946, clutching her bridal bouquet in front of her growing tummy where Rob awaited, who was born on 8 December 1946.
The post-war period in the Indies became worse and worse and, under pressure from the UN, the Dutch East Indies was declared independent and the Republic of Indonesia was a fact. The Indo-Europeans became increasingly worse off and no longer felt at home. Many left on ships to the Netherlands and moved on to the US or Canada. The Hoemakers family was now a family of six. Aukie was delivered by forceps in 1954, this damaged his little brain, a fact that would not be apparent until much later. In the meantime the family had moved into a large white villa at Lampersari number 5. The house had two toilets, every member of the family had his own bedroom and Erna even had a small zoo in the large garden that surrounded the house; a pig, ducks, a turtle and a monkey. The latter was taken back to a real zoo after only two days, because he had bitten Erna. By mistake, Erna took the banana peel from him because she thought he did not like it.
For the Dutch and Indo Europeans life was more and more difficult because they had mixed blood; a few years later in 1957 the Republic of Indonesia declared these mixed Dutch and Indo Europeans to be a danger to the republic! Willy Hoemakers also realised that in order to save his family, he had to make a move and he applied to the High Commission for repatriation to the Netherlands.
After the High Commission had given its permission, Willy registered for the boat that departed from Surabaya. He would take the voyage with him mother Wilhelmina (J.A. Hoemakers-Hommerson), Lieke, Jan, Erna, Rob and little Aukie, while Tjang would stay in Indonesia. The journey was paid out of the earnings of the sale of his becaks.
It is not clear whether he paid for a part of the journey with this, as he had also run up a personal debt of Rp 3000 (three thousand rupiah).
Many Indo-Europeans found it difficult to settle in the Netherlands, because in the early 1950s the Dutch government encouraged emigration from the Netherlands due to the stagnating economy. Requests to obtain advance payments for a boat ticket were often rejected; a fourth-class trip in those days cost about 100 guilders. Advance payments or loans had to be paid back in full. It has never been clear why Tjang stayed in Indonesia, was there not enough room on the ship at that time, was there a limited number of people you could take with you? Willy's mother came along, which was already one extra person. Still, it remains to be seen whether Tjang - if there was a possibility - would have come along, because at that time she was settled with an Indonesian partner, which made her living situation better than the one in which the Hoemakers family found themselves. Her situation in Indonesia was not at all scary because of this. Eddy, Lieke's brother, did not join the Hoemakers and would stay behind in Indonesia where the situation became more and more gruesome.
In those days nobody knew you were about to leave. Erna: "The hostility of the population was increasing, living conditions were getting worse and worse, so my father thought it was better to leave. None of my friends knew that I was leaving; people did not talk about that kind of thing. So there was no one to see my mother off at the train that would take them from Semarang to Surabaya, the beginning of the long crossing to Holland. Only her Chinese friend Goan knew she was leaving and had a portrait photo taken of her and gave it to her bosom friend. They would never see each other again.
In Semarang the children, joined by Willy and Lieke, quietly said goodbye to Tjang. Once again Lieke was separated from Tjang, but this time it would be for good. She would never smell Tjang's fragrance or the fragrances of her special garden again; they would never prepare food together, taste each other's bumbus or reveal any more of Tjang's kitchen secrets again. Lieke would now have to do it all by herself in a country that was waiting for her and her family but which was not her native country. Tjang would never tease her again when Lieke had tears in her eyes when she cut the onions into julienne. Both their hearts tore apart when they said goodbye, this was final and at that moment both women felt like they died a little. Her harsh saying 'Save your tears for later' did not come true for a moment, she would not save her tears this time, when is later? Time did not spare Lieke. Years later she sometimes used this saying when her children had fallen down and were crying or when they were sad. At those moments these words were incomprehensible to her children, but Lieke was hardened by life, she didn’t know anything else and raised her children to be strong, at all costs.
The passenger ship the Groote Beer was originally a transport ship for troops and was purchased by the Dutch State and renamed. The hull was reinforced and the ship was capable of transporting some 1600 men. Unlike other ships, all accommodation could be ventilated and heated. The State bought the ship in 1947, renamed it to Groote Beer and gave it to the NASM (Holland-America Line) in Rotterdam to be used as a ship for the transport to the Dutch East Indies and later to New Guinea. It was given an extra deck, the bridge was put on top of this deck and moved forward. The accommodations were made suitable for 831 passengers. A sports and a sun deck were added to the rear of the ship, making it an emigrant ship. The Groote Beer was to make a total of about 25 journeys for the repatriation.
This particular crossing from the Groote Beer had 660 people on board, mainly families with children, a jumble of people who suffered from seasickness frequently. Joined by the other passengers, the Hoemakers family left Surabaya on 8 December 1955 full of great expectations. With the tropical heat still in their bodies they were welcomed to one of the coldest winters of the 20th century in the Netherlands.
Lieke and Willy's children enjoyed themselves, they behaved well and even the youngest Aukie was doing well. The crossing went well and the typical Dutch Maria biscuits were often served with coffee in the morning and/or tea in the afternoon. Everyone had a hard time and was seasick; Willy's mother had such a hard time that she asked to be thrown overboard, because she did not like the crossing at all. Strangely enough, Willy was the only one who was not seasick, he would sit on or walk around the deck for hours by himself. Was it because he had been partially paralysed that he got his steady sea legs? Lieke was terribly homesick for the East Indies, but especially missed her mother. She kept thinking of that moment with sadness and in her mind said goodbye to Tjang over and over again. The word 'heartache' was also one of the words she used, and when she did the children knew that she was very sad. It was terrible for her, all the more so because Willy's mother joined them on the crossing to the Netherlands and her own mother Tjang did not.
On 2 January 1956 they docked in the harbour of Rotterdam, a double coldness had penetrated the Dutch, the harshness of that winter of 1956, but also the bitterness created by the German occupation. The Netherlands was busy rebuilding and the Dutch were not eagerly awaiting those Indos from that faraway Indonesia. After their arrival the Hoemakers were taken to Holten, where they were given lodgings at Holterberg 26, a guest house. In the Holtens Nieuwsblad of 21 January 1956 only Willy's mother, Willy and his family - not further mention - were registered as new arrived citizens, altogether seven, namely Willy's mother, Willy, Lieke, Jan, Erna, Rob and Aukie.
Amazed by the snow, which they had never seen before, and bleary-eyed from the cold, they experienced the coldest month of the 20th century, February 1956. Not being used to seeing trees being the colour grey in winter, they thought it was strange that those trees were not cut down, they looked dead after all.
Shortly afterwards, they were given shelter in the Hansa boarding house in Enschede, the textile town in the east of the country. This was not to be for very long as they were assigned a terraced house on Taurus Street number 13 shortly after.
Number 13 was an unlucky number for many, and also for the Hoemakers family at times. It was an average sized terraced house, with four small bedrooms, one of which was slightly larger. The smallest child Aukie slept with his parents in one bedroom. Jan and Rob each had one bedroom. Erna slept with grandma in yet another room. The house was fully furnished with furniture and all the facilities that were needed at the time. The loan that they received the State of the Netherlands, had of course to be paid back in full. At least they had a house, which was of course very pleasant, but it would take some time before they got used to this small country in order to call it home.
Willy started looking for work and was able to get a job at first at Beltman - an architectural firm in Enschede - where he started work as an administrative clerk.
Due to his multiple handicaps, he was only able to do this until 1960 (which did, however, result in a small pension in 1972). Willy wrote several requests to General War Accident Regulations (A.O.R.), Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Social Affairs, but it was not until 1972 that Willy and his family had more financial capacity.
It is not clear when the benefit from the Pelita Foundation was granted. This foundation devoted itself to people from the former Dutch East Indies who left for the Netherlands after the end of the Second World War, the Bersiap or because of Indonesian independence. There were all in all some 312 thousand people.
Lieke was responsible for the housekeeping, something she wasn’t good at, because in the East Indies they were used to having a babu in the house who took care of everything. Yet she tried to do the housekeeping like a good housewife should. The most important thing was the care for the children and caring for the inner self; she was an excellent cook! In that first period in Holland, it was terrible for her getting used to the whole situation; missing her mother, the smells of the Indies, the periods of sadness and homesickness. It was during this time of her personal depression that she became pregnant with Judy, who was born in October 1956. Judy was somewhat of a problem child and she would have a soft spot for Judy the rest of her life.
They had to settle down in the middle of this working-class neighbourhood where mainly families from Drenthe lived, who had moved to the textile city for work. They did not have much money to spend, but Lieke was an economic housewife who needed few resources. On her own initiative she advertised and put up one of her rooms for rental. Mr De Vries from Drente, had his own room in the small Hoemaker house. He was real Dutchman, so Lieke cooked two different meals: potatoes, vegetables and meat and the Indonesian meal, which she managed to do very well. This way she could earn a nice extra income. Moreover, her cooking was not only known in the Hoemakers' house, soon other Indos and neighbours would join in and no matter what time you arrived at the Hoemakers' house, there was always food and Lieke fraternised the Indos and the Dutch neighbours with her hospitality.
Many years later, she also cooked extra portions for other Indo European families, for mothers who were absent or unable to cook. The food was put in a rantang and given with a clean tea towel or delivered to the house by one of the children. It was no money-maker, but she earned some extra cash. In her native culture, it is customary for guests who bring their own rantang after an extensive and lavish meal to take the leftovers home. In order to be able to transport them properly and to preserve the flavours, the dishes are kept separated from each other as much as possible and are put in separate containers.
Because of her knowledge of herbs and spices, taught by her mother Tjang, Lieke could always analyse what herbs and spices were used in the food. If exceptionally they had takeaway food from a Chinese restaurant, she would copy it - as ambitious as she was - and reproduce it in the exact same way the next day. She did not want her food to be inferior to the Chinese food (her mother Tjang was Chinese!).
She knew she had to be frugal but she would never skimp on food. There was little to spare and yet Willy and Lieke could make ends meet and the Hoemakers' home was always open. It was a loving home for everyone and there was always enough food. Everyone could join in at any time and sometimes there was just no room for all. In that case people ate standing up or in the kitchen. Often the food was pre-eaten in the kitchen, so that it seemed that the first plate of food was consumed in the living room, it was hilariously called pre-tasting.
We laughed about everything, about crazy Indos, crazy neighbours and makan makan (eat) , which was so important! We had aunt Wies, a dear woman and also a cousin of Lieke who had been in the Japanese camp together with Lieke; she too had been through a lot. Aunt Wies had a son and daughter and had become a widow at a very young age, just like Lieke. Her son Henne, a successful economics student, often came to the Taurus street and was friends with Erna and Rob. He also joined them for a bite to eat and was often in for a game of chess with Willy. His sister Moureen had a short-lived relationship with Jan, Lieke's eldest son. At that time Moureen was studying to be a secretary and Lieke told her that she also knew shorthand. Everyone present was amazed to see how Lieke showed Moureen certain shorthand characters. Later on when Anne practiced stenography in the evening hours she asked Lieke to do some stenography, and was amazed that Lieke still knew many signs by heart.
Aunt Wies unfortunately remained a widow; she could not find a suitable husband. She was in love with the neighbour, who unfortunately died before his wife did. Aunt Wies was a very special woman who was very concerned about Lieke's welfare and she was hilarious. When the women sat together, they were really typical Indo aunts who told funny stories about the tempoe doeloe. They had their own Dutch proverbs which they gave a Indien twist.
"No matter how fast the lie, the truth is on the corner" or "Who laughs last, OMPONG (=toothless). Willy would sit in the corner of the room, stoically reading or seriously studying and then they would laugh so hard that on the corner at the end of the street - the Hoemakers family lived more or less in the middle of the street - you could hear that Aunt Wies and her sister Reen were visiting Lieke. Aunt Wies and her sister Reen always wore dresses that were extremely colourful and they smoked menthol filter cigarettes, the white of the filters were always heavily mottled with prints of the bright red lipstick of their lips, which were frequently reapplied with colour during their visit to Lieke. Lieke sat there and joined in now and then even though she didn't really smoke. She was however able to roll a cigarette, where did she learn that? Besides that you could smell that both ladies had been around because a waft of Flor de Blossom or a smell of Avon would fill the small living room of the Hoemakers. The scents were often bought at house parties, a common phenomenon in those days. All housewives would sit in one room, a huge henhouse and then the saleswoman was guaranteed of a success in sales.
Then there was Reen's mother-in-law, a very unusual person. She was called Oetje Noor, but that must have been a nickname, she was very small and walked with a walking stick waggling from left to right to get forward and she was always dressed in black. The skirt was wide and came down to her ankles, which made her look even smaller. Underneath she had a kind of a supportive shoe that looked higher and was very appropriate, since she was a member of the church that went door to door selling their faith. She could wedge this support shoe between the opening of the door, so that she did not feel anything when people wanted to slam the door in her face. She always wore a black cap over her hair and was very religious and also superstitious. Around her was a haze of mystery, for she believed in ghosts visiting her. Willy never felt well when Oetje Noor visited Lieke, she was always talking about her faith and/or her ghosts. To the children she looked like a little witch, but she was definitely not evil.
On the other hand, her sister Milly was a sociable woman, also typical, but cut from a different cloth. She could sit in the Hoemakers' house and chat about anything and everything, with a tobacco chew in the back of her mouth. In between she would take the chew out of her brown-blackened teeth and eat it, and when she was finished chewing on it she had a nice tin to get rid of it, which stood next to her chair. Anne once knocked this tin over, much to Lieke's annoyance, because of course it was terribly dirty and Lieke had to clean it up.
Then there was a certain Mrs Dorleben, small in stature and very skinny, she had something with her vocal chords because she had a very soft voice, and her words came out of her mouth in a hoarse way , so she was hardly audible. She always came at dinner time and then took the TV guide - that was usually the thick Televizier - and ticked off what she wanted to see on TV that evening in the Hoemakers' house, so she was temporarily in charge of the TV. Later, when she was able to buy her own TV, she would stay for dinner, but went home afterwards.
There were six other Indo European families that lived in the same street who all visited each other from time to time, it was clique of Indos in the neighbourhood. Lieke enjoyed this very much and even though she also sometimes visited them at their home, they preferred to come to Lieke's home, for she was the personification of cosiness and gastronomy. Lieke and Willy got on well with their closest neighbours, the Heres family, a Dutch family from Drente. It even resulted in the fact that the grandchildren of both families, namely Arnoud Hoemakers and Jennifer Heinhuis would take care of the great-grandchildren, namely Maelynn and Amy.
All front doors of the houses were of a kind that could be halved, so that you could open the upper part when someone was at the door, or when a parcel was being delivered. A string ran through the letterboxes. When this familiar string was pulled you could to pull enter without ringing the bell or knocking. The fried Dutch bacon was also exchanged for Indo prawn crackers through the letterbox. Children also shouted through the letterbox whether their friends wanted to come outside to play.
Lieke and Willy got on well with all the Dutch neighbours, for example Mrs Anderson often came to eat at Lieke's place but also gave Lieke something in return in the form of money, a season ticket or whatever else. You could pick up her scent when she was there, but it was a different scent than the cheap perfume of aunt Wies and aunt Reen, the latter was better in this case. Mrs Anderson loved the Indo invasion of people who came to Holland in the fifties and many years later she ended up in an old people's home where a lot of Indos lived.
The first toko’s (Indonesian food shops) started to appear in the Netherlands and were run by crafty- often Indo European- men, driving around with a Volkswagen van full of delicacies, spices or ready-made products to the districts where many Indos lived. Deliveries were made to the home or ordered for the following week. Sometimes people bought on credit, a very normal practice for that time, even for the Dutch. Lieke also bought things at this warung keliling (mobile shop) and it was always a great atmosphere when it came to the neighbourhood. In this district (Twekkelerveld) in Enschede lived many Indos and they awaited the arrival of the mobile shop at the house of the Hoemakers or with another Indo European family. It was always a pleasant gathering of chattering ladies with a light Indonesian accent. Their short sentences mixed with Malay words which seemed to be louder when they got together, was an enormous cacophony. Stories about the beautiful East Indies were the common thread and a requirement. The ladies were surprised over and over again about the amount of things this warung keliling had to offer. There were times, and this was quite often, that the whole contents of the van were sold out so driving to another Indo neighbourhood was no longer necessary!
As Lieke did not have a pram for the small children, even the family doctor visited Lieke at her house. Before he examined the children, he always checked what was cooking in the kitchen and whether that was worth his consultation.... he was never disappointed and always rewarded with food. Lieke had to draw his attention every so often to the fact that patients were waiting for him, whereupon he - as befits a good general practitioner - thought he should eat quietly, otherwise they would have no use for him as a doctor. Meanwhile the youngest child was born: Anne in 1958. Lieke was very busy with the three little ones and therefore Jan, Erna and Rob did not get the necessary attention. Besides, Judy - who needed extra attention and time - and Aukie - delivered by forceps all those year ago. The two children of which Lieke would say that these two would be nails in her coffin. Despite the fact that they were problem children, they also brought a lot of joy to the Hoemakers' home. When Judy and Anne were born a few years before, the three of them slept in a double bed; it was a bed in which the base of the springs had stretched out over the years in such a way that you gradually ended up rolling to the middle of the bed.
In the meantime the Hoemakers' house had become quite a nursery, because Willy's mother also started to get childlike traits, she supposedly helped Lieke washing the nappies of the little ones. But instead of washing them she dried them on the pot-bellied stove in the middle of the living room. The smell of urine took your breath away as soon as you entered the living room.
Erna developed into a beautiful woman, just like Lieke. People came from all over the place to catch a glimpse of this beautiful girl. Erna herself became rebellious because of the little ones and grandma; in short it was no environment for a young girl. So Erna prepared herself to escape the house and she took refuge with an aunt of her fiancé Hans, who would become her husband. From the house of Hans' aunt Erna and Hans eventually got married. Lieke regretted this situation very much, but she could not do anything but to let it happen, because she was too busy with the three little ones. Willy glanced at the door of the church from a side street. When the door opened and the brand new couple came out, he saw how happy Erna and Hans were. Erna was beaming and Willy was happy, he loved her like his own daughter and that would never change. To Willy they were one family and that is what he always said. Erna and Hans bought a house a few streets away from the family and visited the Hoemakers' home regularly. In 1966 their first grandchild, called Maureen, was born.
Just as Lieke had a nickname for each of her own children, she also had one for Maureen, it was Noet.
As soon as Erna and Maureen visited the parental house, Lieke would sing: "Noet, noet is a bangladoet". that's how happy she was to see the little one. After their first born Erna and Hans had a son called Donald, the two darlings of Willy and Lieke. Once in a while Erna and Hans stayed in the Hoemakers' house for a few days after the summer holidays or at Christmas. It was like the good old days, a mess, but very special. The warmth of Hoemakers' house permeated all the children and that was the life's work of Lieke and Willy. This warmth would always be there also towards Judy and Aukie, whom the siblings and their spouses would take care of after Willy and Lieke's death. Willy and Lieke, together with the children, formed a harmonious family and the children never experienced any marital quarrels, if there would have been any at all.
The family regularly received airmail from Eddy, Lieke's brother, who kept them informed about the situation in Indonesia. He did not have much money and therefore Willy and Lieke sent him 100 guilders every two months, which was a lot of money in those days. A group of seven people namely Erna, Rob, Aukie, Hans, Jolanda (wife of Rob), Maureen and Annemei (granddaughter of Erna) visited the Indonesian family of brother Eddy in Kates (Blitar) in the year 2019. In one of the houses a collage of the Dutch family is hanging on their wall.
It is the first time for Erna to go back to Indonesia, her homeland, which she left when she was 16. Only then do they find out that Eddy used the money, sent by Willy and Lieke, to build land and houses and was therefore considered the mayor of the village. Erna has adverse feelings about this, especially because Willy and Lieke could hardly make ends meet, and to Eddy Lieke and Willy were rich, because they lived in the Netherlands after all! The strange thing is that Eddy never had any plans to come to the Netherlands; he worked for the Indonesian government that had a partnership with a Dutch Indonesian sugar factory. For him life was easier than for Lieke. There was never a moment that he indicated to Lieke and Willy that their monthly monetary gifts were more than enough and superfluous, which is why Willy and Lieke kept sending money all those years. As there was never any telephone contact between Eddy and Lieke or Willy, they were not aware of each other's financial situation.
During their visit of 2019 to Indonesia, the grandchildren of Eddy did offer the family, that if one of the children or grandchildren of Lieke would like to build a home in Kate (Blitar), that the possibility would be given by the family in Indonesia.
The only telephone contact that ever took place was between Jan, the eldest, and Evi (granddaughter Eddy) as a result of a letter from Willy to Eddy that Evi could come to the Netherlands, because she would have more prospects in the Netherlands. However, Eddy did not let Evi go, because she was his favourite.
Erna and Hans also sent money regularly. In one of the letters of 4-3-1971 Eddy reports on Tjang's last days. She was ill and at times when she was delirious she would cry out the names of her grandchildren Jan, Erna and Rob. She had stomach problems due to a fall in her house in Semarang and was no longer together with the Indonesian man. Eddy had taken his mother into his house in Kate (Blitar) where she died in the arms of Eddy's wife - Nimah - in 1959.
Many years later Eddy's grandchildren contacted Lieke through social media about the name Hoemakers by posting a picture of the Hoemakers family in the fifties with the text 'our family in Holland'. It was a picture of the whole family Hoemakers taken at the end of the fifties; even Hans - then fiancé of Erna - is present on the picture!
Lieke's eldest son, Jan, was also somewhat fed up with the family situation and had registered to sail the great oceans and stayed away from home for quite some time, but he did write a postcard regularly to inform those at home where he was. He was very grateful to Willy and accepted him as his father, especially as Willy had cared for him in such a way when little Jan had gangrene in the Indies and the doctor advised amputating his leg; Willy was furious with this advice at the time and decided to take care of his son himself. With some knowledge, Willy bandaged Jan every day for days with clean cloths and herbs, including turmeric and slowly little Jan recovered.
After his travels, Jan went to live with an Indo European family in Amsterdam and worked as a mechanic at Fokker in Amsterdam. With a lot of effort he made sure that an old German black piano would have a spot at the Taurus Street 13. This piano would bring much joy to the Hoemakers' house and Willy was the king of the house. With the years that passed Jan, after marrying Frieda, would move from the west to the east, to finally live close to the family in Enschede. Jan and Frieda remained childless, but were an anchor for the whole family when Lieke and Willy were still alive, but also when they were no longer alive. The family came regularly to Jan and Frieda's house, it was always a cosy gathering and Jan - taught by Lieke - was a very good cook. He had also inherited his creative genes from his father Johan. Jan was a good painter, but also excelled in carpentry. He had a patient attitude in making his creations while he was quite temperamental himself. However, from the age of 36 he struggled with various illnesses and, just like Willy, he was the eternal optimist, he never complained of pain, even though he had plenty of it. He could even cheer you up when you were depressed or not feeling well and he would be a good listener.
However, at the age of 67, although his body was tired, his mind was still far from being used up. It was in the last week of his life that he organised his own funeral and burial service, he indicated what music he wanted, what the texts would be for the service in the church. The church service was to be taken care of by Rob and Anne, but in the end Rob was able to do it. He knew what text Jan wanted on his tombstone; the tombstone was his own creation that was to be commissioned. The last week of his life was all about eating and drinking and socialising, every night of that week a brother or sister or an in-law brought or made something delicious. Every night of that week, brothers and sisters stayed with him until he went to sleep, holding his hands, praying together before going home to spend the evening with him again the next day. With the exception of Judy and Aukie, all the siblings and in-laws were present when he died. Rob washed his brother when he died and the sisters and sister-in-law were busy arranging him beautifully for the coffin. One of his requests was to lie in his coffin with a smile. He knew what he wanted on his headstone; the headstone was his own creation and would be made to order. The text was as follows:
I was in Cadzand on the beach
Witness to a misunderstanding
When i overheard two waves talking
Right before they would break
One shouted, "It's done,
We will crash here!"
The other said decidedly, "Well no, you're not a wave, you're the sea" (Heine Stufkens)
Rob was the big brother for the little ones; Aukie, Judy and Anne. He was always busy making the little ones happy and was like a little father to them. In the neighbourhood, the Dutch children soon noticed that Aukie and Judy were not normal, so they presumed that Anne, who always accompanied them, was the same. The three of them often ran off to play with their friends or just to play. They were often teased viciously, but then big brother Rob was always there to help them.
One event became a nightmare that Anne repeatedly relived during the night and of which she only realised later that it had really happened. It was summer and together with her sister and brother they walked through the neighbourhood and were jeered on by the Dutch children. They were somewhat used to it and the three of them were strong. They just kept walking to play at the playground with its small woodland area behind where you could take walks. They were constantly teased by the other children and they decided to go for a walk in the grove, but the paths in the grove were strewn with stinging nettles. The three were driven into a trap and were standing in front of a large hedge of nettles when a little boy pushed Aukie into the nettles. It hurt him, because he was wearing shorts and the nettles had free play on his bare legs. After all, it was summer and Anne and Judy were also wearing dresses and had bare legs. Aukie got out quickly, but was pushed back in and then the other children, about five of them, also started pushing Anne and Judy into the nettles. Every time they got out, they were pushed back in again and the other children laughed at the three little Hoemakers, who cried out of pain, but also of the vileness of it all. Whilst crying, they were pushed into the nettles over and over again. Rob appeared on the scene and chased the children away and took the three little ones back to the Hoemakers' house, their legs were covered with blisters
Rob was a good student, but was fed up with the H.B.S after three years and went to work in the textile industry. Willy could not do anything else but, just like with Jan and Erna, let go of Rob and let him follow his own path. Rob worked hard and often provided, if necessary, brand new furniture or various facilities in the Hoemakers house. At Sinterklaas of Christmas most of the presents were paid for by Rob, he did this voluntarily, neither Willy nor Lieke ever asked him to do so. As he could afford certain extra expenses from his salary he never questioned it.
Willy played the piano regularly, but he could only play from memory, he was not always accurate, but there was music at home, which was the most important thing. Classical music was always played in the Hoemakers' house, because Willy thought that was the basic music from which everything originates.
Willy wanted to pass on his own musicality to his children and started giving piano lessons to Rob, who initially had serious plans, but it was the time of rock & roll and country. Indo European youngsters were already growing up in the Indies with this style of music that could be heard on the Australian and American channels for years. In every Indo household was a guitar to be found and especially with the arrival of the Beatles in the 1960s, Rob later chose the guitar as his instrument. Willy allowed this but he had to play the classical guitar. Willy wanted Rob to be serious about music and the upcoming pop music was not allowed in the Hoemakers' house.
Rob still plays the guitar and provided musical accompaniment for Christian gatherings for a long time.
Yes, when Rob chose the guitar, Anne was next in line for piano lessons. At the age of six he started letting her play the piano and shortly afterwards he gave her weekly lessons until she was about 10, after which she went to a professional piano teacher. The best part is that both Rob and Anne are still making music.
Even though both of them were strong believers of their faith, Willy and Lieke did not go to church. Willy had been active in the Salvation Army before the Second World War and had good experiences with it. Furthermore, he had often been in Magelang Java with Pa van der Steur, a missionary who took care of more than 7,000 neglected children, all of them born to unrecognised European and Indonesian mothers.
Apparently at that time he had met Eddy, Lieke's brother, who would later become his brother-in-law.
Aukie, Judy and Anne went to the local Salvation Army in the Twekkelerveld district when they were little; the meeting took place every Sunday in the T. Van de Blinkschool on the Olieslagweg. Lieke prayed every evening before going to bed and read her daily Christian fare share every morning in the form of a tear-off calendar that also gave a reference to the text in the Bible. For Willy the Bible was the book of books and he read a lot, especially astronomy. Curious as he was, he started a course in English, which he had never had the opportunity to do before, so that years later he could even correspond with NASA. Besides the Salvation Army and reading the Bible at home, they had contact with a small church group that organised weekly Bible studies. The studies also took place in the Hoemakers' house and then this small house was populated with another 15 people. They would all study the Bible seriously and sing Christian songs, accompanied by Willy on the piano in is own inaccurate way.
In that small working-class neighbourhood of non-believers, all this was tolerated because Lieke and Willy were both so special and respected, but Rob was ashamed of this and even more so in front of his childhood friends; can you blame him when you are young. Later on he would have to be well versed in the Bible and would have to convert in order to be allowed to marry his childhood sweetheart Jolanda! This went hand in hand with a lot of trouble, because at first he did not open himself up to the faith. Rob and Jolanda married and eventually had three children: Martijn, Arnoud and Marjolein. However, the eldest Martijn died in a fatal accident at the age of nineteen. Fortunately both Willy and Lieke did not have to witness this anymore, but it seemed as if history was repeating itself, as Lieke had also lost Alfredo. Rob and Jolanda, just like Lieke and Willy, are both very religious, the loss remained a wound that would occasionally open up and always remain present, but they found much comfort in each other and in their faith.
Both sisters Judy and Anne went to kindergarten together, but soon Judy changed to another school because she was not suitable for regular education. The separation of the two sisters left a mark on Anne and for a long time, Anne could hardly accept that Judy was clearly different.
Judy was placed in special education, which was a pity because she could have developed better if the conditions had been right, but in the reconstruction after the Second World War, everything was difficult and it was not until years later that the government provided better support for mentally handicapped people and their families. At the time, Willy did make an arrangement that Judy and Aukie would be placed in a family replacement home in the event that Lieke and Willy were no longer alive. After Willy's death, Judy came home for the weekends and spent the rest of the week in a relief home. It was always difficult to take her there after the weekend, but it was better this way. Judy became a woman who could not stand up for herself, in other words, was not self-sufficient, but still, under supervision, Judy was able to have a job and to do light packing work for companies in Enschede encouraged by the family replacement home. She talked a lot when you visited her, but eventually she could not handle the pressure. Her work load changed to four days a week doing small creative crafts, such as knotting carpets, crocheting, etc. These small crafts are still sold at the annual Christmas market organised by the care institution.
Aukie also developed slowly and went to special education, he too was a problem child of whom Lieke would later say that she could never die because she could not leave these two special children alone. Many times she expressed that they were two nails in her coffin. Aukie became like a little tramp that roamed the streets. He looked dishevelled and always had a cold with snot running from both nostrils. He became a like a toy for other boys his age, but somehow he was able to defend himself. However, when he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, Child Protection services were called in and he had to go to a special home for children with learning disabilities, in Ermelo on the Veluwe. It was so sad that he ended up there, but neither Willy nor Lieke could do anything about it. Once a month he came home on Friday evening like a proper young man to return on Sunday evening looking like a little vagabond. On Fridays he arrived neatly dressed, his socks tightly in his shoes, his shirt not bulging out of his trousers, his hair neatly combed, in short, well kept. Sunday evening all this was gone, even his socks weren't in the shoes, how this all changed in a couple of days, remains a mystery. Neither Lieke nor Willy, sisters or brothers could change this. But that also came to an end and soon he would get a job at the then largest employer in town; the social workplace. Here he developed into a hard worker, who even did some additional training in metalwork. He stayed with Lieke until her death. He called Rob on that particular day, because his mother had not woken up or come out of the bedroom; and he had not dared to go in to the bedroom to have a look. Fortunately Willy had arranged a family replacement home for him and via a large care institution; he came to live with peers in the middle of another residential area, checked weekly by the care institution. After many changes in homes with peers, Aukie ended up in a small-scale care institution. These kinds of care institutions, which only have a limited number of residents and deliberately want to remain small-scale, did not enter the care market until much later. At last, he has his permanent place, and he feels and ease here.
Willy had thoroughly enjoyed the last weeks of his life with Martijn, his second grandson, but time was inevitable, he had had the necessary transfusions for the leukaemia to elongate the time to stay alive. It was his time to go and he knew it, he knew what was going on. In hospital it was Rob who closed his eyes so that he could finally rest for ever. Willy was an amiable man who had a listening ear, but above all he was the man who did everything for his wife and children, who created a warm home with only love and affection together with his wife Lieke who took care of the inner man. He remained the optimist at heart with his shortcomings; difficulty hearing, poor eyesight and walking difficulties.
An autodidact who had taught himself to play chess and won from many a university student who thought they could beat Willy. Even the children have never been able to win from him in chess in case they played individually with him, only that one time when he lost when Anne and Rob teamed up in a game. He never found out. Willy was the eternal student, who taught himself English, but who also always wanted to be informed about everything, a real news junkie. He later had a subscription to two English-language magazines, namely Time magazine and National Geographic. Apart from the daily newspaper, he continued to read the Bible every day. He also signed up for a physics course at Teleac in 1974 and asked Dr Chriet Titulaer for insight into certain difficult astronomical subjects.
With him, a lot of knowledge went into the grave. At his funeral there were about 25 cars following the hearse from the church to the cemetery. There were many people who paid their last respects to him and when the crowd stood there at the small building that served as a coffee room, Lieke looked at all those people and felt proud. On his stone it says: Via Dolores, Via Triumphalis. It was his motto, he had suffered a lot, but in the end suffering had brought him triumphs, he thought. By his inexhaustible optimism he could resist suffering and by that strength he had brought triumphs such as getting married to Lieke, coming to the Netherlands with the whole family, getting grandchildren. In a nutshell: a cosy and warm homecoming at the Taurusstraat 13.
Lieke found the death of Willy the right occasion to shed tears and that was also the last time the children saw her cry. She managed quite well after Willy's death and she remained the woman who firmly believed in her Creator. She still had the care of Aukie and that was good for her. She kept on cooking and when she thought it was time to see everyone in the Hoemakers' house again, she would call everyone to tell them what she was about to cook. The children would come to see her, it remained a pleasant affair with everyone and they all enjoyed it so much. Of course this was always accompanied by the necessary chats from back then at the Taurusstraat, because in the meantime Lieke had moved to a ground floor duplex house at the Van Limborchstraat also at Twekkelerveld, and where she even took time to sit in the garden. Anne and Rob regularly came for a bite to eat in the Van Limborchstraat during lunch breaks from work, because they worked in the neighbourhood, and then returned to work smelling of the delicious cooking odours.
Lieke was tired, a strange weariness came over her body and she decided to go to bed early. She quickly sprinkled a handkerchief with her favourite lotion eau de cologne (4711) and enjoyed the lovely fresh smell. Holding the handkerchief tightly in her hand, she did her vesper, dozing a little until a painful sting wrapped around her chest, but then passed into a comfortable warmth. In the distance she saw Willy standing with Johan next to him and Alfredo between them, both men holding Alfredo by one hand, they were standing in an enormous white light from which a warm and pulling force was coming. They waved at her and beckoned her to come to them. Lieke would get another grandchild and great-grandchildren, but she could not wait for that. The only thing that mattered now was that Willy, Johan and Alfredo were waiting for her in a beautiful white light and she had to go now.
The next morning it was Erna who took the handkerchief, with great difficulty, out of Lieke's once so strong hand.
Nicknames Lieke had given to all her children, even one granddaughter.
Jan – Jankepalematjan
Erna – Chepreng Erno
Rob - Bietegnon
Aukie - Oechingkang
Judy – Oenemenoete
Anne – Pioet
Maureen (1e kleinkind) : Noet
Front cover of the book
In the middle at the back is Lieke
She must have been 9 or 10 years old here
Baptismal certificate Louis Eduard, hereafter Eddy (brother of Lieke) and born in 1908. In April 1920 baptised as son of Willem Alexander Fransz and see how remarkable Tjang is mentioned as the Jav. (=Javanese) Woman.
Official proof that Lieke's surname is Fransz
According to the Indische Navorser a wedding takes place between Willem Alexander Fransz on the 9th of March 1918 with Johanna Wilhelmina Grönemeier, Willem Alexander dies on the 19th of March 1921 before his 2e daughter is born.
The Indische Navorscher, the grandfather of Lieke, Julianus Adrianus Fransz marries Carolina Magdalena Canèla
Willy Hoemakers as a small child
Declaration 1st primary school C Semarang (Willy Hoemakers)
Technical School participation certificate Willy Hoemakers
Lampersari 5 (picture is from 1980)
Application and invoice for passage to the Netherlands
Bill of sale of the becaks
Notification of the engagement of Louise (Aunt Wies) Fransz and Pieter Hoezoo:
Photo collage of Willy, Lieke and grandchildren Tjang is placed on her grave in 2019.
Erna with Anne on her lap, Aukie on Hans’ lap, standing behind is Rob, Jan had Judy on his lap.
Erna and Jan in the sixties
Eddy, Lieke's brother
Declaration of debt
Willy with his granddaughter Maureen
Lieke with Maureen
Collage of "the Dutch family" on
Shortly before the familie travels to the Netherlands
Back row: Erna, Tjang, Aukie, Rob
Standing in front of Erna is Jan
Sitting down Lieke and Willy Hoemakers
Letters from Eddy, Lieke's brother
Rob with his guitar
Letter of Chriet Titulaer
Grant of the foundation Pelita.
Correspondence with the Minesteries of Foreign Affairs and Social affairs for social benefits
One of the requests to General War Accident Regulations (A.O.R.), Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Social Affairs for social benefits
Willy being accepted as an administrative clerk at an office with a salary of 50 fl. per week
Letter of the Cantonal Judge in Enschede to grant Willy guardianship over Lieke's children
Extract from the civil registry showing the marriage of Willy and Lieke
Confirmation that Willy was interned in Djoernatan during the Japanese invasion of
the Dutch East Indies
Pocketboek of Willy Hoemakers in the army
Extract from the register of births
Raden Ayu Asti (Tjang)
Lieke's mother and Anne's grandmother