Letters From The War
These two letters have been translated from Dutch into English, and served as part of Sigmund’s inspiration to write Thief of Glory.
Dear Mrs. Brouwer
In answer to your letter I can give you some information. It is possible that already I gave you the same as before. Or that you know it through other people that send you news about your husband.
I first met Simon in Tjilatjap after being taken prisoner.
We did not have a lot of contact after that. But in Tjilatjap we shared the same room and spent time together. In camp he gave lessons to the soldiers and other prisoners. The same lessons what he had taught in school. and I did the same. At night we talked a lot about our families and our future. While there he carved out a chess set. He was very good at it and I could not beat him. He also played in a competition and won first place. He had to be hospitalized for dysentry. That was his biggest problem. But he always stayed cheerful and was convinced he would survive all of that.
In November of 1942 we were transported to Soerabaia. There we had a bad time. Specially when it came to our meals. In camp your husband was helping to make peanut butter. On January the 4th, 1943 we left again and stayed for about 10 days in a other camp. Later that camp was named Camp Makassar. Not a very good camp. From there we went to Singapore. We arrived there Jan. 17th 1943. After about three days, Simons dysentry started to act up again and was hospitalized.
Singapore was not so bad. We could attend church and at night we held bible studies. In the middle of April we were sent to Siam. in Ban Pons we started a march through Siam. But after two days of marching your husband had to stay behind in Non Pladuk.
Two days later he was brought by car to Farzo. He stayed there including with Mr K. Van Der Heide, Mr. Dykstra and Mr Bolsward. I said goodbye to him in Farzo. That was the last time I seen your husband. He was in excellent spirit and convinced he would soon join us again. But when I got back in July in Farzo, I was told by our pastor that Simon had past away. And it was confirmed by two other people. He past away in middle of July 1943. We had talked a lot about our faith, his belief in his Savior was very strong. That kept him in such good spirits. As well because of that one of his fellow inmates was baptized and made profession of faith. This is mostly it.
Much more I cannot tell you.
With best wishes from my wife and myself.
The most beautiful present
The hunger was horrible in the concentration camp in Java, Indonesia. My daughter of 16 years old was convinced that food would be the most welcome gift for my up coming birthday. So three days before my birthday she asked her siblings to each save one spoonful of corn powder of their meager portions. They hid it very well – I had no idea about it.
On the morning of my birthday they presented me with a plate full of corn power. Their skinny faces full of joy. But the youngest of the four gave away the secret.
Even though it pained me to accept this gift, looking at my kids. This was truly the most beautiful present I ever received. To me it was worth more than anything I have ever gotten in my life.