When the Dutch Army surrenders to Japan in 1942, nine-year-old Sofia is imprisoned with her mother, younger brother, and two baby sisters in different concentration camps on Sumatra, Indonesia. Her father is sent to work on the Burma-Siam railroad, and the family doesn’t know if he is dead or alive. In this memoir, author G. Pauline Kok-Schurgers narrates a story of hate and torture, starvation and disease, and physical and psychological abuse experienced during her internment.
The Remains of War tells of Sofia’s toils through those years, taking care of her younger siblings and trying to prevent her mother from sinking deeper into depression. Sofia longs for her father’s return and her mother’s attention and love. The gruesome years in those camps, the loneliness, and the loss of dear friends transform Sofia into a silent, inward person, scarred for the rest of her life.
Written from the perspective of a young child, The Remains of War touches the core of human suffering caused by the senselessness and evil of war. The voices of all who died and were left behind without a name or a cross on their graves will be forever silent. This memoir testifies to their courage.