The extraordinary stories of the children interned by the Japanese in the Second World War
When the Japanese entered the war in 1941, some 20,000 British civilians in the European colonies in Asia were rounded up and marched off to concentration camps where they were to remain for three long years. Over 3,000 of them were children. This is the first time their extraordinary experiences of suffering, endurance and bravery have been collected together.
STOLEN CHILDHOODS offers a window to a forgotten era of European colonialism, and explores what happened when that world was brutally and suddenly shattered. Living on what effectively became the frontline of a war, in daily contact with an enemy whose values were totally alien, they witnessed acts of shocking violence. They had to cope with the knowledge that beloved family members had been beaten, and saw at close quarters the evil that human beings can wreak on each other when the social rulebook is torn up. It was as if in an instant their childhoods had been stolen from them. But their stories also prove inspirational, such as the nine-year-old girl who stood up to the Japanese guards, or the children who taught themselves Latin by etching out their verbs in the dust.
Harrowing, but ultimately uplifting, internment from a child's perspective is a complex - and untold - story. It is a story that features horror, suffering and self-sacrifice, but also celebrates the resilience, adaptability and irrepressibility of the human spirit.