Pays-Bas / Biographie
Born into a family of nobility in nowadays Indonesia, ‘Prat’ became involved in the resistance in the Netherlands. He survived the camps of Amersfoort, Vught and Dachau – although the experiences continued to haunt him till the end of his life.
Djajeng Pratomo was born in Bagansiapiapi, a town on Sumatra, nowadays Indonesia, then a Dutch colony. He came from a Javanese noble family and thus was entitled to use the noble title Raden Mas, but he preferred to simply be referred to as ‘Prat’. He received a good education in Batavia and Medan and in 1936 boarded a ship that brought him to the Netherlands, where he studied medicine and economics for a while. Prat lived in Leiden, Rotterdam and The Hague. He became a member of the Indonesian student association Perhimpunan Indonesia and the dance group Insulinde, which opposed fascism and Nazism in both Europe as Asia. This way, Prat got into contact with the resistance during the German occupation. He helped Jews who had gone into hiding and distributed illegal newspapers. In January 1943, Prat and his later wife Stennie, who was also involved in the resistance, were arrested. Prat was held for a short time at Camp Amersfoort, before arriving at Camp Vught on 24 February. In Vught, he was assigned to the Philips-Kommando — just like Stennie. As men and women were separated, they both lived in different compartments of the camp, but sometimes met at the barbed wire.
On 24 May 1944, after eighteen months of imprisonment, Prat was put on a transport to Dachau and got separated from Stennie, who was deported to camp Ravensbrück. Prat worked in Dachau as a nurse in an infirmary. “Every morning I would find dozens of people who, weakened by typhus, had died in their beds,” he later recalled. Prat and Stennie both survived the camps and got married. Although they continued to live in the Netherlands, where they both worked in journalism, together they strived to bring about Indonesian independence. Prat lived to the age of almost 104, but he could never put the Second World War completely behind him. “Doctors warned me back in 1947: when you experience something as terrible as you did in those camps, it stays in your head, and all kinds of situations can bring it back to the surface, years and years later. They told me back then: you’ll never forget it.”