Johannes Arnoldus Hendrick Breymann
Johannes Arnoldus Hendrick Breymann

In early 1940 Japan also threatened to invade the Dutch East Indies.

At that time Johannes Arnoldus Hendrick Breymann was a teacher at the Queen Wilhelmina Technical University in Batavia (today Jakarta, Indonesia). He was born in Waingapu on July 17, 1910 on the island of Sumba in the former Dutch East Indies archipelago.

The call for mobilization conscription in the KNIL (Royal Dutch East Indies Army) came on December 8, 1941 and as early as March 1942, Mr. Breymann as conscripted sergeant KNIL and all his colleagues were interned in a camp on Java controlled by the Japanese army.

But on a certain day he succeeded leaving the camp and knocked at the front door of his home in Meester Cornelis, Batavia. He appeared fully dressed in military uniform and could only say goodbye to his wife, his son and his two younger daughters. It was also the last time during a 3½ year war period they had seen him.

Mother Breymann and all other mothers and their children were left behind in a very difficult period. At the beginning many mothers were able to buy food through barter and by selling furniture and other useful items they had in their homes. However, at some point, mother Breymann could no longer sustain it and she had to move in with her retired father, who was living in the Kerkstraat, near the Rehobot avenue in Batavia.

Meanwhile, Sergeant J.A.H. Breymann together with other KNIL prisoners were deported to Japan. Upon arrival, he was transferred to the Japanese Internment camp Hakodate I, where he and his comrades were forced to hard labor under very inhumane conditions.

Sergeant J.A.H. Breymann survived the war and was transferred by the liberators on September 15, 1945 to Manila in the Philippines. Here the Dutch KNIL soldiers were given the badly needed medical treatments, food, cloth and time to recuperate from the cruel period in Japan. After this badly needed, but short time, Sergeant Breymann and co-KNIL military comrades were transferred by a British ship to Batavia. The KNIL assigned him to the 1st Division Art./3de Batt. to Balikpapan in Borneo.

Mother and children were still living with Grandpa when they were notified by the Red Cross that Sergeant Breyman J.A.H. was freed, and transported from Manila, Philippines and Batavia as a KNIL man to be stationed in Balikpapan, Borneo.

Mother and children managed to travel with a cargo ship from Batavia to Balikpapan where they found their father in good health; a particularly happy time for all.

After Indonesia became independent the Breymann family repatriated to the Netherlands and not much later they immigrated to the United States.

In the city Grants Pass of the state of Oregon the family built themselves a new life, and father Breymann went to work as a teacher again. There he also died and found his resting place on February 1983.

Not so long ago son Robert Breymann and his wife experience a very special day. They were given in honor and memory of Mr John Arnodus Hendrick Breymann the Mobilization-War Cross (MOK), including the Medal of “Order and Peace “+ the demobinsigne KNIL, which was established in 1948 by Queen Wilhelmina. This Mobilization-War Cross was made possible through the efforts of the Dutch East Indies veteran lieutenant-colonel bd Jacques Brijl, who despite his age, still find time to work and reward the forgotten Dutch KNIL soldiers and their families.


  1. Beste Ron,
    Mijn complimenten voor het mooi geschreven verhaal over de gebeurtenissen rond de familie Breymann tijdens WOII en daarna.
    Ook voor hun ben ik erg blij geweest dat de onderscheding postuum aan de familie kon
    worden uitgereikt.

  2. Daar Ron,
    Toevallig kwam ik op deze website en heb zo urenlang met spanning deze reportages gelezen. Geweldig!
    Ik heb veel verhalen gehoord van de oorlogstijd in Indonesië.
    Mijn vader werkte na de oorlog voor het ministerie van maatschappelijke werk in de provincie Groningen en was o.a. belast met het repatriëren van mensen van Indonesië. Zijn kantoor was aan huis, op de 2de etage in de achterkamer van ons huurhuis.
    Ik emigreerde naar Pasadena, Californië in 1965 en heb daar veel Indos ontmoet en bevriend.

    Nu wonen wij hier in Grants Pass waar ik lees dat de familie van dhr Breymann ook gevestigd is.
    Kleine wereld.

  3. Beste Ernst,
    Heel leuk weer met iemand contact te krijgen, die mijn artikelen en website belangrijk vinden. Dat de heer Breymann in mijn web beschreven is, komt omdat ik veel de heer Jacq Brijl in Nederland probeerd te helpen. Ik geef hem ook zoveel mogelijk publiciteit. Daarnaast ben ik in 1936 op Sumatra geboren. Vele van mijn artikelen zijn dan ook gewijd aan Sumatra. Van Java is erg veel bekend, maar de andere eilanden niet. Daarbij is Sumatra 2 a 3 maal groter dan Java.
    Als je iets heb dat je belangrijk vindt om als artikel ook gepubliceerd te worden, werk ik met alle plezier er aan mee.
    En misschien tot hoors in de toekomst.

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