Ben Oostdam's Autobiography, 1946-1950


Although the War was over in May, 1945, the damage was so large that it took years to 'normalize' life. Many food-items remained unavailable and for years the hated couponsystem (distribution) remained in force. Emaciated family and friends who had spent years in Japanese camps returned to cold Holland from the tropical Netherlands East Indies. Considerable political problems there caused fighting and endless negotiations.
In 1948, the Marshall Plan was initiated and literally saved Europe. The Dutch were very grateful for this help, but hated the American interference in the East Indies; it is largely due to Foster Dulles and Ellsworth Bunker that Indonesia became independent by 1949 and New Guinea in 1963.

We continued living on the Admiralengracht till spring 1947, when my grandfather died and we moved to Amstelveen. I rode to the Hervormd Lyceum on a small second hand bicycle bought from Joop Stelpstra, who later married my cousin Mary Holtz.

I struck up a friendship with the son of a missionary who lived upstairs after returning from 3 years in camp in Java. He taught me some "Maleis", the lingua franca of the East Indies, and I was most intrigued by the tropics and planned to become an "ambtenaar BB", or Netherlands East Indies government official.
This ambition was torpedoed rapidly, but in the meantime, I got very intrigued by such names as as Soekarno, Hatta, Westerling, APRA, and Lingadjati.
press here for the Indonesian version of
the "History of Indonesia."

I wrote my first English letter in 1946 to an Aunt in America, followed that same year by a second "through the intermediary of the "World Friendship Association to an English girl, Nancy Picker. We corresponded for years and I invited her to Amstelveen in 1948 for the crowning celebrations of Queen Juliana when our beloved Queen Wilhelmina stepped down.
In the Fall of 1947, I joined the Boy Scouts of the Jac.P.Thijsse Troop 23 in Amstelveen. I learned much from the games, camps, expeditions and tours and climbed up to the rank of a Crown Scout with Golden Cords by the time I left in 1950.

(above:) I am in the center back, between two scouts with hats

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