Traces of War.
Survivors of the Burma and Sumatra Railways.


Photographs by Jan Banning.
Trolley, London, 2006. 144 pp., 24 duotone illustrations, 9x9¾".



Publisher's Description
Allied victory in the Pacific celebrates its sixtieth anniversary in August. Among the celebrants will be a small, largely forgotten group reliving nightmares of captivity. Dutch, English, Australian and American prisoners of war worked among more than a quarter of a million Asians—so called romushas—forced by the Japanese to build railways in Burma and Sumatra. Conditions were desperate: between 50 and 80 per cent of the romushas did not survive. Here, Jan Banning has interviewed and photographed 24 Dutch and Indonesian survivors. His haunting images show them as they worked, naked from the waist up. Their words elicit, with a matter-of-fact disinterest, the misery of their constant understanding of death. Unsurprisingly, they have hitherto been loath to discuss their ordeals.

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