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The remains of War

When the Dutch Army surrenders to Japan in 1942, nine-year-old Sofia is imprisoned with her mother, younger brother, and two baby sisters in different concentration camps on Sumatra, Indonesia. Her father is sent to work on the Burma-Siam railroad, and the family doesn't know if he is dead or alive. In this memoir, author G. Pauline Kok-Schurgers narrates a story of hate and torture, starvation and disease, and physical and psychological abuse experienced during her internment.

The Remains of War tells of Sofia's toils through those years, taking care of her younger siblings and trying to prevent her mother from sinking deeper into depression. Sofia longs for her father's return and her mother's attention and love. The gruesome years in those camps, the loneliness, and the loss of dear friends transform Sofia into a silent, inward person, scarred for the rest of her life.

Written from the perspective of a young child, The Remains of War touches the core of human suffering caused by the senselessness and evil of war. The voices of all who died and were left behind without a name or a cross on their graves will be forever silent. This memoir testifies to their courage.


‘The Remains of War” is my childhood autobiography. Upon visiting The Dutch Embassy in Toronto, the Consul General cautioned that nothing of what had taken place in those World War II Japanese prison camps would remain, once my generation had passed. This insight provided me with the courage to finally end sixty-five years of silence and put my pen to paper. The poignant years ahead was very much an inward-looking process, which in the end gave me the strength to accept that I may never forget my past, but writing this book allowed some of those wounds to heal.

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