1 Reply Latest reply on Oct 13, 2021 1:47 PM by Rachael Salyer

    Seeking the testimony of Franz de Hartog

    Kees de Hartog Newbie

      I am interested in information about the Yokohama war crimes trials in Japan. I understand that your archives contain information about these trials. I hope there is information about my father, Franz de Hartog, testifying on November 10, 1947 for Lieutenant Habe, Toshitaro (Shuntaro), commander of the Tsumori (Osaka 13b) POW camp. I found the verdict in the Marburg University achives: ID 337, case # 146 Habe et al. Page 27: 'The defense introduced thirteen witnesses’. My father was one of them. However, the testimonies were compressed and are nameless, so I cannot discover what my father said. Is there a chance that in your archives copies are kept of the original testimonies?


      The reason for my interest is the following: I am writing a book about my father, Franz de Hartog (1906-1979), Dutch citizen. I have now arrived in World War II. My father as POW was transported from Java via Singapore to Japan (Hawaii Maru 2) and arrived December 5, 1943 at the POW camp Osaka 13b, also known as Tsumori. From his personal notes and notes from others I have an idea of what it was like there. After the war, in September 1947, my father returned to Japan, where he had previously lived with his family in Kobe. Now his family stayed behind in the Netherlands for the time being. He was part of the Dutch Military Mission in Tokyo. He regularly wrote letters to my mother. In one of those letters, he writes that he was asked to testify at the tribunal in Yokohama. He wrote:


      November 12, 1947. Dear loved ones,
      The most important event this week has been my birthday, not so much because no one here knew about it, but because on that very day I had to testify in Yokohama in the war criminal court against, or perhaps for, the old camp commander of the Tsumori camp in Osaka. Here's how: in the court for war criminals, there is also a Dutchman, mr Leyts, former assistant resident in the Indies. I met him a few days ago at the Daiichi hotel and then I told him that I had also been a prisoner of war in Japan. He immediately warned the public prosecutor, who was just busy with the Tsumori camp. He (the prosecutor) asked me to come directly to his office, which I did. Then it turned out to be against a certain Habe, almost the only somewhat decent Japanese camp commander we ever had.

      The prosecutor went through the whole case and then I pointed out to him the things in which this camp commander had been better than his predecessors or successors. In the afternoon the defender was already sitting with me, also an American, who, like the prosecutor, is paid by the American government. He found it very interesting, of course, and was apparently happy to have found someone who could tell more good than bad about his client. Anyway, after some back-and-forth talk, it was decided to let me appear on Monday 10 November. I was picked up early Monday morning in the prosecutor's jeep and taken to Yokohama. In a large building was a small courtroom, with a bench for the defendants on the left, the accuser on the right and the defender opposite. The committee, including the aforementioned Leyts, sat behind an imposing bench. In the middle of the room a chair on a podium, for the witnesses. Also some stenographers, an interpreter and a few benches for the public, which no one sat on. I was interrogated continuously from 9 am to 12 noon and then again in the afternoon from 1:30 am to 3:00 am. You understand how I was.

      Everything was asked in English, then translated into Japanese and only then could you answer and vice versa. First the accuser, then the defender, then the accuser again, and then the defender again. Finally, almost all the members of the commission, and then again the prosecutor and finally the defender again. In the meantime, I'd had lunch with Leyts at the New Grand Hotel and talked non-stop about the case. So you can imagine how tired I was when it was finally over. I hope I was able to do something for this man, because he honestly deserved it. It was otherwise quite a strange sensation to see him sitting there so de-gloryfied, the one who used to walk through the camp like a peacock. He was otherwise imperturbable and never once looked at me. Still, the defender told me that he was very pleased with my testimony and that's a good thing because indeed this man did what he could for us, if not much.


      I find it special that my father testified November 10, 1947 for this Japanese Lieutenant Habe. I would love to know what my father said and why he thought this Habe was better than the rest. I hope something can be found in your archives. I hope you will help me find answers to my question. If not, maybe you can tell me where more information can be found.