The G.G. Baron Van der Feltz Prize

My father, Gerard Gustaaf van der Feltz (1899 -1944), was born the son of a tobacco plantation administrator, on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, which was a Dutch colony during that time: part of the Dutch East Indies. The second oldest of six children, he finished his secondary school education in Amsterdam, becoming an office clerk. He, his wife and three-year-old daughter Ellen went to Java, Indonesia in 1936, after the Depression put him out of a subsequent job in Amsterdam. He became a sales representative for a packaging company. Mobilization of Dutch citizens on Java and the other islands of the former Dutch East Indies happened in July 1941; after the bombardment of Pearl Harbor (Hawaii) in December 1941 all the men were called up.  The Japanese overran the Dutch East Indies in the first week of March 1942. My father was interned along with most of the rest of the armed forces; I saw him once, in March 1942, after celebrating New Year’s Eve (December 31, 1941) in the soldiers’ barracks. The Japanese used to move their prisoAbout the fund

ners across the sea in the holds of unmarked ships; they claimed not to have signed the Geneva Convention, which forbade this type of transportation. The ship my father was on – the unmarked Junyo Maru - was torpedoed in the ‘’cordon sanitaire’’, a sea area protected by the Allies, at the level of Benkulen, Sumatra, on September 18, 1944, resulting in the drowning of most of the 5620 POWs and Javanese  slave labourers on board, including my father. The captain of the British submarine responsible, did not find out any details  of what happened till years later.

Not only was it difficult to remember my short time with my father; but for me the war experience - though I suffered no ‘’indignities’’ – and the unsettled years afterward, influenced the rest of my life for more than 50 years. 

Ellen van der Feltz Frei, Toronto, November 2012

About the fund

Established by Ellen Frei in memory of her father to be awarded annually upon the recommendation of the Head of the Department for the best major research paper on an international topic submitted to the Department of Political Studies in completion of degree requirements for the Master of Arts.