The Sumatra Railroad

Welcome to the works of Henk Hovinga

Op Dood Spoor    

Dutch author/reporter/historian Henk Hovinga (b.1931) travelled many years around the world reporting for magazines and Dutch radio and TV.  He eventually specialized on South East Asia, specifically Indonesia that he has visited twenty-two times. On these travels he not only assembled material for his topical radio reports, but also for docu's on the Japanese occupation of the former Dutch East Indies during the Pacific war.

This historical specialization resulted in two books, based for a great deal on the personal recollections of war victims and unknown heroes, both civilians and military.

The Author
Book Cover Picture  

His life's work is 'The Sumatra Railroad - Final Destination Pakan Baroe, 1943 - 1945' in Dutch 'Op Dood Spoor'. Although the graphical design is different, the contents of both books is the same.

'The Sumatra Railroad' tells the the dramatic story of the allied Prisoners of War and the recruited Javanese, who were forced by the Japanese occupier to build a 220 km long railroad through the Sumatran tropical rainforest.

Hovinga's last (not yet published in English) book has the Dutch title ‘Met de Dood voor Ogen’ (Facing Death) and contains the traumatic experiences of thirteen men and women who miraculously escaped death during the Japanese invasion and occupation in that former Dutch colony.



Met de Dood voor Ogen

Met de dood voor ogen bevat zestien schokkende verhalen over het oorlogsgeweld in Indië en over militaire misdaden van vlak na de Japanse capitulatie.

Geen oorlog zonder doden. Geen oorlog ook zonder overlevenden. Maar zelden of nooit wordt er gesproken over de kanslozen, over de mensen die de dood voor ogen zien, maar die op nippertje, als door een wonder, alsnog overleven.

Kern van het boek zijn twaalf van deze miraculeuze overlevers met hun huiveringwekkende ervaringen. Hun verhalen zijn nauwelijks te geloven maar toch echt waar gebeurd.

Bijna even schokkend zijn de herinneringen van de Nederlandse bevrijder Albert Plesman jr. – zoon van de oprichter van de KLM – die met vier kameraden vlak na de Japanse capitulatie wordt gedropt om de gevangenen te helpen die nog steeds zuchten in de ellendige Japanse interneringskampen.

For those who are curious about the meaning of the favicon in the menu tab faviconit symbolizes the rail road track (red) and the camps (white).