Changi Chapel and Museum

10/17/11


I finally got a chance to visit the Changi Chapel and Museum recently. If you haven't been, I recommend it (admission is free). The museum gives insight to the lives of people in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation from February of 1942 to September of 1945. For those three and a half years, people interned by the Japanese lived terrible and fearful lives. 
People lived in camps and men and women were kept separate. Food was rationed because of its scarcity. Families received ration cards, but often the food given was insufficient and of poor quality. As a result, malnutrition was widespread. People learned to make-do with what they had. Similar to the Victory Gardens of World War II in the United States, people in Singapore at the time grew whatever they could to feed themselves. Tapioca and sweet potatoes became dietary staples, often being served for every meal. Those living in Singapore at the time lived in total fear of the Japanese military. On the walls of the museum, you can see photos of emaciated men who were used by the Japanese for labor. People had to bow whenever Japanese soldiers would pass them by; those who didn't would be beaten or taken away, often never to be seen again. Thousands of people living in Singapore of all ethnicities were killed by the Japanese during this time. The stories told in the museum are shocking and painful to learn about, but they are an important part of Singapore's past. Changi Museum's website has a database of internees which is accessible to the public. If you want to learn more about the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, check this link out. 

8 comments:

  1. My grandparents lived through this, and my grandpa could never talk about that for long before he'd wave his hand to mean that he couldn't go on any longer. They somehow ended up leaving Singapore for those few years, and said the day they saw the British planes flying overhead again, they knew they were going to be safe.

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  2. I once read a book about the occupation in Singapore and a girl who lived through it (unfortunately I forgot the name). Horrible times for sure!! Sounds like a really interesting museum though!

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  3. @Audrie wow thanks for sharing that. There was an old British man at the museum when I went who was deeply disturbed, I think it brought back a lot of painful memories for him.

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  4. I had never heard of this. I will have to go now. It sounds sad but interesting.

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  5. I think that is so interesting...and probably was neat to go there. I know touring concentration camps in Germany was the saddest thing ever but it also makes you feel something more than just yourself for once I guess!

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  6. Looks interesting, and it is definitely a place in Singapore that I have yet to go.

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  7. Reading about the malnutrition and rationed food always makes me appreciate whatever I have now and finished all my meals cleanly. My parents still recall those times when men are taken away to work somewhere, but never to return back to their loved ones.

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  8. I visited my Mum in Singapore last year and for the first time I asked about her father. My Mum does not swear but for the first time she said "the bloody Japanese shot my father and threw him into the river" My grandfather, a chemist was murdered on his way to work. He must had known the danger but being the sole breadwinner of the family and the need to go and earn a living; he took the risk. But the fact of the matter is WHO is going to compensate the loss of earnings because my Mum, her very young siblings and their mother struggled with life without their father. My Mum lost her father at the age of four and as a result she was denied an education because there was no money to send her to school. There is no justice and what have both the Japanese and Singapore Government done so far about it?

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