Traces of War: Survivors of the Burma and Sumatra Railways


Publisher: Trolley Books, 2005

ISBN 1-904563-46-5
144 pages, hardcover, 217 mm x 240 mm
24 photographs + 24 interviews (Jan Banning)
Historical introduction: Esther Captain and Henk Hovinga
Artist’s statement (personal introduction): Jan Banning
Personal impression: Wim Willems

Language: English




In Traces of War: Survivors of the Burma and Sumatra Railways, photographer Jan Banning takes 24 men back to World War II. Under the yoke of the Japanese military, they performed forced labor on the Burma and Sumatra Railways. Sixty years later, the scars of that past are still visible. Fifteen Dutch former allied POWs, Banning’s father among them, and nine Indonesians posed for black and white portraits. Banning photographed the men with their chests bare, the way they labored back then. The men also relate the story of their experiences during the war and how these have affected their lives, hesitantly, at times, but with telling detail.

An introduction and epilogue by experts on Dutch colonial history place these interviews in a larger,
historical context.

This book and the photo exhibition by the same name have been made possible with financial support from the following Dutch institutions: Stichting Fonds Anna Cornelis, Fonds Bijzondere Journalistieke Projecten, Stichting Fondsenwerving Militaire Oorlogs- en Dienstslachtoffers (SFMO), Mondriaan Fund, NCDO, and Taxus Holding & Management BV (Bosch and Duin, the Netherlands).

The english translation was made possible with financial support from Stichting Het Gebaar and the Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature (NLPVF).