The Burgers Family from Cowra bring together several important historical events.
It starts with Jan Hevel who is an Adjutant at the Political Prisoners Camp Boven Digul -Dutch New Guinea. The leaders of the Indonesian independence uprising of 1925/1926 were imprisoned in the remote jungle of Netherlands New Guinea. In 1942 these prisoners were brought to Australia under disguise of being prisoners of war. Some of them ended up in the Dutch Camp Casino and the Cowra POW Camp. Under pressure of the Australian Government they were released.
After Jan’s early death the family went back to the Netherlands. Jan’s daughter, Nora Hevel met Harry Burgers there in Nijmegen. He went, as a soldier, to the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). When the Japanese invaded, he escaped to Australia where he became a wireless operator and air gunner at the 18 NEI RAAF Squadron. After the war he went back to the Netherlands and married Nora. Harry was again stationed at NEI. Here their son Ernie Burgers was born. In 1950 they decided to move to Australia and ended up in Cowra.
Some of the Boven Digul prisoners have been buried in Cowra’s general cemetery
Throughout the years Nora (until her death) and Ernie have been honouring these people which are now seen as heros in Indonesia.
Below is the remarkable story, bringing together developments in Netherlands New Guinea, the Netherlands, Netherlands East Indies, Australia and Indonesia, as written by Ernie Burgers.