Anna “Anke” van de Steenhoven Boon was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, on October 11th, 1923, to Dutch parents. At the time, Indonesia was a colony of Holland in the East Indies. Anna and her family lived a very comfortable life in a house with servants. Anna, 16, and her brother, Hans, 10, were educated in the Netherlands. In 1940, on the eve of the German invasion of the Netherlands, Dutch Shell Oil, her father’s employer, arranged flights for children of personnel back to Indonesia, fearing for their safety. The Nazis occupied Poland and their takeover of Holland was expected soon. While the Germans controlled the Netherlands, the Dutch maintained rule of Indonesia. Life there continued as before for over two years because Japan had not entered the war. Unable to complete her education in the Netherlands, Anna took a secretarial course in Indonesia after she returned.
Japan invaded Indonesia in February of 1942. Anna and her family became prisoners of war for 41 months. Unlike the Dutch, Indonesians or part Indonesians were not considered Japanese enemies and were usually not imprisoned. However, Anna’s uncle who was married to an Indonesian woman was sent to a prison camp while his wife and children were not. There were harsh conditions in Anna’s two prisoner of war camps, deWijk and Banjoe Biroe. Her father and her brother were sent away to a separate men’s camp. Anna and her mother were starved, endured forced labor, and were punished physically for breaking rules. Anna did many jobs and also protected two young girls through the end of the war. After enduring imprisonment and dire conditions, Anna’s entire immediate family survived the war.
On the Dutch navy rescue ship back to Holland, Anna met her future husband, Derk Jan Boon. After marrying and having five children within five years, Anna and her family eventually moved to the United States. While her children were growing up, they lived in several different places including Clearfield, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Morristown, Tennessee.
Anna Petronella van de Steenoven Boon died in Franklin, NC in July of 2019 at the age of 95. She became the mother of five, the grandmother of eight, and the great-grandmother of fourteen. Anna Boon and Derk Jan Boon’s five children were Fransje Fenna Boon de Visser, Fenna Johanna Boon Corry, Roelof Johan Boon, Johan Hendrik Boon, and Marchiena Harmina Boon Davis. Marchiena’s interview is included in Georgia Journeys because she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1972. She was hired by Davison’s department store (which later became Macy’s) and lived in a “ladies boarding house” in Atlanta’s North Highland neighborhood. Marchiena recorded an oral history about her mother with the Museum of History and Holocaust Education on February 23, 2023. She also donated a number of artifacts related to her mother’s time as a prisoner of war. Marchiena was interviewed by MHHE curator Adina Langer.