Read Song of Survival: Women Interned by Helen Colijn Online


Song Of Survival, Helen Colijn's account of her wartime experiences, is a window into a largely overlooked dimension of World War 2 -- the imprisonment of women and children in Southeast Asia by the Japanese and how these prisoners of war responded to their dire circumstances. Held in captivity for nearly four years, more then a third of the women in Helen's camp died of dSong Of Survival, Helen Colijn's account of her wartime experiences, is a window into a largely overlooked dimension of World War 2 -- the imprisonment of women and children in Southeast Asia by the Japanese and how these prisoners of war responded to their dire circumstances. Held in captivity for nearly four years, more then a third of the women in Helen's camp died of disease or starvation. Yet their courage, faith, resiliency, ingenuity, and camaraderie provide us with enduring lessons on living. Though they had no musical instruments, the women had their voices, and from memory scored classical works for symphony and piano to sing. The music that helped sustain them while in captivity is a lasting and precious gift from these women to a world that has witnessed far too much war. Helen's story reached a mass audience via the motion picture Paradise Road, which is based on the events chronicled in Song Of Survival....

Title : Song of Survival: Women Interned
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781883991104
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 216 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Song of Survival: Women Interned Reviews

  • Karen
    2019-04-14 16:18

    This book was made into a 1997 movie Paradise Road, starring Glenn Close. I believe I had first bought the book after seeing the movie. I have just now gotten around to reading it.Helen, her two sisters, and their father departed on a ship from Tarakan (Borneo) for Australia, because the Japanese had invaded Borneo in 1942, and the rumors were that the Japanese were imprisoning all non-Asians. Their ship was bombed by Japanese pilots, and they were forced to jump into the life boats, before the ship sank. They made their way on shore, but Japanese captured them, and kept them in concentration camps for over 3 years.

  • Trish Forrester
    2019-04-09 20:33

    Enjoyed this as a first account of what life was like for ordinary people who are thrust into war, how resilient they can be, and how war can bring out the best (and the worst) in people. I enjoyed the matter-of-fact way it was told without attempting to embelish or dramatize the events.

  • David
    2019-04-14 21:14

    Compared to the callous treatment handed out to male POW's, these ladies got off lightly (relatively speaking). However four years living under the Japanese was no walk in the park and their survival and return to civilian life is testament to the resilience of these extraordinary women.

  • Rachel
    2019-04-11 13:28

    The story is remarkable and wonderful. I couldn't put it down. It is honoring to all that have survived the horrors of war. The writing is solid, but not flowery.

  • Sarah Crawford
    2019-04-12 13:30

    Japanese divided their prison camps between camps for the males and camps for the women and children. In virtually all cases the camps were excessively primitive, food was in short supply, medicines were rare, the camp soldiers were nasty and their commandant was excessively nasty and the prisoners died in great numbers from abuse, malnutrition and diseases, among other things.This book is about a woman named Helen Colijn who was in Sumatra when the war began. The area was quickly overrun by Japanese and few people had a chance to get away. She, with many others, tried to escape via boat but Japanese pilots bombed the boat and strafed the passengers. The Japanese had never signed the Geneva Convention so they pretty much did what they wanted to as far as people fleeing, as far as killing women and children and as far as using torture against both men and women.She was in a lifeboat with others for a week and not even all of them lived until they landed. It was not long before they were captured by the Japanese and ended up, eventually, in a camp. I won't go into detail there since all the camp books are about the same in just how bad the Japanese treated these women and children who had never really suffered anything that bad in their lives. It's a good book but also as upsetting as the rest to see how these totally innocent women and children were treated.

  • Melissa
    2019-04-18 16:18

    At first as I started reading I found the writing fairly simple and was somewhat bored by the account of their life in the Dutch East Indies (formerly Indonesia). As I started to read more though, it became more and more interesting. I wouldn't say it was something I couldn't put down, but it definitely was something I was eager to pick up again.The story follows a family of 3 sisters as the Dutch East Indies are attacked by the Japanese, their subsequent escape attempt and ultimate capture. The tales of the 3 separate camps they were in were fascinating and moving. I thought that though they didn't expound on the value of the music in their imprisonment at first that it did highlight how special it was, especially as it was coming from someone who did not participate in the musical activities but only observed them. Obviously the music was something extra they worked on to add some humanity to their situation and give them hope. There were so many other things they did for survival sake, this was the one thing they did for sanity sake.Overall a good book, and for someone that doesn't often foray into historical accounts a pleasurable read.

  • Jennifer Kim
    2019-04-21 19:36

    This is one of those books that we must all read, not to inform ourselves of what horrible beings most of us could become, given the chance, but to remind ourselves what challenges we could overcome, survive, and eventually thrive. Having read about the Japanese treatment of the civilians (Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang, another must read, but not particularly well-written, also beware of gruesome details and pictures), POW's and captured freedom fighters of occupied lands, the treatment of the women and children weren't surprising. What will stick with me is the resilience of the human spirit.Rape of Nanking and Song of Survival are important books in understanding WWII. I would recommend Song of Survival to everyone. I would only recommend Rape of Nanking to those who could stomach the graphic details. I think this is a very important book, but I would never read it again.

  • Patsy
    2019-04-12 19:08

    Excellent story of women interned in Sumatra during WWII.Most interesting is the story of Margaret Dryburgh's fantastic musical memory. She remembered many classical music pieces, wrote them down, including harmonies, to be sung by women's voices. She and Norah Chambers formed a women's choir and surprised the other inmates with a spectacular concert. Even the Japanese guards, who were to forbid any gatherings, relented and stayed to listen. The choir existed even as members had to sit due to frail health, and others died. Margaret Dryburgh did not survive the internment.The book a tribute to human resilience and ability to triumph over horrible situations. More completely, it is about the healing power of music.The women's choir of Palo Alto California has a recording of the singing which miraculously survived.

  • Alissa
    2019-04-05 18:32

    I thought that the story was interesting. The descriptions of war in this kinds of books always helps those of us who have never been in war situations understand a little bit better. I was however thrown off by the title and the summary of the book. I thought that it would include more details about how the music helped them which is why I was drawn to the book. There were not many details on the music. There would probably be more information or more of a story on the music if it was written by one of the sisters of the author who was in the choir instead of the author who herself wasn't able to sing. Still and interesting read.

  • Jayne
    2019-04-15 19:13

    Song of Survival was a wonderful book. I didn't know a lot about women Interned during the 2nd world war. Helen's book was filled with so many feeling and challenges, it's hard to believe anyone could walk out of their alive. The ladies in the camp showed so much strength and determination to survive.I loved the fact that through music they bonded with each other and also showed defiance to their captors. My heart ached for all the people in the camps. Helen showed us just how much will is in a person to keep on going day after day, even when you believe there is no hope.

  • Kathleen
    2019-04-23 19:22

    This is an excellent first-hand account of the lives of a group of women and children caught up in the Pacific side of WWII. It is not a piece of fine literature, but the author presents an unflinching picture of daily life and the toll on physical emotional and spiritual health of the internees. It makes an excellent companion to the documentary of the same name, which brings to life the people and circumstances very beautifully.

  • Heather
    2019-04-22 16:32

    The true account of Helen Colign and her two sisters forced to stay in an internment camp held by Japanese soldiers during WWII. The sisters were imprisoned for 2 years and used music as a way to lift spirits and distract them from the sickness and emaciation. A very historical and interesting story of survival (lived through a ship being gunned down) family, and overcoming bitterness. The book flows very well and in enjoyable to read.

  • Lataun
    2019-03-25 21:19

    I liked it. I liked the beginning and I liked the prisoner of war camp story from the Japanese side. But still the prisoner of war stories are the same no matter whose prisoners you were. Conditions were harsh, food was scarce, and life was miserable and somehow these women lived through it and their stories are inspirational and give us reasons to be uplifted and remind us that it could always be worse.

  • Tessa
    2019-04-06 20:09

    A very moving and personal story of experiences of European women imprisoned by the Japanese during WWII, in Indonesia. The movie Paradise Road was based on this story. Some of the women in the camp created an orchestra of voices and performed classical pieces transcribed for voices. The choir eventually couldn't perform any more because they were too weak and sick, but for a time they kept up the hopes of everyone in the camp.

  • Karen
    2019-04-20 14:17

    I really enjoyed this book. I am in a Vocal Arts Ensemble right now and we are singing some of the pieces these women sang. It made the music that much more meaningful to me. I also liked that this was not a story I had heard before. I have read/heard a lot about Nazi Germany during World War II, but nothing about the internment of the Dutch on behalf of the Japanese. Good read.

  • Bruce
    2019-04-06 21:35

    This interesting memoir describes the ways women survived while in captivity during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Groups formed based mainly on nationality, partly due to language differences. As they were moved from camp to camp groupings changed. But groups came together to perform songs to lighten the pain of internment.

  • Katie
    2019-04-17 17:08

    I only bought this book because I'm now living in Indonesia. That said, it was a pretty interesting and true story about what Dutch colonialists went through during WWII and how they survived life in Japanese camps. Not something that I knew much about before reading this book.

  • Caroline Hayes
    2019-04-09 16:13

    Beautifully done! Very few WWII narratives can be told with so much hope, and pride for surviving. This book pulled it off incredibly well. Coljin is an eternal optimist, and paints an incredible picture of one complex situation after another. A very pleasurable read. Great narrative.

  • DDog
    2019-04-04 18:34

    When I was in middle school my children's choir organized a concert around Helen Colijn and her fellow internees' choral work and experiences. It's pretty powerful stuff.

  • Rebecca Newman
    2019-04-04 16:35

    Powerful. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Inspiring.

  • Deborah
    2019-04-05 17:35


  • Ruth
    2019-04-20 18:22

    It was somewhat boring at first describing her life before the war, but other than that I was sucked into the horror and hope of the women whom refused to give up on life.

  • Holly
    2019-04-03 15:18

    One of my favorite books EVER.