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Biels en rail van de Birma-spoorweg
Biels en rail van de Birma-spoorweg

Sleeper from the Burma railroad

During the Second World War, Japan had a 415-kilometre long railroad constructed right through the jungles of occupied Burma and Thailand, all in a period of 16 months. The sleepers for the Burma railroad, like the one in the Museon collection, were made by hand by the forced labourers from trees along the route. The sleeper in our collection was acquired in 1983 by former prisoner of war and forced labourer Dolf Winkler, who placed it in the Museon. Of the more than 240,000 forced labourers who worked on the Burma railroad, approximately 110,000 died: 100,000 workers from different Asian countries and 10,000 western prisoners of war. “Life in the camp was terrible. There was a shortage of everything: food, blankets, medicine. We were often mistreated, but I have completely overcome any feeling of hatred or revenge," said Dolf Winkler, who worked as a forced labourer on the Burma railroad and in a Japanese mine. 

The sleeper and the rail are part of the important Museon collection about Japanese camps.

Would you like to see more of this collection? (Dutch only)