Yvonne Judith Andrau

Image rendition by Anthony Zois
Image rendition by Anthony Zois

Born : 1934 - Dortmund, Germany

Died : 29th December 2010 - USA

Married : 1955 - Thomas Riley ( later divorced )

Children : Christina & Demian

Sisters : Maya & Robine

Parents : Wim & Klara Andrau


Physical Therapist & Construction Builder


 Image rendition by Anthony Zois.
Image rendition by Anthony Zois.


Yvonne & her then Husband Tom Riley visited the Sahavas at the Meher Center in Myrtle Beach, SC., in 1958 when Meher Baba visited for a short time.



The above article is from the "Love Street Breeze"newsletter  premier edition May 2011 p.43-44

1969 : Bombay Airport tarmac. This is cut out of a much larger group photo.
1969 : Bombay Airport tarmac. This is cut out of a much larger group photo.

Harrowing Wartime Experiences of the Andrau Sisters
Recounted in New Book


Below we excerpt an e-mail written by Christina Riley, daughter of Yvonne Andrau and Tom Riley, about a new book by her aunt and grandmother -- Bowing to the Emperor, by Robine Andrau and Klara Sima Andrau -- recounting their experiences during the World War II, when Klara and her three daughters were held in a Japanese concentration camp in Java while the father was imprisoned in Japan. Christina notes that:

«two of the three girls in the cover picture [see amazon link below] are Baba-lovers, and the one on the right met Meher Baba, and corresponded with Him and the Mandali for many years, and was instrumental in bringing Lyn and Phyllis Ott to Meher Baba and to their living on the Center (Yvonne is the Otts' Baba-contact).

«At least for these two sisters, this early time of their life began their journey to connecting with the Avatar. The family was European, and followed a petroleum engineer/project manager's life in different countries of Europe and the Far East. It is unlikely there would have been much opportunity for these oil-industry Europeans to have contact with Meher Baba or his "fellowers" on all-Indian darshan tours.

«The final chapter of the book follows them, destitute after liberation and the Emperor's surrender, leaving the concentration camp, moving to the USA, staying briefly with friends and family. The story after that is yet unwritten, but my grandfather resumed his professional career and, after changing oil-companies, moved the family to Woodstock, through a college friend and oil-industry contact. Both my mother and Maya subsequently went on to college and became physical therapists (at that time a Masters-degree program), but moved back to Woodstock. The entire family had been through suffering not of their own making, and Woodstock began another journey, of recovery and spiritual development. (You may not know this, but Maya suffered tuberculosis later and spent 2 years bed-ridden in a Benedictine hospital near Woodstock.)

«The book details example after example of people making decisions, and the best of humanity - the courage and integrity possible under adversity. The seemingly random or incomprehensible series of events in our lives cannot be understood for their full importance and meaning in isolation; stories of personal journey illumine the ever more mysterious ways of God, and His love for us, and our larger journey to Him.


Courtesy of  Love Street Breezes


Bowing to the Emperor

- we were captives in WW2


Robine & Klara Sima Andrau




Published by : Apple Rock Publishing

Pages 360pp.


More than 10,000 women and children. That’s how many civilian prisoners of the Japanese were packed into Tjideng, reportedly the worst Japanese concentration camp in Java during World War II. Among these 10,000 mostly Dutch women and children were Hungarian Klara and her three young daughters. Meanwhile Klara’s Dutch husband, Wim, a captain in the Royal Dutch Air Force, was among the 1500 military men crammed into a hell ship and transported to Japan as a slave laborer. "Bowing to the Emperor: We Were Captives in WWII," a memoir/biography penned by Klara and daughter Robine, chronicles the Andrau family’s experience during those dark years in the then-Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and in Japan. The story reveals the fierce determination and ingenuity of a mother and the strength and leadership of a father when faced with starvation, brutality, and unspeakable living conditions. Klara’s part of the story details what she did to keep the couple’s three children and herself alive and well in body and mind, both during the Japanese occupation in 1942 and during the children’s and her subsequent internment. Left with no income after Wim was taken away, Klara scraped along by giving language lessons, teaching the three R’s to classes of children, and making and selling jams. Later, when interned in camp, she supplemented their daily diet of a handful of rice, a little piece of gummy bread, and a few leaves of a spinach-like plant by digging up the packed earth and planting some leafy vegetables, which she fertilized with night soil. She also pawed through the camp kitchen garbage looking for anything edible and knit socks for the Japanese to earn some sweets for her children. She kept the wonder of Christmas alive one year by stealthily evading the patrolling Japanese guard in the predawn darkness, climbing a fir tree next to the barbed wire and bamboo camp fence, and sawing off the tree’s top with a toy saw. When decorated with a few candles, the top was transformed into the most magical of Christmas trees. Wim’s story centers on his role as the senior officer in charge of 400 Dutch and later an additional 200 American and 2 British POWs in camp Fukuoka #7 in the Japanese coal-mining town of Futase. He led his men with good humor and optimism and negotiated tirelessly with the Japanese commander, sometimes successfully, for shorter work hours in the coal mines (from 12-to-14-hour days to 10-to-12-hour days), for more rest and recreation time (from a partial to a full day “off” every ten days), and for more food. Beatings on the part of the Japanese guards were a perennial problem. By bypassing the Japanese commander and slipping a list of brutality complaints among other suggestions for changes into the hands of the visiting Swedish consul, Wim succeeded in marginally improving the situation for his men. His greatest success, however, was in maintaining order and discipline among the prisoners, reducing friction and increasing understanding between the two main national groups, and building morale despite the dirt, near-starvation rations, disease, brutality, and horrendous work and living conditions in the damp dangerous coal mines and the flea- and lice-infested barracks. Besides being the personal story of a family, “Bowing to the Emperor” is also a universal story of survival and of hope despite loss of country and loss of all material possessions.



When WWII reached the then-Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), Robine Andrau’s family was trapped there by the invading Japanese military. Her Dutch father, Wim, was sent to Japan as a POW and her Hungarian mother, Klara, her two sisters, and she were imprisoned in what was reputed to be the worst concentration camp in Java. After the war she and her family came to America, hopping around a bit until they settled in Woodstock, NY.

Robine grew up clutching a book in each hand, which led her first to teaching, next to dabble in librarianship, and then to a long career as an editor. After retiring, she began writing in earnest. She now splits her time between promoting "Bowing to the Emperor: We Were Captives in WWII," writing a novel, creating essays for a monthly column in the Scituate Mariner, and submitting personal essays to the Sunday Boston Globe (several published there) and other newspapers and journals.

Robine lives in Scituate, MA, near her children and their families, and every day she learns something new about technology from her grandchildren.










I arrived in India in October of 1962, about three weeks before the commencement of the East-West Gathering. I had come from Woodstock, New York, where I lived with my wife Yvonne and our two children, Christina and Demian. In late September I had taken a ship from New York to Gibraltar and from there, by car to Barcelona, and then, to Bombay by plane.

On the morning of October 28th, when Manohar Sakhare was sitting with Baba along with the mandali, Baba suddenly asked him, "What is happening on our borders?"

Sakhare answered, "The Chinese are pouring across the Himalayas and are pressing us down the foothills. They will soon be in the plains of Bengal, cutting the army off from Assam."

Baba gestured casually, "They will not come down the plains, but will go back."

Sakhare was doubtful, thinking a victorious army would never retreat on its own, and India certainly did not have the military strength to push them back. But in the rush of preparations, he forgot about Baba's statement.

There was concern that the Westerners would have trouble travelling to India because of the political and military confrontations. But nothing of the kind happened. (Only part of the Australian group was a day late, as some of those who had come by ship from Australia had to take another ship from Colombo, Ceylon, to Bombay because their flight was canceled. The airlines in the country were occupied rushing soldiers and supplies north to the battle front.)

THE WESTERNERS had been informed not to arrive in Poona before October 28th, but a few came early. The first to arrive early was an American from Woodstock, New York, named Tom Riley, who had first met Baba four years before at the Myrtle Beach Center with his wife, Yvonne (Andrau). Riley traveled to India by ship and arrived in Poona on October 16th, but by the time he got to India he had practically no money left. He was called to Guruprasad and fell in front of Baba with his head in his lap. Baba remarked to him, "You have no idea how blessed you are today. You have broken the ice for the East-West Gathering."

Years later, Tom Riley recounted his experiences in India in 1962.