This 2012 video about the 1945-1949 Dutch-Indonesian war is called War memory of Indonesian freedom fighter.
Leiden research confirms: structural and excessive violence in Indonesia
Dutch troops were using structural and extreme violence against the Indonesians, according to new research. In his book Soldaat in Indonesië (published end of October) historian Gert Oostindie, basing himself on other sources, draws the same conclusion. He presents new findings and makes clear what moved the soldiers.
100,000 Indonesians were killed
The question of whether Dutch were guilty of structural and excessive force during the period 1945-1950 was never properly answered. The conclusion of historian Remy Limpach, who will get his PhD this fall at the University of Bern, was front page news in the run-up to the commemoration of 70 years of independence in Indonesia. In his book Soldaat in Indonesië Gert Oostindie, Leiden Professor and Director of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), describes the war on the basis of testimony from Dutch soldiers. In the struggle for independence, roughly estimated, 100,000 Indonesians and nearly five thousand Dutch soldiers died, in addition to a higher but unknown number of European civilians.
What is your reaction to the conclusion of Remy Limpach?
“I largely agree with his conclusion that ‘excessive violence’ was not as exceptional as has long been asserted also by the Dutch government. It is good that Limpach has thoroughly investigated the context of this violence. He relies, I understand, especially on government archives. … From my research together with KITLV colleagues about personal documents of Dutch soldiers and veterans also emerges the picture that frequently war crimes were committed.”
Where do you rely on?
“We examined 700 published testimonials, together by about 1,400 soldiers, diaries, correspondence, memoirs and biographical sketches. We found in these personal documents about 700 individual cases of war crimes. That is staggering. Especially if you extrapolate this, then I fear that one, though one should be cautious, should think in terms of tens of thousands rather than in thousands of cases. Indeed, over the period there were 220,000 soldiers on the Dutch side. ”
“Some explain the violence with an attitude of ‘better safe than sorry’, saying it is better to deal ruthlessly with the opponent than becoming a victim oneself. Others write that also purely out of revenge war crimes were committed.”
“But most soldiers do not write about violence, and there are those who explicitly state that they oppose brute force, or afterwards regretted the actions of the armed forces.” …
Oostindie conducted the research with colleagues from the KITLV, especially Ireen Hoogenboom and Jonathan Verwey. Also Leiden students and trainees worked on this.
You call for more investigation into the violence in Indonesia. What questions are there?
“In 2012, the KITLV, the NIOD and the NIMH (Dutch Institute for Military History), called for a broad investigation into this war. The argument has not changed: this is the biggest war ever fought by the Dutch armed forces, but a balanced view of it is not there. We want to understand the war and come to a balanced judgment on how the armed forces acted. That includes questions about war crimes and the manner in which the military leadership and ultimately the politicians coped with it. It’s not moralizing. But the Netherlands owes it to its own position and foremost ambitions to allow unprejudiced research: for we are often the first to let others know how important respect for human rights is“.
Soldaat in Indonesië, 1945-1950 1945-1950 Getuigenissen van een oorlog aan de verkeerde kant van de geschiedenis
Gert Oostindie m.m.v. Ireen Hoogenboom and Jonathan Verwey
(Prometheus, Bert Bakker, 2015)
The book will be presented on October 31 during History Night at the Rijksmuseum.
(August 18, 2015 – LVP)