Cooperation with Indonesian researchers

On 1 and 2 May, 2018, researchers from the ‘Regional Studies’ and ‘Violence, Bersiap, Berdaulat’ subprojects held a workshop in Yogyakarta with Indonesian colleagues working on the ‘Proklamasi, Kemerdekaan, Revolusi dan Perang di Indonesia’ (Proclamation, Independence, Revolution and War in Indonesia) project in order to solidify plans for cooperation. The decision was made to jointly analyse developments in a number of Indonesian regions. The Dutch researchers will focus on Dutch military violence at the time, while the Indonesian participants will assess the impact of that violence on society. The next workshop will take place in the spring of 2019. Plans for a joint publication will be detailed during this workshop.

Read more
Part of the workshop was an excursion to several museums and places on the Indonesian struggle against Dutch colonial rule. Read the report that researcher Roel Frakking wrote about this extraordinarily educational tour.

Save the date: September 13 Pakhuis de Zwijger

What is the state of the research program? Which questions and pressing themes do the researchers have to deal with? What impact does the decolonization war have on Dutch and Indonesian people to this day?
On Thursday evening, September 13th, a second meeting will take place in Pakhuis de Zwijger, exactly one year after the public kick-off of the investigation. More information about the program will follow shortly. Keep an eye on our website!

Winnie Sorgdrager, Chair of the Social Resonance Group

Winnie Sorgdrager was installed on 20 June as chair of the (Dutch) Social Resonance Group. Sorgdrager (1948) was the Minister of Justice and, until recently, a member of the Council of State. Recently, she was nominated by the Council of Minsters as Minister of State.
The Social Resonance Group comprises representatives of organizations and institutions in the field of commemoration and remembrance. The Social Resonance Group and the program management met four times in the past year to discuss the content and progress of the research. The complete composition of the Resonance Group can be found here.

Witnesses & Contemporaries: enriching stories

Bandung 1945 / 1946, from the Japanese capitulation to the Bandung Lautan Api, a fire which engulfed much of the southern part of the city, deliberately kindled by retreating Indonesian Republicans. We follow the memories of a group of people who witnessed this period as teenagers. The railway divided the city into northern and southern parts, and functioned as a demarcation line. In a group interview, Eurasian residents took us on a mental journey through the streets of Bandung, staying on the Dutch side of the demarcation line. An Indonesian witness shared his memories, largely of events on the south side of this demarcation line. Together the interviewees painted a picture of everyday life on both sides of the line, illustrating the divergent experiences of different population groups at that time.

By sharing personal stories like these, the Witnesses & Contemporaries project aspires to connect people who lived in Indonesia between 1945 and 1950 with researchers. Our goal is to create a more balanced picture of this period; to this end, we are conducting group and one-one-one interviews in Indonesia and the Netherlands. See, for example, the blog written by coordinator Fridus Steijlen about his meeting with the Indonesian veteran Pak Edi, on Ambon.
In a group interview with members of the third generation at the Tong Tong Fair, the largest Eurasian fair in Europe, we made it clear that the colonial war is still a current theme. What sorts of stories did witnesses share with their grandchildren? What role do these histories play in the lives of this younger generation? Three grandchildren shared their search for answers to questions about their past, and the ways in which they pass on this history to their own and the next generation, with us.
Tong Tong Fair 2018: Stephanie Welvaart, Kirsten Vos, Ronald Nijboer en Wouter Neuhaus
We are actively collecting a broad range of personal documents from people who stayed in Indonesia between 1945 and 1950. These are invaluable assets for the project and our research. Letters and diaries, in particular, give us an intimate look into the daily lives of soldiers and citizens. We recently started a series of blogs (in Dutch) in which this often moving material is put in the spotlight. Read the first blog in this series by coordinator Eveline Buchheim.
Keep an eye on the Witnesses & Contemporaries website for more blogs, news items, and activities.

Book Presentation Piet Hagen

On Wednesday, April 25th, the presentation of the reference book Koloniale oorlogen in Indonesië. Vijf eeuwen verzet tegen vreemde overheersing (Colonial Wars in Indonesia. Five centuries of resistance against foreign domination) took place in a packed Spui25. Author Piet Hagen presented the first copies to Mrs. Ourina Ritonga, deputy to the Indonesian ambassador in the Netherlands, and to NIOD-director Frank van Vree.

Prior to the presentation, lectures by Piet Hagen (in English), Petra GroenHenk Schulte Nordholt and Frank van Vree (in Dutch) took place on the theme of 'violence as the cornerstone of colonial society'. 
Program leader Mariëtte Wolf followed up on the book presentation by speaking with Piet Hagen. Read the interview here (Dutch only).

Theater Performance Westerling - a Battle of Brothers

Many researchers attended the premiere of the Westerling theater performance on March 22, 2018. At the Zaantheater, the Moluccan-Dutch theater company DeltaDua took a full house on a journey through a story about a Moluccan fraternal battle. Research assistant Anne van Mourik spoke about the performance with director Anis de Jong. How did he come to develop this performance? And to what extent does he think that the Decolonization of Violence and War in Indonesia can have a share in the mutual processing of the violent past?
Read more (in Dutch)
Do you have any questions about the research programme? We will be happy to answer them. Please contact us via We already answered a number of frequented asked questions here.
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