Introduction to the History of the Dutch East Indies
( translation of my Dutch site Introductie " Geschiedenis van Nederlands-Indië " )
An overview of the History of Indonesia is given in my Indonesia mirror site.
From the sixties I have the following memories :
from 1963, when the last Dutch colony of the East Indies ( Dutch New Guinea ) was taken over by the UN, I remember the following dramatic announcement made at our High School : the Netherlands have no more colonies in the East Indies. The end of a glorious period of about 350 years. The Netherlands are no longer important.
in 1966 I have noticed the first huge newspaper headings : "Soekarno dismissed". Everybody in our country seemed very satisfied ...
At school however nobody has ever informed me about that glorious period.......
Most people in the Netherlands still have the idea that it was all "tempoe doeloe ". Of course that is not true : the history of the Dutch East Indies was a period of (from time to time) brute colonial wars. Read this page !.
The war of aggression against Aceh has been the largest Dutch war ever. More than 100.000 people were killed !
Suharto ( of course he is no angle either) was right in refusing to welcome our Queen at her state visit arriving directly after August 17th, 1995. (50 years after August 17th, 1945, the day of Indonesian indepence : still not recognised by our government! )
Of course we are talking about other times : in the 16th century the Spanish Conquistadores in Latin and South-America were brute too. From the 19th century also some examples too : the British were the inventors of concentration sites during the "Boeren" wars in South-Africa. We all know what happened at Wounded Knee in the USA with the Indians. In South East Africa the Germans have killed more than 80% of the local population only because they refused to be colonised and these events only happened 100 years ago.
About the Netherlands during the Second World War (when the Germans occupied the Netherlands) a huge amount of books can be bought. About our own past in the East Indies ? Just a few......
In this part of my Website more information about :
Jan Pieterszn Coen and the extinction of the population on the Banda islands.
Korakora war ship from the Banda islands ( 1600 )
One of the first (very brute) Dutch rulers : Jan Pieterszn Coen
More than 10,000 Banda people were killed by the orders of this man, the founder of Batavia.
He still has a statue in Hoorn in the Netherlands, his birth place, why ???
During the negotiations with local sovereigns very often the question arose :
What is the size of that Republic of the Seven United Netherlands ?
As a reply something from the Northsea upto the Ural was shown on a map.
In the beginning of the 17th century a delegation from Aceh was even invited to visit the Netherlands. The Prince of Orange Maurits treated them as important head of states . As a sighseeing event the siege and capture of the city of Grave was shown. The delegation was highly impressed. After their return home the negotiations went smoothly : such a huge country and a powerful army ! Up to the end of the VOC period ( 1800 ) maps of the Netherlands were not allowed officially in the East Indies.
The killing of at least 5000 Chinese people in 1740
Town hall of Batavia ( 1750 )
Estimated amount of victims : 5,000 - 10,000 in just three days. A vicar was talking about the blessing help of God during the killings ....
Who was Pattimura ?
The Dutch Navy in the Bay of Ambon ( 1817 )
Dutch imperialism during the 19th century
Pattimura was hanged at December 16th,1817 in Fort Victoria. His body was hanged in a cage above the sea. The night before the execution Pattimura and the other prisoners had prayed to God and had sung some psalms. They were indeed devoted non-Catholic Christians as the Dutch were and they believed they were to be executed because there was a religious dispute with the Dutch........
Who was Diponegoro ?
During negotiations at the end of the Java war (1825-1830) captured by the Dutch. A national hero nowadays in Indonesia , the University of Semarang is named after Diponegoro.
Capture of Diponegoro ( 1830 )
The war of agression against Aceh
........" something grandiose was being executed here "........
The Aceh war with van Heutsz ( that fat man in front on the top photograph ) who still has a statue somewhere in our capital Amsterdam. One of his officers was the later Prime Minister ( during the 1930th's ) Colijn. From letters to his wife we now know that he turned around and smoked a cigar when something horrible had to be executed......
At the bottom photograph the pacification ( as it was called ) of Gajo at Aceh.
.....shocking that Colijn ( a second lieutenant of the infantry ) some hunderd years ago in the tropics could smoke a cigar and then notice that his soldiers had killed 12 or 13 women and children with pleasure ......
General Van Heutsz was promoted to be the next Governor-General.
Like the present African state borders which resulted from the colonial period, van Heutsz is the man who settles the present Indonesian state borders. Van Heutsz secured the Dutch sphere of influence. Including the New Guinea territories, where 3 Dutch civil servants only where in charge, in an area with the same size as France.
Up to the 19th century the Indonesian islands had no centralised relations, they were all completely independent. On an island like Sumatra or New Guinea ( still a colonial name ! ) several independent "states" with sometimes no officially mutual relations, lived together. This situation was changed due to the Dutch and especially by van Heutsz. From the end of the 19th century the area captured by the Dutch ( and secured by van Heutsz ) was called Dutch East Indies. The present size of the state of Indonesia ( with the Dutch artificial boundaries ) is still the same as it was during the Dutch colonial period which ended officially in 1949.
The pacification of the ( present holiday ) island of Bali
Dutch imperialism ( end 19th, start 20th century )
Balinese statue in memory of the struggle against the Dutch invaders
The sovereign of Kloenkoeng gathers all his women and children. They were all dressed in white. From the palace they all went together in the direction of the continuously shooting Dutch troops.
An eyewitness wrote : " The sovereign carried in his golden chair, the women with in one hand a child, in the other hand a lance, they all did their final walk. Despite our continuous gun and rifle fire nobody was in a hurry. I witnessed a heart-rending scenery...."
From the original nine dynasties only three survived, the other six commit suicide as described, a so-called Perang Poepoetan . The traditional Bali culture was destroyed forever !
The "betrayal" of the ( present holiday ) island of Lombok and the "Treasures of Lombok"
The Treasures of Lombok are still locked into the safes of the National Bank of the Netherlands, as is presumed by several investigators.
Up to the Second World War an excellent financial period was called "A wonderful Lombok year"
The Dutch colonial forces at the beach of Ampenan, nowadays you can find a lot of sun tourists here??
A school poster used before the Second World War : the invasion of Cakranegara
The Hague, June 1895 : the Dutch royal family distributed medals of honnor to the "Heroes of Lombok"..
Who is Poncke Princen
Who is Poncke Princen ?
Why didn't he get permission in 1995 to visit his native country, the Netherlands ? What has really happened during the Indonesia War of Independence ( officially it is still called " police actions " ) from 1946 upto 1949 ? More than 100.000 conscripted Dutch soldiers were sent, compared to Vietnam : 500.000 USA soldiers : a tremendous effort for such a small, poor country, directly after the Second World War. The Marshall funding threatened to stop, one of the reasons to give up... why does it take that long ?
Governors-General of the Dutch East Indies
A site about the Dutch East Indies is of course not complete without an overview of the responsible Governors-General of the Dutch East Indies, including an image (most of the time) and sometimes a 1941 biography.
The original paintings were once part of the State Collection in the Palace Rijswijk in Weltevreden, south of Batavia. After World War II (some paintings were damaged during the war) transported to the Netherlands and now partly shown in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Once a year I visit them....a fascinating part of the Dutch History
Book covers and references
Some books I have used, have beautiful covers. When you click on the appropriate links in the references page, the cover is shown.
Please note that I have more books about the Dutch East Indies which will be added to this page as soon as possible.
When you have an interesting cover, please mail it to me. Thanks in advance !!
Photos and images of the Dutch East Indies
On the internet it's difficult to find photos and images about the Dutch East Indies. So let's start with a collection : from time to time I will add new ones to my photos page. When you click on the appropriate link in my photos page, the photo or image is shown.
When you have an interesting photo or image, please mail it to me. Thanks in advance !!
I do recommend the novels of Pramoedya Ananta Toer , who wrote a lot of stories about the colonial period with his "apartheid".
More information can be found by using my personal Dutch East Indies links and of course by reading the books from the different Dutch writers as shown in my book links.
By the way : were you aware of the fact that their were legal shops in the Dutch East Indies where you could buy your opium ? ( indeed a trade and business monopoly of the State )
An opium shop exclusively under supervision of the local authorities including the profits, of course
A summary from my China99 part of my Website: (sorry for the Dutch )
The Dutch Golden Age is said to be partly financed by the trade in slaves, opium etc. In the 19th century the construction of railways and canals in the Netherlands was mostly financed by the profits from the East Indies.
In 1824 King William I founded the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (NHM) ( Dutch Trade Company ) in order to finance the trade with the East Indies. Up to 1827 with only losses, so the King ordered that the opium trade should be the monopoly of the NHM. Within a few months the profits came available. A century later a memorial book was published in 1924 with general loss and profits figures about the opium trade. As King William I was the main shareholder of the NHM, he must have got a major part of the opium profits. Our present Queen (according to Forbes ) still keeps 10% of the shares of the ABN Amro bank, the present successor of the NHM after several bank merges.
On top of the entrance of the old main building of the NHM ( located in the Vijzelstraat 32 in the city of Amsterdam ) the statues of Coen, Daendels and Van Heutsz are still there, three main heroes of the Dutch colonial period in the East Indies.
After composing this page I found an article of Ewald Vanvugt ( books links ) titled "Indische rillingen ( "Indian" shivers ) ".
The article is an excellent mirror of my motive to write down the above-summarised stories : Why was everything that is published about our colonial past forgotten as quick as possible? A short tremble, that's all.....??
The final sentence from his article concludes :
"In the Netherlands there is a lot of attention for our own sorrows. Reports and studies about what happens to our country and our population during the Second World War is strongly supported by the government and scientific researchers. About the necessity to stimulate a public investigation and discussion about our own colonial wars of aggression, including estimations about the number of casualties during the years of European expansion, nobody takes the initiative."
In the left frame of my Website , in the group of links called Ned. Indië I have added a link Nederland , which summarises Ewald Vanvugt 's article. (sorry for the Dutch )
......a Northsea coast state of robbers......
.....building railways from stolen money
stunned the victims with
opium, Gospels and Dutch gin...
I dare to ask you in confidence is it
your order that more than thirty
million of your subjects in the East are maltreated and
squeezed in Your name?
Multatuli  ...to the Netherlands...King William III
....that village was set to fire, because it was captured by the Dutch.......
Yes, the village was captured by the Dutch, so it was burning
After each Dutch victory a fire
After each Dutch victory a destruction.
Dutch warfare methods induce desperation
Translated by Sonja van den Heijkant
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Last update :
October 19th, 2001