Gert Jan Bestebreurtje, De wereld in vogelvlucht: Reizen en reisboeken door de eeuwen heen. Amsterdam: De Bataafsche Leeuw, 2013, 236 pp. ISBN 9789067076623. Price: EUR 25.00 (hardback).
Gert Jan Bestebreurtje (1953) is internationally well-known as an antiquarian bookseller in Utrecht (established in 1975) specializing in old travel literature and colonial and maritime history. His trade is not only his livelihood, but a passion: he has a deep fascination with books and prints. His enviable access to many rare and costly books and prints has resulted in De wereld in vogelvlucht, with a hundred or so illustrations, in which he shares his expertise and experience with a wider readership. What he intends to do is to survey the development of travel and travel literature, and consequently the construction of an image of distant countries and peoples. It is a book with a broad sweep, packed with facts and references about travelers, their motives and their reports. Journeys to the Polar areas, to the Far East, and the Americas are in a chapter, as well as the slavery and its aftermath, and the exotic other, or noble savage, as shown in circuses and exhibitions. Bestebreurtje reflects at length on the encounters between indigenous people and Europeans in literature and painting. His survey of the literature on those from East and West who made the trip to Europe is exhaustive, with surprising characters. Bestebreurtje does not always make clear his criteria for including or excluding a title, and cannot escape from an enumerative listing, but there is enough to enjoy in and learn from his book.
Gijs Boink, Albert E. Kersten, Albert A.J. Scheffers and Rick van Velden (eds), Een kapitaal aan kennis: Liber amicorum Sierk Plantinga. [Zegveld]: Clinkaert, 2013, 336 pp. ISBN 9789490084035. Price: EUR 35.00.
After forty years, Sierk Plantinga recently ended his career with the Nationaal Archief in The Hague. He had gradually become the pivotal source of information of generations of researchers, always ready to assist to find the relevant archival material. No less than 76 contributions by historians and archivists in this liber amicorum attest to the wide appreciation he has harvested in all these years. Contributions are brief, and many of them relate experiences in the Nationaal Archief, often informally. Considering the importance of the ‘Indonesian’ archives, the number of articles on ‘Indonesia’ is rather limited. There are five, by Cees Fasseur, Christiaan Jörg, G. Roger Knight, Peter Rietbergen and Lodewijk Wagenaar, of which three find their subject in the VOC Archives.
Gerrit Schutte, Jasper Vree and Gerrit de Graaf (eds), Het zendingsbusje en de toverlantaarn: Twee eeuwen zendingsliefde en zendingsorganisatie in Protestants Nederland. Zoetermeer: Meinema, 2012, 175 pp. [Jaarboek voor de geschiedenis van het Nederlands Protestantisme na 1800 no. 20.] ISBN 9789021143286. Price: EUR 18.50.
Dutch Protestant missionary activities, mainly directed at the East Indies, since the founding of the Nederlandsche Zendeling Genootschap (NZG) in 1797 proliferated in about 750 organizations, on which scholarly studies are not commensurate with their importance. They were part of ‘God, Gold and Glory’, three forces motivating Western imperialism, as Gerrit Schutte in his introductory chapter writes. But neither experts in religious history nor those in colonial history give more than passing attention to the role and influence of the mission—Protestant as well as Catholic. In Het zendingsbusje en de toverlantaarn a plea is made to reverse this state of affairs by Schutte, Tom van den End, in an annotated bibliography, and Gerrit de Graaf, in a review of present-day and an agenda of future research. The essential role in this respect of the Werkgroep voor de Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Zending en Overzeese Kerken is emphasized here. The other six articles are case studies, with a focus on the mission’s home front, on the education of missionaries (by Chris de Jong), the Groningen branch of the NZG (by Jasper Vree), and Baptist (by Alle G. Hoekema) and Pentecostal (by Cees van de Laan) missions. New angles are opened by the articles on the vrouwenhulpgenootschappen (women’s missionary support) (by Annemieke Kolle) and kinderzendinggenootschappen (children’s missionary clubs) (by Marjoke Rietveld-van Wingerden) in which, from the early eighteenth century on, ‘invisible’ groups like women and children with an unsuspected independence and scope were involved in missionary activities, raising for instance substantial amounts of money.
Rick Honings and Olf Praamstra (eds), Ellendige levens: Nederlandse schrijvers in de negentiende eeuw. Hilversum: Verloren, 2013, 286 pp. ISBN 9789087043742. Price: EUR 25.00.
Ellendige levens tells the story of the ‘miserable lives’ of 27 nineteenth-century writers, among them five women. The image of the literary production in this century has long been one of shallowness by bourgeois authors, leading an unobtrusive life. The Werkgroep Negentiende Eeuw has since 1976 done its best to correct this image, with Peter van Zonneveld as one of its most vocal proponents. He recently retired and is honoured by this book in which the short biographies attest of the misery copiously experienced by the authors selected. Almost all of the well-known names qualify. Of Indies interest among them are Jacob Haafner, Charles Boniface, living in South Africa, pioneer writer in the Afrikaans language, Multatuli, P.A. Daum, Melati van Java and N. Adriani. In at most ten pages, known experts sketch life and misery of their subjects for a wider audience.
W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Bali, toen het nog een paradijs was: Reisverhalen, tekeningen en prenten. Met een inleiding van J.F. Heijbroek. Amsterdam: Elsevier Boeken, 2013, 186 pp. ISBN 9789068829914. Price: EUR 19.95 (hardback).
W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp (1874–1950) has been undeservedly forgotten, even by most of those interested in the art and culture of Indonesia. His remarkable style is instantly recognizable. Ruud Spruit in 1995 and Bruce Carpenter in 1997 did their best to rekindle his fame. The Stichting Museum Nieuwenkamp (website: www.wojnieuwenkamp.nl) helps in this endeavour. Nieuwenkamp travelled extensively and reported about his experiences in illustrated travel stories. Among the earliest Westerners to visit Bali in 1898, he traveled there four more times over the next 38 years, noting with sadness the growing influence of tourism on traditional cultures. Nieuwenkamp published his stories in magazines and books. One of these outlets was the prestigious Elsevier’s Geïllustreerd Maandschrift. It printed Nieuwenkamp’s reports on Bali (1908–1922). They have now all been collected, in facsimile, in Bali, toen het nog een paradijs was (in all 45 pages). They are supplemented by other articles in Elsevier’s, written and/or illustrated by Nieuwenkamp (50 pages), and articles on Nieuwenkamp, mainly reviews of his books and exhibitions (50 pages). J.F. Heijbroek introduces this finely printed and carefully edited volume that hopefully supplies another impetus not to forget this artist.
Maartje Brattinga, Reclame in Indië: De opkomst van de moderne reclame in Nederlands-Indië 1900–1942. Amsterdam: Stichting Het ReclameArsenaal, Hoorn: Affiche Museum Nederland, 2013, 128 pp. ISBN 9789080648203. Price: EUR 29.95 (hardback).
This book is the first systematic study of advertising in the colonial Indies. Its publication was accompanied by an exhibition in the Affiche Museum in Hoorn. All of the exhibits there are included in the book, with a number added to make up a beautiful volume of 164 coloured illustrations. The author supposes that her search for posters was exhaustive, and looking at the impressive list of sources, she may be right. A number were known, for instance those of Jan Lavies and Menno van Meeteren Brouwer, others are ‘new’, and often, notwithstanding their high quality, cannot be ascribed. And certainly a lot is lost forever. Brattinga’s text, with 228 endnotes, is for a substantial part based on contemporary sources—newspapers as to be consulted via kranten.kb.nl and the professional press on advertising via www.reclamearsenaal.nl—and thus representative of the new possibilities to make use of hitherto rather inaccessible material. She begins by sketching the development of advertising, from simple newspaper ads to sophistication, under the impulse of professional publicity bureaus. The city outlook changed drastically with advertisements everywhere. A peculiar feature of Indies advertising was the presence of three population groups—Dutch, Chinese, and Indonesian—who all, in form and content, had to be approached in a distinct way. In what way exactly was a subject hotly discussed in the professional press. Next, different categories of advertisements, especially posters, are discussed: foods and drinks, tobacco, cars and cycles. Cinemas were very active and also annual fairs in a number of cities distinguished themselves by their poster design. In another class fall the boat, train, plane, and touristic posters, probably the ones that survived best. In all, a praiseworthy feast for the eyes.
Louis Zweers, De gecensureerde oorlog: Militairen versus media in Nederlands-Indië 1945–1949. Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2013, 400 pp. ISBN 9789057309394. Price: EUR 49.50 (hardback).
Louis Zweers (1948) has already been involved for a number of decades in the study of photographic documents from the Netherlands Indies/Indonesia, and the image these painted a prosperous and peaceful colonial prewar society, in which, so these images want to suggest, the ‘natives’ were ready to accept an inferior position. It all changed during the Japanese occupation and the decolonization war afterwards. It was a bitterly fought guerrilla war in which the Dutch failed—or were destined to fail—to subdue its opponent, the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI) of the Republik Indonesia. By the Dutch army and civil authorities the TNI and other armed groups opposing the Dutch were invariably depicted as bandits, as irregular, as lacking popular support, and also of negligible fighting power.
Dutch information policies in the course of the conflict were ever more successful in conveying this image to the home front and with somewhat less result to the international world. This subject was never duly researched, until Zweers took up the subject and in a whole series of publications, already since the eighties, reported about this hidden history. Apart from this, he almost singlehandedly discovered and saved collections of photographs that abundantly illustrate his thesis about Dutch information policies. Now, at last, he has written De gecensureerde oorlog, partly as a summary of earlier research, partly extended on the basis of new archival research, and more comprehensive to include in a systematic way all aspects of Dutch information policies. The main argument of Zweers’ book is not novel, and ironically Zweers must blame himself for giving it away in his titles already published. Zweers’ study also earned him a PhD. The volume as such will be an indispensable reference book.
Zweers at first details the activities of the Legervoorlichtingsdienst, renamed Dienst voor Legercontacten (DLC) in 1947. The Dutch commander in chief, General Spoor, had a keen interest in the ways information could be made an instrument to promote a favorable image of the Dutch efforts—and the fact that no less than 150 employees worked in DLC headquarters in Jakarta is proof of this. Censorship was tight, and often two- or threefold. Photographs of armed action, of violence, of casualties, all were taboo—instead photographs of Dutch military in daily household activities and enjoying an excellent relationship with local populace in a humanitarian mission were to solace the worried relatives in the Netherlands. Military interference with the press representatives went so far that it was altogether excluded from the Second Military Action in December 1948, as well as the guerrilla war that followed it. Information came from journalists and photographers in military service, who had no say in the use or non-use of their reporting.
The second part of the book reviews the activities of the Dutch journalists in Indonesia. Most of them easily identified themselves with the official aim to downsize military action, and as they were dependent on army facilities for their reporting they became embedded reporters with a ‘loyal’ bias. For them the book’s subtitle ‘military versus media’ is not appropriate—they were accomplices in the massive cover-up. For critical Dutch journalists from leftist papers and magazines there was no room—no army facilities and obstruction by the authorities. This policy had less success as to foreign correspondents, who were independent-minded, and less docile than their Dutch colleagues, to the annoyance of the Dutch army, who pressed civil authorities to expel the most critical of them. But, afraid of the stir this would cause, this was declined. Instead, in a positive turn, 15 US reporters were invited to visit Indonesia in June 1949. They were feted, the Dutch played the anti-communist trump-card, as the Cold War was in full swing, and when meeting Sukarno, in detention by the Dutch, he failed to make an impression upon them. The change in US goodwill in Dutch favor, however, did not materialize as the plane with the journalists crashed on the way home, with no survivors. Their story is again related by Zweers (after his De crash van de Franeker ). The book is also useful as it lists the journalists, Dutch and foreign, with background and biographical details.
Zweers clearly sympathizes with the Republik’s cause, to the extent that a number of times he unnecessarily employs interjections to balance too positive a Dutch, or too negative an Indonesian image. His short treatment of Republican information policies (5 pages) shows that manipulation of news and photographs were part and parcel as well of the Indonesian opposition. It is a pity he has not made the Indonesian parliamentary session of February–March 1947 in Malang a specific case-study. Dozens of Dutch and foreign journalists attended. How did the Republic handle them? Moreover, Zweers’ report on the Proclamation here is not correct. Minor mistakes are few (Hannah instead of Hanna). And as it should be, the book is lavishly illustrated, amply proving Zweers’ story and conclusions.
Floribert Baudet, Het vierde wapen: Voorlichting, propaganda en volksweerbaarheid, 1944–1953. Amsterdam: Boom, 2013, 288 + 16 pp. ISBN 9789461058157. Price EUR 24.90.
Zweers’ book finds a welcome companion, of a broader sweep and with a different focus, in Baudet’s study Het vierde wapen. After the inglorious defeat of the Dutch in the motherland as well as in the colony in 1940 and 1942, a remedy to prevent another such disaster was seen by civil as well as military authorities in the fostering of ‘volksweerbaarheid’, a common sense of readiness to defend the Dutch identity. Already in 1944, when the war still raged on Dutch territory, in the liberated parts of the country the first organizations, government-backed, were established who actively engaged in information on the subject. Support was widespread. The transitional period opened new opportunities, in which the distinction between information and propaganda often blurred. The developments in Indonesia and the growing deployment of Dutch military in Indonesia constituted a serious setback for the spread of the volksweerbaarheid ideas. A smooth change from neutralism to a continuation of the Allied cooperation and a solid choice for the West in the unfolding Cold War was thwarted by the Indonesian decolonization conflict, which was the subject of increasing controversy in the Netherlands. Information activities had to concern themselves in growing measure with information on Indonesia—directed at the military, and their officers, overseas, at the home front and at the public at large. A lot of civil and military organizations had their part in this information, with controversy and incongruity, as one would expect. Efforts at coordination were not particularly successful.
Nonetheless, action was taken to influence information in the fields of radio, film, dailies and weeklies, as well as the publication of ‘official’ journals. A plan to educate a considerable number of information officers to be sent to Indonesia met with little success when a lot of them turned out be conservative opponents of the government policies. Due to the politicized background of the Dutch dailies and weeklies official information was made to conform to the particular affiliation. And, as many complained, information published by the foreign press did offset the picture the authorities wanted to paint. In all, the official policy, emphatically brought forward by the Dutch parliament, that the government should restrict itself to information was quietly ignored. Under the guise of information it became propaganda with as its goal to unify the Dutch nation to support the armed actions in Indonesia and resist the communist threat from Eastern Europe. Baudet first analyzes the debate on volksweerbaarheid, followed by a description of the information activities as these unfolded—from 1944 till 1953, after Indonesia was ‘lost’ and the Korean War made a Third World War a real possibility.
Hans van de Wal, Tot op het bot verdeeld: Nederlandse Protestanten, de Zending en de Indonesische Revolutie. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 2012, 488 pp. [Mission 56]. ISBN 9789023926535. Price: EUR 29.90.
This study by Hans van de Wal (1939), a vicar with long experience in Indonesia, concentrates on the Dutch missionaries who in August 1945, after the Proclamation of the Indonesian Republic, had to come to terms with a new situation in which prewar relations with its trend of gradual emancipation and autonomy for the indigenous churches were suddenly of no use anymore. It was an extremely complex field of actors and actions. Missionaries of Hervormde and Gereformeerde (more orthodox) background organized in the Zendingsconsulaat sought to assure that in a new political constellation there was room for the Indonesian Protestants to profess their faith. After a first few months of great scepticism about the ability of the Republik Indonesia to ensure the freedom of religion, as stated in the state principles Pantja Sila, it became clear, also as information from the Protestants in the Republik reached the missionaries, that the Republik was able to guarantee the Protestants’ basic rights. Moreover, the Republik enjoyed massive support of the Protestants. A political party of Indonesian Protestants, Parkindo, formalized the support, also by accepting minister’s portfolios, among them J. Leimena. The churches on Republican territory who had been free of Dutch interference since 1942, when Japan occupied Indonesia, made it clear that there would be no return to prewar relations, where Dutch vicars and missionaries were filling the most authoritative positions. For the mission there was to be room only as a supportive agency. The churches also established their own bodies, to consult and cooperate, which resulted in the Indonesian Council of Churches in 1950.
The Hervormde en Gereformeerde missions in Jakarta worked closely together in the Zendingsconsulaat—a remarkable feat when compared with the distance to each other that was kept by the Protestants in the motherland. This was probably in no small measure thanks to men of stature active in the Zendingsconsulaat like H. Kraemer, C.L. van Doorn, M. de Niet, U.H. van Beyma (Hervormd) and F.L. Bakker, H. van den Brink, J. Verkuyl (Gereformeerd). They could, however, not withstand the pressure from Jakarta and the Netherlands to moderate. In Jakarta it was the Protestantse Kerk to which the Dutch traditionally flocked that represented the official view of the Dutch authorities in Jakarta—or an even more conservative point of view—in which the Republik was painted in dark colours. Fierce collisions between Protestantse Kerk and Zendingsconsulaat followed, especially when the Dutch resorted to massive violence in the First and Second Military Actions. Pressure was there too from the Netherlands. Mission support bodies of the Hervormde and Gereformeerde Kerk in the Netherlands showed their discomfort, and even stronger was the disapproval from the Protestant political parties. For the Anti-Revolutionaire Partij (ARP) and its mouthpiece, the daily Trouw, the Republic was the result of an anti-Christian revolution, and from this point of view completely unacceptable. The Christelijk-Historische Unie (CHU), a party of Hervormden, stood close to the ARP. For Hervormden, however, there was political room in the newly founded Partij van de Arbeid (Labour Party), a party that united social-democrats and other progressive groups. This party also bore the responsibility for the Dutch government’s political course vis-a-vis the developments in Indonesia. In this respect the Zendingsconsulaat in Jakarta, at least for its Hervormde members, had some room to manoeuvre.
Van de Wal describes in Tot op het bot verdeeld the developments within the Mission organizations in Indonesia in great detail, against the background of the complex course of decolonization. In separate chapters he introduces the general developments in the Republik and the interplay between diplomatic and military actions of the parties involved, with an emphasis on the Linggajati Agreement and the two Dutch military actions. This covers about a third of the text, and is well-done—except for the curious use of pemuda army for the Republican army, as well as an exaggeration of the role of Sutomo. And the subtitle of the book is somewhat misleading, as the focus lies with the Zendingsconsulaat in Jakarta, its interaction with co-religionists and its reactions to Dutch policies. It culminated in the rescue actions after the military actions, when still the best was made of a disastrous development. Next, there is a lot of attention to men like Kraemer, with his great foresight, and De Niet, an influential member of the Partij van de Arbeid, seriously considered as the successor of H.J. van Mook as governor-general, but judged to be too radical. This enlightening study thus does not cover the political developments in the Protestant organizational complex and its political parties in the Netherlands. Those interested have to turn to Herman Smit, Gezag is gezag … (2006) for the ARP, while for CHU and the Protestant wing in the Partij van de Arbeid there is still room for a scholarly survey.
Annegriet Wietsma and Stef Scagliola, Liefde in tijden van oorlog: Onze jongens en hun verzwegen kinderen in de Oost. Amsterdam: Boom, 2013, 356 pp. ISBN 9789461055200. Price: EUR 19.90.
Between 1945 and 1950, 135,000 Dutch military men were sent to fight a decolonization war with the Republik Indonesia. They left their devastated homeland, prudish and petty Netherlands, for the completely unknown world of Indonesia. The authorities had no answer to the sexual needs of these young men other than abstinence, denial, and repression. This was clearly doomed to failure. In addition to desire, boredom, homesickness, combat action, and fear made them look for recourse in sexual relations, in more or less stable partnerships or prostitution. The scale of this was enormous, resulting, among other things, in widespread venereal disease, which afflicted almost twenty percent of the men at a time, and in turn impacted active service duties. News about these widespread couplings alarmed the home front, and high authorities and chaplains were mobilized to issue denials. Another legacy of these sexual relations were children born from such encounters. Only rarely did fathers show lasting concern for these three to eight thousand ‘oorlogsliefdekinderen’ (warlove children). When demobilized and sent back to the Netherlands they cut ties with their tropical offspring, and started a new family. Plagued by discrimination, their Indonesian children and former partners had difficult lives in the young Indonesian state. As they grew up, the children of mixed heritage began to ask questions about their origins and wrestled with their identity. But this history has been neglected until now. In addition to this volume, the authors have created a website and made a documentary film. They found a few dozen offspring of these unions, people now in their sixties, and in a number of instances they organized reunions between such children and their aged Dutch fathers. The sample will certainly not grow to become representative, as locating these people in Indonesia is extremely difficult. But the authors have done a solid job in researching this subject, and present a more or less chronological narrative, from official policies to the daily experiences of soldiers in their barracks, and the personal histories of their sometimes longer lasting relationships with Indonesian, Chinese, and Indo-European women. The children’s experiences are also conveyed through moving stories of their lifelong search for a father. Archival material and published reports are supplemented by interviews to produce a readable account. The authors write that many readers are against the inclusion of notes, and thus made the dubious decision to leave them out of the published book. Readers eager to know their sources are referred to the website www.oorlogsliefdekind.nl, to consult or download 42 pages of footnotes, or to turn to the e-book version.
Bart M. Rijnhout, Boven de boerenkool: Operaties in het luchtruim boven Nieuw Guinea 1951–1962. Emmen: Lanasta, 2013, 228 pp. IISBN 9789086160822. Price: EUR 38.95 (hardback).
Boven de boerenkool is a sequel to Wachters boven het stenen tijdperk (2011), detailing the history of the Marine Luchtvaartdienst (MLD) in New Guinea until 1950, with an emphasis of course on the role of the vast and inhospitable island during World War II. In a layout with an abundance of photographs, Rijnhout gives a factual account, with technical details and long quotations, of the naval air force on New Guinea, after it was excluded from the transfer of sovereignty in 1949. Since the end of the war New Guinea had retreated to its former state of neglect, but with the enduring Dutch presence an effort to develop the country was necessary. An air force able to fulfill civil and military duties was required, as Indonesia was not willing to relinquish its claim on New Guinea. Already in 1952 the first Indonesian parties landed on New Guinea shores. The task to defend the island was borne by the MLD and the Marines, later reinforced by the Air Force and Army. At first mainly flying boats were employed. Rijnhout discusses the types of planes, with never more than 12 in operation at the same time. Accidents are given a lot of attention, in particular ‘crew killer’ Martin Mariner, five (of eight) of which crashed, with dozens of casualties. With tensions rising since 1960 patrol duties became ever more intensive. Air battles and bombardments also became a regular feature. All-out war was only averted when Indonesia and the Netherlands negotiated an agreement to transfer the island to Indonesia. Rijnhout’s book is a good example of the genre of the military book on air force or navy, which enjoys a vast readership.