Lisa Kuitert, Met een drukpers de oceaan over: Koloniale boekcultuur in Nederlands-Indië 1816–1920. Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2020, 352 + 16 pp. ISBN: 97890044645101, price: EUR 29.99 (paperback).
Lisa Kuitert is a professor of book history at Amsterdam University. For ten years or so she has published on the book trade in the East Indies, concentrating on hitherto neglected aspects. All her expertise is now integrated in a solid study on colonial book culture from 1816 until 1920. She does not primarily look at the particular books, newspapers, journals, and their contents, that were the products of the publishing business, but instead focuses on the infrastructure that allowed for them. It thus supplements and complements Gerard Termorshuizen’s history of the Dutch-language newspapers, published in the Indies. Kuitert’s focus is on the printers and booksellers, and in this respect Dutch, Chinese, and Indonesian endeavors in this field are the subject of her research. This is done in a balanced way, wherein publications and sources in Malay and Chinese get their fair share. Her starting point lies with the Landsdrukkerij, the state publishing house, and around 1825 the sole owner of a printing press. Competitors encountered practical problems as to language, type face, paper, and ink. Especially the missionary societies pioneered in this field. It took until 1850 before the first bookshops opened, mostly as part of a general store, regularly with mail order service. In its wake, libraries and reading circles also emerged, and enjoyed an astounding membership. For publishers, the market for school books was an interesting one. The government tried to control this market’s contents (no religious or political references) and language (latinized Malay only). Technical progress made the printing of Chinese and Arab texts ever easier, and control by the authorities farcical. At first, censorship was mainly directed at Dutch booksellers, but soon extended to Chinese and Indonesian writers, booksellers, and publishers. The growth of Chinese involvement was followed by Indonesian colleagues, who came to dominate the publishing field in the first decades of the twentieth century. Next to them operated the government-subsidized Balai Poestaka, whose role in the publishing field can hardly be underestimated.
These are a few subjects that are treated by Kuitert. On the basis of an impressive array of sources, often obscure and hidden, she has reconstructed the book history of the Dutch Indies. In the last stages of her labor she profited from Delpher. As such, this study is another example of post-Delpher research, and its vast range. More might be said on the subject, but such follow-ups will always be in debt to Kuitert’s reference book. This book is packed with facts, accounted for in 950 notes. Ten appendices list numerous sources, including reading circles and book traders. The publisher could have done the reader a service by entering references in the headers of the note pages—annoyingly, now s/he has to riffle through the book to find them.
Eveline Rethmeier, De markies en zijn kolonie die nooit heeft bestaan. Amsterdam: Hollands Diep, 2019, 270 pp. ISBN: 9789048839100, price: EUR 21.99 (paperback).
In the 1880s, the last territories not yet under colonial rule of the European powers became the subject of a scramble, in which adventurers and traders also took part. By that time, only scattered archipelagos of the Pacific Ocean were still subject to annexation. France, Great Britain, and Germany tried to take part, but of course Britain with its priceless colonies of Australia and New Zealand, was in the best position to extend its sovereignty. The French adventurous nobleman Marquis de Rays (1832–1893) envisioned new French settlement colonies in the Pacific, after visiting America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Building on its exotic reputation as a little paradise, in 1879 he selected the island of New Ireland (now part of Papua New Guinea) with Pont Breton harbor located on its southern tip as the place to settle. He had never been there, but praised its excellent harbor and agricultural potential. He used popular sentiment to start a campaign to recruit settlers and went on tour to collect money. Both efforts were successful. The self-confident De Rays enjoyed his status, and started spending his funds on a luxurious life-style. European countries had their misgivings and it took De Rays ever more trouble to send his ships to the Pacific. The badly prepared settlers arrived in an inhospitable area and fell victim to torrential rains, illness and hostile Papuan neighbors. Between 1879 and 1882, a total of four ships sailed to Pont Breton. 600 settlers disembarked, of whom about 90 did not survive. News about their plight also reached Europe. In 1882 De Rays was arrested and brought to trial in November 1883. He was sentenced to four years in prison for deceit and swindling.
Author Rethmeier (1983), a lawyer and journalist, tells De Rays’s life-story and never quite decides whether De Rays was a visionary, a swindler, or a lunatic. It all makes for pleasant reading. She presents her findings, based on three years of research, as literary non-fiction. In my opinion it comes close to a historical novel, which involved many additions to the text to smoothen it, or to fill in blank spots. She justifies her approach in the introduction. Sadly missed in the book are a map and illustrations. And curiously enough, Rethmeier does not mention the MA thesis of Annemiek Bal, published in 2018 as De verdoemde kolonie on the same subject.
Vilan van de Loo, Uit naam van de majesteit: Het leven van J.B. van Heutsz 1851–1924. Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2020, 368 pp. ISBN: 978904643770, price: EUR 29.99 (paperback).
J.B. van Heutsz (1851–1924) presently ranks among the most despised characters in Dutch colonial history, on par with Jan Pieterszoon Coen and Herman Daendels. During his lifetime, he probably was the most popular Dutch personality, and bestowed by Queen Wilhelmina with the highest decorations. In 1935, when a monument was erected in Amsterdam to honor him, Wilhelmina and crown princess Juliana were present at the opening, and officially inaugurated it. Already then, Van Heutsz was controversial in leftist circles, and the monument soon became a welcome, symbolic target of anti-colonialism. There were other appraisals too, from a surprising source. In 1987, for instance, Pramoedya Ananta Toer admitted to be an admirer of Van Heutsz, who united the Indies Archipelago and took practical steps to execute the Ethical Policy. General Nasution was of the same view.
Van Heutsz was born in a middle-class family with a military background. Originally, it did not look that Van Heutsz was destined to follow a shining military career. He did not apply for a place at the Military Academy in Breda, but after a detour along an NCO institute, he eventually earned the officer’s rank there. To further his career, the ambitious Van Heutsz asked for a posting with the KNIL, and next to be deployed in Aceh. The conflict between Aceh and the colonial government had already dragged on for a number of years, in part because of the lack of a clear strategy and erratic policies dictated by the colonial authorities in Batavia and The Hague. Van Heutsz’s outspoken critique earned him both opposition and support. When anthropologist Chr. Snouck Hurgronje joined forces with Van Heutsz, the pressure to follow their clear-cut policy became stronger. Another failure to subjugate Aceh resulted in giving free rein to the unlikely duo. A more detailed study of the ups-and-downs of the Van Heutsz-Snouck Hurgronje relationship might still be useful. Van Heutsz was made a governor of Aceh, while H. Colijn took over the advisory role of Van Heutsz. A blot on his record was his support of G.C.E. van Daalen, whose 1904 expedition in the Aceh interior resulted in bloodbaths. For too long, Van Heutsz covered up Van Daalen’s atrocities. Controversy regarding these incidents, and others, flared up regularly. At last, he condemned Van Daalen’s actions. It was too late to save him from blame for excessive violence. His name had been established, however, and public pressure to appoint him as a Governor-General could not be ignored. Thus, he served in that capacity from 1904 until 1909. He turned out to be the most progressive ruler of the colony until 1942. He sincerely tried to fulfill the humanitarian aspects of the Ethical Policy, but met with growing opposition from the Dutch settlers, whose privileges were impaired. Van Heutsz wanted to open the all-Dutch bureaucracy to Indonesians, but due to pressure in the Indies and The Hague, this fundamental reform was shelved. The same happened with his plans to found village schools, including schools for girls. He subsidized the Malay press and early proto-nationalist initiatives. He abolished, as one of his first measures, the circular letter about the official respect Indonesians had to show to Dutch officials. The Dutch Indies press, as mouthpiece of the Dutch community, was ever more critical of Van Heutsz, and the Dutch abroad were happy to see him go. Upon his return to the Netherlands, his status was sky-high and he was the subject of homage in an endless row of cities. He entered business and became (honorary) chairman of all kinds of organizations and events. During World War I he was a candidate for a new Governor-Generalship, and as a military expert was called on to preserve the Dutch colony. Nothing came of it. He died in Montreux in 1924, was reburied in Amsterdam in 1927 and honored, as mentioned, with a monument in 1935.
Vilan van de Loo is a prolific author, whose interests were formerly concentrated on the women in the Indies colony, in particular female novelists, who had fallen into oblivion (for instance Melati van Java). A biography of Pa Van der Steur (2015) gave her the impetus to write on Van Heutsz, whose reputation went from dizzyingly high to pitifully low. Until now, a serious biography was lacking—only a few former comrades-in-arms published on him, many decades ago. Van de Loo has done a fine job in a relatively short period of time, evading many pitfalls in her endeavor. To her regret, she was not able to unravel the exact relation, and its conflicts, between Van Heutsz and his wife Marie, who were married for 42 years and had six children. A lot was going on in the family, but most of it remained unknown, with a dominant man setting the norm.
By coincidence, the publication of this book took place in the midst of a debate about colonialism and racism, in which again Van Heutsz and his monuments play their role as scapegoats, symbols of the present moral discomfort vis-à-vis the colonial past. Exactly for this reason, Van de Loo argues, these monuments should be retained. They were erected to honor Van Heutsz, but now function to show aspects of a colonial past.
Dik van der Meulen, Dr. Hendrik Muller: Wereldreiziger voor het vaderland (1859–1941). Amsterdam: Querido, 2020, 485 pp. ISBN: 9789021419305, price: EUR 32.99 (hardback).
Biographer Dik van der Meulen (1963) was awarded prestigious prizes for his biographies of Multatuli/Douwes Dekker and King Willem III. He now turns to the almost forgotten Hendrik Muller (1859–1941), an influential member of the Dutch elite of his time, who, however, never gained entry to the highest and most decisive positions of Dutch society. Today, he is probably best remembered as the name-giver of Dr. Hendrik Muller’s Vaderlandsch Fonds, which generously funds projects (research, publications) in the fields of Dutch history. In 2016, its board commissioned his biography and Van der Meulen took up the challenge. He produced this biography, a fine piece of work, and also the decisive proof that Muller is well worth an extensive survey of his many activities. He was born in a wealthy family of Rotterdam ship traders. The ambitious and strong-willed Muller was sent by his firm on a fact-finding journey to Mozambique, where its activities had begun in 1882. It was only a few decades after Livingstone and Stanley had explored East Africa. Muller’s experiences in the tropics made him shift his career away from business interests. A man of independent means, he became a world traveller and authored articles and books on his travels to Africa, America, and Asia. He was a staunch supporter of the independent South African Boer Republics, and acted as the representative of the Oranje Vrijstaat abroad, soliciting goodwill and publishing an endless stream of materials on the cause of the Boers in their war with the British (1899–1902). After these highlights in his career, he resumed his life as an independent scholar and writer. From 1919 on, Muller was the Dutch ambassador to the newly constituted states of Romania and Czechoslovakia. He was a conservative and nationalist observer, with no scruples about colonialism per se, but throughout his life, he showed respect for the colonial subjects, whose anthropological artifacts he purchased and donated to Dutch museums. He reported on his East Asian travels in the two-volume Azië gespiegeld (1912, 1918). He wrote a great number of articles on the Indies, which were published in newspapers. His writings were well-received and his expertise highly valued. Muller belonged to a small group of well-to-do Dutchmen who lacked specific scholarly background, but explored the Indies and contributed considerably to the knowledge about the Dutch colonies. Among them were F.W. Junghuhn (1809–1864), G.P. Rouffaer (1860–1928), W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp (1874–1950) and others. As a group they deserve attention, both in the Netherlands and in an international context.
Gerard Martinus Versteeg, Derde Zuid Nieuw-Guinea expeditie 1912–1913: Dagboek van Gerard Martinus Versteeg, arts. Edited by Anton Versteeg. Zwaag: Pumbo, 2020, two volumes (261, 240 pp.). No ISBN, price EUR 30.90 (paperback), EUR 5.90 (e-book). (To order from
The physician Gerard Martinus Versteeg (1876–1943) worked as an army surgeon with KNIL. He kept a diary all his life, from his student years to his experiences during four expeditions in Dutch colonies and beyond. In 1903–1904 he took part in two explorations of inland Suriname. In the Dutch East Indies, he was a member of the First Zuid Nieuw-Guinea Expedition of 1907, under the direction of H.A. Lorentz, who published a book on it. One of the objectives of the expedition was to reach the summit of the Wilhelmina Top (now Puncak Trikora) at an altitude of 4750 meters. However, Lorentz failed to do so. In 1912–1913 a new attempt was made, now under Versteeg’s leadership, with objectives in the fields of zoology, botany, and anthropology. The expedition set out in August 1912 and returned to Batavia, in May 2013, after 266 days. Six men were in charge, among them P.D. Pulle, who published an account of the journey in 1922. Among these six was also the surgeon J.B. Sitanala, from Ambonese descent, at the beginning of a shining career. They were assisted by Dayak bearers, military, convicts, and other indigenous staff, numbering more than two hundred, in addition to Papuan assistants. They all survived the hardships of the expedition. Remarkably, Versteeg lists all these men by name, adds some information on them, and identifies them in his diary—a rare example as these men were mostly anonymous, “fungible natives”. On February 21, 2013, Day 185, the famously snow-covered mountain summit was reached (the snow is now gone). Versteeg gives a very detailed report of the expedition, lively and readable, illustrated with drawings and high-quality photographs. It is a veritable enrichment of the literature on the colonial exploration preceding Dutch settlement on and occupation of the island.
Versteeg’s grandson has made the diary ready to print, in contemporary spelling and with a moderate number of footnotes. From the editorial point of view there is room for improvement. The editor announces the publication of Versteeg’s diary on the Lorentz expedition.
Cor Passchier, Bruno Nobile de Vistarini (1891–1971) en Wijnand Lemei (1892–1945): Ontwerpen en bouwen in de koloniale nadagen, Java-Indonesië. Hilversum: Verloren, 2020, 141 pp. ISBN: 9789087048280, price: EUR 20 (paperback).
This book is another title in the series called ‘Bibliografieën en oeuvrelijsten van Nederlandse architecten en stedebouwkundigen’ (BONAS), ‘Bibliographies and Lists of Works of Dutch Architects and Urban Designers’. Of the more than 60 titles, only a small number are devoted to architects active in the Indies. In the last few years, the ‘great names’ of East Indies architecture have finally been honored with solid monographs. Two lesser known names have now been saved from oblivion with a monograph by Cor Passchier, for decades active to preserve Indonesia’s architectural heritage. Both were active in Surabaya. Vistarini was educated in Austria and went to the Indies in 1920. He soon exchanged his government job for an own bureau and had considerable success, as is proven by a good many buildings he designed. Lemei arrived in the Indies in 1918, and opted for a career as a government official. His managerial and supervisory tasks kept him from designing on a scale like Vistarini. In 1934 he was made Head of the Landsgebouwendienst (Governmental Buildings Service), and in 1940 Professor at the Technical University Bandung. Both men were exploring the possibilities to build in a way that integrated eastern and western building styles. World War II completely turned their careers upside down. Vistarini, now a German national, was interned under dire circumstances when Germany attacked the Netherlands. With his compatriots he was transported to Bombay shortly before Japan occupied the Indies. In the Himalayan resort Dehradun he was held until November 1946, together with a great number of Germans, interned after World War II broke out. A bit more information on this forgotten war episode would have been useful. Lemei was interned by the Japanese and died of sheer exhaustion in February 1945. The BONAS series follows a similar pattern. A biographical introduction, which encompasses other matters besides architecture, is followed by an exhaustive catalogue of works, with extensive descriptions and illustrated with photographs, presenting the buildings in the past and present. Biographical data, summaries, bibliography, and indexes are all included. A lot of buildings are lost, but a considerable number have survived the fatal outcomes of war, crisis, and neglect. Now there is an active interest in and lobby to preserve this heritage. I am puzzled when, in the information on the present state of the buildings, the word ‘unknown’ is used. I imagine it would not be too difficult with the help of an Indonesian sister organization, to substitute ‘unknown’ with: extant yes or extant no.
Rémy Limpach, Brandende kampongs: Compacte editie. Amsterdam: Boom, 2020, 206 pp. ISBN: 9789024431656, price EUR 22.50 (paperback).
The publication in 2016 of Rémy Limpach’s De brandende kampongs van Generaal Spoor caused a nationwide commotion. In 870 pages he presented an exposition of Dutch military action during the decolonization war (1945–1949), in which he proved irrefutably that extreme violence was used in a structural manner, regularly accompanied by systematic mistreatment of Indonesian military and civilians. The book caused a furore. It also gave the decisive impetus to governmental consent of an in-depth study of the military behavior on the Dutch side, accompanied by the necessary financial means to conduct it. The survey, to be concluded in 2021, is supervised by KITLV, NIOD, and NIMH. The subject is still sensitive as ongoing debates, some of which are very intense, make abundantly clear. The importance of Limpach’s work was acknowledged by BKI, which published a debate on the study, with four reviews and a reply by Limpach (vol. 173/4 (2017):559–579). There is thus no need to repeat a discussion on its contents. The publication of a ‘Compacte editie’ of the book is to be welcomed as the sheer size of the original edition may discourage potential readers from reading and consulting it. Moreover, the process of condensing the book has resulted in a full-fledged alternative. The central issues and conclusions are carefully developed, when necessary with more explanations than the original edition. Five case studies, including on Westerling’s actions on South Sulawesi and the bloodbath of Rawagede, illustrate Limpach’s argument. The ultimate result is an accessible, well-organized, and readable account for a larger audience.
Bas Kreuger, Kais: Het waargebeurde verhaal van een gewaagde reddingsoperatie in de moerassen van Nederlands Nieuw Guinea, zomer 1944. [Enschede]: Boekengilde, 2020, vi+258 pp. ISBN: 9789464021738, price: EUR 17.50 (paperback). (English edition: Bas Kreuger, Kais: A true story of a daring rescue in the swamps of New Guinea, Summer 1944. [Private printing], 2020, 254 pp. ISBN: 9798628744451, price: EUR 15.50 (to order from Amazon) (paperback)).
Kreuger (1962), with a career as a historian and curator of the Netherlands Military Air Force Museum, has had a long fascination with the air war fought out in the vast and inhospitable island New Guinea in 1944–1945. Many American and Japanese planes crashed. Kreuger set as his task to document these battles and identify the place of the crashes, and ideally to rescue their remains. A clear case to investigate for Kreuger, aided by interested colleagues, was the crash of an American B25 bomber, of the 418 Squadron, with a crew of four, on August 27, 1944. It was hit when it bombed a Japanese airfield in the Bird’s Head of Western New Guinea. The plane made a successful emergency landing in inaccessible swamps. The survivors were soon discovered after plane reconnaissance and a regular dropping of food and goods started. A rescue party was formed, led by Dutch intelligence officer Louis Rapmund, which included, as a nurse and interpreter, Silas Papare, who was later involved as a pro-Indonesian politician in the New Guinea conflict of Indonesia and the Netherlands. The mission was risky. The difficult terrain posed a threat, but there were also Japanese bases, bivouacs and patrols in the region. Fortunately for the party, these were ill-informed about the Allied presence. Thus, the party was able to surprise and kill dozens of its enemies. After its dropping by a Catalina water-plane, and boarding its canoes, it took eleven days to locate and find the crew. Crew and party all reached safety in Biak.
On the basis of impressive research in archives in Australia, the US, and the Netherlands, augmented by personal memories and documents, Kreuger has painstakingly reconstructed the events during these thrilling three weeks. Kreuger and his friends also travelled to New Guinea to look for plane wrecks. In 1999, this project was halted by Indonesian officials. In 2019 the group succeeded in getting very near to the B25 wreckage, but failed to find it. Due to the terrain and their own finite stamina, they had to give up. Kreuger includes a lively report on these efforts. The book ends with a 20-page summary of the course of the Pacific War, especially as New Guinea was concerned.
Lizzy van Leeuwen, Indra: Een wajangleven: Biografie van Leo Broekveldt, 1906–1992. Amsterdam/Antwerpen: Atlas Contact, 2020, 349 + 16 pp. ISBN: 9789045029245, price EUR 29.99 (paperback).
Leo Broekveldt had an Indo-European mother—and a nyai as grandmother—and Dutch father. When the latter’s career as director of the colonial civil service ended in 1920, the family moved to the Netherlands. His parents never returned, and for Leo it took 55 years. In the early 1930s he studied Indies Law, the easiest way towards a position in the Indies. He met Indonesian students, and his slumbering interest in Javanese dance led to his involvement in their musical groups. In this way the students supplemented their income and served anti-colonial political and cultural purposes. Whether Broekveldt was a staunch supporter of the pro-Indonesian Perhimpoenan Indonesia, as Van Leeuwen writes, seems doubtful. Throughout his career, financial difficulties forced him not to be choosy about his appearances on stage. Thus he initially was involved in the new cultural order founded by the Germans after they occupied the Netherlands in May 1940. In 1945, he sided with the Indonesian independence movement. He even went so far as to opt for Indonesian citizenship in 1951. For practical reasons he changed his nationality to Dutch again in 1958.
In the 1930s his career started, and he became closely involved in the world of dance in the Netherlands. Dance was not held in high esteem, and there was internal strife as to what dance and ballet had to involve, in a ‘high’ and ‘low’ variant. In the amusement sector, Broekveldt found his own niche, performing exotic fiction. His success extended outside the Netherlands. Broekveldt then made a significant break. He renounced his Dutch name, never to be used again, and became Indra Kamadjojo. He did not take sides in the emotional, often personal discussions on the contents of dance. He staged non-western dance, and put it into context, for instance in the popular weekly shows in the Tropen Museum, programmed for twenty-five years. He became a self-proclaimed ambassador of Indonesian dance. He also became a Dutch government official and advisor on Dutch ballet, in an influential position to decide on the distasteful, often personal conflicts dividing the ballet world of the time. Indra remained aloof, and popular too. For him there was no high or low dance. He made long tours abroad, played in television performances, and turned from dancer to actor. He also became a teacher in dramatic art, securing himself a stable income. In his personal life he converted to Buddhism. He gradually became a representative of Indies nostalgia, for instance in 1974 as an actor in the tv play De stille kracht, based on Louis Couperus’ novel. Indra retired and slowly sunk into oblivion. In books on Dutch dance history he is only mentioned in passing. This is not a fair judgement, as Van Leeuwen makes clear abundantly. His position as a ‘man-in-between’ probably caused him to fall outside mainstream culture history. Van Leeuwen has done a fine job to give Indra a rightful place, not only in the history of the interplay between Indo-European and Indonesian dance history, but also as an authoritative voice in the decades-long conflicts in the Dutch dance world. Her sketch of the Dutch amusement world of the 1930s and 1940s—with dance struggling to be acknowledged as a meritorious art form, ultimately leading to a solid place among the forms of art—is a worthwhile supplement to dance history. Van Leeuwen has done an impressive amount of research, which could have been accounted for less succinctly in the notes.
Ernestine Hoegen, Een strijdbaar bestaan: Mieke Bouman en de Indonesische strafprocessen. Amsterdam: Spectrum, 2020, 296 pp. ISBN: 9789000365708, price: EUR 24.99 (hardback).
After the Dutch recognition of Indonesian sovereignty in December 1949, mutual relations soon deteriorated. There were concrete issues that caused this, but probably more important was the resentment built up during four years of colonial war. Moreover, the Dutch hold on the economy was still tight. The Indonesian discontent found an outlet in a roundup of dozens of Dutch suspects, beginning in December 1953, accused of having been involved in the Nederlands-Indische Guerrilla Organisatie, which aimed to overthrow the Indonesian government. The two most prominent men arrested were L. Jungschläger and H. Schmidt. Jungschläger had been director of the Netherlands Forces Intelligence Service (NEFIS) in 1947. It made him a natural suspect, but curiously his past played no significant role in the process. The process started in September 1954. The defense was in the hands of Herman Bouman (1909–1968), who had lived with his wife Mieke Bouman (1907–1966) in the Indies since 1935. Mieke taught classical languages. Their pleasant life ended abruptly when Japan occupied the Indies. Mieke was interned in the Lampersari camp (Semarang), while Herman became a convict, transported to Japan to work in the lead mines of Kamioka. Both survived. Their experiences are recorded at length by Hoegen as part of what she intends to be a double biography of the Bouman couple. After Japan was defeated, Herman worked again as a lawyer in Batavia, under the difficult circumstances of colonial war and its aftermath. The Dutch High Commissioner asked Herman to defend the defendants. The process, clearly also a show process, drew an enormous amount of publicity. It was charged with high emotions, in Indonesia as well in the Netherlands. Herman proved to be a very competent lawyer, frustrating the Indonesian prosecution. A threat to arrest him as an accomplice made him flee Indonesia in May 1955. Mieke, although not a lawyer, but as an assistant of her husband, was well-informed about the cases, took over, and proved to be as competent and persistent as her husband. After more than 60 sessions Mieke submitted her pleas. The verdict on Jungschläger was not passed. He died of natural causes in April 1956. Schmidt was sentenced to prison for life in September 1955. Mieke had left Indonesia by then. In the Netherlands she was received as a heroine, and according to a poll she was by far the most popular Dutch national. Queen Juliana personally honored her with an Order of Knighthood, and Groningen University made her an honorary doctor. All this attests to the great emotional value of this process, in a new confrontation between colonizer and colonized, reenacted to leave behind the heavy legacy of colonial history. This aspect is touched upon by Hoegen, but could have been stronger. After 1955, the Boumans had great difficulty in adjusting to life outside Indonesia. They settled in Ibiza, but relational and health problems plagued them.
The Boumans adopted the prevalent negative Dutch opinions on Indonesia. Leaders like Sukarrno, Ali Sastroamidjojo, and Iwa Kusumasumantri were indiscriminately labelled as communists (pp. 160–161), and Indonesian court officials were generally pictured negatively. Public prosecutor Soenario, who published a book with court proceedings (Proses Jungschläger, 1956) (not mentioned in this book), is cited by Hoegen without comment and described in quotes as corrupt, of small mind and character. Hoegen’s research is impressive. All over the world she collected material. A bibliography, index, and word lists (with some mistakes) have been added. Occasionally Hoegen introduces fictional elements (dialogues, thoughts) but fails to explain why she chooses these devices. A great pity is the lack of notes, which seriously detracts from the book’s value. Moreover, Hoegen also notes the absence of Indonesian sources as a shortcoming of her book. However, Hans Beynon, in an early account of the process (Nederland staat terecht in Indonesië, 1957) cites a great number of Indonesian newspapers. Were these used? Given the lack of notes it is not clear. The same goes for the use of the writings of Hans Meijer on the Boumans. Hoegen promises to publish a more scholarly English edition, which will hopefully make amends for these shortcomings.
Tom Phijffer, Het masker van Rob Nieuwenhuys: Reconstructie van een vergeten reis naar Indonesië. Hilversum: Verloren, 2020, 238 pp. ISBN: 9789087048457, price: EUR 27 (paperback).
Rob Nieuwenhuys (1908–1999) had already made a name for himself as an expert in Dutch East Indies literature before he published his acclaimed Oost-Indische Spiegel (1972). As such, he was a member of the Dutch advisory committee, installed to give contents to the Dutch-Indonesian Cultural Agreement, concluded in 1968. Progress towards fruitful co-operation was slow. Thus it was proposed to send Nieuwenhuys, who had left Indonesia in 1952, to sort matters out, building upon the goodwill he had accumulated during his years in the Indies colony. On his trip, Phijffer intended to write a review, but he soon discovered that information was sparse or lacking. He reports about his efforts to unearth materials. As a real detective he located ever more sources with relevant information, until at last all that was available in archives, personal (re)collections, and publications was available to write this detailed report on Nieuwenhuys’ trip in September-November 1970. Phijffer also included in his research the meeting of Nieuwenhuys with the famous novelist W.F. Hermans, when both were enjoying a quiet and cool resort in Puncak. Hermans was in Indonesia with the film maker Fons Rademakers to seek support for the filming of Couperus’ De stille kracht. The Indonesian government did not support this plan, different from the filming of Max Havelaar a few years later. Hermans and Nieuwenhuys became outspoken enemies in a long lasting polemic on the interpretation and evaluation of the actions of Douwes Dekker. On Mount Puncak, however, it had been a pleasant encounter. Phijffer almost gives an hour to hour report of Nieuwenhuys’ exploits. It was a varied program, alternating between official meetings on the Agreement, with Indonesian and Dutch officials, a lot of informal gatherings with Indonesian friends, often disillusioned after twenty years of Guided Democrary and military rule, and lectures. The decisive impetus to translate Max Havelaar into Indonesian was also given during his stay. Most of the time Nieuwenhuys was in Jakarta, with excursions to Bandung, Yogyakarta, and Solo. Before leaving, he gave a lecture in Jakarta, a clear and frank statement of his position as a writer in between two countries, included in full here (pp. 195–199). His trip brought him closer to Indonesia, and made made him less of a marginal figure. The book is a fine proof of what diligent and persistent research may yield. On occasion, the information might be considered too overwhelming, but that is easily forgiven. The author confuses the oe/u spelling of the Indonesian language. Worse is that the index is far from complete.
Marjo Bakker, Petra Drenth, Jeroen Kemperman and Hinke Piersma (eds), Oorlog in onderzoek: 75 jaar NIOD. Amsterdam: Boom, 2020, 191 pp. ISBN: 9789024430932, price: EUR 24.90 (paperback).
The Rijksbureau voor Oorlogsdocumentatie was founded three days after Germany surrendered, on May 8, 1945. It was to be a temporary institute, with a limited task. The Institute survived a number of attempts to discontinue its activities, and has now emerged as an unassailable stronghold, especially since it expanded its name and activities as NIOD Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies. Its 75 years jubilee in 2020 calls for a celebration. Oorlog in onderzoek fulfils this task. In 25 contributions, a number of aspects of NIOD activities are sketched. The book’s authors are mainly former and present staff members. NIOD history is given its place, for instance through Loe de Jong’s mammoth work, the fate of whose volumes on the Indies/Indonesia is also dealt with. The history of the Indies department, for years more or less treated like a presumptuous child, is related in an article by Rolf Utermöhlen (pp. 29–34). The contributions briefly relate the history of controversial issues and affairs. Apart from these, the volume includes interviews, descriptions of projects, and new research venues, reflecting the expanding scope of NIOD research, publications, and documentation. Indonesia is only given modest attention in Oorlog in onderzoek. The exhibition Nederlanders, Japanners, Indonesiërs (2000), set up to commemorate 400 years of Japanese-Dutch relations, gets one chapter (pp. 65–71), illustrating the lasting sensitiveness of the Pacific War and its aftermath. An article on the present housing of the NIOD, in elegant premises once built by the pioneer planter Jacob Nienhuys, founder of the Deli Company, shows how NIOD coped with this colonial past (pp. 59–64). The present NIOD director, Frank van Vree, sees NIOD as a national and international centre of expertise on war, mass violence, and genocide. As such, knowledge about the past, present, and future of war, mass violence, and genocide is indispensable to understanding our world. The book contains 20 pages of photographs.