History of Dutch Indies (extract)

 Updated: 08/10/2010
Subsequently there is an extract from the history of Dutch India or Indonesia, how it today is called. This extract describes the historical context for life of Indonesian-Dutch branch of our family which was set up by Friedrich Christian Andreas after he emigrated from Germany to Netherlands Indies in 1895. His descendants left in the south-east Asiatic country until the end of the 2nd world war and went to the Netherlands except for a granddaughter who was married to an Indonesian. Her descendants are still living there.


Friedrich Christian Andreas Gueinzius - D168 (1873 - 1945)

Beginnings of the colony

There were several Islamic sultanates at the end of the 15th century on the area of present Indonesia. With the discovery of the seaway to India in 1498 the Europeans run into the area of south-eastern Asia, in order to take over spice trade operated by Orientals [1]. In 1596 the first Netherlanders came to Indonesia whose spice trade were controlled by Portuguese already. In the sea battle in the Bay of Banten in 1601 the Netherlanders drove out the Portuguese [5].

In 1602 Dutch parliament gave in a charter the commercial monopoly for all fields east of the Cape of Good Hope to the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC). This charter, which granted rights of a sovereign to the VOC, did undertake her first commercial expedition in the same year to the "Spice Islands", the Moluccs. The core business of the VOC consisted on the trade with pepper and spices [5].

In 1619 Dutch commercial governor Jan Pieterszoon Coen conquered Jayakarta (today's Jakarta) and set up a Dutch colony, that he named Batavia [5]. The Romans called the Netherlands Batavia, the country of the Bataver, a Germanic tribe, that existed in the Rhine Delta around the beginning of chronology [1].

As a result of the French revolution, the Netherlands became Batavian Republic in 1795. The government of the Batavian Republic removed the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) on December 31st, 1799, because the company was gone into bankruptcy by mismanagement and corruption [1] and took over all areas which were under influence and control of the VOC as colonies of the Batavian Republic [5].

Napoleon Bonaparte converted the Batavian Republic in 1806 into the Kingdom of Holland and crowned his brother Louis Bonaparte the king. 1810 incorporated Napoleon the Kingdom of Holland into the French empire [5].

A British naval formation conquered the Netherlanders on Java in 1811 with the effect that the Dutch areas of Indonesia fell to Great Britain. Indonesia was now governed by the British governor-general Lord Minto in Calcutta, who ruled all British possessions in Asia east of Suez [5].

The Vienna Congress restored the independent Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 and awarded Belgium to it. In peace negotiations with Great Britain the Netherlands got back their Indonesian possessions in exchange of the Dutch possessions at the Cape of Good Hope and in Ceylon [5].

This page:

Beginnings of the colony
Expansion of the colony
Indonesian drive for independence
The Second World War in the Pacific
The Japanese occupation
For Europeans
For Indonesians
End of war
The independence of Indonesia

Expansion of the colony

Registry offices (de burgerlijke stand) were set in 1828 [9]. Off 1830 the Netherlands Indies became enlarged as a strong colony under the governor-general Johannes van den Bosch. However they have to maintain their power claim permanent against the locals and against the English and Portuguese. In the contract of Sumatra in 1871, the Netherlanders abandoned their possessions at the Gold Coast in Africa and received domination from the English over Sumatra [1].

The first railroad track was inaugurated from Batavia to Bandung in 1880. In 1883 A.J. Zijlker got the permission to drill for oil in Langkat (northern Sumatra) and set up that Royal Dutch Shell in 1890 [2].

In 1900 the Dutch colonial government began with the "ethical politics" after human rights activists in Netherlands had referred to the obligations of the Netherlanders to the subjects in their colonies before. On the basis of recommendations of Nieuwenhuis and Theodor Conradt Van Denventer began to worry something more on educational system, health service and local administration [5].

As a result of the fifth "military expedition" from 1906 to 1908 Netherlands got domination of whole Bali. The military expedition led to the fact that the entire court of Bandung in September 1906 and the court in Klunkung in April 1908 committed suicide [5].

The Aceh War ended in 1913 and therefore Aceh (northern Sumatra) fell to the Netherlands. However, the guerrilla fights went on. Also West Timor became component of the Dutch colonial empire while East Timor further remained Portuguese [5].

About the Dutch colonial army, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indische Leger (K.N.I.L.)

Indonesian drive for independence

The Indonesian national movement took its beginning in 1908 according to the first cultural alliance of Indonesian intellectuals in the union "Budi Utomo" (noble movement). The religious-nationalist "Sarekat Islam Indonesia" which became the first Indonesian anti-colonial party resulted from her in 1911. Sukarno set up the Indonesian National Party (PNI) in 1927 which rose into the Indonesian Party in 1931 [1].

On May 14th, 1914, Franciscus Marie Sneevliet set up the "Indies Social Democratic Association", which was converted on May 23rd, 1920 into the "Partai Komunis Indonesia" (PKI), the first communist party in Asia outside of the Soviet Union [5].

The Dutch government combated nationally movements of all shadings with utmost hardness [1].

The Netherlands refused an autonomy still in February 1940. In May 1940 the Netherlands was occupied by Germany and the Dutch government fled to London. Nevertheless they ruled their colonies as before [2]. For the Indonesian nationalists the defeat of the Netherlands against the Germans was regarded as evidence of weakness of her colonial power [5].

The Second World War in the Pacific

The 2nd world war also began in the Pacific with Japanese attack on the American Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbour (Hawaii) on December 7th, 1941. The Japanese advanced onto the Philippines and the peninsula of Malacca almost simultaneously. At the 25th of December 1941 Hong Kong became occupied on January 2nd, 1942 Manila and on February 15th, 1942 Singapore [1].

At January 10th, 1942 the Japanese invasion began on Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Ambon. In the battle in the Java Sea dated February 27th until March 1st, 1942, the Japanese destroyed the allied fleet [2] and the invasion on Java began [3]. At March 8th, 1942, the Netherlanders must capitulate on Java [2].

The remained soldiers of the Dutch colonial army K.N.I.L. (Koninklijk Nederlands-Indische Leger) went with capitulation into captivity [3].

The Japanese occupation

For Europeans

The Japanese army immediately constructed Prisoners of War and internment camp in schools, prisons, railroad sheds, hut camps and cloisters for the Allied Prisoners of War and citizen of the countries with which they were in war. Every Dutch influence on Indonesia should be suppressed. Men were separated by their families. Boys from 10 years were separate from their mothers and brought into the man camp [3].

A great number was inserted as forced labourer and among other things they have to build the well-known Thai-Birma railroad [3].

Nutrition was in 1942 and 1943 bearable in the camps. The rations were small, however, could be complemented by vegetable from put on gardens or through black market with the locals. The situation deteriorated increasingly from 1944. The rations became even less and were from bad quality. Some prisoners attempted to complement their protein requirement through consumption of cats, frogs, snakes, lizards and rats. The resistance decreased itself on account of malnutrition. Water lack and unhygienic sanitary facilities led to a circulation of epidemics. Doctors and nurses often attempted to help the patients with medicine and medical devices set up themselves. Many camps were overcrowded. The circumstances and the treatment were bad so that many prisoners suffered from tropical diseases and malnutrition and many prisoners died as a result of forced labour [3] [7].

In August 1943 the Japanese incorporated the sugarcane plantations and sent European manager into the internment camps. Too the Dutch priests have to go into the internment camps [2].

In 1944 the prisoners were brought into a few camps off from the coasts into the interior so that the sleep room was conducted partial only 50 cm [3].

Even women were beaten unconsciously because of insignificance. For punishment, hands and ears were also chopped of by Japanese. Medicine planned by the Red Cross for the prisoners was withheld by Japanese and the prisoners could see how to oppose their inflammations, among other things placing maggots on their wounds. Appendectomies were carried out on the desk with kitchen knives. Was somebody caught with a broadcast the eardrums were pierced with bamboo skewers [7].

Following camps we found [3], [6]:
 Prisoner of War camp: Tjikudapateuh near Bandung (Java), Glodok near Jakarta (Java), Burma Siam railroad (Thailand), Pakan-Baroe Railroad (Sumatra)
 Man internment camp: Tjimahi 4 near Bandung (Java), fortress Benteng Ngawi, cloister Urulinen in Bogor (Java), Ambarawa 7 and 8 (Sumatra), Bangkong near Semarang (Java), Tjikudapateuh near Bandung (Java), Bankinang near Pakan-Baroe (Sumatra)
Boy camp:  Bangkong-Gedungjati, Baros-6 Tjimahi near Bandung, Ambarawa
Woman internment camp: Lampersari-Sompok near Semarang (Java), Brastage (Sumatra), Bankinang near Pakan-Baroe (Sumatra) 

About the slavery projects:

Paka-Baru railway

Thai-Birma railway

For Indonesians

While Sukarno and Hatta decided for a co-operation with Japanese, the socialists and communists went into the subsoil [1].

The Japanese propaganda first suggested a continuation of Dutch politics. After however the Japanese troops began to press men to forced labour and withheld food, the opinion of the Indonesians turned itself against Japanese. Only few Japanese officers expressed sympathy to the idea of Indonesian independence. It happened revolts against the Japanese occupying forces for example in Aceh in September 1943 and in November 1942 on southern and western Kalimantan.
On October 3rd, 1943, the Japanese set up the PETA (Pembela Tanah Air: Defender of the homeland) as volunteer army [5] and the Masyumi (Majlis Syurah is Muslimin Indonesia) [2].

In March 1945, the Japanese announced the intention of a committee for preparation of the Indonesian independence. In April 1945, conversations followed between the representatives of Indonesian independence and the Japanese military. Once again they met in Singapore in July 1945 and planned to give Indonesia to the Indonesians [2].

On August 9th, 1945, Sukarno and Hatta were flown by Japanese to Viet Nam, in order to meet there high Japanese militaries. They were informed there about the imminent breakdown of Japanese armed forces and turned back to Jakarta on August 14th [2].

End of war

The Allies reconquered Hollandia (Jaypura) in April 1944 on the way to the Philippines and re-established Netherlands Indies administration again. In May, Australian and Dutch units began to reconquer Tarakan on Kalimantan. In June 1945 Dutch troops landed on northern Sumatra and Australian troops conquered Balikpapan in July, at the same time as American bomber bombed Watampone and further areas on Kalimantan and Sulawesi [2].

At the Potsdam Conference dated July 17th to August 2nd, 1945, the winner powers decided to give command upon Thailand, Indochina, Malaya and Dutch East India (Indonesia) to British command, to the South East Asia Command (SEAC). Headquarters of the commander admiral Lord Louis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten were Singapore. East Indonesia and Kalimantan came under Australian command [5].

On August 6th, 1945, the first nuclear bomb fell onto Hiroshima and August 9th onto Nagasaki. The Soviet Army smashed the Japanese Kwantung Army on August 19th, 1945 and had freed Northeast China and northern Korea as well as occupied South Sachalin and the Kuril. On September 2nd, the Japanese signed the unconditional capitulation [1].

For many Prisoners of War this meant survival, because of an order of the Japanese high command to all troops to kill all Allied Prisoners of War, when the first Allied would set foot onto the Japanese main islands [4]. Many of the prisoners had seen that the Japanese let dug two meters deep ditches near to their camp a couple of months of before end of war. They were planned for a mass execution. This was confirmed by the discoveries of the American historian Dr. Linda Goetz Holmes, who found secret Japanese reports in American military archives in 1997. After this the Japanese high command has given the order to all camp commander's offices to execute all Allied prisoners during a threatening invasion. As date August 26th, 1945 was determined [8].

On August 15th, 1945 the Japanese capitulated in Indonesia, however, still controlled wide parts of the country [1].

The independence fight of Indonesians began according to the capitulation of Japanese. Until the Allies arrived, this meant a greater danger for many Netherlanders than under Japanese occupation before [7].



The independence of Indonesia

The post-wartime was so chaotic for Indonesia so that it is very difficult to make an objective and complete picture about that time afterwards. Subsequently, the attempt to represent the most important events.
In capitulation the Japanese agreed to give back Indonesia to the Netherlanders [2].

On August 17th, 1945, Sukarno and Hatta called the independence of free Republic of Indonesia [1]. PETA-units, radical youngsters and normal citizens defended the residence of Sukarno in Jakarta. On August 22nd, the Japanese announced their capitulation in Jakarta and disarmed the PETA and the Heiho set up by themselves and removed them. Many members of these groups had still heard nothing of independence [2].

In August 1945, Dutch troops landed in Sabang in Aceh. In September 1945 republican youngsters overtook the railroad and the radio station in Jakarta and other for facilities in Yogya, Solo, Malang and Bandung. The Indonesian princes explained their relief for the republic. Former PETA and Heiho soldiers united with Islamic units. Violence expanded itself between youngsters and Netherlanders dismissed from the internment camps [2].

These situation was completely misjudged by the Dutch exile governor Van Mook at the Australian Brisbane. To him the Indonesian drives for independence represented as a Japanese relic, which could be finished by a couple of shipments with foods and cloths [5].

On September 29th, 1945, two divisions British-Indian troops landed in Jakarta under Sir Philips Christison in the task of the Allied command. Sir Philips Christison became supreme commander of the British troops on Sumatra and Java [5].

Also in August, Australian troops received the Japanese capitulation in Sulawesi and handed the eastern areas over to the Netherlanders [2].

In October 1945, British troops landed in Padang, Medan and Palembang. The quarrels between republican adolescents and Allies escalated. The ABRI was set up, and it came to small skirmishes with the Netherlanders on Java, Sumatra and Bali. The Japanese military police committed a massacre among republican youngsters in Pekalongan. Japanese troops drove republicans away from Bandung and Semarang and push the cities to the British. The Japanese general surrendered to the Netherlanders in Surabaya and gave the weapons to the republicans [2].

Young revolutionary activists and locals supported everywhere on Java the exclaimed republic again. They gang up together, drove away Japanese troops and took her weapons in their possession [5].

British troops arrived, however, they were worn down by local Indonesian units and hordes. Sukarno ordered truce, the British commander was yet killed during the negotiations, whereupon the British bombed Surabaya in a punishment action and attacked civilians and fugitives in the low-level flight on the streets. Thousands died or became homeless [2].

Indians were the majority of the British troops, a reason for Nehru to protest hard against it, that Indian troops were employed against Indonesians. This protest was decisive for the withdrawal of the British [2].
At November 10th, 1945 a counteroffensive began by the Indonesian in Surabaya. It lasted three weeks. 600 Indian-British soldiers went over to the Indonesians [2]. More than 600 British soldiers died and on Indonesian side, 7,000 losses were to be lamented. The event became described later on the "Hero Days" [5].

The Netherlanders gave up Aceh forever in November 1945. From the 12th December up to 15th the battle of Ambarawa took place [2]. The leader Sudirman had a decisive role here to play, which recommended him to the high commanding of the newly formed Indonesian national army [5]. The last remaining Japanese were evacuated by the Allied in Aceh. A bloody revolution broke out in Aceh afterwards, where the prevailing aristocracy lost against the Islamic leaders [2].

Because of the quarrels in the Netherlands Indies many former KNIL soldiers were recalled again to Indonesia, in order to participate in the fights, after they had survived the Japanese Prisoners of War camp and some of them had already gone to the Netherlands [7].

In January 1946, the Indonesian government moved its seat to Yogya. The Netherlanders conquered Bangka and Belitung. In March 1945, a revolution broke out in Batak and wide areas of Sumatra. The Netherlanders reconquered Bandung in April 1946. The Indonesians wanted to burn down the city than they deliver it to the Netherlanders. In July 1946, the Allies gave back Indonesia officially to the Netherlanders with the exception of Sumatra and Java [2].

At the 8th of July 1946 Van Mook was appointed to "De Algeemene Regierungscommisaris voor Borneo en de Groote Ooste", in order to make arrangements for investigations and preparations for an administrative structure in Borneo and East Indonesia. The Australian headquarters in Morotai were responsible for Kalimantan and East Indonesia and set up the Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) together with Dutch government representatives and the Dutch police, which was incorporated in the Australian units serving in East Indonesia and Kalimantan. During Australian supervision the NICA achieved a civilian government in areas under Australian command. Under these circumstances the Netherlanders were allowed, to land two battalions on Bali [5].

In the Linggajati treaty, the Netherlanders accepted the authority of Republic of Indonesia in Java and Sumatra. Both sides agreed in a kind of united states with the Dutch crown as a symbolic head of state. At November 20th, 1946 the resistance on Bali became suppressed in the battle of Marga by the Netherlanders [2].

Dutch captain Raymond Westerling began a campaign in South Sulawesi at November 20th, 1946 against republican adolescents. Some war crimes were committed to civilians and there were fired to children and hospital patients [2].

In December 1946, the Netherlanders founded the State of East Indonesia at the conference in Denpasar on Bali and on March 1947 western Kalimantan together with the Sultan of Pontianak. The first "police operation" occurred on July 20th, 1947: Dutch troops conquered Java, Madura, Semarang, Medan, Palembang, Padang and in this case, bombed several cities. That led to foreign policy problems: The Americans and the British dissociate themselves, the Soviet Union supported the Indonesian republic in the UNO and Australia boycotted Netherlands ships. At August 4th a truce was bargained between Sukarno and the Netherlanders [2].

The Netherlanders constructed the State of eastern Sumatra in December 1947. In January 1948, a cease-fire line favourable for the Netherlanders was bargained by intervention of the UN. Indonesian opposition protested against the agreement. In February 1948 the Netherlanders constructed the State of Madura on western Java and in May 1948 Kartosuwirjo proclaimed itself to the Iman of the Islamic Indonesia and revolted with it against Republic of Indonesia and against the Netherlanders [2].

In March 1948 Van Mook established a provisional government for federal Indonesia and on 8. July 1948, the heads of the governments of all Indonesian states and of areas outside of the territory controlled by the Indonesian Republic met in Bandung. This group called itself Federal Advising Board (Bijenkomst Federaal Overleg: BFO). After the states of Central Java and Eastern Java were founded, were they added later on [5].

In September 1948 the Netherlanders proclaimed the state of South Sumatra. From September 18th to 30th, 1948 a badly planned and unsuccessfully revolution attempted by the communists against the Netherlanders. The Netherlanders constructed the State of Eastern Java in November 1948 [2].

On December 18th, 1948, the Netherlanders started their second "police operation". The entire civilian government of the republic went into captivity and expected at world-wide protest. All of Indonesia except for Aceh is under Dutch control on December 20th. Guerrilla fights flared up. The UNO condemned the Netherlands, the Asiatic states boycotted the Netherlands, the USA stopped their post-war aid to Netherlands. On January 31st, 1948, the Netherlands accepted armistice on Java and on January 5th, 1949 on Sumatra. The guerrilla activities increased. The UN Security Council required the release of the Indonesian government and the independence of Indonesia by July 1st, 1950. On March 1st, 1949, the guerrillas conquered Yogya for six hours [2].

In April 1949, the Netherlands began to bend the international pressure and agreed in May, to restore the Republic of Indonesia and to start negotiations for it. In June 1949 Dutch troops purged Yogya and on July 6th, the republican government returned to Yogya. The states proclaimed by the Netherlanders supported the republic uniting in a conference. In August 1949 republican troops reconquer Sumatra, on August 11th, it came for armistice on Java and on August 15th on Sumatra [2].

The Netherlanders then dismissed 12,000 prisoners and at August 23rd, 1949, the conference began in The Hague. As a result, the Republic Indonesia Serikat was born with the Dutch crown as symbolic head of state, a personal union which lasted to 1954. Sukarno became president and Hatta vice-president. The existence of Dutch investments was guaranteed. On December 29th, 1949, the Netherlanders delivered officially sovereignty to Republic of Indonesia [2].

Most states proclaimed by the Netherlanders had removed themselves by March 1950 and joined the republic [2].

It began the resettlement of inhabitants from the dense settled areas, especially Java but too from Sumatra and Bali, into the sparsely populated exterior islands of Kalimantan, called "Transigrasi". There were moved over 120,000 families to more than 100 places in Kalimantan [5].


 [1] Meyers Großes Taschenlexikon, BI-Taschenbuchverlag, Mannheim, Leipzig, Wien, Zürich (1992).
 [2] Sejarah Indonesien (07/20/1998)
 [3] Museon, popular scientific museum in The Hague (07/21/1998)
 [4] Three Pagodas Group (07/21/1998)
 [5] Margarete Payer: Zur Geschichte Indonesiens, dated 03/18/1997
 [6] Indonet Publishing (08/17/1998)
 [7] John Morcombe: History of Manly, Maggie Sirks (11/05/1998)
 [8] Jos Hagers: De Telegraph dated August 15th, 1998, The drama of the Pakan-Baroe railroad
 [9] Centraal bureau voor Genealogie (07/20/1998)


© 1999 Hans & Elke Gueinzius 71229 Leonberg