A project by the research programme  Independence, Decolonisation, Violence and War in Indonesia, 1945-1950, the Witnesses & Contemporaries project specifically focuses on collecting the experiences of those involved in the events at the time. This project aims at connecting individuals who were in Indonesia between 1945 and 1950 with the researchers involved in the programme. Sharing personal stories from the period between 1945 and 1950 with the researchers can enhance knowledge of the decolonization of Indonesia.  Read more ›

The Witnesses & Contemporaries project collects stories of individuals who experienced the key period 1945-1950 in Indonesia.


The letters sent by the Rempt-Schepers couple from the Dutch East Indies/Indonesia to the Netherlands between 1937 and 1946 were recently donated to the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD). For this blog, the couple’s daughters selected a few of the letters from the period September 1945 to February 1946 and wrote an introduction.


This autumn, Anne-Marie Visser decided to share her photo album and a few memories of her mother with Getuigen & Tijdgenoten (Witnesses & Contemporaries). In this blog post, she describes what it is like to receive certain information and not know some of the answers.


Anne Janse-Veen described her experiences as a 14-year-old girl in the Bersiap period for Getuigen & Tijdgenoten (Witnesses & Contemporaries). You can read more about them in the blog post below.


There she was, a 21-year-old nurse in her neat uniform, on board that huge ship. Together with the other Red Cross volunteers, Constance Iemhoff had to salute the young officers standing opposite her. “We had been given special lessons on how to do that, which had made us girls laugh.” After the salute, the men opposite the nurses stepped forward and stated their names. One of them was Second Lieutenant Arend Groen, a member of the Navy’s military police force responsible for good behaviour on board...


The project Witnesses & contemporaries has been running for two years now. This prompted Eveline Buchheim, one of the coordinators of this project, to write a personal reflection on the value of memories.


‘As if someone is knocking on that door...’
Between October 1945 and October 1946, the Sumobito sugar factory, close to the town of Sumobito between Jombang and Mojokerto in East Java, served as a refugee camp.


Koos-Jan de Jager has been a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Amsterdam, where he examines the role of religion in the Indonesian war, since September 2018. His work centres on the question what impact the war had on the religious beliefs of members of the Netherlands armed forces and their actions in the war. He wrote the following blog for Witnesses & Contemporaries


Memories exist in all shapes and sizes. This is also true of memories concerning the former Dutch East Indies, today’s Indonesia. They are not only painted in light, sunny tints. Elsbeth Locher-Scholten, a former senior lecturer at Utrecht University who specialises in the history of colonialism and decolonisation, wrote a column for Getuigen & Tijdgenoten (Witnesses & Contemporaries) about colonial violence and colonial memories, partly because of current discussion concerning Kester Freriks’ book Tempo Doeloe, een omhelzing.


On 24 January 2019, a network meeting of the Witnesses & Contemporaries project was held in cooperation with Historisch Centrum Overijssel / IJsselacademie. The event was organised to present a website that contains interviews with fifteen veterans from of Overijssel, who fought in the decolonization war. The interviews were conducted by historian Ewout van der Horst. Stephanie Welvaart reports on the afternoon.


What is the relationship between history and memory? A blog by Eveline Buchheim and Stephanie Welvaart.


Maarten Hidskes travelled some 10,000 kilometres across Indonesia to talk about the theme of his book entitled Thuis gelooft niemand mij (Nobody At Home Would Believe Me), which has now also been translated into Bahasa Indonesia. He visited 11 universities, had conversations with eye witnesses and veterans, and spoke with 1200 history and political science students and dozens of lecturers. While right in the middle of his travels, he heard an Indonesian lecturer expressing what his journey was about: “Your project is about sharing and caring.”


By Fridus Steijlen
Fridus Steijlen of the Witnesses & Contemporaries project recently visited the Moluccas. He also used this opportunity to record the story of an Indonesian witness. In his blog, Fridus recounts this meeting and tells the story of how Pak Edi had them strike a defiant pose.


A project by the research programme Independence, Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia, 1945-1950, the Witnesses & Contemporaries project specifically focuses on collecting the experiences of those involved in the events at the time.