Decolonisation, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945-1950 – Regional Studies, Bersiap and Synthesis

Decolonisation, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945-1950 is a large-scale, joint inquiry carried out by KITLV, the Netherlands Institute for Military History (NIMH) and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The project has been made financially possible by the Dutch government, due to its decision on 2 December 2016 to lend its support to a broad inquiry into the events of this period.

The programme comprises nine subprojects and aims to answer questions regarding the nature, extent and causes of structural transborder violence in Indonesia, considered in a broader political, social and international context. In this context, detailed attention will be paid to the chaotic period spanning from August 1945 to early 1946 – often referred to as the Bersiap – and the political and social aftermath in the Netherlands, Indonesia and elsewhere.

KITLV will be responsible for the synthesis and will carry out the subprojects Regional Studies and Bersiap. For these projects the group, together with Indonesian colleagues, will carry out research in several Indonesian regions. These subprojects will be the continuation of the KITLV-project Dutch military operations in Indonesia 1945-1950 that has run since 2012.

The programme has a strong international character. There will be cooperation with researchers from Indonesia and other countries involved. More than previously was the case, sources originating from Indonesia, Australia, United Kingdom and the United States (United Nations) will be used. Furthermore, the programme explicitly includes the opportunity for witness accounts from the Netherlands and Indonesia to be presented. Witnesses can come forward themselves or will be traced by researchers, in order to allow them to document their personal accounts for future generations.

For more information see:

For questions or information please contact Ireen Hoogenboom (ln.vl1513347164tik@m1513347164oobne1513347164gooh1513347164)

Gert Oostindie
(project director)
Ireen Hoogenboom (project coordinator)
Tom van den Berge (researcher)
Christiaan Harinck (researcher)
Nico van Horn (researcher)
Bart Luttikhuis (researcher)
Harry Poeze (researcher)
Henk Schulte Nordholt (advisor)
Fridus Steijlen (advisor)

In September 2015 KITLV has started a collaborative internship programme with the History Department of Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) at Yogyakarta. Under supervision of Dr. Abdul Wahid students from UGM will research documents at the Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia (ANRI) for references to both Dutch and Indonesian military operations during the decolonisation war. The results of this research are used by both institutions. The programme will run until 2018. Besides this programme there was already an ongoing cooperation between KITLV and UGM entailing workshops, seminars and the facilitating of each other’s researchers.


The current interns from UGM together with Ireen Hoogenboom and Abdul Wahid: from left to right: Achmad Shoheb, Rechardus Deaz Prabowo, Ireen Hoogenboom, Aan Ratmanto, Abdul Wahid, Nugroho Bayu Wijanarko, and Meralesi.

At the 2nd February 2017, Gert Oostindie, Bart Luttikhuis and Christiaan Harinck will start the fourth MA research seminar on the decolonization war: Violent Transformation: The Decolonization War in Indonesia, 1945-1950. This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme at Leiden University. Students that are enrolled in this course will carry out assignments that are linked to the research project.

Een beladen geschiedenis; De dekolonisatieoorlog in Indonesië, 1945-1949. Harinck, Christiaan en Bart Luttikhuis (eds). Leidschrift 31-3, 2016. Met bijdragen van Lotte Akkerman, Tom van den Berge, Kimberley Bootsma, Cees Fasseur, K.W. Fogg, Christiaan Harinck, Nico van Horn, Bente de Leede, Y. Langkeek, Bart Luttikhuis en Maarten Manse.

Serdadu Belanda di Indonesia 1945-1950. Kesaksiaan perang pada sisi sejarah yang salahby Gert Oostindie in cooperation with Ireen Hoogenboom and Jonathan Verwey. Translated by Maya Liem, Susi Moeimam and Nurhayu Santoso. Obor, 2016.

See here for a preview

Soldaat in Indonesië 1945-1950: Getuigenissen aan de verkeerde kant van de geschiedenis by Gert Oostindie in cooperation with Ireen Hoogenboom and Jonathan Verwey. Prometheus, 2015.
– List of published ego documents (additional information Soldaat in Indonesië)
– Analysis of the composition of the Dutch military in Indonesia 1945-1950 (additional information Soldaat in Indonesië)
– Tables and charts (additional information Soldaat in Indonesië)


‘De brandende littekens van de doofpot’
Onderzoek Uitgelicht,  jaargang 5-2, 2016.


‘Nederlandse regeringen volledig op de hoogte’
Solidariteit, 25 december 2016.


‘Maar wisten we dit niet al eerder?’
Java Post, 21 december 2016.


De noodzaak van erkenning: Beeldvorming rond ‘Indonesië’ sterk in beweging
KLEIO 7, 2016.


Leidschrift heeft een neus voor controverse
Leidsch Dagblad, 20 december 2016.


Penelitian Menyeluruh Kekerasan Serdadu Belanda di Indonesia
Historia, 6 december 2016.


‘Onderzoek naar geweld Nederlanders tijdens Bersiap’
EenVandaag, 6 december 2016.


Ik herdenk Indië
Radio 1, 15 augustus 2016.
Het algehele onbegrip voor dekolonisatie’
de Volkskrant, 15 augustus 2016.
Wandaden in Indonesië
OVT, 24  april 2016.

‘Een kroniek van ontkenning en onthulling’
De Groene Amsterdammer, 14 januari 2016.

‘Wij kwamen niet om te doden’
Geschiedenis Magazine 50:8, nov/dec 2015.

‘Nieuwe beelden van de vuile oorlog in Indië’
Vrij Nederland, 21 november 2015.

This media archive consists of Dutch newspaper articles and tv-programmes about the decolonization war in Indonesia 1945-1950.


On the 8th and 9th of September 2016 KITLV organised a CLARIAH workshop on Digital Humanities, led by Stef Scagliola (for more information see Stef’s blog), with the goal of bringing scholars together and teaching them how to apply a number of basic digital tools. Specialised instructors had been invited to present a tailor-made introduction and create a number of assignments on the following topics: visualisations, linked data, text mining and crowdsourcing. The KITLV-database with military memoires of Dutch veterans who fought in the Indonesian decolonisation war was used as a dataset to show examples and complete assignments for these four digital methods.

See the presentations of the workshop on Vimeo: Digging into military memoires.