Cees Fasseur (1938-2016)

On the 13th of March, historian Cees Fasseur passed away in a Leiden hospital at the age of 77. We lost an important historian and a friend.

As a colonial historian, Fasseur carried out ground-breaking research on the Cultivation System in nineteenth century Java, and wrote on many other subjects having to do with colonial history, including the training of colonial officials (De Indologen, Amsterdam, 1993). In 1977, he was appointed as an extraordinary professor at the Leiden University. In 1986 he became full professor.

Before he became a professor at Leiden University, he worked at the Ministry of Justice where, in 1969, he wrote a famous report on Dutch military war crimes during the Indonesian Revolution (1945-1950). Fasseur used the term ‘war crimes’, though this terminology was erased in the final version by Prime-Minister De Jong.

Fasseur’s work reached a large audience and he became a celebrity among historians when he published his best-selling biography of Queen Wilhelmina (2 vols 1998, 2001), followed in 2008 by a book on a crisis within the royal family in the 1950s. Two years ago, he published a biography of Gerbrandy, Prime Minister during WWII. His own autobiography will appear in April this year.

Cees Fasseur was important for KITLV, He was instrumental when the institute became part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in 2001. As a board member of the KNAW, Fasseur facilitated the establishment of a new Research Department at KITLV. When, more recently, KITLV went through a painful reorganisation, we could count on his unwavering support and advice.

As recognition for his many years of service to the KITLV, Fasseur was going to be named an Honorary Member of the Society  at the Annual Meeting in June. Now that he is no longer with us, the Honorary Membership will be awarded to him posthumously.

Photo: Andere Tijden

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