New exhibition & catalogue: ‘Images of the Indonesian War of Independence 1945-1949’

On Tuesday 18 January, the new digital exhibition Images of the Indonesian War of Independence/Perang Kemerdekaan Indonesia dalam Gambar/Beelden van De Indonesische Onafhankelijkheidsoorlog 1945-1949 will be launched. The exhibition is based on the collections of Leiden University Libraries and KITLV and available in English, Indonesian and Dutch. A trilingual catalogue accompanies this digital exhibition of some fifty unique items.

Four years of protracted negotiations and bitter warfare passed between the declaration of Indonesian independence on 17 August, 1945, and the official transfer of sovereignty on 27 December, 1949. Whereas the newly proclaimed Republic of Indonesia rejected the colonial regime and hence any attempt at ‘recolonization’ by the Dutch after the Japanese occupation (1942-1945), the Dutch framed their return to the archipelago as a mission to restore ‘order and peace’.


Many materials, alongside photographs and oral history collections, ended up in the collections of the KITLV and eventually the Leiden University Libraries. This exhibition shows a selection of that material covering the war years in Indonesia, 1945-1949. The material not only gives an impression of the war but also shows how divergent people’s perspectives were at the time. This modest exhibition is therefore also an invitation to everyone to reflect on the limitations of their own frame. Visit the exhibition here:

Read more on the website of Leiden University


A trilingual (English, Dutch and Indonesian) catalogue, published by Leiden University Press, accompanies this digital exhibition of some fifty unique items. The selection made demonstrates the sharply contrasting perspectives on the legitimacy of the Republic and Dutch colonialism, and also offers first-hand testimonies of a bitter war with a huge imbalance of casualties. Read more.


MA students and former KITLV interns Sander van der Horst, Linde Lammers & Melle van Maanen compiled the inventory of all relevant special collections, prepared the ultimate selection and wrote the accompanying texts. Gert Oostindie (former director of KITLV and emeritus Professor of Colonial and Postcolonial Studies at Leiden University) and Anda Zara (lecturer in History at the Yogyakarta State University) contributed to the introductions of the catalogue.


Cover catalogue Images Of The Indonesian War Of Independence/Beelden Van De Indonesische Onafhankelijkheidsoorlog/Perang Kemerdekaan Indonesia Dalam Gambar, 1945-1949, Leiden University Press.

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