The Dutch Armed Forces in Suriname, 1940-1975

The history of the Dutch troops in Suriname during and after World War II is connected with changing colonial relationships beginning with the Atlantic Charter of 1941 and ending with the independence of Suriname on November 25, 1975. This study is based on archival research and oral history.

Suriname was given autonomy within the Dutch Kingdom in 1954. The Surinamese government was responsible for its internal security, while the Dutch government still carried out the national defense. Still, internal security was also an immediate concern for the Dutch. In the 1960s, the Dutch government – alerted by the United States – feared that communism would spread as an ink blot in the Caribbean area after the Cuban revolution of 1959. The Dutch government clung to its armed forces for security while the military intelligence service was intensified.

The troops protected Dutch interests, but needed popular support to be accepted as a legitimate part of Suriname’s defense instead of being considered an army of occupation. Surinamese soldiers provided this legitimacy. Commanders continuously measured the need of recruiting local soldiers against the risk of losing control. This study about Dutch security and defense policy involves World War II, the deployment of Surinamese soldiers to Indonesia (1944-1950) and Korea (1950-1954), the dilemma of the Dutch troops during the border dispute with Guyana (1968) ending in the formation of a Surinamese army in 1975.


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Related Reseachers

Gert Oostindie (project director)
Petra Groen (project director and advisor)
Ellen Klinkers (researcher)
Rosemarijn Hoefte (advisor)
Peter Meel (advisor)
Piet Kamphuis (advisor)
Ben Schoenmaker (advisor)

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