A Short History of the Indo-Europeans of the Netherlands Indies

Colonialism and the emergence of a new ethnic group as a result of interracial relationships are inseparable phenomena. The Dutch ruled the colony Netherlands Indies, present Indonesia, from 1600 until 1949. During this period the mestizo group of Indo-Europeans (the 'Indos' or Eurasians) occupied a special position in social-economic, political and cultural life. Mainly focused on a European lifestyle many white Europeans considered them a lesser type of themselves as they originated from the indigenous 'inferior' world. Indos always have had to cope with this tragic of being an in-between- group suffering latent or direct racial discrimination from the white Europeans, their respected role models.

This timeline is an attempt to approach and expose the history of the Indo-Europeans from their own perspective. This so-called Indo-centric approach will do justice to "forgotten" or neglected facts not fitting in the regular Eurocentric view on foreign cultures. So, this timeline attempts writing history "from within" the Indo group. ;xNLx;Find out more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indos_in_colonial_history;xNLx;;xNLx;© Humphrey de la Croix/IndischHistorisch.nl 2015;xNLx;;xNLx;Translation: Ms Rosalind Hewett MA

Regeringsreglement voor Nederlands-Indië

The ethnic distinctions were legally anchored in this constitution of the Netherlands Indies: 1. At the small top of colonial society: Europeans (whites=20%) and Indo-Europeans (80%). Later in 1899 Japanese were also admitted as Europeans; 2. A majority of 'Inlanders' or indigenous Indonesian peoples and a smaller group of various 'Oriental Foreigners' (from the Middle-East, South-Asia, Southeast-Asia and China). Eventually this Regeringsreglement officially proclaimed social, political and ethnic inequality in the colony.

First Dutch appearance in the Indonesian Archipelago

The young Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden) was aiming to break the Portuguese monopoly (from 1498) on the international trade in spices like clove, nutmeg and sandalwood.

Indo Nationality (Dutch Civil Code)

According to the Burgerlijk Wetboek (Civil Code), persons born in the Netherlands and its colonies could have Dutch nationality. This meant practically all residents of the Netherlands Indies possessed Dutch nationality unless a non-Dutch resident insisted on keeping his original nationality. This concept of nationality is based on the soil where one is born (ius soli).

Post-colonial Indifference and Imminent Oblivion

Arriving in the Netherlands, repatriated Indos experienced a shocking indifference, ignorance and lack of interest among Dutch people about their (post-) colonial past and who they were. Not rarely Dutch people showed a strong anti-colonial resentment. By the way, this mindset is interesting, as during the period 1945-1950 the majority supported the attempt to restore colonial rule. Indos were accused of having contributed to the exploitation of Indonesian peoples. Psychological explanation of this attitude was that the Dutch still were recovering from the highly traumatizing period of German occupation. Long time a smug nation the Second World War and the loss of the East Indies, meant a not earlier experienced humiliation of a self-conscious and self-satisfied nation.

Indos in Diaspora: Finding a New Indo Homeland

The loss of their soil of birth and enforced emigration meant the beginning of a real "Indische diaspora" ("Indos' diaspora"). The end of World War II and the Dutch attempts to restore colonial rule between 1945 and 1950 would be the rearguard of a colonial power. The Allied combat against the dictatorial and aggressive regimes of Nazi-Germany, fascist Italy and imperialistic Japan left behind a new world opinion in which there was no room any more for colonialism. Soon after President Soekarno started his policy of confrontation in 1950, precluding the massive departure of Europeans in Indonesia. It was made clear that the Indos especially would not have a place any more in Indonesia.

15 August 1945 Japanese Surrender

The Japanese capitulation did not mean peace and restoration of the pre-war situation in the Netherlands Indies. The Japanese authorities had granted independence to the Indonesian people. Nationalist leaders Soekarno and Mohamed Hatta proclaimed independence on 17 August 1945. Civilians in the internment camps found themselves surrounded by young revolutionary extremists. Now, from one day to the next, the former enemy had become the protectors of the internees. The Netherlands Indies was facing a new war. 15 August 1945 was not at all a liberation day for Europeans and Indos.

December 7, 1941 World War II and Japanese Occupation

After Japan attacked the US fleet in Pearl Harbor, the Netherlands Indies as first of the Allies declared war on Japan. The German occupation of the Netherlands put an end to the Dutch foreign policy of neutrality. As a consequence the Netherlands Indies became part of the alliance against imperialistic Japan. In 1942 120,000 to 200,000 Indo-Europeans were part of a total population of 60 million. The total European community of about 350,000 people just was a small minority in a dominant Asian environment. Estimated victims in the Netherlands Indies during World War II: 30,000 Europeans who died in internment camps, both white and Indo-Europeans. The specific number of Indos who died in and outside the internment camps is not available. Indonesians comprised most victims: over 3 million.

27 December 1949: Sovereignty handed over to Indonesia

According to international law, 27 December 1949 is the official date that Indonesia became a sovereign nation. But de facto 17 August 1945 is the real moment the former colony Netherlands Indies could be considered a free nation based in the principle of self-determination.

1900 -1929 Indos during the Heydays of the Netherlands Indies

From 1900 untill 1929 the Dutch empire passed through its heydays due to sustained economic growth and further control over the archipelago. As a result of an ‘Ethical Policy’ the government successfully stopped further impoverishment of indigenous population (the so-called coolie problem) and at the same time stimulated employment, education and general infrastructure . A policy of neutrality during the First World War proved to be very profitable. The colony transformed into a global supplier of oil, rubber and raw materials for the purpose of pharmaceuticaland other industries. This booming steadily faded away in the twenties untill the Great Depression of 1929 marked the definite end of a growing prosperity. Unfortunately extensive research about the social and economic position of Indos in this period later known as the second ‘tempo doeloe’ or ‘good old times’ (the first one from 1870 until 1900), has not be done yet.

Tjalie Robinson and the Idea of an Authentic Indo Culture

Jan Boon (alias Tjalie Robinson and Vincent Mahieu) is considered the greatest Indo writer and protagonist of an authentic, genuine and powerful Indo culture rather than a "fusion"of so many other cultures.

Poverty and Wealth

In the second half of the 19th century journalists started discussions about presumed worsening standards of living among indigenous labourers and Indos. Poverty in the liberal 19th century was not a political issue. In the second half of the century colonial rulers could no longer avoid putting poverty on their agenda.

Post-colonial Indo Identities

The diaspora disconnected the Indos as a social and ethnic group from their soil of birth and the place where they had been raised. How did Indo identity evolve after the Netherlands Indies? What is the historical dimension of Indo identity and how about its future?

Netherlands New-Guinea: Indos' Last Resort

The transfer of Dutch sovereignty to Indonesia did not include New-Guinea, the western part of the world's second biggest island. Soon in 1950 President Soekarno declared Dutch New Guinea a remnant of imperialism and claimed sovereignty over this vast remote territory. The Netherlands was determined to keep New Guinea as its overseas possession in the East. Around 1957 an armed conflict between t Indonesia and its former colony was at stake.

Outstanding Post Colonial Bills: Backpay and Restitution

During the Japanese occupation the colonial government and private companies had to stop the payments of salaries, pensions and contributions to social security and pension premiums. After the war ended, the Dutch government declared it was not responsible for the financial policy of the colony.

The Rise of an Indo Self Consciousness

Indo self consciousnes emerged within the general development of an all Indonesian nationalist movement.

The Njaj: Indos' Primeval Mother

Who are the Indos' "Adam and Eve?" Adam was always a Portuguese, Dutch or any other European male. Eve was an indigenous Indonesian woman with whom "Adam" started an intimate relationship.

Great Depression: Indo in Need

The Great Depression of 1929 had a devastating impact on the Netherlands Indies' economy. In particular unemployment and enormous cuts to civil servants' salaries affected a large part of the standard of living of the Indo population.

Nationaliteitswet 1892

The Nationaliteitswet (Nationality act) of 1892 constituted which residents of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, including it's colonies, could have Dutch nationality. The Dutch Civil Code of 1838 proved to be outdated as it 's implication was that almost every subject of the Netherlands Indies had Dutch nationality. The new Nationaliteitswet of 1892 revoked this status: the 'Inlanders' (indigenous Indonesians) and Oriental Foreigners (Arabians, Indians, Chinese) lost their Dutch nationality but remained subjects of the Kingdom. The position of white Europeans and Indos did not change: they kept Dutch nationality. The nationaliteitswet of 1892 officially embedded the distinction of three ethnic groups as mentioned in the Regeeringsreglement of 1854. The significance of the 1892 legislation would still have an impact on Indos' position after Indonesia had become a sovereign state in 1949.

Nationaliteitswet (Nationality Act) of 1850

In 1838 the Burgerlijk Wetboek, or Civil Code, actually granted the same legal position to Europeans and all other subjects of the Netherlands Indies. The Dutch government realized its impact could be that Indonesians would require the same access to education and civil and military services. As the Dutch (including the Indos) were just a small minority, exclusiveness of Dutch nationality had to be a singular right for Europeans. The new Nationaleitswet (Nationality Act) of 1850 introduced nationality based on ancestry (ius sanguinis) instead of on territory or soil (ius solis). In this way indigenous Indonesians (inlanders) and foreign orientals were excluded from Dutch nationality. Liberal politician and designer of the Grondwet (Constitution) of 1848, Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, rather believed that the German, French or British were more akin to the Dutch than Indonesians were. So the concept of nationality basically became a racial one.

17 August 1945: Proklamasi Republik Indonesia

The declaration of Indonesian independence preluded the definite end of Dutch colonial rule. During the war Indos outside the camps already had to face an increasing hostile attitude on the part of Indonesians.

Bersiap and Indonesian War of Independence: an Indo Tragedy

The Japanese capitulation and surrender did not bring the Indos a period of peace and recovery. After Soekarno and Hatta proclaimed the free Republik Indonesia, irregular bands of young Indonesian extremist nationalists took advantage of the vacuum of power left behind by the Japanese. Many Dutch, Indos and Indonesians would suffer and often brutally die in what was actually a war of independence.

The Indische Partij

Ernest Douwes Dekker established the Indische Partij, a nationalist political party. Its goal was to prepare a future, independent Netherlands Indies led by Indo-Europeans. The Indische Partij was the first movement in the colony to explicitly demand an Indonesia independent of the Netherlands.

The Indo-Europees Verbond (IEV)

Unlike Ernest Douwes Dekker and his Indische Partij, most Indos were not radical nationalists. They surely wanted a stronger political position in order to safeguard their actual social-economic status. It was all about jobs, wages and status as Europeans. Journalist and activist Karel Zaalberg's ideal was an 'Eurasian League' founded by the Indos and meant to protect themselves against the "indianization" of social and economic life.

Indos' Options: Warga Negara or Dutch? 1949-1951

Indonesia offered the Indos the choice of opting to keep Dutch nationality or to become an Indonesian national or 'warga negara' (= the "color of the [Indonesian] nation. The young sovereign state guaranteed the Indos preservation of their identity and jobs they had during the Dutch regime.

Indos inside and outside the Internment Camps

The Japanese put almost all white Europeans ('totok') into internment camps. A minority of Indos were also interned. After the war the poor circumstances outside the camps proved to be a forgotten reality. All attention was given to those who died in the camps or had survived.

Indo Resistance Against the Japanese

Resistance against the Japanese had long been denied by the Dutch government. It was not until the 1980s that resistance activities in the Netherlands Indies were fully recognized. Thanks to re-discovered historical sources, eyewitnesses and a strong and successful lobby of veterans and people directly involved, the Dutch government admitted there had been resistance after the capitulation of the colonial army KNIL.

Indorock: Indos and Dutch Youth's Lifestyle

Indorock is a genre originating in the 1950s in Indonesia and the Netherlands. It was instrumental rock 'n' roll, a fusion of Indonesian and Western music and predecessor of the Nederbeat. The band members were often Indo (Dutch-Indonesian) musicians, repatriated to the Netherlands. Some of the most important influential bands were The Tielman Brothers, The Javalins, The Crazy Rockers and The Blue Diamonds.

First European Appearance in the Indonesian Archipelago

The Portuguese were the first Europeans who discovered the East Indies. For almost a century Portugal would possess the monopoly on the spice trade from the Moluccas to the rest of Asia and Europe. After their arrival in 1596, the Dutch kicked the Portuguese out of the archipelago.

The 'Oude Indische Samenleving' (Ancient Indo Society): A Flourishing Mestizo Society

Within two centuries the Dutch succesfully conquered parts of the Indonesian archipelago. Far from Europe, the Dutch integrated with different peoples, cultures and religions into a new, colourful, "mestizo" society. We call this stage in colonial Netherlands Indies the "Old Indische society".

Bersiap in Surabaya: the Unknown Genocide of Indos

October and November 1945 were the most violent months in the Bersiap period, especially in Surabaya. As the Dutch population was still in internment camps or prisoners of war, Indonesians focused their resentment on the Indos outside the camps. Thousands of them were killed by extremist nationalists.

Pasar Malam Besar to Tong Tong Fair

As a version of the Indonesian night street market 'Pasar Gambir' in Batavia, Mary Brückel-Beiten and Tjalie Robinson organized in 1959 in The Hague a festival where Indos could meet and have the good old feeling of a home lost. Indische food stalls, music, exhibitions and the sale of exotic products were the pasar malam's basic elements. Pasar malams since then have been held overall in the countries where Indos settled.

A Changing Indo Society: the Colony as Part of a Dutch Empire

The industrialisation in Western Europe transformed the colonies into markets for new products and increased their position as suppliers of raw materials such as cotton, oil, rubber, sugar cane and kina. In the pre-industrial era the colony was only a supplier of spices which did not require a massive local Dutch presence. In the 19th century the exploitation of land and labour needed an immediate interference in regional and local infrastructures and in local communities. In other words: the impact of Western, Dutch values were more complete and would destroy traditional society. The introduction of money affected deeply relationships between Dutch and Indonesians and was only profitable for Dutch and indigenous elites at the expense of the (small) farmers and their families. These now would often no longer be able to produce enough food for themselves because the compulsory production of industrial crops had priority. Dutch companies and the government used and abused existing traditional compulsory labour ("herendiensten") to increase profits. At the end of the 19th century they had created a new coolie class of paupers. As a matter of fact Indonesian peoples lost many freedoms and became vulnerable to excesses of liberal capitalism.The expanding colonial economy meant the end of "good old" Indo society in which the Asian element played a dominant role. In the new imperialistic era Dutch self-confidence caused a new view on indigenous and Indo society. Technological progress and scientific developments (Darwin's theory of evolution and it's survival of the fittest) put Indonesian peoples and societies as inferior entities but useful economic resources. For the Indos, as part of European society, the social and economic changes offered new opportunities. Old Indo elites in the countryside (plantations) prospered even more. In the urban areas where most Indos lived (as they were dependent on employment in the Dutch civil service and companies), new companies settled and government bureaucracy grew steadily. In the second half of the 19th century, when the Dutch conquered almost the territory of contemporary Indonesia, Indos entered new positions in military and civil service.

Netherlands Indies at the FIFA Soccer World Championship

An unknown and nice chapter in Indo history is that the soccer team of the Netherlands Indies represented the Asian group during the world championship in France in 1938.

The Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad: an Indo Newspaper

At the end of the 19th century the press became a powerful medium for increasing social and political awareness of Indos and Indonesians. Daily Newspaper 'Het Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad " (The Batavian Newspaper') attracted many Indo readers because this newspaper was very critical towards the Gouvernement.

KNIL 1830-1950 The Royal Netherlands Indies Colonial Army

After telling someone you are an Indo, he or she will often ask if your father or grandfather was in the colonial military KNIL. Is it true many Indos were to be found in it's ranks? And was the KNIL as legendary as the French Foreign Legion?

'Komedie Stamboel': theater of the common people

"Originating in 1891 in the port city of Surabaya, the Komedie Stamboel, or Istanbul-style theater, toured colonial Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia by rail and steamship. The company performed musical versions of the Arabian Nights, European fairy tales and operas such as Sleeping Beauty and Aida, as well as Indian and Persian romances, Southeast Asian chronicles, true crime stories, and political allegories. The actors were primarily Eurasians, the original backers were Chinese, and audiences were made up of all races and classes. The Komedie Stamboel explores how this new hybrid theater pointed toward possibilities for the transformation of self in a colonial society and sparked debates on moral behavior and mixed-race politics. While audiences marveled at spectacles involving white-skinned actors, there were also racial frictions between actors and financiers, sexual scandals, fights among actors and patrons, bankruptcies, imprisonments, and a murder. The Komedie Stamboel in the culture of empire and in late nineteenth-century was itinerant entertainment. The theater was used as a symbol of cross-ethnic integration in postcolonial Indonesia and as an emblem of Eurasian cultural accomplishment by Indische Nederlanders." Source and quatation: Matthew Isaac Cohen, 'The Komedie Stamboel: Popular Theater in Colonial Indonesia, 1891-1903'.

Indos in Contemporary Indonesia

The Dutch departure from New Guinea in 1962 completed Indonesia's move to sovereignty over the entire territory of the former Netherlands Indies. After most Indos repatriated to the Netherlands and other destinations abroad, only a handful of Indos were left behind in Indonesia. They automatically became Indonesian nationals (warga negara). Some of them had been refused a visa to the Netherlands as they were not able to prove that they had Dutch nationality. Others decided to stay in Indonesia because they felt to be part of the land and its inhabitants. Exact information about Indos in Indonesia after the repatriation waves is not available. What is the exact number of Indos living in Indonesia, did they have enough opportunities to build careers, did they suffer discrimination then and now or did they succeed in preserving an Indo identity are still unanswered questions.

Indo Cuisine as the First Fusion Kitchen

A heritage of colonialism in East and Southeast Asia is the so-called Eurasian cuisine. The Netherlands Indies now is well known because of the 'rijsttafel', a rich and (over-)abundant served meal eventually meant to impress the guests. Essentially, the Indo-Dutch cuisine can be considered one of the first fusion kitchens using ingredients and methods of East and West. Indo cuisine nowadays is one aspect of cultural Indo heritage known by everybody. An important feature of Indo cuisine: it is a homemade kitchen and the authentic food is at home.

The Netherlands Indies 1941 - 1949: A Long Period of Wars

Becoming one of the Allies the Netherlands Indies entered the Second World War the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

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