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War Reparations Centre

Rehabilitation of Dutch military who refused to serve in the Dutch-Indies (Indonesia) in 1945-1949

WRC Project

By Liesbeth Zegveld and Frederiek de Vlaming. After the Second World War thousands of Dutch soldiers refused to go to the Dutch-Indies (currently Indonesia) to recapture the former Dutch colony. They were punished with long prison sentences. This project investigates whether the former Dutch soldiers could and should receive rehabilitation or another form of reparation.

Catalyst of this project is the ruling of the Dutch Supreme Court of June 25, 2013 in which it stated:

'If and to the extent that such a change of opinion [on the punishment of the military who refused to go to the Dutch Indies at the time] leads to social sufficiently widespread desire that the effects of the conviction be redressed, it is not the revision court, but the political and legislative bodies to assess whether, and if so how, this wish can be met' (paragraph 3.4)

In total 4000 military refused to go to the former Dutch colony between 1945-1950. 2600 of them were convicted. During the mass trials of conscientious objectors (late 40s, early 50s), it was known that war crimes took place in the former colony. The research question of this project is whether with the knowledge of now, the conscientious objectors would have been handled differently by the Dutch authorities.