The Long War
A line is often drawn between the years 1940-1945, when the expansionist German and Japanese empires were fought, and the period 1945-1949, when the decolonisation of Indonesia took shape. In the collective memory and historiography of the Netherlands, the liberation of May 1945 is the dividing line between two periods that followed each other but seem otherwise unrelated. Although the consequences of war and the occupation had to be dealt with after the liberation, the upheaval, devastation, purges, and the colonial relationship with the Dutch East Indies/Indonesia were primarily seen as the inevitable aftermath.
Ten years of violent conflict
This project, however, focuses on the continuity in those ten years of ongoing violent conflict. It deals with how the Dutch lived through this period of radical change in the country’s international relations. How is it possible that a small nation-state with a large colonial empire not only survived years of foreign occupation, but was even able to embark on major military campaigns in Asia? The project looks into society’s ongoing mobilisation, the violent internal and external conflicts and the political crises that accompanied them, and ultimately into the significance of these ten years to modern Dutch history.
Based on this research, Peter Romijn wrote the book De lange Tweede Wereldoorlog. Nederland 1940-1949 (Amsterdam: Balans, 2020).