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Amsterdam University Press
, Amsterdam

Beyond the Pale Dutch Extreme Violence in the Indonesian War of Independence, 1945-1949

On 17 August 1945, two days after the Japanese surrender that also brought an end to the Second World War in Asia, Indonesia declared its independence. The declaration was not recognized by the Netherlands, which resorted to force in its attempt to take control of the inevitable process of decolonization. This led to four years of difficult negotiations and bitter warfare.

In 2005, the Dutch government declared that the Netherlands should never have waged the war. The government’s 1969 position on the violence used by the Dutch armed forces during the war remained unchanged, however: although there had been ‘excesses’, on the whole the armed forces had behaved ‘correctly’. As the indications of Dutch extreme violence mounted, this official position proved increasingly difficult to maintain. In 2016, the Dutch government therefore decided to fund a broad study on the dynamics of the violence.

The most important conclusions of that research programme are summarized in this book. The authors show that the Dutch armed forces used extreme violence on a structural basis, and that this was concealed both at the time and for many years after the war by the Dutch government and by society more broadly. All of this – like the entire colonial history – is at odds with the rose-tinted self-image of the Netherlands.

During the research, the authors – Gert Oostindie, Thijs Brocades Zaalberg, Eveline Buchheim, Esther Captain, Martijn Eickhoff, Roel Frakking, Azarja Harmanny, Meindert van der Kaaij, Jeroen Kemperman, Rémy Limpach, Bart Luttikhuis, Remco Raben, Peter Romijn, Onno Sinke, Fridus Steijlen, Stephanie Welvaart, and Esther Zwinkels – were all affiliated with the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), the Netherlands Institute for Military History (NIMH) or the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

The final editing was done by Gert Oostindie, Ben Schoenmaker and Frank van Vree. The Indonesian historian Hilmar Farid wrote the epilogue.

Beyond the pale is available as a download at OAPEN.

This book is a result of the research program Independence, Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia 1945-1950.

Gert Oostindie

Thijs Brocades Zaalberg 

Esther Captain

Roel Frakking

Azarja Harmanny

Meindert van der Kaaij

Rémy Limpach

Bart Luttikhuis

Remco Raben

Onno Sinke

Fridus Steijlen

Esther Zwinkels

Ben Schoenmaker

Hilmar Farid

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