Friday, August 10, 2012

Suppressed History in the Netherlands

Last month many Dutch readers were shocked when they read the front page news of de Volkskrant and saw photographs of Dutch soldiers carrying out extra-judicial executions of unarmed prisoners in a mass grave.  These photos were over a half century old and are the first of their kind ever to be published.

You can read my article on the subject, published in an Australian online journal today, by clicking here.


  1. Your article is absolutely fascinating! I find it intriguing that the Hague court had to pursue its host nation on war crimes charges! I see that your article is under creative commons. I'm going to reblog it if that is okay?

  2. Thanks Emm. I'm glad you enjoyed it and please feel free to reblog it.

  3. Is there any nation on earth that hasn't been involved in oppression of minorities within the country .... or war crimes against other nations? I mean even countries that see themselves as highly moral.

    So historians need to ask: what are a particular nation's myths? and how do these myths allow a nation to live with the truths of its own history?

  4. Interesting article. It must be difficult for the Dutch to allow such atrocities into their national identity.

    I remember the atrocities by Canadian soldiers in Somalia in 1993. It wasn't suppressed but I think most Canadians were utterly shoched that our troops would act in this terrible way.

  5. Hi Hels and Chris,
    I think all nations have created collective myths and these all involve selective memory. And the pst is messy - not all Dutch soldiers carried out atrocities against the rebels, some even deserted and joined the Indonesian rebels, and within the Indonesians rebels there were factions that attacked each other and there were many cases of Dutch, Chinese and Indonesians civilians slaughtered by Indonesian nationalists. In Holland today the "messiness" of the past is gradually being brought to light.