On Saturday afternoon, August 15, 2009, the day the Japanese capitulation is commemorated, State Secretary Jet Bussemaker was informed about the state of affairs, the realisation and the location of the web portal ‘Indië in Oorlog’ (The East Indies at war). This portal combines information about World War II in the Dutch East Indies from various heritage institutions and will be managed by Indisch Herinneringscentrum (East Indies Memorial Centre) Bronbeek.
The web portal ‘Indië in Oorlog’ is being developed by the ministry of Public Health, Well-being and Sport within the context of the programme ‘Erfgoed van de Oorlog’ (War Heritage). PACE (Papua Heritage Foundation)is the smallest of the participating heritage foundations. PACE’s manager Nancy Jouwe spoke of its importance.
“A web portal acts as an internet guide. In this portal, technology from the 21st Century and strong content knowledge are combined as an attractive and comprehensive entity. Participation by PACE substantially increases its accessibility.”
In addition, she commented that participation by PACE adds depth of content to this particular portal.
The Papuan’s story
PACE has been in existence for seven years and discloses and digitises Papua Heritage: artefacts, documents, books, films, photographs, maps and stories. For instance, on the portal we will be able to show: theme pages, photos, films and stories concerning the war. Regarding the heritage of the East Indies (what is now Indonesia), the Papuan story does not immediately come to mind, although historically there is much to be said in favour of establishing this particular link. Military history clearly shows the importance of the island of New Guinea. General McArthur and the Allied Forces started the liberation of Asia and the Pacific from New Guinea. During World War II, Merauke, on New Guinea, was the only location in the Archipelago of the East Indies that was not occupied by the Japanese.
The political history of the region also shows the importance of New Guinea. Between 1945 and 1949, New Guinea played an ever more important role. It was a possible destination for those people not welcome in the new Republic of Indonesia. It was also increasingly becoming a point of dispute between the Netherlands and Indonesia.
Besides showing formal recorded history, the web portal is also a means of showing personal stories and oral history of individuals. In this way, the web portal can show the influence of World War II on our lives. A number of organisations participating in the portal, PACE among them, will publish these stories on their website and thereby also on the Web Portal ‘Indië in Oorlog’.
The Web Portal Índie in Oorlog’ will help to draw attention to these stories.
Eye Witness reports
PACE’s Oral History Project discloses eye witness reports of experiences during and after World War II in New Guinea by Dutchmen, first generation Papuan immigrants, Eurasians, Moluccans and others who lived on New Guinea at the time. The war has had its impact on PACE manager Nancy Jouwe’s own family, in the Netherlands as well as in New Guinea. Her Eurasian grandfather Nappie settled with his family in The Hague in 1930, after serving as Assistant-Govenor in the East Indies. So her mother went through the Hunger Winter of 44-45 in the Netherlands. Moreover, her grandmother Wiesje sheltered Jewish persons in hiding in her home in The Hague. At the same time, Nancy’s father worked as a tuna fisherman for the Japanese on the other side of the world. In Hollandia Bay, he was picked up by a Dutch-American submarine and then mobilised. Nancy’s father and mother met during the Round Table Conference in The Hague in 1949. These kind of stories will make the web portal come to life. It also demonstrates the complexity of history: this war involved us all.
The story of Nicholas Jouwe recorded in documents. On the retirement of the Indies, 1940-1950. Nationaal Archief, 2008. ISBN 978-90-70301-65-1 (in Dutch)
The full text of the speech on August 15 by PACE Director, Nancy Jouwe. (in Dutch)
Participants of the web portal
A variety of institutions and organisations ranging from the Dutch Red Cross to museums and the national archive participate. These are: Cogis, Geheugen van Nederland, Het Nederlandse Rode Kruis, Indisch Herinneringscentrum Bronbeek, Insitituut voor Beeld en Geluid, KITLV, Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Legermuseum, Museon, Museum Bronbeek, Museum Maluku, Nationaal Archief, Nederlands Fotomuseum. Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie, Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, Prentenkabinet Leiden, Stichting Papua Cultureel Erfgoed en Stichting Pelita.