Remembrance of Dutch War Dead in Southeast Asia, 1942-1945

Fridus Steijlen

Abstract

Recognition of the war experience in Southeast Asia in the Netherlands was not easy. The Indisch community, those who had to leave the Netherlands East Indies after decolonization, did not feel that their war experience was accepted. Following the story of one man, a former POW, this article shows how unorthodox ways of protesting were used to command respect and acknowledgement. The arena for these actions was not only the Indisch monument in the Netherlands, but also the War cemetery in Thailand. The former Dutch POW ended up in a dispute with the Australian caretaker of that cemetery over the specific location of a camp. Both men, however, were motivated by the same urge to find the exact locations of camps along the Burma railway. The story of this POW shows how important official recognition is on a personal level.

Keywords

WWII, remembrance, POW, Burma railway, Netherlands, Indisch

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