Internment of Germans and NSB members

When the Government of the Netherlands East Indies received news of the German invasion of the Netherlands, it began the implementation of ‘Operation Berlin': the arrest of all members of the National Socialist Movement (NSB), Germans, Austrians and other ‘enemy nationals' in the archipelago. These included citizens of the German-occupied territories of Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Belgium as well as France and Yugoslavia. The Germans included not only members of the National Socialist party, but also German Jews, political refugees from German-occupied areas and even Dutch citizens born in Germany. Another group included the crews of 19 German merchant vessels that had sought refuge in then-neutral ports in the Netherlands East Indies since August 1939. In total, the group numbered almost 2,800 men. Another 147 German women and children were interned on Java. Starting in July 1940, the men were brought to the Lawé Sigala-gala internment camp in Aceh, Sumatra. When war broke out in Asia, the internees were transported to British India. The first 975 prisoners aboard the Ophir departed from Sibolga on 28 or 29 December 1941 and arrived in Bombay on 8 January 1942. Two days later, the Plancius arrived there with another 938 internees. The third and final transport of 478 prisoners aboard the Van Imhoff departed on 16 January. While underway in the Indian Ocean, the Van Imhoff was attacked by a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft and began taking on water. The crew and guards abandoned the sinking ship without enough lifesaving equipment for the prisoners. More than 300 prisoners died when the ship sank.


C. van Heekeren, Batavia seint: Berlijn (Den Haag, 1967).

Information a.o. in:

Access Number 2.22.21, inv. no. 477, 554 and 559
Access Number 2.05.80, inv. no. 656, 657, 658, 659, 661, 664, 665, 1118 and 1124.