A project for the Indies Community
For years Fried Fischer performed research on the war in the Netherlands East Indies and the decolonisation of Indonesia. Fischer originally wanted to study the subject from a number of perspectives, but he was only able to find sources that described the Dutch point of view, as foreign sources were not easily accessible. In 2001, the Cabinet of Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok made a gesture to the Indonesian community in the Netherlands by setting aside 16 million Euros for collective purposes. At Fischer's instigation, the Nationaal Archief submitted a proposal for the creation of a shadow archive collection of foreign political and military sources for the period of 1940 - 1950. The foundation ‘Stichting Het Gebaar' approved this proposal, which eventually led to the initiation of the ‘Farewell to the Indies' project in 2005.
Farewell to the East Indies
The project proposal involved three main goals:
1. The creation of a collection of copies of foreign documentary sources on microfilm dealing with the process of decolonisation in the Netherlands East Indies as well as the fate of the Indonesian community during the period 1940-1950.
2. The creation of a public-friendly website with background information for historical researchers and other interested persons, especially people from the Indonesian community.
3. Making the collection of collection accessible by publishing a digital research guide, including references to the sources already in the Nationaal Archief's collection.
The Collection of copies
The core of the project is the collection of copies of documents held in foreign archive repositories. In the search for relevant sources, the project team was guided by the following questions:
Which countries were involved in the Netherlands East Indies during the period 1940-1950, and what influence did they have at the time?
What kind of information has been collected in the archives?
Which sources should be considered for reproduction: individual documents from collections or as many entire series as possible?
The researchers selected the countries, subjects and sources in conjunction with an academic steering committee and a consulting committee. Together with the committee members, the researchers chose which countries to visit, which subjects to concentrate on and which sources to collect. They also decided to reproduce as many complete series as possible.
The project team reproduced materials from the following archive repositories:
National Archives and Records Administration, United States;
MacArthur Memorial, United States;
National Archives, Great Britain;
National Archives of Australia, Australia;
Australian War Memorial, Australia;
Archives du Comité international de la Croix-Rouge, Switzerland;
Research collections compiled by F. Gouda and M.C. van Delden.
The project team collected sources dealing with the following subjects:
The Netherlands East Indies in political and military considerations as well as ideas on the future of the Netherlands East Indies (1940-1950);
Military operations in the archipelago (1942-1945);
The Allies in the archipelago (1945-1946);
Regional information and social developments (1941-1950);
UN interventions in the decolonisation process (1946-1949).
The Nationaal Archief Collection
In 2008 the Farewell to the Indies project received an extra subsidy for the reproduction of documents. In consultation with the committees it was decided to select sources dealing with the fate of the Indonesian community in the period 1940-1950. The priority in this digital sub-collection is on information regarding the Japanese camps, the Bersiap period and the Republican camps.
The website is the digital research guide. It makes the Farewell to the Indies digital collection accessible to a wide public. The microfilms have been replaced by digital scans, and the entire collection is available online. It allows visitors to view documents or call up background information about the time period. In order to help visitors search more effectively, the website also offers a number of search portals: a search engine, an interactive map of the archipelago, searches by subject or by FAQ. It also has an instructional film: ‘onderzoek doe je zo' (Research made simple) which can help beginning researchers on their way.
The project team has also published a book: Mark Loderichs, Margaret Leidelmeijer, Johan van Langen and Jan Kompagnie, Verhalen in Documenten. Over het Afscheid van Indië [Stories in Documents: On Saying Farewell to the Indies], Amersfoort, 2008. The book draws connections between family stories and the sources on the Farewell to the Indies website and provides the visitor with an impression of the materials residing in the Digital Collection and the Nationaal Archief collection.