1870-1914 1945 and after

The Dutch Colonial Empire, 1914-1945

A.) The Dutch East Indies

In 1918, the People's Council (VOLKSRAAD) was established, consisting of 30 Malayans, 25 Dutch and 5 representatives of other Asian minorities. The begin of popular representation in the country. In 1925 it became an advisory organ to the legislative. In 1920 the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) was established, which organized rebellions on Java and Sumatra in 1926-1927. In 1927, SUKARNO founded the Partai Nasional Indonesia ((PNI). In 1936, the People's Council accepted the Petition Soetardjo, requesting a round-table conference with the aim of reaching Indonesian independence within 10 years. The Dutch administration did not react.
When the Netherlands surrendered to German forces on May 10th 1940, the Dutch East Indies found itself in a very weak position. Japan immediately demanded regular supplies of raw materials. Negotiations over these demands continued throughout 1940 and 1941. With the Japanese navy invading, the Dutch East Indies surrendered on March 9th 1942 without offering resistance. The Dutch were interned, 170.000 in total. In administration, the Dutch language was replaced by Japanese and by Malay (Bahasa Indonesia). Political leaders, among them SUKARNO and Hatta, cooperated with the Japanese. Japanese occupation was oppressive, as Japan demanded large amounts of raw material as well as of Romusha (FORCED LABOR). In 1945, immediately after Japan's surrender, SUKARNO and Hatta declared Indonesia's independence.
The Dutch East Indies was a political entity created by the Dutch colonial administration, which had conquered numerous states and statelets, had penetrated jungle areas. The archipelago was home to dozens of ethnies, cultures and languages. The core of the archipelago was the densely populated island of JAVA; much larger islands such as BORNEO (Kalimantan) and NEW GUINEA were, by comparison, hardly populated. Much of the economy, the tin mines of Banka and Biliton, the plantations of Medan, the oilfields of Sumatra, were oriented on export. The region lacked a common language (although the various Malay languages were closely related with each other) and, most of all, a common identity. Although most inhabitants of the Dutch East Indies were muslims, they felt as Javanese, Acehnese, Palembangese, Banjermasinese, Makassarese rather than as Indonesians. Opposition to Dutch rule was what gave them something of a common identity.

B.) Suriname and Curacao

In 1916 an oil refinery was established on Curacao. In 1929, the island briefly was occupied by Venezuelan rebels. In 1918, bauxit abrasion began in Suriname. In 1936, the constitution is amended, the governors of Curacao and Suriname retaining great power, but Curacao (which administratively included the islands of ARUBA, BONAIRE, SABA, ST. EUSTASIUS and the Dutch half of ST. MAARTEN) now too got an elected assembly (Suriname had one since 1866). When the Netherlands were occupied by German forces, the royal couple fled to England, later to Canada. The colonies in the Caribbean stayed loyal to their royal couple, siding with the allies.

Colonial Economy and Society, 1870-1940, from Library of Congress, Country Studies : Indonesia
Indonesia : History, from infoplease, encyclopedic, scroll down
Suriname : History, from infoplease, encyclopedic, scroll down
Netherlands Antilles, from infoplease, encyclopedic, scroll down

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 11th 2004

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