Indisch Monument and Remembrance Ceremony

A remembrance ceremony is organised at the Indisch Monument in The Hague each year on 15 August to commemorate the Dutch victims of the Second World War in Asia.

Indisch Monument. Photo by Roel Wijnants
Indisch Monument. Photo by Roel Wijnants

Wreaths are laid at the Indisch Monument by the Waterpartij on the Professor B.M. Teldersweg by the prime minister, ambassadors, leaders of the Dutch armed forces, survivors, and people with ties to the Dutch East Indies. The monument was erected in 1988 after years of campaigning by the Dutch war victims in Asia to get acknowledgment for their suffering during and after the Second World War.

Liberation

The Netherlands was liberated on 5 May 1945. Every year on this day the Dutch commemorate the day of liberation from the German occupation (Bevrijdingsdag). During the evening on 4 May the country observes a 2-minute silence to commemorate all civilians and members of the armed forces who have perished in wars or peacekeeping missions.

Yet this date does not represent the end of the war for people living in the former Dutch East Indies. It wasn’t until 15 August 1945, when Japan capitulated, that this area was liberated. After the official liberation, Indonesian freedom fighters took up the fight for independence.   

Indonesian independence

This led to a war which ended with Indonesia’s independence on 27 December 1949. As a result of this war many people were forced to choose between the Netherlands and Indonesia. Hundreds of thousands of people moved or fled to the Netherlands, many of whom had never set foot in the Netherlands before. Upon arrival they discovered that there was little consideration for their ‘war stories’.

For Dutch citizens with a connection to the former Dutch East Indies, the end of the Second World War does not symbolise ‘freedom’ but rather ‘loss’ - loss of property, status, homeland and even identity.

Acknowledgment

It took several years before the Dutch war victims in Asia were able to organise their own remembrance ceremony on 15 August. The first was held in 1970. In 1988 the Indisch Monument was erected and in 1999 the governing cabinet officially acknowledged that the Second World War didn’t officially end for the Netherlands until 15 August 1945.

The Indisch Monument represents much more to those Dutch citizens with a connection to the Dutch East Indies than the end of the Second World War. It is the place where even the newest generations remember their heritage and celebrate their Asian roots.

More information

Published: 28 November 2011Modified: 3 May 2017