Hoe een gewelddadig verleden dwingt tot zelfonderzoek | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 132, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



In 2005 the Dutch government for the first time denounced the position it held during the Indonesian war of decolonization (1945-1949). In Jakarta the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ben Bot, declared that in those years the Dutch had been ‘on the wrong side of history’. Until then Dutch governments had been reluctant to publicly address the war and the crimes committed therein, even though these crimes had been brought into the open from 1969 onward in radio and television broadcasts. This article argues that as long as the violent past is not rethought, that past keeps on being news. Individuals may rethink their past in private. Governments have to do it publicly. Rethinking the past, Eelco Runia argued, is addressing the question, who are we that this could have happened? The Dutch do not need to rethink their past to reconcile themselves with the Indonesians, but to reconcile themselves with themselves.


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