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The Old Bali Blog « Dutch colonial massacres and compensation from the Netherlands in Indonesia (1621-1949)

The Kingdom of the Netherlands conveniently decides to compensate relatives of thousands that they murdered while losing their grip on the ex-colony from 1945-1949 – some seventy years later.

Well, putting it off really paid off.

Ten women from South Sulawesi aged between 90-100 were awarded 20,000 euros for their husbands' heads by the visiting Dutch foreign minister – out of a conservative 1,500-5,000 murdered by Dutch Captain Westerling's brutal Special Forces, the Depot Speciale Troepen.

Dutch Captain Raymond Westerling, aka 'The Turk'

In something akin to the US 'pacification' of villages during the Vietnam War, Captain Raymond Westerling's method was execution on the spot.

The 'Westerling' Method

According to Westerling, pacifying Sulawesi without losing thousands of innocent lives could only be accomplished by instituting summary justice, on the spot.

This became known as the 'Westerling Method'.

Based on information received from his own informants or the Dutch military intelligence service, the members of the DST surrounded one of more suspected villages during night, after which they drove the population to a central location.

At daybreak, the operation would begin. Men would be separated from women and children. From information obtained through spying and intimidation, Westerling exposed certain people as terrorists and murderers.

They were shot without any further investigation.

Afterwards, Westerling would install a new village leader and set up a village police force. All present would have to swear on the Koran that they would not follow in the path of the “terrorists".

Nicknamed 'The Turk', Westerling was born to a Greek mother and a Dutch antique-dealer father in Istanbul.

Trained by British Commandos, he never saw combat during the entire Second World War – instead joining the KNIL in 1945 in its bootless attempt to bring Dutch rule back to Indonesia.

Within a few months, Gezagvoerder Westerling had found his stride – spurning the Field Service Manual for a pitch-black page out of Conrad:

'We planted a stake in the middle of the village and on it we impaled the head of Terakan. Beneath it we nailed a polite warning to the members of his band that if they persisted in their evil-doing, their heads would join his.'

Some put the three-month-long, 1946-'47 murder binge in South Sulawesi at 40,000.

The Westerling Massacres weren't the only cases of out-of-control slaughter in VOC- and Dutch-Colonial-ruled Indonesia.

Among others, 13,000-15,000 on Banda Island in 1621; 10,000 Chinese in Jakarta in 1740; 46 cooked to death on the Bondowoso Death Train, or 'Gerbong maut' in 1947. 430 slaughtered in Rawagede, West Java, also in 1947 – only ten of their relatives were compensated, too.

More surviving relatives are being asked by the Dutch government to step up and apply for their 20 grand online.

But how many 100-year-old nenek-nenek kampung – village grannies – have you seen tapping away at their iPads recently?

Related Content: VOC and Dutch Colonial Massacres in Indonesia

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