On Wednesday, April 12, 2023, the debate on providing Backpay to the widows of WWII war victims was held in the 2nd Chamber by MPs of the Committee for Health, Welfare, and Sport (VWS). The salary issue has been going on for decades. During the Japanese occupation of the former Dutch East Indies, from 7 March 1942 to 15 August 1945, civil servants and KNIL soldiers received incomplete or no salary at all.
This is in contrast to Dutch prisoners of war in Germany, who were paid their full salary for all the years imprisoned, upon their return. After WWII, the Netherlands did not consider itself legally obliged to pay out overdue salaries. In 2015, an arrangement was introduced for the last surviving military and civil servants of the former Dutch East Indies who served the Netherlands. Slightly more than 600 men therefore received ‘ backpay’ those who had missed out on salary or pay after WWII could claim 25,000 euros.
Widows of the men in question did not receive any. It has been researched by the State whether and how the surviving widows can receive financial compensation. This is called the “backpay”.
In a letter on January 31, 2023, the State Secretary announced that this will no happen. Dutch Indo organizations disagreed. Under the inspired leadership of Peggy Stein, they protested. Successfully! A new debate in parliament ensued.
Unfortunately, it was again decided not to offer any financial arrangement to the Dutch Indo and Moluccan widows of men who served the State during WWII. This lead to a lot of misunderstandings in the House of Representatives, which had asked for such an arrangement, especially among the widows and surviving relatives. A 91-year-old widow, who had come to the debate in the Chamber with her grandson, stood up. “I can’t take this anymore,” she said, walking toward the exit. Relatives and those involved have said they will not let it sit there. They hired two lawyers. The House of Representatives also disagrees with this decision. Several parties indicated that they are not done with this yet, and want to discuss it again soon. Hopefully, this almost 80-year-old issue will finally come to a successful conclusion.