By Lidy Nicolase – March 18, 2014. Translation of Article in the

The Netherlands government still owes millions of euros to 380,000 Dutch people who had to flee Indonesia between 1950 and 1970. Banks, as well as insurance companies, also have enormous debts to redeem. A substantial part of life insurance policies and money left in banks that were eventually moved to New York after Japan invaded the former Netherlands East Indies have never been returned to their rightful owners.

Evidence of this will be given in a newly released book by author and journalist, Griselda Molemans’ entitled ‘Opgevangen in Andijvielucht’ (Welcomed with The Smell of Endive).  Molemans’ conclusions are based on the report ‘Netherlands Indies Money and Banking’ of June 17, 1945. This report is in the archives of the Federal Reserve in New York and reveals that the 17 largest insurance companies in the Dutch East Indies, at that time, had sold life insurances worth 251.8 million Dutch guilders.

Many of the insurance policies were never paid because its owners could not prove ownership. The chaos during Japanese occupation and the Indonesian revolution following it, caused their papers to be lost. The same happened with many bank accounts. The Javasche Bank, the central bank in the Dutch East Indies, had secured its gold and assets. According to Molemans, proof of it can be found in the vaults of the Federal Reserve. This is denied by the Association of Insurers. In case of requests, investigations are only done in the Dutch archives.

Fifteen Thousand Guilders

Part of the money that the Netherlands government owes these people, is made up of unpaid pensions and wages of KNIL-soldiers, Japanese compensation for POWs, civilians and ‘comfort girls’, as well as the compensation Indonesia has paid for war damage. In her book, Molemans focuses on the debts imposed by the Netherlands government on these refugees from Indonesia, for housing and sustenance.

According to Gert Oostindië of the Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology (KITLV) in Leiden, the claim on insurance policies and bank accounts are new. KITLV is one of the institutions which insist new research on the colonial war should take place. Oostindië states that, “In the 80s, the other claims were an important stimulant for people from the Dutch East Indies to get organized. Though some recognition and compensation were achieved, it never reached its full extent.”

Joining forces led to formation of the Indisch Platform. Its president, Silfraire Delhaye, confirms that the Netherlands still owes a huge debt in compensation for war damage. “We are in talks, although it is becoming increasingly difficult. Many things have been swept under the carpet. Quite a few policies and bank balances went somewhere else than to its right full owners. We don’t know the cause. In that respect, openness and knowledge are valuable assets.”

– Translated by Henny Gemser


  1. ik heb net de beslissing gekregen van Wuv onderwerp BESCHIKKING nr EA01 WUV 031435 dat [we wijzen de aanvraag af ] hoe kunnen ze dat zeggen.ik weet dat ik in kamp heb doorgebracht in Malang. Als bewijs heb ik omdat mijn zuster daar geboren was op 23 Maart 1942 in het leger des heils ziekenhuis,daarna zijn we naar het jappenkamp met al andere vrouwen achter het prikkeldraad

  2. I remember my father telling me that he got roughly $15000 back in the mid 80’s from the Dutch government because of him being a KNIL soldier and a prisoner of war for 31/2 yearsand the news came from California where there were a lot of prisoners from the same camp he was in, as I remember it there was a person here in Indiana that moved to California and he came in contact with former pow’s who were in the know about this his last name was Beiers and I believe his first name was “Boy”. like I said that was what he told me whether it was true or not I will never know but I will not forget because I saw the deposit slip for his bank account.

  3. Valencia and a. Kipperman…This will only happen if we, the Indos, speak up and support the efforts of the ones that stick their necks out and who spend their time, energy and own money in digging up this information. Many Indos are quick to complain but are not willing to speak out or put out any effort. Enough of saying “aduh, laat maar” and waiting for someone else to do the work.

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