Relatives of former KNIL soldiers and civil servants from the Dutch East Indies will not receive any overdue salaries from their parents, once deceased. The Central Board of Appeal confirmed an earlier court ruling.
During the v (1942-1945), 82,000 former soldiers and civil servants in the former Dutch colony received no salary. For decades they fought for payment of this debt of – converted to today’s value – 5.7 billion euros.
The Netherlands has always refused this, because these financial obligations would have been transferred to Indonesia. That does not seem to be right. At the end of 2015, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) concluded an agreement with the Indisch Platform as ‘moral satisfaction’. Those who were eligible and who were still alive on 15 August 2015 could receive a one-off payment of 25,000 euros. In the end, a mere 600 people turned out to be eligible.
Survivors appealed to the Central Board of Appeal. They found the arbitrarily chosen reference date ‘unfair’ and ‘discriminating’. They want moral and financial recognition for their fathers (and mothers) who were tortured and suffered while serving the Netherlands.
Earlier, the court ruled that the conditions of the regulation were ‘not unreasonable’. The Central Board of Appeal confirmed that judgment.
The surviving relatives now have no longer the possibility of litigation in the Netherlands, but they can still go to the European Court of Human Rights.
By Josina Hillsland.


  1. It is indeed a disgrace that the Netherlands Government has treated KNIL soldiers and their families in such a shabby manner. The Netherlands was content to exploit the Indies for hundreds of years, but when it came to something as basic as reimbursing a person his lost wages, it was too costly!
    My father, a 37 year old with six children, served in the KNIL, was imprisoned for years, including time working on the Burma Railway, and managed to survive, as did most members of my family. Not only did my family arrive in the Netherlands penniless after the war, but as we know, the war cast a very long shadow over those people who survived and their families in more ways than lack of money. It tore apart families, affected people psychologically and caused countless, subtle issues that many displaced people suffer.
    But a mean and heartless Government, with a conveniently short memory, cares not for them.
    Wim Versteegh
    Adelaide Australia

  2. My Opa, a KNIL Sargeant was POW from 1942 to 1945 in Thailand (Siam) and Burma, surviving many harrowing experiences. He passed in 2012 in California, disappointed and bitter that nothing was ever granted from the Netherlands.

  3. This is a very unfair decission by the Dutch Government, to just ignore those soldiers who gave their life as they died in that WWII prison or battle field.
    My Father, sgt.NFJ.Diemel, a KNIL soldier, taken prisoner in 1942 and died in Changi Jap prison in 1945 at the end of that war, was never paid for those three years of his life.
    Een groote schande!
    Nico E. Diemel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment