Histori Bersama

Welcome to the website of Histori Bersama. Our main activity concerns the translation of recent publications from Dutch and Indonesian media about the colonial past. We believe that – besides the large distance – also the language barrier stands in the way of a more complete understanding of history and the world in which we live now.

To consult our database: navigate to ‘translations’ and choose a selection method. The translations can be searched by topic, media name, author, country, year, translator.

Update KNHG: NRC retracts promise to publish reader’s letter

Press release Histori Bersama January 31, 2024


Systematic exclusion of critical Indonesians

Since 2006, Jeffry Pondaag, chairman of the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts (K.U.K.B.) has filed successful lawsuits against the Dutch State on behalf of Indonesian war victims. In 2011 they win the first cases. It is world news! The Dutch government has to pay compensation to a number of widows from the West Javanese village of Rawagede.

This legal step unleashes a national debate in the Netherlands about Dutch war crimes committed in Indonesia between 1945-1949. In 2012, three directors of the Royal Institute for the Linguistics, Geography and Ethnology (KITLV), the Netherlands Institute of Military History (NIMH) and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, together ask the government for additional funding to conduct a large-scale investigation into the period. Initially, the government refuses to fund such a project.

Meanwhile, more and more Indonesian war victims submit their claims through K.U.K.B. Including the cases of widows and children of men who were murdered by Dutch troops in South Sulawesi in 1947.

At the end of 2016, the Dutch government announces that it would allocate 4.1 million euros for a large-scale research project. According to the official narrative the Dutch government got convinced of the necessity of such a study after they read the PhD research of Rémy Limpach. The latter works as a Dutch government employee at the NIMH that falls directly under the Ministry of Defense. He assists the state lawyer in the historical verification of the K.U.K.B. claims. The title of the project is Independence, Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia, 1945-1950 (https://www.ind45-50.org). The results were presented online on February 17, 2022.

Pondaag & Pattipilohy

Strikingly, Jeffry Pondaag is not invited as one of the speakers at the kick-off event of the project, which was held on September 14, 2017. In fact, even though the research team claims to work closely with Indonesian historians, there was  no Indonesian representative present that evening.

Then subsequently, together with the Indonesian Francisca Pattipilohy, Pondaag decides to write an open letter to the Dutch government with substantive objections to the project. The letter is distributed in 3 languages ​​via our website. Ultimately, 138 people and/or organizations sign the open letter. Over time, the Histori Bersama Foundation becomes the platform of the critics of the study.

Unfortunately, Dutch media have almost completely ignored this protest letter. In all those years, Pondaag and Pattipilohy have never been interviewed together to explain their objections. In a few exceptional cases they were interviewed separate from each other, while the letter was an initiative of both of them.

Besides that, the subscribers of the letter, those critical of the research project, had a lot of difficulty with getting opinion pieces published in Dutch media. Most of them were rejected. Interestingly, the Indonesian English-language paper The Jakarta Post did not seem to have a problem with it and published several of these articles right away.

 Download PDF Open Letter

Find here an overview of the translations that mention the Dutch research project: https://historibersama.com/_topic/dutch-research-45-49/

1. Kick-off Event Dutch government-sponsored research project – September 14, 2017

Kick-off Dutch Research Project – Sept 14, 2017


2. Video Live Stream of presentation (draft) Open Letter – 19 October 2017

Presentation Open Letter – 19 October 2017

3. Dutch government replies open letter, February 9, 2018

Dutch government replies open letter

4. Second Public Meeting Dutch Research Project, September 13, 2018

Second Public Meeting Dutch Research Project

5. Video message Francisca Pattipilohy

Video message Francisca Pattipilohy

6. Closed Round Table Discussion between Critics and Researchers, January 31, 2019

Closed Meeting between Critics and Researchers, NIOD, January 2019

7. Press Release, July 24, 2019

Proof: the Dutch research project into violence in Indonesia (1945-1950) is neither independent nor equitable” https://historibersama.com/proof-the-dutch-research-project-is-neither-independent-nor-equitable/

8. Pondaag and Pattipilohy sent a second letter to the Dutch government, Oct. 23, 2019

In November 2017, Jeffry Pondaag and Francisca Pattipilohy took the initiative to write an open letter with questions regarding the Dutch government sponsored research “Independence, Decolonization, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945-1950”. Now, two years later they sent a second letter, as they feel that their concerns are not taking seriously.

Pondaag and Pattipilohy 2nd letter to the Dutch government

9. Dutch government replies second letter of Pondaag and Pattipilohy

In a letter dated December 17, 2019, the Dutch government writes that the research project on violence (1945-1949) is completely independent and that for that reason they will not address the substantive objections of Pondaag and Pattipilohy. The government does not respond to the proof that shows the direct link between the State and the research team, instead they write that they cannot comment on lawsuits that are still ongoing. The letter denies that the Indonesian translation and promotion of Limpach’s book has been paid from the 4.1 million euros research budget. Yet, since the first page of the Indonesian version states that NIMH funded the translation, it means that even more government money has been spent.

10. Pondaag and Pattipilohy reply the government again December 23, 2019

Once again Pondaag and Pattipilohy reply the government in a short letter, stating that they feel disrespected by the government’s refusal to answer their questions properly.

Pattipilohy and Pondaag reply Dutch Foreign Affairs