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Bauke Geersing: ‘Dutch Massacre in Rawagede is Fake News’

According to Bauke Geersing the Dutch murder of Javanese men in Rawagede in 1947 was ‘fake news’. He said this at a book launch in The Hague, on Monday April 17, 2023. He is a right-wing conservative who previously served in the army and who also worked as the director of the Dutch national broadcaster NOS. He writes books about the Dutch history in Indonesia.

Geersing is critical of the Dutch government-sponsored study on ‘extreme violence’, of which the results were published in February 2022. He refers to this project as ‘corrupt’ and ‘moralistic’. According to him, this study did not follow scientific standards and he believes that the researchers were ideologically driven by anti-colonialism. (Apparently he thinks this is very bad, he claims to be neutral himself.)

Geersing sees a direct link between the KUKB court cases and the financing of this study. (He does not mention the actual sidelining and exclusion of KUKB, let alone that he refers to the open letter in which the project was called colonial instead.)

In his presentation he questioned the legitimacy of the Republic of Indonesia. He says that the Allied forces were in charge at that time and that the Indonesian 1945-proclamation was against the will of the British. He insists that violence occurred because of this ‘disobedience’ and because the British were 6 weeks too late. He calls Indonesians ‘radical, revolutionary robbers’ and that due to ‘the orgy of violence’ the Dutch army had to restore law and order.

Geersing also says that the Dutch use of heavy weapons such as field artillery and air power, were ‘necessary’ and ‘proportional.’ Bauke Geersing referred to the Dutch murder of Javanese men in Rawagede as ‘fake news’. He maintains that Raymond Westerling has been falsely accused of war crimes. Geersing sees him as a victim of slander because according to him, he ‘only’ killed 500 Indonesians in South-Sulawesi, and not 40.000. At the book launch Westerlings’ daughter was present, as well as high Army officers and veterans.

See the original video on the Youtube channel of Federatie Indische Nederlanders (FIN):
Book title: Het Pijnlijke Afscheid van de Indische Archipel (The Painful Farewell of the Indies Archipelago)

Translation/ Transcription:

So today you are not part of an event of an interest group that defends one of the acting parties. We, the authors, stand for honest, academic history writing. Without respect of persons.

Why this book? I’ll take you to the situation back then. It is 1945, World War II has ended. The Netherlands is in ruins and is starting with the reconstruction. The Allied forces decided at the Potsdam conference, July/August 1945, how the post-war situation, including the Dutch East Indies, should take shape.

Dutch rule would be restored, but leading up to an orderly decolonization. It was decided that the British would first take care of the peace and order and the repatriation of the Japanese in Java and Sumatra. However, they only arrived 6 weeks after the capitulation on August 15, 1945. The result was chaos and violence.

The Netherlands sought a way in this decolonization process in a very violent context which was created by the radical cruel [Indonesian] revolutionary movement. The Dutch soldiers were forced to jump on a moving train. 

In order to put an end to this extreme violent situation. There were also nationalist leaders who encouraged this orgy of violence.

Then around 2008 the Committee of Dutch Honorary Debts [KUKB] started court cases in relation to the alleged excessive violence in the village Rawagede. In 2011 the court in The Hague convict the Dutch State. Compensation is paid and apologies are made by the Dutch government.

Encouraged by this court ruling, three institutes are trying to start a major investigation into the alleged extreme violence of Dutch soldiers with financial support from the government.

From the historical context, as we have described it, it appears that in the beginning from August 17, there is rebellion and violent revolt against the decision of the Allies.

On August 17, there is no sovereign independent state, the Republic of Indonesia. Violence, exploitation, genocidal violence surfaced quickly, and all this caused by radical, revolutionary robbers.

The actions of the Dutch armed forces, the use of heavy weapons such as field artillery and air power, are described in the book. The main point is: it was reactive, necessary, proportional, balanced violence, which avoided unnecessary collateral damage as much as possible.

Successful military actions and many humanitarian actions were a structural part of the actions of the Dutch armed forces. The fake information, the false accusations, the politically biased information and slander about Westerling have been maintained for 46 years, to this day.

The third action concerns the one at Rawagede, December 7, 1947. The Court of The Hague published its decision on December 15, 2011.

This court decision is used as starting point of a major investigation into the decolonization of the Dutch East Indies. It is said that there was a ‘massacre’… [Frows his brow] Massacre? With 431 dead.

That Rawagede is an example of a massacre of an entire population and the burning of a village by Dutch soldiers, it turns out fake news and slander.