Mongesch CIHC

Leerlingen van een Chinese school, datum en plaats onbekend, collectie KITLV

Title: Oral History CIHC Archives

Time period: 1920-2017

Owner and/or organization: Chinese Indonesian Heritage Center (CIHC).

Period of interviews: 2013-2017

Number of interviews: 39

Accessibility: limited public



Elaboration: 10-minute summaries with basic information on places of residence, family composition, education and occupation

Audio medium: Digital audio files (streaming via Digital Collections Leiden University Library)


Management: Digital Collections Leiden University Library
Access: The collection is of limited public use. Requests for use can be sent to Special Collections:

Preservation: The collection is digitized and permanently stored in an e-depot.

The Chinese Indonesian Heritage Center (CIHC) was founded in 2011 with the goal of preserving the cultural heritage of Indonesian Chinese in the Netherlands and recording and promoting knowledge of their (migration) history. Since 2016, the CIHC has been an independent foundation. In 2012, the Oral History project started in collaboration with the KITLV. The main questions were: What kind of life did the interviewee have.
What was the motive for leaving Indonesia and (eventually) going to the Netherlands? How do you look back on that decision within the larger context of your life journey? How do you look back on your life after your migration?

The interviews focus on events and experiences in the years 1920 – 2017.
They primarily discuss Indonesia, the Netherlands and occasionally Suriname and China.
Themes include personal background, World War II/Japanese era, Indonesian revolution,
anti-Chinese living environment and violence 1960s, education and student days, traumas, migration


The Oral History (Mongesch) project aims to record life stories of Chinese people who migrated to the Netherlands from Indonesia. It was created in collaboration with the Royal Institute of Language, Land and Ethnology (KITLV).

Between 2013 and 2017, the CIHC’s Mongesch team found 39 individuals -22 men and 17 women- willing to be interviewed. It resulted in a collection of 110 hours of audio material.

The interviewees come from different professional sectors and are mostly well educated. Most of the participants came to the Netherlands after 1960. The others came mostly between 1945 and 1950.

The vast majority of the interviewees are over 70 years of age at the time of the interview so the life stories collected span a long period of time. Stories can be heard from the last decades of the Dutch colonial era to the early years of President Suharto’s government. As a whole, the collection provides a picture of the various circumstances that led to emigration from Indonesia.

The collection of interviews was transferred to Leiden University Libraries in October 2019 as “Oral History Archive CIHC.

In November 2020, the archive was made digitally accessible by the University Libraries Leiden (CIHC Oral History Archive). Due to privacy regulations, the archive can be accessed for research purposes only upon request.

With the transfer of the collection of interviews to the Leiden University Libraries, the first phase of the Mongesch project has been completed.

Not all aspects in the history of the Chinese from Indonesia have yet been recorded in the first phase of the project. The CIHC would therefore like to add to the Mongesch collection. The possibilities and feasibility of a follow-up project are being investigated.

Chinezen uit Indonesië: de geschiedenis van een minderheid.

Tjiook-Liem, P.

Walburg Pers (2022)
Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal, Land en Volkenkunde (KITLV) & Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden (UBL).
ISBN: 9789462499867



For the economic goals of the VOC and the colonial government in the Indonesian archipelago, the Chinese were indispensable from the beginning. Their role in the economy remained important through the centuries. After the Chinese gained equality in the colony at the beginning of the 20th century and legal regulations discriminating against them were removed, they had to fight for their rights again in the Indonesian Republic. It proved an arduous process fraught with tensions surrounding issues of culture, ethnicity and nationality. …

Patricia Tjiook-Liem takes the reader through the main periods in this hitherto underexposed history and shows the struggle of the Chinese in and out of Indonesia.


The Chinese from Indonesia in the Netherlands and their heritage -Patricia Tjiook-Liem



Between ideology and experience – Maya H.T. Liem and Ing Lwan Taga-Tan

DOI: 10.17510/wacana.v18i1.584—online-tentoonstelling


Indonesia policy

Collection former Stichting Film en Wetenschap


Number of persons: 3

Number of interviews: 4

Interviewer: Peter van der Vusse
Production date: June-November 1984
Type of interview: scientific
Carrier: 4 audiotapes
Accessibility: for research purposes
Transcription: none


‘De Partij van de Arbeid, Nederland en de Indonesische Revolutie’ (doctoraalscriptie RUU, 1984) – M.P. van der Vusse


Further information:


The interviewees discuss the attitude of the PvdA towards Indonesia in the years after 1945. Van der Vusse interviewed them for his doctoral thesis on history (UvA).The interviewees discuss the attitude of the PvdA towards Indonesia in the years after 1945. Van der Vusse interviewed them for his doctoral thesis on history (UvA).


  • Drees (1886-1988) was Minister of Social Affairs for the Dutch Labour Party in the Schermerhorn and Beel Cabinets. From
    1948, he himself was prime minister for ten years. The PvdA agreed to the police actions in Indonesia in 1947 and ’48, which was not appreciated by everyone.
  • Bernard van Tijn (1900-1990) belonged to the left wing of the SDAP and later the PvdA. He went to the Dutch East Indies in 1930. In addition to his
    working as a lawyer at the land council in the small principality of Solo on Java, he was active in the Indian Social Democratic Party (ISDP). He also founded the Dutch East Indies Zionist League. He spent the war in a Japanese camp. Returning to the Netherlands in 1945, he became a member of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) and was a member of the Indonesia Committee. He also functioned in the Social-Democratic Centre (SDC), a left-wing opposition group within the party. He was strongly opposed to the police actions and the party’s attitude towards them. From 1948-51 he stayed in Indonesia again. After his final return, he continued to be an opposition member of the party. In 1959 he called it quits. In the mid-sixties he became a municipal councillor for the PSP in Amsterdam.

  • The writer Beb Vuyk (1905-1991), partly Indonesian on her father’s side, lived in the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia for a long time. After the transfer of sovereignty in 1949 she also took the Indonesian nationality. In 1958 she returned to the Netherlands, where she wrote several books with Indonesia as background.


Andere Tijden: Drees and Indonesia

Collection Zijlmans



Timeframe: 1945-1950

Location: Indonesië, Java

Number of interviews: 380

(on 130 audiocassettes)


The text and sound documents can only be consulted with the permission of the Head of Collections. The existing privacy legislation must be observed. The tapes have been transferred to the AV Collection.

The Royal Institute for Language, Agriculture and Ethnology (kitlv) has the only interview collection on the post-war history of the Corps.
These were years of reconstruction and the eventual disbandment of the corps.


The interviews were conducted by G.C. Zijlmans for his dissertation Final struggle and downfall of the Indonesian administrative service: the corps Internal Administration on Java 1945-1950 (1985). The interviews portray the exceptionally difficult circumstances under which the corps had to work in 1945-1950.


The civil servants were confronted with politicisation of the Indonesian administration and militarisation on the Dutch side. In addition, there was the tension of a possible political and military confrontation with the Republic of Indonesia. The Zijlmans collection gives an impression of the adaptability and the functioning of the Dutch authority under these circumstances.


The 380 interviews were recorded on 130 audiocassettes. Because of the fragility of the cassettes, some of which were already badly damaged, the collection has now been digitised.


Javanese in diaspora

Arrival of Javanese in Paramaribo, 1923




Timeframe: from 1890

Number of interviews: 57


Website: javanen-in-diaspora



Until 1939, approximately 33,000 Javanese in Suriname transferred. After their contract period, the majority settled in Suriname. Only a minority returned to Indonesia. The most described return is the organized repatriation in 1954 of about 1000 people to Indonesia. This consisted of Javanese ex-contract workers and their (grand) children born in Suriname. Against better judgment, they did not end up in Java, but in Tongar, a town in West Sumatra. Most of them did not stay long. Their search for a better life brought them to other places in Indonesia: Pekanbaru, Padang, Medan, Jambi, Jakarta, but also back to Suriname.


Much less known is the group migration in 1953 of several dozen Javanese to neighboring French Guiana. Presumably even more individuals left for French Guiana in groups until the late 1960s. During Suriname’s internal war, Javanese, especially from Moengo and Albina, also fled to French Guiana. According to 2005 French population data, some 1,900 Javanese currently live in French Guiana.


The most recent extensive land relocation of Javanese Surinamese took place before the independence of Suriname in 1975, this time from Suriname to the Netherlands. Under the spell of political leaders who believed that independence would not benefit the position of the Javanese, some 22,000 Javanese left for the Netherlands. Among them were also those who had previously tried in Indonesia and in French Guiana.


This multiple migration of the Surinamese Javanese, is the subject of the life story project Javanese Migration and Heritage in Suriname, Indonesia and the Netherlands. In order to get a clear picture of the multiple migrations and the personal experiences of the Javanese migrants, an oral history project was set up around migration and heritage formation among the Javanese in Suriname, Indonesia and the Netherlands.


The Royal Institute for Language, Agriculture and Ethnology (KITLV) and the Foundation for the Commemoration of Javanese Immigration (STICHJI) collaborated on this project.

The interviews can be listened to on the website of Javanese in Diaspora, the metadata and summaries of the interviews are stored in EASY.

Four Resistance Women. Just Do It and Stand Up Proudly



Realisation project:

Cultuur & Co.


Timeframe: 1940-1945
Location: Nederland, Indonesië, Duitsland
Number of interviews: 5


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



Interviews can be seen via:


Geert van de Molen, Tine Boeke-Kramer, Riete Sterenberg-Gompertz and Rachel van Amerongen. Four women, four resistance fighters. Why did they revolt against the German occupier and what consequences did this have for their lives? These questions are central to the oral history project ‘Four Resistance Women’ (2009), which refines the stereotypical image of women in the resistance.


Women were thought to have played a supporting role, often as couriers. This image is not correct for the four women in this project. The choice for the resistance appeared to be strongly politically motivated for the communist Geert van der Molen, who grew up in a reformed bargees’ family, while the nurse Tine Boeke-Kramer became involved in the resistance when she met Jewish refugees. She brought many Jewish children to hiding addresses. Riete Sterenberg-Gompertz forged personal identification cards and Rachel van Amerongen got into the resistance through her marriage to a non-Jewish Surinam resistance fighter. Their activities varied from forging personal identification cards to producing illegal newspapers and helping people in hiding. All interviewed women had been in German concentration camps.

The 5th interview was conducted with a brother of interviewee 4.


However different the four women were, art and culture were of great importance in their lives and also during the war. Music gave strength to go on or was an outlet for fears. Others used their artistic talent in their resistance activities.

Rape and Comfort



Realisation project:

Stichting Het Kader; Van Osch Filmprodukties ©


TImeframe: 1942-1945
Locatie: Indonesia
Number of interviews: 10


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



They are euphemistically called ‘comfort women’: young Indonesian girls who were systematically raped by soldiers of the Japanese occupying army in World War II. They performed sexual ‘forced labour’ in soldiers’ brothels. What are the memories of these Indonesian women and how did their pain, which was often hidden and repressed, affect the rest of their lives? In this interview project, ten Indonesian women who were forced to work as sex slaves are interviewed. They reluctantly talk about their war experiences.


The Japanese occupier considered controlled sex in military brothels a pragmatic measure to prevent venereal diseases and large-scale rape. The interviewed women tell a different story. They were taken from the streets by force or with false promises, picked up at home, summoned by village chiefs and systematically raped in military brothels, barracks, factory sheds, train carriages and tent camps.

Portrait photographs were also taken of the now very elderly women. Their stories have also been included in a book.


Together with photographer Jan Banning (World Press Photo Award 2004) and journalist Hilde Janssen, filmmaker Frank van Osch travelled through Indonesia, where they interviewed dozens of comfort women.


Educational version:

Hussars of Boreel



Realisation project:

B. v. Waveren, Sitefilms ©


Timeframe: 1948-1949
Location: Indonesia
Number of interviews: 7


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



Interviews can be see via:


Much has been published about the decolonisation of the Dutch East Indies and the struggle for Indonesian independence. However, an underexposed aspect of this history is the experience of Dutch conscripts in the Republic of Indonesia immediately after the transfer of sovereignty. To gain a better understanding of their lives in the tropics and to learn more about their experiences, interviews were held with former conscripts of the 43rd Independent Reconnaissance Squadron. The interviewees were around 20 years old at the time, held various positions during their service and came from different social backgrounds.


In the interviews, the former conscripts tell what they experienced in the period after the transfer of sovereignty. The emphasis of the interviews is on how they viewed their military service. They also discuss the change in their mission: from fighting the Indonesian independence movement to carrying out the transfer of arms after recognition of Indonesian independence. How did they experience this transition and how did they carry out their new task? Other questions that will be discussed: What was the life of the average conscript like during that period? What did the sergeant, the infantryman, the driver, the gunner, the ‘medic’, the cook experience? 

Nederlandse militairen van de V-brigade trekken de stad binnen. Solo, Midden-Java, 21 DECEMBER 1948. (T.SCHILLING, DLC, NA). Verzetsmuseum

Repatriated wives of Moluccan KNIL soldiers



Realisation project:

Oogland Filmproducties


Timeframe: 1945-1965
Location: Indonesië, Molukken
Aantal interviews: 7


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



The interviews can be seen at:


This oral history project records the testimonies of the wives of Moluccan KNIL soldiers who came to the Netherlands between 1951 and 1953. In the interviews, the women, whose voices have barely penetrated the historiography, explain how the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies and the subsequent Indonesian struggle for independence influenced their life choices.


The interviews also reveal to what extent the women were involved in their husbands’ decision to fight the Indonesian independence movement together with the colonial ruler. The women also discuss the extent to which their husbands’ choices influenced their personal relationships, the relationships to their native country and how their attitude towards Moluccan independence was determined by it.


Interview collection Stichting Mondelinge Geschiedenis Indonesië

Stichting Mondelinge Geschiedenis Indonesië (SMGI); Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (KITLV); (2001): Thematische collectie: Interviewcollectie Stichting Mondelinge Geschiedenis Indonesië. DANS.


Aantal interviews: 724

The digital catalogue of the Stichting Mondelinge Geschiedenis Indonesia (SMGI) contains summaries of 1190 interview sessions with 724 people. They form the access to a unique Dutch oral history collection on ‘the end of the colonial Dutch presence in Asia’.

Roughly speaking, they cover the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The oral history project was carried out by the Stichting Mondelinge Geschiedenis Indonesia, which was set up especially for this purpose. The entire collection can be consulted within the walls of the Leiden University Library (UBL).