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The other side of the Bersiap

Title: De andere kant van de bersiap: Een reconstructie van de interneringen in en de evacuaties uit de republikeinse kampen op Java, oktober 1945-mei 1947

Author: Mary van Delden

Publisher: Walburgpers, Zutphen, 2024

ISBN: 9789464561760


Title: De republikeinse kampen in Nederlands-Indië oktober 1945 – mei 1947: orde in de chaos?

Author: Mary van Delden

Publisher: Mary van Delden, Kockengen, 2007

ISBN: 9789081184519

For decades, the media, publications and websites have talked – without any nuance – about violent, undisciplined, brainwashed and disorganized Indonesian youth who, after the Japanese capitulation – under the name of pemoeda – roamed through Java killing and looting. In the process, tens of thousands were reportedly killed. The reconstruction of the internments in and evacuations from the so-called republican camps shows that by no means all pemoeda were violent. “The other side of the bersiap” is that pemoeda in the majority responded to Sukarno’s call for all threatened Dutch (and Ambonese and Menadonese) men and older boys to be interned in republican camps between Oct. 11 and 19, 1945, to prevent bloodshed. Women and children followed from late October to mid-December.


To produce this study, Mary van Delden interviewed more than one hundred eyewitnesses and Indonesian veterans. In 2007, Van Delden already acquired her PhD on this same subject. Her dissertation can be found online.


Also see this conversation between interviewer Michal Citroen and Van Delden about her thesis from OVT (VPRO).

Brabantia Nostra

Title: Brabantia Nostra: een gewestelijke beweging voor fierheid en ‘schoner’ leven 1935-1951

Author: Jan van Ousheusden

Publisher: Stichting Zuidelijk Historisch Contact, Tilburg, 1990

ISBN: 9070641348

Also available online

For his dissertation, Jan van Oudheusden interviewed ten founders and members of Brabantia Nostra between 1987-1989. Brabantia Nostra (=our Brabant) was a Dutch socio-cultural magazine that existed from 1935 to 1951. The magazine devoted itself to the development of  the culture of (North) Brabant, which was onspired by, among other things, the Roman Catholic Church and the ‘Burgondian Lifestyle’.


The following individuals were interviewed:

  • P. Dorenbosch
  • J. Heerkens
  • L. van Hoek
  • P. Mutsaers
  • J. Naaijkens
  • C. Ruygers-Smulders
  • C. Slootmans
  • F. van der ven
  • A. Willemse
  • B. Wijffels-Smulders


You may find the transcriptions here 

Slavery and Overijssel

Overijssel en slavernij

Martin van der Linden, Esther van Velden, Marco Krijnsen

WBooks, 2023



Although little is known about the involvement of Overijssel and its people in colonialism and slavery, traces of the slavery past can be found in the province. We can think of Overijsselian plantation owners, administrators of the VOC and WIC, companies and industries with colonial ties, the presence of black people in the province, as well as Overijsselians who spoke out against the system of slavery.


Martin van der Linde, Esther van Velden and Marco Krijnsen researched this history and wrote a book about it. As part of their research, 5 interviews were held with descendants of enslaved people.

Freedom is a big concept

Muurschildering in Akrê (Iraks Koerdistan) ter nagedachtenis aan de Al-Anfal-operatie. Levi Clancy op Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei


Stichting BMP


Vrijheid is een groot begrip. Onderzoek naar de beleving van vrijheid, onvrijheid en herdenken door Bosniërs en Irakezen in Nederland.
Saskia Moerbeek en Frank von Meijenfeldt (red.)
Nationaal comité 4 en 5 mei / Stichting BMP

pdf onderzoek

Research into the experience of freedom, unfreedom and remembrance by Bosnians and Iraqis in the Netherlands.


The National Committee for May 4 and 5 is continuously looking for an appropriate interpretation of the activities on May 4 and 5 to ensure the inclusive character of the commemoration and celebration on these days. It is also important to understand people’s motivations for participating or not participating in said activities. The Committee has therefore asked the Stichting Bevordering Maatschappelijke Participatie (BMP), as part of its lustrum year 2020 (75 years of freedom), to conduct research among Bosnians and Iraqis who came to the Netherlands in the 1990s. The question of this research is how people from these groups experience freedom, unfreedom and remembrance in their countries of origin and in the Netherlands.


This exploratory study partly used existing interviews with Bosnians and Iraqis interviewed as part of the oral history project Unprecedented Extraordinary. 12 Bosnian and 12 Iraqi interviews were chosen for analysis, of which 8 interviewees were interviewed a second time on the theme of freedom, unfreedom and remembrance.

In addition to this, 8 more interviews on the research themes were conducted with Bosnians and Iraqis who were not interviewed as part of Unprecedented Extraordinary.

This oral history project thus involves a total of 16 new interviews.

In 2024, these interviews will be housed at DANS-KNAW


See also:

bosnians and iraqis on freedom and remembrance

Girls with skirts, bones and sticks


Author: Hanne Delodder
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Gita Deneckere
Reading commissioner: prof. dr. Jan Art/prof. dr. Jan Tolleneer

Research into the origin and evolution of the Flemish majorette
within the socio-cultural context from Expo’58 to the early 1980s.


In the 1960s and 1970s, many majorette corps were founded in Flanders, often attached to an existing brass band or drum band. Some of these majorette corps are still active today, but most of them have been disbanded in the meantime. On the other hand, a lot of new majorette, twirling and show corps are founded today, which also participate in competitions and championships at home and abroad. The majorette societies that steal the show at all street fairs and parades are quietly disappearing.
The folksy character and the often lack of or not caring association archives, make majorette culture a piece of national heritage in danger of being lost. Research in this field is therefore pressing. Until today, little or no research has been done on the history of majorettes. This research project tried to fill this void.
Oral testimonies, alongside film, photographs and personal archive material, formed the
main sources for the study.
The rows of majorettes who, in their glory days, marched in front of the local brass band at every festivity, street fair, parade, procession and village festival, are clearly part of our Flemish festive culture. As part of our popular culture and our collective memory, this girl culture is a valuable field of research.

STUK, a history 1977-2015

Stuk, een gechiedenis

Marleen Brock

Publisher Hannibal, 2015


In spring 2015, STUK celebrated. For 37.5 years, the Leuven arts centre has been at the artistic forefront. A book (STUK, a history 1977-2015; Hannibal Publishing House) and an exhibition (Was it now ‘t Stuc, STUC or STUK?; STUK Expozaal) underlined this contrarian anniversary. At the same time, the historical retrospection served to pause for a moment and look back, only to choose a new future as the House for Dance, Sound and Vision. Yet such a radical change of direction is by no means unique in historical perspective. Reinventing itself is in the DNA of the organisation, as a logical consequence of the constant search for artistic renewal.


In this smoothly written book, cultural historian Marleen Brock (KU Leuven) tells the story of 37.5 years of STUK – not a nicely rounded anniversary, but as contrary as the arts centre itself. Amusing anecdotes and quotes from interviews with key figures, photos, posters and documents bring the rich history to life.


KU leuven



This study on Catholic-inspired poverty care in Brussels between 1945 and 2000 is conducted by doctoral student Els Minne. Central to the research is the question of how Catholic poverty organisations managed their religious identity in a society that was firmly rooted in Catholic traditions, but where the pressures of ‘secularisation’ and ‘modernity’ began to increase. The research starts from eight case studies of both Catholic personalities and Catholic-inspired organisations that took up the fight against poverty.


Through an analysis of letters, newspaper articles, publications and oral history, the practices and discourses of these actors are examined. What help did these organisations offer, and what target group did they have in mind? What role did religion, from volunteers or clients, play in the organisations? In what ways did they try to influence political policy or academic research on poverty? How did the organisations respond to the increasingly diverse group of people living in poverty? By seeking answers to these questions, the project aims to complement knowledge about the role of religion and welfare states with local experiences, thoughts and practices.

The sociability of patients in Belgium

KU Leuven


Tim Debroyer – Joris Vandendriessche (Promotor) 

Organisations, expertise, and experiences (1950-2000)


This project conducts exploratory historical research on self-help groups and patient associations in Belgium in the second half of the 20th century. It will provide an overview of the development of these associations and identify key source collections (archives, publications, journals, …) to enable further research on this theme within medical history and health humanities. The project consists of a bibliographic survey, followed by a deeper content analysis of journals. In collaboration with the Trefpunt Zelfhulp vzw, it will also engage with current patient associations to identify archival collections and conduct a selection of interviews with early members. Thanks to these exploratory analyses and interviews, the project will offer insights into the diseases or medical conditions around which sociability among patients first took shape, and what patient associations did or did not have in common from a historical perspective (e.g. in their relationship to doctors, the media or the government).

From worried sisters to valuable buddies

Historica nr. 1 2023 – jaargang 46


“Fellow sufferers…they helped me tremendously.” With these words, Johan C., one of 19 historical witnesses in my research, indicated the importance of informal information exchange during the AIDS epidemic alongside official and medical communication such as government campaigns and doctor consultations. Yet both in Johan’s testimony and in the other historical testimonies, it did not remain just peer contact, but appeared to involve a much wider informal information circuit from family and friends to buddy systems and other initiatives. But what were the concrete options in Flanders and Brussels, how were they experienced, what information circulated within these informal networks and was there also a circulation of ignorance?


Ellen Van Laer


Not only official and medical networks proved important in the circulation of information during the AIDS epidemic. The historical witnesses Ellen Van Laer interacted with as part of her thesis also emphasised the importance of more informal networks such as family, friends and peers. These networks, their history, experiences with them and memories of them are the subject of this article.


Memories expressed

University or College
KU Leuven
Master of Arts, Master of history
Year of publication: 2022




The forgotten voices of AIDS in Belgium

1 December 2021: HIV ‘celebrates’ its 40th birthday. With over 40 million victims to its name, the human immunodeficiency virus is the world’s deadliest virus. Even today, more than 38 million people, including more than 17,000 Belgians, are living with the disease. But why this writer’s doom-and-gloom tone? Surely, with medication that makes the viral load undetectable and Prep that protects against infection, the disease is no longer deadly? Yes indeed, from a medical perspective, except for a cure, the disease is pretty much resolved. However, a survey of HIV-positive Belgians showed that the stigma lives on. This survey is therefore of a social nature.


Recent series like “It’s a sin” and “Pose” successfully introduced the history of the global AIDS crisis to a wider audience. At the same time, they made it clear how little we know about the Belgian AIDS crisis and what it means to live with HIV and AIDS in Belgium. Qualitative research from the bottom up can change this. Using 16 in-depth interviews, Viktor Flamand investigated how gay men, both HIV-positive and negative, experienced the AIDS crisis in Belgium. Following this, he analysed how these same people structure and build their memories.


The result was not an unequivocal statement about living with HIV, but a diverse, layered story of 16 people with their own loss, pain and unique memories.