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Ordinary then, extraordinary afterwards

Mevrouw Van der Hoop tachtig jaar, 3 november 1959. Zij zit in het midden, omringd door familie, pachters en personeel

Toen gewoon, achteraf bijzonder

Henny van Harten-Boers

Publisher: Stichting landgoed Fraeylemaborg, Slochteren

ISBN: 9789080484603

The oral history of the Fraeylemaborg estate in Slochteren. The Fraeylemaborg was privately occupied until
1972, after which it became a museum.
Therefore, for a long time there were still people who could tell from their own experience about life on this historic estate. Henny van Harten spoke with members of the family, chambermaids, tenants and local residents. The memories of these people are vivid and detailed and cover the period from 1920 to 1970.

 

The title of the book is taken from a quote by Louise Thomassen à Thuessink van der Hoop van Slochteren (1915-2008): “We always thought it was quite ordinary, but afterwards you realize: well, that was quite special after all!”

Interview collection ’45 – ’49

Soldaat in Indonesië 1945-1950

Gert Oostindie

Prometheus

In 2012, NIMH, NIOD and KITLV made an initial call for systematic research on the Indonesian War of Independence. Funding failed to materialise at the time. KITLV then paid attention to this period through the teaching responsibility of Gert Oostindie (Leiden University). Students were commissioned to study memoirs and diaries and interns conducted research in archives, including in the Oral History collection SMGI. This work eventually led to the book Soldier in Indonesia.

 

 

 

To complement this book, 19 interviews were then conducted with Moluccans because although Moluccans are mentioned in this publication, Moluccan ego documents are missing. These interviews were set up systematically.
In addition to the interviews with Moluccan veterans, 9 more interviews were conducted with Dutch veterans.

This project was part of a trajectory that led to the research programme Independence, decolonisation, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945 – 1950. The interviews were done with the aim of collecting additional stories to the publication Soldier in Indonesia. The main question was: What were your experiences during the years 1945 – 1949 in Indonesia? The Moluccan interviews included the question of why the interviewee joined the KNIL. Interviews with Dutch veterans included questions about experiences of violence.

 

Indonesia and the Netherlands were mainly discussed. Themes include Indonesian revolution, KNIL, violence, veterans.

 

Access: The collection is not yet accessible. In 2023, the collection will be transferred to an archive institution, possibly UB Leiden.

Indonesian portraits

Elderly Indonesians and Chinese-Indonesians in Yogyakarta

The art project Indonesian Portraits by Martin van den Oever, Petra Timmer and Jos Janssen was created as part of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies’ research programme From India to Indonesia. It consists of two parts. This part consists of interviews with elderly Indonesians in Yogyakarta, who learned Dutch during the colonial period.

The interviews focus on events and experiences in the 1920s – 2006.
They mainly talk about the Netherlands and Indonesia. Themes include World War II, Japanese occupation, fear, connection with the Dutch language and the Netherlands, youth, Indonesian revolution, schooling, Japanese language.

The collection is of limited public availability. If interested, please contact Jos Janssen.
The collection is on DV tapes. To preserve the interviews permanently for the future, digitisation and transfer to an e-depot is desirable.

The female hero

Wendy Janssen . De vrouwelijke held. In Wim Willems & Jaap de Moor (red.), Het Einde van Indië: Indische Nederlanders tijdens de Japanse bezetting en de dekolonisatie.
Sdu Uitgeverij, 1995

 

PhD research on identification processes in a postcolonial context; a study of intergenerational transmission among three generations of women of Indian background.

 

Wendy Janssen was a PhD student at the Belle van Zuylen Institute for Multicultural Gender Studies where Selma Leydessdorff was director. She wanted to investigate how narratives are passed on within families, and how different generations view their families’ reception in the Netherlands and their place in society over the years. Questions included: How are you seen? How do you see yourself? And how do you deal with that?

 

The interviews focus on events and experiences in the 1920s – 1996.
They mainly discuss Indonesia and the Netherlands. Themes include World War II, Indonesian revolution, arrival and reception in the Netherlands, identity, Dutch society, positioning, adaptation.

 

Management: The collection is managed by Wendy Janssen.
Preservation: The collection is on cassette tapes. To preserve the interviews permanently for the future digitisation and transfer to an e-depot is desirable.

Veterans

Een uitzinnige menigte begroet de binnenrijdende voertuigen van de Prinses Irene Brigade te Den Haag, op de vroege avond van 8 mei 1945. Collectie Menno Huizinga, NIOD - 216947
 

Sub-study 4: ‘Veterans’
Currently in progress by the Netherlands Veterans Institute (NLVi)

 

This study asks different generations within veteran families about the memories, stories and images of the Second World War that live with them, and how they themselves experience freedom and unfreedom. It examines how memories of the war past of the (grand)parent (veteran) carry over to subsequent generations and how the collective social awareness and handling of a particular war past influences the memories of different generations.

With the Veterans sub-study, the Netherlands Veterans Institute contributes to the multi-year research of the National Committee 4 and 5 May, in which other remembrance communities are also surveyed.

 

The research project ‘War and freedom in three generations’ runs from 2021 to 2025. One or two sub-studies will be carried out each year. Each substudy focuses on a different memory community within which five families are interviewed each time. The interviews cover three different generations; in addition to the war generation itself, representatives from the second and third generations are also spoken to separately.

With this study, the committee aims to investigate how memories of (grand)parents’ wartime past carry over to subsequent generations and how family stories form in practice.

Does social awareness and collective handling of a particular war past (e.g. recognition, denial, concealment or disinterest) influence the memories of the different generations and the family stories that are passed on? Do these war memories influence views on or perceptions of freedom? And how do younger generations position themselves within this memory landscape?

 

Sub-studies

Sub-study 1: ‘Labour deployment
Sub-study 2: ‘Dutch East Indies/Indonesia’
Currently in progress

Sub-study 3: ‘Roma and Sinti
Currently in progress

Sub-study 5: ‘Jewish families
Currently in preparation

Forced labour during World War II

PDF

Sub-study 1 – Labour deployment

 

An estimated 500,000 to 630,000 Dutch men worked compulsorily in Germany during World War II. During this Arbeitseinsatz, civilians were compulsorily employed to keep the German economy running, while German men served in the army. Forced labour is thus a part of history involving many Dutch families. Yet this history is not part of Dutch, European, or global collective memory. As a result, it is plausible that the subject is not alive among a broad public, but is within affected families.
The question is what memories live on within families under these circumstances and what the impact of the memories is into the third generation.

 

The research project ‘War and freedom in three generations’ will run from 2021 to 2025. One or two sub-studies will be carried out each year. Each sub-study focuses on a different memory community within which five families are interviewed each time. The interviews cover three different generations; in addition to the war generation itself, representatives from the second and third generations are also spoken to separately.

With this study, the committee aims to investigate how memories of (grand)parents’ wartime past carry over to subsequent generations and how family stories form in practice.

Does social awareness and collective handling of a particular war past (e.g. recognition, denial, concealment or disinterest) influence the memories of the different generations and the family stories that are passed on? Do these war memories influence views on or perceptions of freedom? And how do younger generations position themselves within this memory landscape?

 

Upcoming substudies
Sub-study 2: ‘Dutch East Indies/Indonesia’
Currently in progress

Sub-study 3: ‘Roma and Sinti
Currently in progress

Sub-study 4: ‘Veterans
Currently being carried out by the Dutch Veterans Institute (NLVi)

Sub-study 5: ‘Jewish families
Currently in preparation

Guest speakers from the National Support Centre WWII – Present

For many years, the focus at Memorial Centre Camp Westerbork was on the period 1939 – 1934 and the transition to the camp as an internment camp. At the end of the 1990s, a change takes place. The starting point becomes the entire history of the site. Among other things, more attention is paid to the Indonesian period 1950 – 1951 and the Moluccan period 1951 – 1971. The support point Guest Speakers (financed by the Ministry of
VWS) will be housed at the Camp Westerbork Memorial Centre. Some guest speakers were interned or prisoners of war during World War II in Indonesia. Some of them have donated objects used in various camps to Remembrance Centre Kamp Westerbork. Following those donations, they were interviewed about the use of the objects and their life stories.

 

The interviews focus on events and experiences in the 1940s – 1950s.
They mainly discuss Indonesia, Sulawesi, the Netherlands and New Guinea. Themes include World War II, Indonesian revolution, life story, processing art, internment camp, repatriation camp, goose board, chamois leather.

 

Management: The collection is managed by Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork.
Access: The collection is of limited public access. Permission to use the interviews for research and educational purposes must be applied for in advance from the Camp Westerbork Memorial Centre.

Transcripts can be sent. The interviews can only be listened to on location.

Preservation: The collection has been digitised and partly stored permanently at an e-depot.

Database/inventory: Under development, accessible to the public in 2025
Sound carrier: Digital audio files, from 2010 video files

Historical ecology of the Limburg Kempen

Bijdrage tot de historische ecologie van de Limburgse Kempen (1910-1950) : tweehonderd gesprekken samengevat

Uitgever: Stichting Natuurpublicaties Limburg
ISBN: 9789074508087

In the Belgian-Limburg Kempen region, Joël Burny asked older residents about how they interacted with their landscape in the first half of the 20th century. His research shows that traditional insights often do not hold true for this specific area. The new insights should provide more guidance in determining the current form of management, which should be based much more on historically accurate references.

 

The book is a summary of a large series of interviews conducted with 96 elderly residents in the Belgian-Limburg Kempen region. These interviews covered the traditional use of heathland and stream valley grasslands, providing a picture of how the landscape functioned in the early 20th century. This is the period before the mechanisation of agriculture and before the large-scale use of nitrogen-rich manure.

The interviews revealed details of the historical use of the landscape that would otherwise have been lost. These include work done by farmers in the first half of the 20th century related to watercourses, stream valley grasslands, liquid meadows, dry and wet heaths and fish ponds.

Sarnami Hindostani 1920-1960

Sarnami Hindostani 1920–1960: Worteling, identiteit en gemeenschapsvorming in Suriname, volume 1.

Gharietje G. Choenni & Chan E.S. Choenni

Amsterdam: KIT Publishers, 2012

The Lalla Rookh Diaspora Foundation published this book in order to rectify deficiencies in knowledge of the history of the Surinamese Hindustanis (East Indians). 

The book’s introductory chapter deals with the departure of the Hindustanis from India, their life on the plantations, their numerical growth, their progress between 1920 and 1960, and the development of Sarnámi (a linguistic variation of Hindi). A chapter entitled “Settling and taking root” then relates the developments that took place after the contract period, when the Hindustanis created small villages of their own near their rice fields. The hardships of agricultural life are delineated as well as the diligence and perseverance of the settlers. The next chapter is devoted to transport, recounting how after some time many Hindustanis became active as wagoners, truck drivers, and bus drivers. The fourth chapter deals with the differentiation that took place when the children of the paddy farmers became entrepreneurs and craftsmen and later also government officials.

Chapter 5 is about housing. It paints the development from the plantation barracks to the simple dwellings in the villages and finally to the magnificent city houses of Paramaribo. It also describes the medical care the Hindustanis received. Chapter 6 discusses developments in education. Here attention is paid to the deterioration of the position of women in the third generation in Suriname. The setback was halted when later generations of women became better educated. This chapter also addresses the position of homosexual men and lesbians. The last chapter, which focuses on family life, paints the development of the joint family as well as its disappearance after the World War II and discusses Hindustani clothing, jewels, tattoos, food, and identity markers.

These seven chapters alternate with literary portrayals of seven elderly persons, a number of whom now live in the Netherlands, who reminisce about their lives in Suriname in the past.

Eighty in-depth interviews with elderly Hindustanis living both in Suriname and in the Netherlands form the main source of this book. The data they provide are subsequently checked in other (mostly written) sources. A reasonable number of Hindustanis say, for example, that the East Indians never asked for help from governmental social security, but the archives of these institutions prove that this is an exaggeration (pp. 16–17). So, the oral information is not blindly accepted, but critically evaluated. Choenni and Choenni call their method triangulation, which means that they have tried to get a reliable image of the situation by consulting various kinds of sources. Therefore this study fits the recent trend among historians of giving attention to oral history as an important addition to the written sources composed mainly by the writing elite and by the people governing the country. One could say that oral history is the history of the oppressed, which certainly is something that pops up in the material of this book. It is full of stories about the hardships people suffered in India even before their transportation to the Caribbean, the oppression on the plantations, the poverty and lack of medical care in the first years on the plantations and in the new settlements, and the discrimination against Hindustanis by the other population groups of the country.

In spite of the book’s merits, its sloppy writing style causes many inaccuracies. For example, the authors write that Columbus discovered Suriname (p. 37), which is untrue. Or again, there are many spelling errors or strangely written Dutch words, such as Hinduïsme instead of hindoeïsme. Other errors could have been prevented if the necessary academic literature had been consulted; people with the title maharaj are said to be chattri’s (p. 645), while in reality they are Brahmans (Clarke 1967:178–80). And a description of the development of the Hindu literary tradition (p. 434) is colored by the views of some Hindu religious experts, but deviates from the findings of authoritative research on the subject. These errors reflect a failure to engage academic fields outside of the social sciences.

No more secrets

Number of interviews: 15

Transcripts: for some of the interviews

Storage: in due course

Graduate research on the stories of descendants of (grand)fathers with a fraught war past.

Analysis of different forms of representation in which involved respondents relayed their family war history and its significance for their family memory and in the public domain.