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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).

Put to work by the Arbeitseinsatz

Title: Tewerkgesteld: Getuigenissen van de Arbeitseinsatz

Author: Renske Krimp-Schraven

Publisher: Boom, Amsterdam, 2024

ISBN: 9789024464913

Very little is known about the fate of the Arbeitseinsatz. They were put to work in Germany. They returned from “the enemy’s country” with the most varied experiences. One had been undernourished doing heavy digging work in the freezing cold and spoke of “working like a slave. Another recalled that he ‘wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for anything’. Many men experienced heavy bombing and were terrified in the shelters.


What memories did the men pass on and what did they prefer to keep quiet about? Renske Krimp-Schraven spoke to dozens of workers and read hundreds of diaries and memoirs. In the end, she conducted a total of 51 interviews. In her book Tewerkgesteld she brings the experiences of the Arbeitseinsatz to life and makes clear how Dutch society and the men themselves dealt with this painful history.


Renske Krimp-Schraven is a historian and is working as a researcher on a joint research project of the National Committee for May 4 and 5 and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies on the memory of Dutchmen who were put to work as part of the Arbeitseinsatz.


See the presentation of her book

And an interview from the NPO with the author

Feminist Film Collective Cinemien

Vrouwen van 'Cinemien', in het Filmmuseum © Bertien van Manen, 1981


Eye Filmmuseum

Granted by: 

NWO Museum Grants

At Eye Filmmuseum, Gerdien Smit uses oral history to investigate the early years of Feminist Film Collective Cinemien, which was founded in Amsterdam during the heyday of the second feminist wave.


Cinemien felt there were too few women working in film production, distribution and screening. Through the acquisition and distribution of women’s films, they wanted not only to improve the position of women directors, but also to counterbalance the stereotypical female image in mainstream films, and to help raise awareness of women’s film culture.


The video recordings of the interviews and transcripts will be stored in Eye’s catalog and digital archive, and will be available to all at the Eye Collection Center’s center of excellence, the Eye Study. The recordings will be made public in mid-2024, well before the 50th anniversary in 2025, so that researchers, students, journalists, filmmakers and enthusiasts will have access to new source material for their work.

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

From primeval forest to hay field

Foto: Jan de Wolde, ca. 1970

Martin van der Linden and Albert Bartelds, historian and photographer at the IJsselacademie/HCO, record the oral history of the IJssel Delta. The hay stories of (former) farmers have been chronicled and visualised.

The Hay Delta Working Group, which wants to establish a haystack museum near Hasselt, held an information market at the Field Barn in Rouveen on 11 October 2018.

Historians researched the hay history of the IJssel delta. The information they gathered calls for its presentation. The working group also calls on residents and (former) farmers to share their knowledge and stories about ‘hay, haymaking and haymakers’.

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.

Boned out!

Uitgebeend! Vlaamse beenhouwers in Brussel na W.O. II

Philippe Braem en Mariet Calsius (red.)

AMVR, 2005

In researching the butchers’ craft in Brussels, the Archives and Museum of Flemish Life, through the research method of oral history, worked in three phases.
During the preparatory phase, a researcher not only familiarised himself with the world of the butchers’ craft, but also drew up questionnaires and sought out respondents. Mastering the specific terminology, consulting literature, visiting butchers’ workshops, abattoirs and museums with extensive butchers’ collections were the first steps towards an empathy with this distinct world.
Knowledge and interest of the interviewer in the butchers’ life in Brussels increased. Later this to be an essential condition for trust between interviewer and respondent.
The second phase, the search for respondents, required greater effort. Bone butchers at rest after all, often move, sometimes within Brussels, but mostly away from Brussels back to their native region. A first starting point in compiling a good respondent list, was a list of some active butchers with names and addresses of former colleagues. Another lead was the membership list of the Brussels Confederation of Butchers and the membership list of the Belgian Landsbond van Beenhouwers en Spekslagers (as far as Brussels was concerned).

Calls through the AMVB membership magazine and in local newspapers, drew quite a few responses.
For representativeness, the project took into account the geographical demarcation of the Brussels
capital region and the categories in the butchery sector (bacon butchers, butchers, horse butchers, triperies, poultry vendors). Especially for Brussels, the difference between the immigrants and natives was included.
From the list of possible respondents, the AMVB made a selection. In the end, 46 middlemen (bakers, grocers and 33 butchers) were interviewed. The invitation included an information sheet and the request for a possible company archive. The AMVB always scheduled the interviews at the informant’s home.
Photos (e.g. of family, interiors and showcases), recall certain events together, capitalising on occupational pride or confronting them with facts, were techniques that stimulated the memory of the respondents’ memories. Based on the questionnaire, the unique biographical story of each witness was recorded.

The executive or third phase consisted of two parts. The archival disclosure by transcribing, coding and making the interviews available through the sound archives overview on the one hand.
The public-facing disclosure on the other. A study day on oral history communicated to the archives sector, while the general public was introduced to this form of history in the exhibition Boned Out!

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.


Oral History and the strange dying of Dutch Christianity

Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden. Deel 119 | 4
(2004), pg 625-653




Forty-three semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with older people for this study. The questions focused on the role of religion in the respondents’ childhood and changes in their religious behaviour during their lifetime, with a large implicit emphasis on issues around gender. The interviews generally lasted about two hours. The respondents were randomly selected. They represent a reasonable, but not purely representative, reflection of the Dutch population. Geographically, there is a good spread, with respondents from all provinces except Overijssel, albeit with an overrepresentation of people from Amsterdam and North Holland above the IJ. Many more women (31) than men (12) were interviewed. There were too many respondents from Catholic families (23 instead of 17), too few from Protestant (13 instead of 19), compared with the religious proportions in the Netherlands before 1960, as revealed in the censuses, but just the right number of people who grew up in an unchurch family (7). Although too many respondents came from the lower middle class (23), the study nevertheless includes 15 interviews with people whose parents were labourers, in addition to three children of farmers and two interviewees who came from the upper middle class. Six respondents were born in the 1910s, 13 in the 1920s, 16 in the 1930s, eight in the first half of the 1940s.


Thus, the whole relies on a reasonable number of interviews. Similarities and recurring motifs in the interviews proved sufficient to paint a picture of what religion was like in the Netherlands before the 1960s. It was not easy to make distinctions within them, for example between Catholics, Reformed and Reformed, or between different decades and generations. For example, some interviews give the impression that the 1950s were more ‘religious’ and ‘ecclesiastical’ than the 1930s, but this could easily be based on a bias. Further research would be needed to answer such questions.