- Learning on 'the job': Dutch war volunteers entering the Indonesian war of independence, 1945-46
- Journal of Genocide Research
- Volume | Issue number
- 14 | 3-4
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
This article discusses the recruitment and first deployment of Dutch ‘war volunteers’ as a part of the effort to restore colonial authority in Indonesia in the aftermath of the Second World War. The central issue is how these men, who had joined the armed resistance against the German occupier of the Netherlands, could now become involved in atrocities and violations of the rules of war. I will argue that answers may be found in the way in which they were socialized in the violent conflict. They met with a violent conflict that did not match the framing of their intended role as true patriots and liberators of the Indonesian people. When confronted with atrocities, the volunteers learned to rephrase their assignment as ‘a job’, one that turned into war crimes before they knew it. Analysis of one specific case teaches us that the Dutch colonial military and civil authorities consciously did not prioritize the prevention of such war crimes.
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