Liu Yi - The relationship between Indonesia and The Netherlands (1945-1960) --as seen in the Jungschläger and Schmidt cases


On August 17th of 1945, Indonesia declared its independence. However, this declaration was not very much appreciated by its former colonizer, The Netherlands. Fierce confrontation between the two persisted for 4 years. Armed conflicts continued even after the official declaration of ceasefire on August 1, 1949. Finally both parties accomplished the transfer of sovereignty to the United States of Indonesia (RUSI) in December at the Round Table Conference (RTC) held in The Hague.

The conclusion of the RTC agreement was by no means the end to a quickly deteriorating relationship between both parties, if not a start. Both parties had irreconcilable differences over many questions. The conflict over the sovereignty of West New Guinea, the differing opinions on national debts and the rebellious assault led by a Dutch ex-military Raymond P.P. Westerling were some of the bones of contention between the former colonizer and colonized.

Public discontentment in Indonesia and the worries that the newly won independence would be compromised grew rapidly. Numerous factions emerged defying the central government of Indonesia, such as the Darul Islam, South Moluccan Republic (RMS) and on a smaller scale, several others. Westerling and his APRA fought against the Republic. Although the Dutch government deplored his actions, he fled back to The Netherlands were he walked a free man.

Justice was not seen delivered by the Indonesians in this case. But among all these bilateral interactions, the imprisonment and prosecution of around 34 Dutch people in Indonesia seems forgotten. These people were suspected or accused of participation in subversive activities in Indonesia. The Jungschläger and Schmidt cases attracted the most attention since they were the only two who were actually brought to trial in 1954. The Indonesian prosecution claimed that Jungschläger and Schmidt took part in or even led those rebellions including Darul Islam seeking to overthrow the Republic by force. The Dutch government insisted these were all lies and complained about the maltreatment of the accused in the Indonesian prison. Although this process lasted only three years (1953-1956), it was a high profile trial. Now the case is nearly forgotten, including the fact that the then Dutch National heroine Mieke Bouman, took the place of her husband at the defense counsel in the middle of the trial. Obviously this was a political case rather than a judicial one. Nevertheless, it very well illustrates the relationship between Indonesia and The Netherlands at the time. 

This thesis tries to reconstruct the whole process in a legal perspective by using memoirs, court records and secondary resources. Attitudes towards the case among these sources vary. Justus M. van der Kroef seems to side the Dutch, as also the memoir of H. Schmidt. The Indonesian “White Book” and prosecution records reveal the other side of the story. However, an impartial stance can also be observed as is seen in Hans Meijer’s and Andries Teeuw’s work.  Yet was it a process executed in accordance to the law or was it a complete abuse of the law? Why did the parties move an evidently political battle into the court of law? To what extent did the Jungschläger and Schmidt cases further influence the bilateral relations between the two countries? Through the examination of the evidence, we may find answers to these questions in this thesis.

Liu has graduated for his MA degree in 2009.

Last Modified: 13-01-2012