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Memories of a homeland

With mixed feelings, Indisch Dutch Australians still think of Indonesia as home

Njonja Peters

Andreas Flach thanks Bambu Perth for donations to a support agency for

Indisch Dutch left behind in Indonesia
Hans Coppins

Between 1945 and 1949, around 300,000 Indies-born and Eurasian Dutch relocated from the Netherlands East Indies to the Netherlands as a result of the Japanese Occupation of Java and Sumatra and the Indonesian Revolution. Not only did the Indos (Eurasian Dutch) have to leave members of their Indonesian family behind. Numerous Indies-born Dutch also had to bid farewell to Indonesian and their relatives. For the vast majority of the refugees, the Netherlands was a mythical land rather than an actual place, since few had ever seen it.

Some years after relocating – and mainly in response to the objectionable treatment they received on arrival in the Netherlands – around 30,000 left to go elsewhere. Approximately 20,000 made their way to the USA, while 10,000 chose Australia. But despite their double migration and the traumas that dictated their exile from it they retain an enduring attachment to their country of birth. Little, however, is known about the nature of their ongoing connection with Indonesia.

In 2005, my colleague Dr Sue Summers and I travelled around Australia to collect information, photos and life stories for my research project, ‘Footsteps of the Dutch in Australia’. We found out that hundreds of Indisch Dutch Australians, both

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