European RoyalsOtherThe Netherlands

King Willem-Alexander speaks to demonstrators after opening museum


Photo: Moniek Bloks/Royal Central

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands spoke to a group of demonstrators after opening the new Sophiahof Museum in The Hague.

The Sophiahof Museum is meant to be a centre of knowledge, culture and remembrance for everyone who had anything to do with the former Dutch East Indies. Five Indonesian organisations are also involved: the Indisch Herinneringscentrum, the Stichting Moluks Historisch Museum, the Indisch Platform, the Stichting Pelita and the Stichting Nationale Herdenking 15 Augustus 1945.

The demonstrators are demanding recognition for the so-called “Indian matter” and are asking for a formal apology from the Dutch government and compensation and back payment of the salaries from the war years. They held up signs saying, “Stop ignoring it!” King Willem-Alexander welcomed the demonstrators and told them it was very good that they were there.

King Willem-Alexander added a fifth leaf to a Melati jasmine flower which symbolises the cooperations between the five organisations and officially opened the new museum. He was then given a tour around the “Fight for freedom – the many faces of the resistance” exhibition. The exhibition tells the story of the resistance against the oppression but in the Dutch East Indies against Japan as well as the Dutch resistance against the Germans by people with ties to the Dutch East Indies. However, this set up has also led to varies responses.

The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony which consisted of what is now Indonesia. It was one of the most valuable European colonies and contributed to the Dutch global prominence. Its social order was based on rigid racial and social structures with the Dutch elite living separately. The occupation of Japan during the Second World War dismantled the Dutch East Indies, and Indonesian nationalists declared independence after the Japanese surrender in August 1945. This was formally recognised in 1949.