Click here to skip to content

Indonesia Merdeka Collection

We have built up a unique collection of primary material (Western languages only) on the Dutch-Indonesian conflict of 1945-1950. The size and scope of this collection is only matched by the holdings of the Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde in Leiden.

The British Library collection is not a mere repetition of the holdings at the Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde in Leiden, but very much an extension and complement. In fact, many titles available in the British Library are not to be found in Klooster’s Bibliography of the Indonesian Revolution (Leiden, 1997).

The Dutch/Flemish Section maintains an active acquisition policy towards this type of material. New acquisitions are catalogued instantly and quickly made available to the readers. The Indonesia Merdeka Collection forms an important addition to the materials at hand for the student of post-colonial Indonesian history or, equally, for the student of the post-colonial trauma in the Netherlands.

Scope of the Collection

Amongst the 1,500 titles are a range of topics, from political and economic analysis to military accounts, or missionary reports. Many titles are diaries and/or descriptions of the suffering of Dutch citizens in Japanese concentration camps. The occupation of the Netherlands Indies is of the utmost importance to understand the turbulent period that followed the capitulation of the Japanese army. In this collection, furthermore, one finds fiction (even a number of juveniles) and poetry, sheet music, collections of photographs, etc.

As far as fictional work, diaries, etc. are concerned, there are two more catalogues of value, both published by Dorothée Buur: Persoonlijke documenten Nederland-Indië/Indonesië (Leiden, 1973) and Indische jeugdliteratuur. Geannoteerde bibliografie van jeugdboeken over Nederlands-Indië en Indonesië (Leiden, 1992).

Inevitably, the bias will be a Dutch one. Efforts have been made, however, to acquire as many books as possible in other languages, notably in English (books published in the United Kingdom, United States of America and, above all, in Australia).  

Future developments

The Former Dutch Curator, Dr. J. Harskamp, published an annotated catalogue of this collection in 2001. The catalogue contains a range of indices to make the materials easily accessible. The full title of the catalogue is: The Indonesian question: the Dutch/Western response to the struggle for independence in Indonesia 1945-1950: an annotated catalogue of primary materials held in the British Library. Compiled by Jaap Harskamp. Introduction by Peter Carey. Boston Spa: British Library, 2001. ISBN 0 7123 1127 0.


Dutch/Flemish Section
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7764
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7578