Exit: Jakarta – Expelling Dutch Nationals – 1957 – Past Daily Reference Room
Ever since Indonesia was declared independent on August 17, 1945, there had been a tenuous relationship between the new government and the holdovers from the Dutch Colonial days. The Dutch had wanted to re-colonize Indonesia, but by 1949 they were forced to concede that the genie was indeed out of the bottle and finally recognized Indonesia as an independent nation. As Indonesia began flexing its Democratic muscles, the notion of Right Of Self-Determination became more and more apparent, even while factions within the country were threatening to destabilize the fragile democracy and plunge it into civil war. When Sukarno, who was leader of the Indonesian Independence movement in 1945 and its first President established what he called “Guided Democracy” in 1957, one of the first steps was to expel all Dutch Nationals, even those who were born in Indonesia, and send them back to The Netherlands. A radical move, to be sure, since many of these Nationals had never set foot in The Netherlands and had, in fact, never left Indonesia. Many blamed Sukarno’s shift to Communism as catalyst for the move, and his autocratic stance caused nervous reverberations throughout the West.
This episode of Life And The World, which aired via NBC Radio, focused it’s entire program on the expulsion and the fallout of the move from the rest of the world. But it was one more instance where the wave of de-colonization hadn’t fully crested and the growing pains of these newly independent nations made for an uneasy situation in the world, and heated discussion at the United Nations. Because shortly after this, there would be eruptions in Africa from the Belgian Congo from the early 1950s until 1960, and the ongoing civil war in the French Colony of Algeria, which wouldn’t end until 1962.
A time of considerable upheaval, and as a reminder of how the world was changing in the 1950s, here is that episode of Life And The World from January 7, 1958.