Saturday, September 15, 2018

ONE HISTORY, TWO PERSPECTIVES

The Dutch Government funds a four years research titled "Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia, 1945-1950" carrried out by the best brains of the country in the field of history, KITLV (the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies), NIMH (the Netherlands Institute of Military History) and NIOD (the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies). 

I quoted from the research website what it is all about : 

The programme comprises nine subprojects and aims to answer questions regarding the nature, scale and causes of structural violence in Indonesia, considered in a broader political, social and international context. In this context, detailed attention will be paid to the chaotic period spanning August 1945 to early 1945 – often referred to as the Bersiap – and the political and social aftermath in the Netherlands, Indonesia and elsewhere.

In short, the Dutch had problem when Indonesia proclaimed its independence on 17 August 1945 and fought back to be able to claim power in the former colony. The war lasted between 1945-1950 and it became a dark period in the history of the Netherlands. The Dutch government admitted that they were in the wrong side of history. It leaves the country in never ending dispute and debat until the government decided it is time to get lessons learned from the period. And the funding is made available to do the research. 

This week  I attended two events discussed the research, one in Amsterdam on Thursday 13 September evening and on Friday 14 September in University of Leiden in the occasion of Asia Day with theme Indonesia. 

The first event was a large one with about 350 atteendes coloured with heavy emotions and sometimes scream of protests from the public. 

The Leiden one was much smaller, discussions were held in peace, nobody screamed, questions and answers went deeper. I had a chance to ask something what I wanted to ask for a long time : does something like a psychological burden of the past exist in the Netherlands? If yes, does this research a kind of healing process? Prof. Dr. Geert Oostindie, the Director of KITLV gave a honest answer that such a trauma does exist and the Netherland as a nation goes through a healing process by understanding what has happened.

On Friday 14 september evening, after the discussion in Leiden, I decided to go to Rijswijk to Pasar Rakyat (People's Bazaar) organized by the Embassy of Republic Indonesia to commemorate 73th Years of Indonesian Independence. This Pasar Rakyat is held three days, 14-16 September. 

A lot of foodstalls (food is a serious business!), souvenirs, promotions and entertainments. The atmosphere is so relax, lot of laughs, selfies, eating, singing and dancing. Visitors were queeing for Nasi Padang, lots and lots of chili peppers. Young and old were dancing with dangdut music sang by Vivi Subono who wore traditional kebaya but when she sang rock acted like a Rock Queen! It was fun and only fun. I couldn't stop smiling and of course couldn't stop eating, too. 

While I was enjoying the Pasar Rakyat, I couldn't help of feeling how contrast situations between the two points : the Dutch and the Indonesian. 

Both concerns are about Indonesian Independence of 1945 but both commemorate it in different ways. Both occasions were 100% coincidentaly held on the same day only 25 kilometers from each others, one is still crying out loud trying to understand what it was going on through years of researches and the other one moves on by eating, singing and dancing three days in a row. 






Thursday, September 13, 2018

INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE OF AMSTERDAM : FAMILY COMPANIES

During the Open Monument Days, 8 and 9 September, so many monuments to choose but finally I made up my mind to visit family companies of Amsterdam. They are representatives of survived entrepreneurs with ups and downs plus owners of what would be industrial heritage of the city of the next century. I managed to visit three companies.

First, the warehouse Bijenkorf. Surprisingly, this warehouse has established "The Cultural Heritage Foundation of Bijenkorf" in 2010. This foundation tasks are to compile historical data of the company in almost 150 years of operation and present them in attractive ways to large public. That was what we saw last weekend during the Open Monument Days. And we were allowed to see parts of the warehouse that is usually forbidden for public. 

Second, the pickles company Kesbeke in Amsterdam West. I like their products, fresh, delicious and so local. 

Third, for the first time since I move to Amsterdam 13 years ago I entered the Heineken Experience building and climbed the roof with a glass of Heineken beer in my hand. We listened to history of the monuments, visited the horses stall with names of Heineken family members and learned how this beer developed from nothing to a world famous brand. 

The Cultural Heritage Foundation of Bijenkorf



View from the Bijenkorf Tower













Wednesday, September 12, 2018

CARS AND POLITICS

The Car Museum Louwman in the Hague has amazing collections but what for me most fascinating was the exhibition about relationship between cars and political leaders, for example Volswagen Bettle, Hitler and the first designer of the car who turned out to be Jewish or Churchill with his Humber Pullman. 

About the VW Bettle, Hitler wanted to produce affordable and simple cars for Germany's road networks. In 1934 he asked Ferdinan Porsche to design the car. It should be a car that would be able to transport two adults and three children at the speed 100km/hour and use not more 7 litres of fuel per 100 km. Spare parts had to be easily replaced and acquired. Finally, in 1938 the first factory to build the People's Car (the meaning of VW) was opened in Fallersleben with a speech titled "Strength through Joy Car". 

There was a story about involvement of a Jewish car designer named Josef Ganz, but in history books his involvement was disputable. 


Hitler made a sketch about his dream car that later realized as the VW Beetle.