From the Netherlands East Indies to Indonesia: a philatelic iconography of political upheaval

TitleFrom the Netherlands East Indies to Indonesia: a philatelic iconography of political upheaval
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsA.J. Dietz, O. Louw, and A. Zonjee
EditorS.D. Brunn
Secondary TitleStamps, nationalism and political transition
Date Published2022
Place PublishedLondon, New York
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number9780367501204
Keywordsidentity, Indonesia, Netherlands, political change, postage stamps

The Netherlands East Indies were regarded as the ‘Emerald Belt’ of the Netherlands, and a general feeling in the Netherlands during the 1940s was that if the Indies were lost, disaster would be inevitable. The postage stamps of the late 1930s of the Netherlands East Indies show an interesting combination of ‘being Dutch’ and ‘indigenous.’ During the first years of German occupation of the Netherlands, Queen Wilhelmina continued to figure on stamps of the Netherlands East Indies, and three 1941 stamps stated that the Netherlands would recover. The 1942 Japanese invasion and occupation left a different message on stamps (ignoring the Dutch completely). Defeat of Japan in 1945 was followed by four years of struggle and competing stamp images: the Netherlands East Indies against the free Republic of Indonesia. In 1948-1949, stamps of a transition period showed ‘Indonesia’ and local images, followed by ‘Republik Indonesia Serikat’ in 1950-1951 (a brief interlude of federalism). The next stamps were issued by the United Republic of Indonesia, showing its own icons, and after 1955 in sometimes radical ways. The Netherlands continued issuing stamps for Netherlands New Guinea until 1962 and unofficial stamps for the Republic of the Moluccas, for which a movement of people in exile wanted Independence. In 1957 there was a brief insurgence in some of the outer islands, with their own (unofficial) stamps. Between 1956 and 1965 there was complete separation between Indonesia under Sukarno and the Netherlands under Queen Juliana; and stamps of both countries almost completely ignored their shared heritage. The Netherlands printed a stamp with the Borobudur in 1971 and 1985. By that time, it had become obvious that the ‘loss’ of the Indies had not at all resulted in a disaster for the Dutch economy.


Citation Key12168