A Place to Belong

A place to belong

This documentary delves into the obscured history of the Dutch East Indies, uncovering a complex narrative. With the predominant influx of Dutch and European men into the region, they established families with Indonesian women. The progeny of these unions, characterized by a blend of Indonesian and European heritage, came to be known as “Indo” or “Indo-European.” 

The pivotal moment of January 11, 1942, saw Japan’s invasion of the Dutch East Indies. Subsequent to the capture of Dutch troops, the Japanese occupation marked the end of Dutch colonial rule. Under this new regime, individuals were required to register with the Japanese military authority, disclosing their birthplace and their parents’ origins. To avoid internment in camps, individuals had to possess a minimum of 85% Indonesian ancestry. During 1942, all Dutch nationals of European descent were confined in Buitenkampers, while both the Indos and Dutch citizens were compelled to depart from the Dutch Indies. 


Post-occupation, a significant wave of Indo individuals migrated to the Netherlands, numbering around 200,000 to 250,000. However, these newcomers faced challenges, as the Dutch society, right after World War II, was unwelcoming to the Indos. The large influx of people in need of assistance, employment, sustenance, and housing strained Dutch resources. Consequently, Indo people felt an inherent pressure to assimilate.  

This predicament raises the question: What is the cost of successful integration, and how does it impact one’s cultural roots? This inquiry prompted an exploration of how the Indos and Buitenkampers managed to retain their identities during the integration process in the Netherlands. Spanning three distinct generations, we engaged with individuals to understand their families’ experiences of integration and their perspective on the evolving Indo identity. We sought insights into the extent to which their unique identity could be preserved and the profound significance of being of mixed heritage.

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