The value of a picture — Javanese genocide by Ducth Indies army
The Times this week brought it up wide on the front page, "First picture of executions in India". As if the announcement of a new world war or concerns the discovery of the Higgs particle. The only thing missing in the header are the exclamation marks. Now it is not customary for "historic news" so widely publicized. So, you think in the first instance, must have something special going on. Upon closer inspection, it appears shaky story. The suggestion that the picture matches the best proof for atrocities committed by Dutch troops is not well founded .
The news was brought nice. A passerby in Enschede had two photo albums from a Dumpster and fished issued by the city archives. The albums were there for a while gathering dust, until another passerby the archivist noted the importance of the photos, one of them in particular. Twice is coincidence, and that the photo find of the century. That should make it particularly, the Volkskrant have thought. For the reader this story is not enough to convince. There remain plenty of questions.
How did this actually come in the newspaper?
Adrie Roding, city archivist of Enschede, doing quite laconic about the discovery. For the NOS television he said that of course a particular image, but also first have to research must be done before we have too many conclusions can connect. It seems, therefore, not that he was the one that the Times has pointed to the picture. In the same short film has NIOD employee Rene Cook conclusions already drawn: the picture is unique, shocking, and soon gets all textbooks.
The question of how this has come in the media is not completely unimportant, because the NIOD few weeks KITLV ago together with NIMH and a suggestion for new research into this period. Is concerned, there was a coincidence?
If the image is so new?
The death of a Republican soldier. - (R. Capa, 1936)
Well, about that you can really only say something if you are sure about what you see. Images can sometimes be deceptive, but also that Cook should know. The most famous photograph of the Hungarian photographer Robert Capa, a picture of a Spanish republican soldier who fatally affected, was long regarded as the most striking image of the Spanish Civil War. Only decades later, by several historians demonstrated that the accompanying text (who, what, what) was wrong. By some it was even suggested that the picture was put in scene. The picture has not become less important because only we know not exactly what he proposes. And that is possible with this "execution-picture" of course happen.
In the past, images shown in several publications of Dutch soldiers killed by Indonesians. Louis Zweers wrote the book in 1995 Front India , dedicated to the army photographer Hugo Wilmar. The photos were therein shown again in the book Colonial War of Cook, Somers and Zweers (2009). Such pictures are not new. The new, again, so here would lie in the fact that here we see an execution.
Is it a foreclosure?
According to Cook, this is indeed an execution: "The photo was taken exactly at the right time, you really see the sand splash. Those guys are simply shot in the back. "
Comparison of the "execution-picture" with the last photo from the album gives no clarity. We can not conclude that the men who were shot in the back at the other photos in the ditch. And so we do not absolutely sure if they are executed.
If they at the time of taking the photos were shot in the back, because then we would see something quite different. Only the middle man has some cracks in his shirt, there is no bullet holes or blood stains. The men are still standing, even with the head upright, and therefore can not be shot in the head. At least not at that time. And so it is "dripping sand" of the bullets which Cook sees, not what we think it is. Maybe the wind, or a warning shot? We do not know. Only the posture of the men could indicate fear of being shot. But even that is no more than a interpratie. The comparison with the picture of Capa arises here in full force on.
Who took the pictures?
Indonesians killed in a ditch
According to Cook, and with him all the media, the photographer owns the album found Jacob R., a conscript soldier who is now deceased would be childless. In order to clarify something: we're talking about Jacob Ridderhof, trained in Ede, and sent to the Dutch East Indies in May 1947 with the 12th, 16th or 18th Field Artillery Regiment (RVA) on board the MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. Apart from the comments of a photo expert, we would like to know what the historians of the Dutch Institute for Military History (NIMH) about abuse. She actually know most about the troop movements of these three regiments. Of these, however, so far no comment in the media.
According to Cook, the authenticity of the photographs underlined by the fact that the amateur photos, and by linking the pictures shown here. However, this does not prove that the maker thereof Ridderhof actually was.
time it happened quite often that the boys exchanged photographs themselves to at least a reminder to have moments that they felt was important. The different types of printing photographs in these albums (size, jagged edges) of witnesses here. We do not even know or Ridderhof personally witnessed the event.
Who were the victims?
In another article in the Volkskrant has expressed reservations about the "victims". The author of the Memorandum Excesses, historian Cees Fasseur, says this:
"It is not clear to people what it is. Are they citizens? Are they soldiers? Or gang members? It is tragic but you know nothing about the victims. Possibly indeed members of Hizbullah or Sabilillah, Islam followers who in fact a private war against the Netherlands and fought against the Indonesian Republic. It was probably no innocent civilians who were brought here from the village to be shot. These pictures say it so much but not everything. "
If these pictures, as Cook says, the school pick, it would be nice if this comment of Fasseur is added thereto. That however is doubtful.
If we take the news of recent days back to the core questions, we can conclude that much has remained unclear. We do not know with certainty whether the image is of an execution, and we do not know who the victims were. We do not know who was the creator of the photos. What we do know is that these images emphasize again that it was a bloody war in which thousands of casualties. Anyway, we already knew that too, of course. The news of all this is really it is not news.