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Maintenance work filmed at Dutch war cemeteries in Southeast Asia

August 15th premiere of documentary

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

JAKARTA - The hostilities of World War Two officially ended on August 15, 1945, when Japan surrendered to the Allies. The effects of the conflict continue to be relevant however for the survivors of those who paid the ultimate price with their life, so their memory will live on. Dutch officials in various Southeast Asian countries continue to attend ceremonies regularly to mark the anniversary of Japan’s surrender.

A new dimension will be added to the remembrances this year when on August 15 a short documentary will be premiered in the Netherlands about the ongoing work on Dutch war cemeteries in Indonesia, the result of a special project paid for by the government’s Het Gebaar initiative. About 130 local employees look after seven centralized cemeteries and take care of everything ranging from ground maintenance to cleaning the grave markers and from guiding visitors to preparing special services for official delegations. Many hundreds of thousands of survivors, family and tourists have visited the cemeteries over the years, according the Oorlogsgravenstichting (OGS).

Each annual report provides an overview of the schedule of activities at each of the cemeteries in Indonesia, over 24,000 Dutch graves, as well as the others throughout Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), about 3,000, Singapore, 22, Korea, 117, Hongkong, 72, and Australia (43). The seven Dutch cemeteries in Indonesia are now concentrated on Java, down from the original 22. After Indonesia gained its independence, the remains of war casualties were repatriated to Menteng Pulo and Ancol (near Jakarta), Candi and Kalibanteng (near Semarang), Kembang Kuning (near Surabaya), and Leuwigajah and Pandu (near Bandung), all in close cooperation with local authorities. Another war cemetery is located on Ambon, which along with the other cemeteries in Southeast Asia is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission of Great Britain.

Memorial markers

At the Dutch war cemeteries also the casualties, military as well as civilians, were buried of the Bersiap period, the policing campaigns of the late 1940s and of the subsequent clashes in New Guinea before control was turned over to the Indonesians. Unfortunately, many remains buried at the cemeteries could not be identified and of the 700 who died in Japan only urns with ashes made it to Indonesia. Thousands of mostly civilian victims of the Japanese camps only are included in the 42 volumes of memory books of the War Cemeteries’ Foundation, their remains never were recovered.

The Oorlogsgravenstichting provides people various options to participate in its programs, ranging from helping to fund the ongoing work – although supported by government funding, it also relies on private gifts and small donations – to requesting a copy of the page with the name of a family member listed in one of the 42 memory boos (for a very small fee), to ordering (very affordable) flowers for specific graves or wreaths for officials functions with or without pictures of same, to joining an Indonesia or Thailand tour, specifically for survivors of the fallen. The cemeteries also include memorial markers for victims whose remains could not be traced.

For further information, the foundation’s website at may be consulted, or contacted via email at, Zeestraat 85, Postbus 85, 2518 Den Haag, the Netherlands, phone 01131.70.313.10.80, fax 01131.70.362.15.46.

Let Memory Defeat Silence. Keep the Memory of the Fallen Alive. Document the Story of Those Who Did Not See Freedom Again.