Meet Poncke Princen, a Dutch anti-Nazi fighter who was later sent to Indonesia to suppress an anticolonial rebellion. Princen, after witnessing Dutch war crimes, defected to fight with the guerrillas in 1948. He later helped expose the anticommunist massacres of Indonesian dictator Suharto.

Poncke Princen

Poncke Princen

Johannes Cornelis Princen (21 November 1925 in The Hague – 2 February 2002 in Jakarta), better known as Poncke Princen, was a Dutch anti-Nazi fighter and colonial soldier. In 1948, he deserted, joined the pro-independence guerrillas in what was then the Dutch Indies. He lived the rest of his life in Indonesia, where he became a prominent human rights activist and political dissident under various dictatorial regimes in his adopted country and consequently spent considerable time in detention.

Early life

Princen and his three siblings were the children of free-thinking parents with anarchist tendencies. His great-grandfather had been a deserter from military service, who had long been chased by the law and whose li… Continue Reading (22 minute read)

8 thoughts on “Meet Poncke Princen, a Dutch anti-Nazi fighter who was later sent to Indonesia to suppress an anticolonial rebellion. Princen, after witnessing Dutch war crimes, defected to fight with the guerrillas in 1948. He later helped expose the anticommunist massacres of Indonesian dictator Suharto.”

  1. TheDustOfMen

    Yeah the new Indonesian regimes didn’t exactly thank him by locking him up several times. Suharto, Sukarno, and Haibibi all didn’t like him very much.

    When a US diplomat remarked he seemed to be consistently against Indonesian government, he responded:

    >”No, you have it wrong; it is that I am always on the side of the people.” I recall finally what he called his “anthem”, Edith Piaf’s haunting Non, je ne regrette rien. Truly, he had nothing to regret throughout a long and noble life”.

    That guy stood up for his principles throughout it all.

  2. Seienchin88

    Yeah the Dutch Colonial rule was brutal and their try to suppress millions of Japanese trained (and survivors of the extreme famines under Japanese rule) militias was a stupid idea.

  3. SigmaB

    He sounds like a cooler Lawrence of Arabia, but who was actually a good guy on the side of the downtrodden

  4. TheNoidedAndroid

    A lot of “anticommunist killings” were against people with no communist ties whatsoever.

    Minorities were frequently targeted because they were thought to be more inclined towards communist leanings. It sounds better to call them ‘anti-communist’ killings than minority purges.

    You could ‘out’ your innocent neighbor for being communist and then buy their lands for cheap, anticommunist killings were paranoid and mostly random, about spreading terror, giving individuals opportunities to victimize others.

    Anyone trying to tell you that the USA didn’t directly assist these massacres is trying to rewrite history to favor a particular narrative.

  5. sankyu99

    Thank you for posting. His Wikipedia entry is fascinating.

  6. Bend-It-Like-Bakunin

    More akin to genocide, and it was encouraged by the US. At least 500,000 (more like 1m) dead for, at worst, trying to organize labour against colonial oppression. More often than not, these “communists” were simply members of unions or involved in working class communities.

  7. AttonJRand

    His story should be made into a movie.

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