Remembering Wim Wertheim: a Dutch scholar who took the other side

11 September 2019 - 12:12

Professor Jan Breman will share his view and thoughts about Professor Wim Wertheim. Respondent: PhD Candidate Yance Arizona, f​​ollowed by a discussion with the audience. The lecture will be held in English.

Jan Breman had a close connection to Professor Wim Wertheim:

"My great good luck was to be taught by Wim Wertheim, branded as a Marxist and author of Indonesian Society in Transition. He had been a colonial civil servant in the Dutch East Indies and, when appointed to a chair in the Law School in Batavia [in 1936], he met young Indonesian scholars and students who were, of course, nationalists, and talked to them about their views. Together with all the Dutch he was interned under Japanese occupation in the Second World War and when he came out, he sided with the independence movement. He was hated for that in the Netherlands. Indonesian independence was a huge issue in Dutch politics for long after 1949. I became his research assistant."
New Left Review 'Jan Breman, a Footloose Scholar', July/August 2015

The lecture is organised bij Colonial Legacies Today: Indonesia and The Netherlands 

Remembering Wim Wertheim: A Dutch Scholar Who Took The Other Side

Wim Wertheim


Professor Wim Wertheim (Saint Petersburg 1907-Wageningen 1998) was the founder of Indonesian Studies in the Netherlands, being based at the University of Amsterdam most of his life. He was a supporter of Indonesian independence after WWII; and supported progressive political change in Indonesia through the 50s and 60s.

After the General Suharto became dictator in Indonesia in 1965, he supported campaigns for freedom of political prisoners, including of his close friend the author Pramoedya Ananta Toer. He was a key figure in the Komitee Indonesië, a solidarity group with the oppressed and democracy activists in Indonesia. As a scholar he focused his work on contributing to finding solutions to the problem of the oppression and poverty that faced millions in the Third World.

His book: 'De Lange Mars der Emancipatie', is still a classic in this area. His book on 'Elites and Masses' has also been published in Indonesian language. He also wrote extensively about the events in Indonesia in September, 1965 and provided an analysis concluding that Suharto was deeply involved in the conspiracy to arrest Army generals on 30 September '65.