The Dutch bregan to colonize the East Indies during an early period of European colonial expansion (16th century). Dutch colnil policy was explotive with little effort to educate Indonesians or prepare them to share in the local administration. Dutch authorities introduced the Ethical Policy (early 20th century). The program included the promotion of farming and limited health and educational services for Indonesians. The Dutch expanded infrastructure projecrs, including the construction of railways and roads and the development of inter-island shipping. The Ethical Policy has social implications, helping to create a small number of Western-educated Indonesians and a group of Indonesian entrepreneurs. These Indonesians began to compete with the Chinese community whichb had played a dominant role in commerce. The Dutch did not, however, succeed in gaoning the loyalty of the new educated Indonesian class that they had created. Rather the educated Indonesians became resentful of the limitations of the colonial regime. The first modern nationalist movement was Sarekat Islam (SI--Islamic Union) which was founded in 1912. SI rose out of the protective association formed by successful batik merchants. SI proved enormously successful and within onlya few years had a membership of more than 2 million Indonesians throughout the archipelago (1918). Dutch authorities at first tried to wirk with SI. They set up the Volksraad (People's Council) as an advisory body (1916). The Volksraad members were selected from major groups of the population. They were allowed to deliberate and advice the Dutch colonial government. Dutch policies began to shift after World War I (1914-1918). Particularly important was an abortive Communist-led insurrection (1926-27). The Dutch began to adopt a more repressive policy toward nationalists. The nationalist movement was at first nostly headed by leaders who were either not Muslim or only nominally Muslim. One of the most prominnt mationalist leader was Sukarno who demanded complete independence. He founded the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI--Partai Nasional Indonesia) in 1927. The Dutch attempted to supress the nationlist movement. They arrested and exiled Sukarno (1929-1931, 1933-1942), Muhammad Hatta (1934-1942), and other nationalist leaders. They banned the PNI and other parties they judged to threaten the colonial regime. These actions, however, did not stop the growth of the movement. The War in Europe dramatically changed the political situation. NAZI Germany invaded the Netherlands (May 1940). Colonial authorities remained loyal to the Dutch Governmeny in Exile established in London. The occupation of the Netherlands, however, severly undercut the authority of the colonial government. Authorities began to hintvat indeprndence after the War.
The Dutch West Indies with its oil resources were one of the primary objectives in the Japanese decesion to go to war. The Japanese soon after Peal Harbor and the fall of Singapore invaded and occupied the Futch East Indies. The Japanese decided to court Sukarno and the nationalists to obtain support for their administration. They offered Sukarno and the PNI the fiction of a puppet regime. They did not, however, transfer any authority because their goal was to exploit Indonesian resources to support their war effort. TheJpanese regime included conscript labor and because of the conditions, many did not survive the camps created for them. Even more horendous was the famine that resulted from Japanese exploitation and adn=ministrative policies. As the war situation deteriorated, the Japanese began organizing militias (Java, Bali, and Sumatra) (September 1943). They had not done this earlier as local militias posed a possibe threat, but the war situation changed dramatically in 1943. Allied successes in New Gunia raised threated the Japanese position. The Japanese trained thousands of men. These men would provide the core of the postwar Indonesuian independence army. Thee Allies instead of the Dutch East Indies targeted the Central Pacific and the Philippines. To prepare for an expected invasion abnd to secure local support, Japanese authorities promised the Indonesians independence (October 1944). While the represive Jaopanese policies alienated many Indonesians, Sukarno cooperated with them. And the independence propaganda convinced many Indonesians that ther country would become independent after the War. The expected Allied invasion never came. Japan surrendered to the Allies (August 15, 1945). Sukarno and Hatta declared independence and became president and vice president od a new independent Indonesia (August 17). Brutish troops did not reach Indinesia for several weeks (late September). The Indonesians by this time had set up an independent government. The new government was particularly entrenched in the main islands of Java and Sumatra. The Dutch returned and were soon in conflict with the new Indonesian Republic. The British attempted to facilitate an agreement between the Indonesians and Dutch and the Linggajati Agreement was signed. This involved the recognition of the Republic and plans for the creation of a federal Indonesia. The British then withdrew (November 1946).
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