East and West in the War
Newspaper article by the Dutch writer Henri Borel on the entry of British and French colonial troops in the war. The article 'East and West in the War' was published in the colonial newspaper Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad (Batavia's Newspaper) on 28 November 1914. To read the original article in Dutch and the English translation, please click on the sources above.
Henri Borel, Dutch writer, sinologist, and former official in the Dutch East Indies, interpreted the arrival of Indian troops in Marseille as the most remarkable event of the war. Borel was a true internationalist, whose dreams of a cosmopolitan community transgressed the borders of Europe and included intercultural exchanges between Western and Eastern intellectuals. Just as his good friend the Dutch writer Frederik van Eeden, Borel believed that this war was a necessary step in a godly, spiritual plan to create a truly global community. For English, Flemish, and Indian soldiers fighting side by side dawned a new era.
As a colonial administrator, Borel had become very critical of Dutch colonial rule in Asia. He promoted an 'association of East and West' and held a plea for continuous relations between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies on an equal footing. This idea of association also made him mistrust radical Indonesian revolutionaries, as they were eager to cut off all relations between the East and West. During the war, together with van Eeden, he carried out many different initiatives to introduce Javanese poets, dancers, and musicians to Dutch cultural life. It is remarkable to see how a colonial critic like Borel also supported, as the head of press at the French embassy in The Hague, French efforts to maintain European colonial rule in Asia in an unaltered form.