Newspaper article by the most famous Indonesian anti-colonial writer and revolutionary Ernest Douwes Dekker on the duties and loyalties of Dutch colonials. The article 'Our Duty' was published in the socialist Dutch newspaper Het Volk [The People] on 24 September 1914. To read the original article and the English translation please click on the sources above; the article is on the first page of the newspaper.
Alongside belligerent colonials such as the Indians and the Algerians, ‘neutral colonials’ such as the Indonesians, part of the Dutch empire, were also reconsidering loyalties, friendships, and enmities during the war.
In this newspaper article, the most famous Indonesian anti-colonial writer and leader of the first nationalist party Ernest Douwes Dekker publicly offered, on 19 September 1914, his loyalty to the Dutch government which had banished him from the Dutch East Indies in 1913. In September 1914 he claimed that in times of great danger, every nationalist activity became secondary to maintaining the territorial integrity of the Dutch East Indies. For like many Indonesians, Douwes Dekker feared that the very poorly defended Dutch colony would fall into foreign (particularly Japanese) hands. He also called for Dutch vigilance on the religious appeal of the Ottoman empire to the more than 40 million Muslims native in the Dutch East Indies.
Douwes Dekker probably used this public pledge of loyalty as a diversionary action. Behind the scenes, he secretly met with German and Indian agents to assist them in their attempts to throw off the British yoke in India and to get back to the Dutch East Indies – which was forbidden by the Dutch government – in order to continue with his political activities.