Second plan of work for Bangkok by Ernest Douwes Dekker



In this report addressed to the German Foreign Office, the anti-colonial Indonesian writer and politician Ernest Douwes Dekker (image 1) describes his secret mission to travel from Rotterdam to Bangkok. This plan, as discussed with the Indian Independence Committee in Berlin, was part of the German-Indian plots to cause revolts in British India. To read the original report, please click on the sources above.


The neutral Dutch East Indies played a pivotal role in German-Indian plans to foment unrest in British India, which was the main aim of Germany's imperial strategy in Asia. The Dutch colony served as a secret route to transport subversive pamphlets, weapons, and activists to British India. Indian and Indonesian anti-colonial revolutionaries, often old friends, participated in joint German-sponsored missions to destabilise British rule in India. In August 1914, the German-financed Indian Independence Committee in Berlin invited the most famous Indonesian nationalists, Ernest Douwes Dekker and Soewardi.
Douwes Dekker, grandson of the renowned Dutch colonial critic and writer Multatuli, welcomed the war as an opportunity to eliminate European rule in Asia. He believed that a decline in British imperialism would inevitably lead to the end of Dutch colonial rule. In 1913, the Dutch government had exiled both Douwes Dekker and Soewardi from the Dutch East Indies to the Netherlands, after the Ministry of Colonies considered their activities as leaders of the first nationalist party to be an immediate danger for Dutch colonial rule. At the beginning of the war, Douwes Dekker publicly claimed in the article 'Our Duty' to remain loyal to the Dutch government and to respect neutrality but, at the same time, he secretly met Indian and German agents in Zürich, Berlin, and Amsterdam.
In this report written on 14 August 1915 in The Hague, Douwes Dekker elaborated his plans to travel from Rotterdam to Bangkok. He reveals a network of Indonesian agents both in The Hague and in the Dutch East Indies. Their help will allow him to smuggle encoded letters, reports, seditious anti-colonial and pan-Islamic pamphlets, money, and even possibly rifles from Berlin or German embassies in neutral countries to Bangkok and eventually to India.
On 8 September 1915, he finally embarked on his German-financed journey from Rotterdam to New York. In February 1916, he was arrested by the British Secret Service in Singapore and imprisoned until July 1918.