Advocatus diaboli

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Anti-British pamphlet, reprinted in the Dutch East Indies by German propagandists.


The Dutch East Indies had an important function in the German Revolutionary Program. Not only were weapons and secret agents smuggled but also pieces of propaganda that encouraged acts of rebellion against British colonial rule. German agents had such a strong presence in the Dutch colony that they were able to print anti-British brochures in Batavia, the seat of Dutch colonial officials. In the case of 'Advocatus diaboli', immediate steps were taken by the British Foreign Office and the Dutch Governor General in Batavia and the pamphlet ceased to circulate. Nevertheless, many other pieces of inflammatory propaganda in English and incidentally in Dutch did circulate in the Archipelago. Although the Germans did not intend directly to overthrow Dutch colonial rule, their actions against British imperial concerns in India, Burma, and the Strait of Malacca led from and through Dutch colonial territory, endangering Dutch neutrality in the process. A fear of British annexation motivated Dutch journalists, intellectuals, and civil servants toward cooperating with the British in order to diminish the spread of German orchestrated, anti-colonial propaganda. Although the anti-colonial pamphlets were directed at British subjects, they also stirred up disquiet among the indigenous population in the Dutch colony. As such, the Dutch were compelled to make every effort to counteract German propaganda in the Dutch East Indies (Van Dijk 2007).