The Dutch Wars in Aceh

My current interests and studies of photography in Indonesia lead me in a variety of directions.

There is much more to be found about photography during the colonial era, the Dutch East Indies.  Having a soft spot for 19th century photography, I’ve happened upon a number pictures and photographers I find interesting.

These pictures were all made by H.M. Neeb – Henricus Marinus Neeb – right around the turn of the century.

Neeb didn’t photograph actively for very long.  He was trained as a doctor, and served in a medical unit for the Dutch colonial army.  He photographed the Dutch offensive against Aceh.

Aceh lies on the Northern tip of Sumatra.  It was the last province in the Dutch East Indies to be conquered by the colonial power.  Acehnese are notoriously ferocious fighters, yet the Dutch proved to me more ruthless.  The campaign left thousands dead.

The Dutch offend used extreme force against the Indonesians (and were recently found guilty of war crimes, and are being forced to offer reparations for some of their atrocities).

Neeb’s photographs provide a record of the life and culture of the time.

And a vivid document of some of the violence.


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