In the spring of 2023, the extensive exhibition Moluccans in Drenthe will be on display in the Abbey Church (Abdijkerk) of the Drents Museum. The history of the Moluccans in the Netherlands is inextricably linked to Drenthe. A past with considerable frayed edges. In the exhibition Moluccans in Drenthe, the Drents Museum presents lesser-known stories from that past, such as the phenomenon of the women's shed, the weeks-long boat trip from Indonesia to the Netherlands and the way in which Moluccan youngsters experienced the sixties in Drenthe.
Moluccan history is often viewed from a personal, sociological, political or cultural perspective. With the exhibition Moluccans in Drenthe, the Drents Museum opts for a different approach. The museum looks at it from a historical perspective and zooms in on less well-known sides of the same history. The difficult relationship with the Dutch government, which throughout history has adopted a rather insensitive attitude towards the Moluccans, runs like a thread through the exhibition.
A surprising view
The exhibition Moluccans in Drenthe focusses on life in the women's shed, the place where the women and children of the 'native' KNIL soldiers in Indonesia lived. How was life organized there and to what extent was life in a residential area in Drenthe different? We also zoom in on the organization and course of the journey from Indonesia to the Netherlands. What could people take with them, what happened on the way and how was the distribution over the residential areas organized? The exhibition also shows how Moluccan youngsters experienced the sixties in Drenthe. What did Indo rock mean, how much freedom did a moped give them and what possibilities did the new train pass for teenagers offer?
Moluccans in Drenthe
In 1951, more than 12,500 Moluccans came to the Netherlands. One in five Moluccans ended up in Drenthe. With more than 2,500 residents, Camp Schattenberg in Drenthe was one of the largest two residential areas in the Netherlands. Eventually, most of the 'Drenthe' Moluccans ended up in Moluccan neighbourhoods in Hoogeveen, Bovensmilde and Assen (still the largest Moluccan residential area in the Netherlands). In the 1970s, many of the Moluccan actions took place in Drenthe.
This year, it is exactly seventy years ago that the first Moluccans arrived in Drenthe. The Drents Museum, Drents Archive, Camp Westerbork Memorial Centre and the ADAK foundation (Aan de Andere Kant) are marking this occasion. Last week, for example, the four-part podcast series Camp Schattenberg was launched, made by the archive in cooperation with RTV Drenthe. And from April onwards, an interactive map of the camp can be seen on geheugenvandrenthe.nl, with stories and photos of the people who lived there.