Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Borch on War trials in the Netherlands East Indies

Back in 2017, Fred L. Borch (Regimental Historian and Archivist for the US Army Judge Advocate General's Corps) published Military Trials of War Criminals in the Netherlands East Indies 1946-1949 with Oxford University Press. From the publisher: 
From 1946 to 1949, the Dutch prosecuted more than 1000 Japanese soldiers and civilians for war crimes committed during the occupation of the Netherlands East Indies during World War II. They also prosecuted a small number of Dutch citizens for collaborating with their Japanese occupiers. The war crimes committed by the Japanese against military personnel and civilians in the East Indies were horrific, and included mass murder, murder, torture, mistreatment of prisoners of war, and enforced prostitution. Beginning in 1946, the Dutch convened military tribunals in various locations in the East Indies to hear the evidence of these atrocities and imposed sentences ranging from months and years to death; some 25 percent of those convicted were executed for their crimes. The difficulty arising out of gathering evidence and conducting the trials was exacerbated by the on-going guerrilla war between Dutch authorities and Indonesian revolutionaries and in fact the trials ended abruptly in 1949 when 300 years of Dutch colonial rule ended and Indonesia gained its independence. 
Until the author began examining and analysing the records of trial from these cases, no English language scholar had published a comprehensive study of these war crimes trials. While the author looks at the war crimes prosecutions of the Japanese in detail this book also breaks new ground in exploring the prosecutions of Dutch citizens alleged to have collaborated with their Japanese occupiers. Anyone with a general interest in World War II and the war in the Pacific, or a specific interest in war crimes and international law, will be interested in this book.
 Praise for the book:

"The overriding importance of Borch's book is that it fills a long-existing and significant gap in the English-language historiography of war crimes trials at the end of World War II. ... This book should find a wide audience among legal scholars, especially those who have an interest in the prosecution of war crimes. But the book is framed for a broader audience and with the pains taken to avoid legal jargon and to provide contextualization with respect to time and place, it should achieve its aim." Bruce Vandervort

"The overarching value of this book, especially for Anglophone readers lies in its forty-four trial summaries, which highlight cases relevant to specific types of crimes. The book might also serve as a primer on Dutch war crimes trial procedures, recruitment of personnel, provision of ancillary staff, etc., as well as enable comparative analysis of the Allied trials arising from the Pacific War." -Georgina Fitzpatrick

"This excellent book addresses a void in the academic literature: an authoritative well-written documentation of post-World War II war crimes trials conducted by an Allied state. Much more than a mere recitation of cases (although there is that, too), this slim volume is a window to an earlier time and an earlier law of war. ... This is a powerful book that those interested in the academic literature of World War II, the law of war, or the frailty of man, should read." -Gary Solis

Further information is available here.

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