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Niels Mathijssen


Project title

Allemans eenling. De biografie van Poncke Princen (1925-2002)

Project description

Deserting, defecting and taking up arms against former fellow soldiers, only Poncke Princen dared doing that during the war in Indonesia (1945-1950). This made him one of the most controversial people in the Netherlands after the Second World War. Princen received a lot of media attention during his lifetime, but remarkably, no in-depth research has been done into his desertion and defection. For a long time, the priority of historians and journalists was the issue of war crimes committed by Dutch soldiers during the war in Indonesia. Now there is finally clarity on this issue, there is room to explore other angels and topics about this conflict. In this biography, I reconstruct Princen’s desertion and defection, and analyse the assessment of these acts in both the Netherlands and Indonesia, in the past and present.