Van bank naar bank


Nederlands English
In 1951 some 12.500 people from the Moluccas – a group of islands in the Indian Ocean – arrived in The Netherlands. They were the families of servicemen who fought in the KNIL (Royal Army of the Dutch Indies). Their stay was considered a temporary solution to the problems that emerged when Indonesia became independent. Because the Moluccans were not supposed to stay long, they were first housed in camps. But soon it became apparent that a swift return to Asia was out of the question and the government changed its course in 1956, wanting to integrate the group in Dutch society. A self-regulated form of welfare was organised and new housing provided.
These neighbourhoods are not on the outskirts of towns, but close to the centres, so as to speed up the process of integration. The government aimed at placing the Moluccans in the west of the country, closer to the job opportunities, but this scheme fell miserably short.

Some Moluccans were reluctant to leave the camps, as they felt this meant admitting their stay in The Netherlands might become long-term. They still strived for an independent state in the Moluccas, as was promised to them by the Dutch government.

In Wormerveer, a Moluccan neighbourhood was indeed set up in the 1960s. It comprises of 56 houses in all, situated in four streets including the Multatulistraat (named after the Dutch author that first wrote about colonial exploitation in the Dutch Indies in 1860).

Francois Pical (36) was raised in Wormerveer. When asked what attracted him to the Moluccan neighbourhood, he said: ‘This place is our base in life. You can still feel the atmosphere of days gone by, when the first generation was alive. This is the place where our grandmothers and grandfathers began their new lives, after the camps. To me, it is still a close-knit community. We have our own council, church and community centre. Moluccans deserve a place of their own like this and it should be cherished.’
 – Source: Museum Maluku, The Hague –