Monday, September 21, 2020

Raymond Westerling

Raymond Pierre Paul Westerling (1919 –1987) was an infamous Dutch military officer of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army. He orchestrated a contraguerrilla in Sulawesi during the Indonesian National Revolution after World War II and participated in a coup attempt against the Indonesian government in January 1950, a month after the official transfer of sovereignty. Both actions were denounced as war crimes by the Indonesian authorities.

Raymond Westerling was born on 31 August 1919 in Istanbul. He was the son of a Greek mother and a Dutch father, whose family had lived there for three generations. He grew up speaking Greek, Turkish, French and English, and later wrote: "One of the few Western European languages that I didn’t speak a word of was my mother tongue: Dutch." When World War II engulfed Europe in 1941, he went to the Dutch consulate in Istanbul and enlisted in the Royal Netherlands Army, much to his father’s dismay.

Westerling was twice the subject of official inquiries. Dutch historian Nico Schulte Nordholt stated: "...his actions had the approval of the highest authorities, and in the eyes of the Dutch authorities, he was successful at the time. Determant and effective". In 1949, the Dutch–Indonesian agreement on transfer of power stipulated neither country would call the other on its wartime offences, thus ruling out any attempt by Indonesia to press for Westerling's extradition.

From the theater production 'Westerling'

Via Belgium, Westerling reached the Netherlands, where he settled down with his Indonesian-French wife in a small town in the province of Friesland. Westerling later studied voice at the Amsterdam conservatory. His début as a tenor in Puccini’s Tosca in the city of Breda in 1958, however, proved unsuccessful. He moved to Amsterdam, where he ran an antique book store. 

Westerling died of heart failure on November 1987.

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