Raymond Paul Pierre Westerling (bornin Pera , Turkey, and died onin Purmerend , the Netherlands), known as “The Turk”, is a Dutchcitizen born in Istanbul into a Dutch family settled in Turkey for three generations. After participating in the Second World War, he parachuted to the Dutch East Indies to fight the nationalists. When the Netherlands recognized the country’s independence in 1949, it rejected a state dominated only by Javanese and was dissenting. He fights the new authorities and attempts to take power 1 . After some initial success, he fails and has to take refuge in Singapore and Belgium. Returning to the Netherlands, he will now lead a discreet and withdrawn life.

The story of Raymond Westerling is interesting for two reasons. First of all because it is that of an adventurer with extraordinary life. Secondly, because it is difficult to identify as the sources differ according to their political orientations. For some, Westerling is a bloodthirsty brute using Gestapo-style methods and who, moreover, did not even take part in World War II fighting, only doing commando training. For others it is on the contrary a condottiere of the modern times, the defender of the minorities and “an example of efficiency and method to follow for the anti-terrorist guerilla ” which “is and will remain an example for generations of commandos 2 “.

In 2013 the Dutch ambassador to Indonesia, Tjeerd de Zwaan, formally apologized for the massacres committed during the period from 1945 to 1949 during a ceremony. De Zwaan mentioned the atrocities committed by Westerling and the massacre of Rawagede 3 .

World War II

After studying at a French Jesuit high school and some private jobs, Raymond Westerling left Turkey in 1941 to join the army. Arriving in Egypt, he then went to Canada and joined in December 1941 Britain where he was incorporated into the Dutch Brigade Princess Irene. In 1942, finding that there was not enough action in his unit, he asked to follow a commando training. He is then sent to the commando school in Achnacarry (Scotland), where he is trained in all the techniques of the clandestine warfare. Its qualities are recognized, it becomes coach of “silent killing” the commando o 10 Allied and even receive special training to Special Branch, the British counterintelligence service. In January 1943 he was sent to India to follow the course of the Jungle Special Training School in Goa and then in September of that year, he was parachuted into Holland to form resistant 4 .

Some sources, however, do not mention this training in India and say that Westerling was made available to the office of special missions to perform secret actions in the Netherlands, but in fact he has never made a mission to time of war. It would not be until October 1944, after the liberation of the country, that he was sent to the Netherlands as instructor of the Dutch volunteers; The same sources insist that even heavily by adding Westerling had no combat experience on the battlefield during the war 5 . All sources agree, however, that he was wounded by the explosion of a V1 in March 1945 near Breda . At the end of the war in Europe, he is sent toDutch Indies still occupied by the Japanese.

The geopolitical context of the Dutch East Indies

Main article: Japanese Occupation of the Dutch East Indies .

In 1945, the Dutch East Indies are still occupied by the Japanese, since March 1942 when they landed in Sulawesi . With its oil, rubber and tin resources, this territory is an indispensable reservoir for the continuation of their war effort. However, with 153 000 men they can not control the whole territory too, in 1943, they create the PETA (Revolutionary Army of the Defenders of the Homeland) whose members, the Sukarelas, are framed by Japanese. Dutch civilians and half-breeds are mistreated and locked up in camps while supporters of the colonizers are hunted down. The Japanese are pursuing a policy of support for the Javanese nationalists whose main leader, Soekarno , they release. The latter obviously decides to play the game of the new occupant, persuaded to take advantage of it; in 1943, he participated in the creation of the “Center of Popular Power” – Pusat Tenaga Rakyat – whose acronym PUTERA means “son, child”. Two days after the surrender of Japan , Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaim thethe independence of the country and the creation of a unitary state that is not accepted in some regions, including the Moluccas, North Sulawesi , New Guinea and West Sumatra [non-neutral] . The Japanese troops not intervening, Indonesia will then sink into chaos, nationalist bands, Islamic and Communist terror, especially Sukarelas who, for the most part, become Bunds, that is to say say “communist comrades” [non-neutral] . The Netherlands then tries to restore their power, resulting in an armed and diplomatic struggle called Revolusi. It ends December 27, 1949 with the creation of the Republic of the United States of Indonesia and the Netherlands recognize partially 1 .

The Dutch attempt to regain control of Indonesia [ change | change the code ]

In June 1945, before the Japanese surrender, Raymond Westerling was assigned to a unit stationed in Ceylon , the Insulinde Corps, which was destined to carry out commando actions against the Japanese. The war is over, he is parachuted near Medan, north of Sumatra with eight other Insulinde corps officers to deliver and assist prisoners of war and internees left behind by the Japanese. With a troop consisting mainly of Amboines and half-breeds, he will lead an implacable struggle against nationalists and communists. Its action is based essentially on the exploitation of information collected by agents of the PID (Politieke Inlichtingen Dienst), reactivated on this occasion, and targeted actions, discreet and brutal. It strikes at night and leaves no trace, putting into practice the silent elimination techniques learned during his commandos courses. The objective is to eliminate the leaders and to create confusion for the enemy who does not know who hit, his actions are mainly nocturnal, making fear reign in populations with superstitions still alive. Raymond Westerling managed to pacify a large part of Sumatra but, according to some sources, his action is much criticized by the military authorities who reproach him for his summary executions and then mutate him toJakarta in July 1946. This information, however, appears to be erroneous because it is not clear why the same authorities would have appointed him once again to head a special forces unit (DST, Depot Speciale Troepen) composed mainly of Indonesians. This unit was then being trained near Jakarta , Raymond Westerling worked enthusiastically and, after rigorous selection and Spartan training, he managed to form an elite unit of 123 commandos (out of 1200 volunteers) .

In December 1946, he was sent to restore the situation in South Sulawesi where there is also total anarchy [not neutral] . He uses the same techniques as in Sumatra : on the basis of precise information, he conducts nocturnal and punctual raids to eliminate the leaders. Having received the attributions of a court martial, he judges and executes when necessary the terrorist leaders in public. He also creates self-defense groups in the villages. This policy results in the almost complete pacification of Sulawesi in one year.

In February 1947, he returned to Jakarta where he perfected the capabilities of his troupe while taking ad hoc actions in Java and Sumatra . Having increased the number of special forces to 1,200, he destroyed the nationalist networks and neutralized the infiltration of the Indonesian army and police by the communists. Since his methods are still criticized even at the international level, he is finally relieved of his operational command in 1948; however, he retains responsibility for training until January 1949 when he is finally demobilized (Some say he has actually resigned) 5 .

Personal combat

Raymond Westerling then moved to West Java with his wife, Fernande Yvonne Fournier, a Franco-Vietnamese, where he created a transport company with soldiers from his former unit. This new activity, however, does not prevent him from keeping in touch with Dutch army officers and non-commissioned officers, especially with those of special forces. He also has ongoing relations with federated statesmen who do not wish to integrate into a unitary Indonesia. He also creates groups of protection in the villages and he is thus soon at the head of an army of more than 20 000 men, the “army of the just Prince” ( Angkatan Perang Ratu Adilor APRA), composed mostly of Indonesians from the Maluku islands deserting en masse from the Dutch colonial army, the Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger (KNIL) 6 . According to some, these numbers have been largely overestimated, as APRA has never had more than a few hundred men, mostly former police or military and members of various security services of political parties or large corporations.

When the Netherlands officially recognized the independence of the United States of Indonesia in December 1949, Soekarno quickly invaded the Federated States. At the beginning of January 1950, refusing this state of affairs, Westerling sent an ultimatum to the Jakarta government, asking him to respect the federated states and he took action on 23 January. Troops and 300 soldiers seize Bandungbut they fail in Jakarta, for lack of sufficient weapons and also because of the rallying of some of its supporters to the new power. The coup failed, Raymond Westerling is forced to hide but the Dutch authorities are well aware that his presence in Jakarta can only complicate their relations with the new Indonesian state, ask the Royal Navy to evacuate discreetly on Singapore with some of its faithful. Accused of having entered the territory illegally, Raymond Westerling is interned for six months by the British 7. Expelled, he fled to Brussels in August 1950 where he was contacted by representatives of the Republic of the South Maluku (RMS) who asked him to prepare a military expedition against the Indonesian troops in the Moluccas , Ambon or Ceram . Westerling then leaves Belgium to go to Tangier , after having crossed France, but the plan does not finally come out. Westerling returns in 1952 to the Netherlands where he is arrested but released the same day. It is understood several times by the police and it was not until 5 January 1955 that the Westerling case is definitively closed 5 .

Over thirty years old and having devoted most of his life to the army and the war, Raymond Westerling has the greatest difficulty in fitting into civilian life. He changed jobs several times before holding an Indian antique shop in Amsterdam for many years . After his death, he fell completely into oblivion and we do not start talking about him until 1969, when the question of war crimes in Indonesia was raised again.


  • JA de Moor – Westerling, Raymond Paul Pierre (1919-1987) – in Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland.
  • Venner Dominique – Westerling: Guerrilla Story – Hachette, Paris, 1977
  • Westerling, Raymond Paul Pierre – My adventures in Indonesia – 1952
  • Magazine Commando o 33 – February-March 2008

External links

  • Authority Records : Virtual International Authority File • International Standard Name Identifier • University Documentation System • Library of Congress • Gemeinsame Normdatei •Royal Library of the Netherlands • Norwegian Library Base • WorldCat
  • Biography in Dutch  [ archive ]
  • Celebes [ archive ] VPRO Documentary on STDs in the Sulawesi Islands
  • Images of Raymond Westerling and his troops  [ archive ]

Notes and references

  1. ↑ a and b Dominique Venner – Westerling: Guerrilla Story – Hachette, Paris, 1977
  2. ↑ Magazine COMMANDO 33 – February-March 2008
  3. ↑ “Dutch apologize for Indonesian executions”, http://america.aljazeera.com  [ archive ] , September 12, 2013
  4. ↑ Commando Magazine No. 33 – February-March 2008
  5. ↑ a , b and c J.A. de Moor – Westerling, Raymond Paul Pierre (1919-1987)
  6. ↑ Venner Dominica – Westerling: Guerrilla Story – Hachette, Paris, 19
  7. ↑ Westerling, Raymond Paul Pierre – My Adventures in Indonesia