October 9, 1740: Chinezenmoord, The Batavia Massacre

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A Brief History

On October 9, 1740, Dutch colonial overlords on the Island of Java (now a main island in Indonesia) in the port city of Batavia (now Jakarta, capital of Indonesia) went on a mad killing spree of ethnic cleansing and murdered about 10,000 ethnic Chinese. The Dutch word, “Chinezenmoord,” literally means “Chinese Murder.”

Digging Deeper

At the time of this horrible crime, what is now Indonesia was called the Dutch East Indies and was a colony of the Netherlands until “liberated” by the Japanese in World War II.

The mass murder pogrom started on October 9 and continued through October 22, 1740, until only about 600 to 3000 ethnic Chinese people were left in the city. The action was not without provocation, as only a couple days prior to the murders Chinese upset with Dutch economic policies had killed about 50 Dutch soldiers. The unrest among Chinese in Batavia had been brewing for some time. The Dutch responded by a mass confiscation of weapons from the Chinese, as well as ordering a curfew on that part of the population, but other ethnic groups had heard rumors of Chinese atrocities against every other ethnic group in the area, and responded with violence toward the Chinese.

Dutch soldiers began firing cannons into the homes of Chinese people and despite a call for peace and amnesty by the Dutch Governor-General on October 11, the violence continued all the way through October 22, when he finally forced an uneasy peace on the city. The council had posted a reward for anyone rounding up or killing a Chinese person, and the rest of the population enthusiastically pursued the rewards. About 500 Dutch soldiers had died in the fighting. The areas outside the city were another story, and violence continued for weeks afterwards, never really stopping until a year later when the Java War broke out and lasted for another 2 years. Governor-General Adriaan Valckenier was recalled to the Netherlands and charged with atrocities pertaining to the massacre. At first cleared, Valckenier was on his way back to Batavia when he was again arrested, and spent the rest of his life (10 years!) in prison on Java awaiting conclusion of an investigation into his stewardship of the islands.

As stated earlier, other ethnic groups also had attacked the Chinese, and these included servants and slaves of the Dutch! It seems the beleaguered Chinese were fighting virtually every single other ethnic group on Java, and the “open season” on Chinese continued on other parts of Java outside of Batavia.

Note on Chinese Immigrants: Chinese immigrants have often traveled to far off lands to work hard and make a better life for themselves, including the US and Canada, other Asian nations, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Chinese have also often encountered resentment and discrimination in these adopted lands, either from envy (at their success), anger at losing jobs to the Chinese, or plain old ethnocentric bias. In the US, Chinese Americans have performed quite well academically and economically, better than just about any other ethnic group. In fact, Chinese immigrants to the US now outnumber Mexican immigrants, a fact overlooked by recent political debate. Perhaps that is because much of the influx of Chinese people into the US includes wealthy investors and college students, especially graduate students. Chinese Americans enjoy a 30% higher than median economic level, higher than median educational level, and test higher on IQ exams than the average American (average American IQ is 100, average White American IQ 103, average Asian American IQ 107, although sources vary in their analysis of such quantification of IQ or intelligence). There are about 3.3 million Chinese Americans, approximately a fourth of all Asian Americans.

Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever been to Indonesia?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Duivenvoorde, Wendy van and Jeremy Green.  Dutch East India Company Shipbuilding: The Archaeological Study of Batavia and Other Seventeenth-Century VOC Ships (Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series).  Texas A&M University Press, 2015.

Taylor, Jean Gelman.  The Social World of Batavia: A History of Dutch Asia.  University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.


About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.