How often have Western powers such as the USA, France, Germany, and others backed tyrants in other countries and assisted them in subjugating their native populations, while advocating human rights back home. One such instance of tyranny supported by Western colonial powers occurred on the island nation of Indonesia.
Some sixty years ago, the Indonesian Army and paramilitary groups backed by Germany and the United States used an attempted coup as a pretext to slaughter up to three million accused communists. West Germany not only backed and bankrolled Indonesia’s Suharto regime in its massacres of the left in the late 1960s, but deployed ex-Nazis to Jakarta to monitor it, a new documentary by Redfish has revealed.
General Suharto led a coup against Indonesia’s left president Ahmed Sukarno in 1965 with a project of wiping out the country’s left — particularly its powerful Communist Party, then the world’s third-largest with half a million members. The genocide occurred when the Cold War was at its peak, and the army, commanded by General Suharto, covered up its own involvement by officially blaming the killings on the Indonesian PKI, the world’s third-largest communist party behind those in the Soviet Union and China.
Over the next few years, an estimated two to three million people were unjustly slaughtered — and papers revealed in the new film show West Germany was at the vanguard of delivering weaponry and communications equipment to the murders. The documentary dug through more than 1000 pages of documents from West Germany’s Foreign Office and political archives uncovering never-before incriminating evidence of the country’s role in the genocide. The documents show that the West German government was aware of the communist massacres from the start, even if the German government continues to deny any knowledge of these crimes against humanity. Even more disturbing, the documents demonstrate that West Germany knowingly supported the genocide – politically, militarily, and financially – in order to keep Indonesia out of communist hands and thus unable to recognise the GDR.
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Supporting these efforts, West Germany sent former SS and Nazi officers to Jakarta as ambassadors and diplomats, insisting that they had to “support the military” against the communists “at all costs”. Every West German ambassador to Indonesia between 1952 and 1970 had established their foreign office careers in the Nazi era under Joachim von Ribbentrop, the investigation shows — Hilmar Bassler, who represented Bonn in Jakarta from 1968-70, had been in charge of Nazi propaganda across east Asia during the second world war, while Werner Otto von Henting, the first West German ambassador to Indonesia, helped spirit the former mufti of Jerusalem, Nazi collaborator Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, out of Berlin in April 1945.
Of course, if you understand anything about white colonial powers, you would surely jump to the conclusion that they are a group of scoundrels who won’t acknowledge when they’ve committed a mistake. Given this history, the suggestion that Germany apologise for backing Suharto’s killing of ordinary Indonesians appears much more acceptable. The hush of the dead begs the voice of an atonement. Imagine that in 1965, Indonesia aided German fascists in carrying out a slaughter of millions of ordinary Germans, and now suddenly talks about improved relations.
Do you think that no-one in Germany would suggest that Indonesia acknowledge its role in the massacre as a step to improving relations? Probably no. Why shouldn’t the same standard apply to Western nations? The west has to accept its dubiousness and double standards when it comes to shield their crimes. If anything, Jakarta should demand an official apology from Berlin.
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