the weight of memories


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newspaper publication

Breakthrough in Sonnenburg case
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Television broadcast

Van Imhoff documentary re-broadcasted on Belgium TV
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The 3-episodes Dutch documentary on the Van Imhoff disaster is re-broadcasted on Belgium tv channel Canvas. The main emphasis in announcements and previews remains on the cover-up efforts by the Dutch Government. The long history of critical publicity in Dutch, German and Indonesian media is bypassed.

September 10
internet publication

Scheduled study by Institute of Military History causes mixed responses
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Renewed publicity for the Van Imhoff affair in the media and an official commitment by the Government to review the role of the Dutch military, triggers a variety of responses among regular visitors of the Java Post website.

The announced historical study will be undertaken by the Netherlands Institute for Military History (NIMH)

Javapost website link

September 13
newspaper publication

Van Imhoff story spreads to Spain via newspaper La Vanguardia
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Beatriz Navarro is correspondent in Brussels for newspaper La Vanguardia and follows the new publicity around the Dutch Government's intention to explore the role of the Military in the Van Imhoff disaster.

The summary article of Beatriz Navarro is mainly based on the Van Imhoff TV documentary and an additional interview with Patricia Sonnenburg.

Full La Vanguardia article

September 17
newspaper publication

Survivor Dr Karl Heidt remembered
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It is perhaps the sudden renewed attention for the Van Imhoff affair in the newspapers that triggered Valerie Schepers-Sturm to write a short letter to the NRC newspaper in memory of her remote Austrian uncle Dr Karl Heidt.

More biographical notes on Dr Karl Heidt are in the list of Survivors on this site.


Karl Heidt remembered (source: NRC 17 september 2021)

internet publication

75 years of WWII commemorations includes Van Imhoff affair
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In 2020, The Netherlands commemorates 75 years of freedom since the end of world war II. A variety of high profile events and media publicity is usually organized. In 2020 this includes the production of a website with stories and pictures.

The information on the site is grouped per province. Under the heading of the province of Groningen the Van Imhoff affair is recalled and linked to Captain H. Hoeksema who was born in the village of Usquert in the province of Groningen.

The story focuses on the usual features of the Van Imhoff affair (war crimes and official cover ups) but does not offer a more reflective perspective.

Website link:

July 26
internet publication

Werner Stauder explores treatment of Indo-Germans during the war
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In response to this article of Werner Stauder, several readers express their feelings on the Van Imhoff affair, some with disgust for captain Hoeksema, others with understanding.

Full published report

book publication

Birgit Treipl brings to life the fate of her Austrian family
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In the book "Schuilen tussen bamboe" (Hiding behind bamboo)
several chapters refer in detail to the arrest of citizens in NEI, the doom of the Van Imhoff and the fate of the writer's great-uncle at father’s side: Ferdinand Seiferth who drowned at sea.

Published in August 2020 by HarperCollins, paperback ref 9789402705638, 272 pgs.

Television broadcast

Dutch documentary on Van Imhoff disaster broadcasted again
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The Dutch documentary on the Van Imhoff disaster which was broadcasted in December 2017 is repeated on 21 May, 28 May and 4 June 2019 (3 parts of 50 minutes each)


June 10
Television broadcast

Ministry of Defense wriggling away from Sonnenburg case
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(follow-up from timeline entry dated 11 April 2018)

Liesbeth Zegveld, a Dutch lawyer specialized in human rights violations, represents descendants of Van Imhoff victims in their search for justice. In 2018 she assisted Patricia Sonnenburg who is a granddaughter of victim Helmut Sonnenburg to seek rehabilitation for her grandfather by demanding the Dutch Government to admit responsibility for the Van Imhoff disaster. An official letter was written in April 2018 to the Ministry of Defence. See: timeline entry April 2018.

A full year later, in April 2019, a response was received. It was signed by the Director of Legal Affairs for the Ministry rather than the politically responsible Minister of Defence, mrs Ank Bijleveld‎. This way the responsibility for the Van Imhoff disaster was downgraded to an administrative matter, rather than treating the affair as a pending political issue.

The letter also referred to an agreement made in 1960 between The Netherlands and Germany whereby the German Government would financially compensate the Van Imhoff victims, using the 4 million guilders that were already paid by the KPM in 1944. (see timeline entry December 1943). This compensation money disappeared in the Nazi war administration.

In the same letter the legal spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence “recognized” the Van Imhoff affair and “regretted” what happened but no apologies were made and responsibility was waived. It was further implied that the Dutch Government would not play an intermediary role between the German Government and the descendants van Van Imhoff victims to facilitate the process of compensation.

Both Mrs Sonnenburg and Mrs Zegveld feel uncomfortable with this outcome and are exploring alternative steps in their search for justice. The first step was to publicly expose their disappointment on the Dutch TV channel AVRO/TROS in the news program EenVandaag of 10 June 2019.


For Mrs Zegveld: - click: "Who are we?"

For Mrs Sonnenburg:

July 10
Television broadcast

TV coverage in Sonnenburg case
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