Freedom Fighter: Aton de Kom

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

For centuries extraordinary black men and women have been wiped clean from history or only mentioned in the footnotes. This is how Surinamese resistance fighter and anti-colonialist author, Cornelis Gerhard Anton de Kom managed to fly under my radar.

Anton de Kom's anti-colonist sentiment spread like wildfire across Suriname and made him a target for the colonial authorities. Part of his activism included re-emigrating Javanese and Indians to their country.

On February 1, 1933, Anton de Kom was detained while en route to the governor's office with a large group of followers. His arrest enraged his followers and led to a large gathering on the Oranjeplein (currently called the Onafhankelijkheidsplein). The crowd was instructed to disperse, when they refused to comply, the police callously fired into the crowd. Leaving 22 people injured and 2 dead.

The efforts of De Kom's followers failed. On May 10, 1933, De Kom was exiled without trial to The Netherlands. While in The Netherlands, De Kom wrote "Wij slaven van Suriname "(We Slaves of Suriname) a book about history or Suriname and slavery. In 1934, the book was published in a censored format.

His writings were banned after the German invasion in 1940. De Kom responded to the invasion by joining the Dutch resistance. 4 years later, De Kom was arrested and imprisoned at the Oranjehotel in Scheveningen, and transferred to Camp Vught, a Dutch concentration camp.

He was later sent to Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen, where he was forced to work for the Heinkel aircraft factory. On 24 April 1945 De Kom died of tuberculosis in Camp Sandbostel in Germany and was buried in a mass grave. 15 years later, his remains were exhumed and brought to the Netherlands. There he was buried at the National Cemetery of Honours in Loenen.

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