This imposing Dutch propaganda poster with its message from the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (Koninklijk Nederlandsch Indisch Leger, KNIL) to “Strengthen our ranks” (versterkt onze gelederen) is from 1945. Not only is the KNIL soldier depicted as large in proportion to his surroundings, but the poster itself is also an impressive one metre in height. This poster is typical of the professional nature of the Dutch propaganda: the posters were usually large, designed by professional graphic artists and printed by leading printers. This poster was designed by Wim Oepts, a Dutch artist who fled from the Nazis, and printed in the UK.
The soldier in the poster is resolutely guarding the beach. On his helmet is the national symbol of the Dutch lion, while a black cloth that was a feature of the KNIL uniform hangs down his neck. The peaceful ‘typically’ Indonesian scene in the background suggests that the KNIL has restored order — a huge contrast with the raw reality of the war and its effect on daily life.
‘Versterkt onze gelederen’. Recruitment poster for the KNIL. c. 1945 Design: Wim Oepts. Printer: Waterlow & Sons Ltd, London England. Dimensions: 101 x 75.5 cm. Or. 27.429.