The struggle in Indonesia turned into a guerrilla war that many civilians became caught up in, whether as active participants or as more or less unintended spectators or victims. For the Dutch military, it was often unclear who was on their side and who was an enemy. Hence this instructional poster warning Dutch soldiers not to talk about war matters (“Zwijg!” means ‘Keep silent!’). The message of this poster is that anyone could be the enemy, danger lurks everywhere and therefore you can never speak freely. This is emphasized by the palm tree and the kampong (Indonesian village) house that are ‘listening’ in on the Dutch soldiers’ conversation. The same message was conveyed in field security service posters that showed a large ear in the bush eavesdropping. This was a reference to the fact that the opponent was much more familiar with the tropical surroundings and could therefore come up close without being noticed.
‘Zwijg!’ and ‘Gegevens kosten levens’. Two instructional posters produced by the Veldveiligheidsdienst, 1948-1949. H 1878-9.