The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 36, Issue 1

Article 2
From Surinam to the Holocaust: Anton de Kom, a Political Migrant

Kwando M. Kinshasa


As anonymously as Anton de Kom began his life in 1898 in a small nineteenth century Surinam village, it would be terminated forty-seven years later by forces beyond his control. His death, however, was not a singular event, but one representative of an entire generation of Surinamese migrants who, desiring to improve their lives, travelled northward to Holland, the “mother country”, only to find a deeper sense of pain as unwanted and abused emigres. De Korn’s migration to Holland occurred twice. First, as a youth he was pulled northward to understand better “her greatness”. A decade later, he was forcibly pushed and exiled northward by the Dutch colonial authorities. On the second occasion, he became aware of his own illegitimate political birth as a colonial subject, and the psychological trap that awaited him when asked to defend the imperial country against an invading German army . His residence in exile exposed the serious dilemma of “two-ness”, described by W.E.B. DuBois, when the colonized becomes psychologically and aesthetically committed to the colonizer’s world, as well as that of the colonized.