Indonesia and Germany

Indonesian literature in German

You do not necessarily have to be able to read Indonesian in order to gain further access to Indonesian society through literature. Translations by writers such as Mangunwijaya, Leila S. Chudori, Mochtar Lubis, Umar Kayam, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Rendra, Ayu Utami and Armijn Pane are also available in German. There are also German translations by other authors, such as Eka Kurniawan.

Numerous Indonesian short stories translated into German can be found on the Goethe-Institut website.

According to naturegnosis, since Indonesia was the guest country of the book fair in 2015, many new publications from Indonesia have come onto the market. A large number of the writers devote themselves literarily to coming to terms with the massacres of 1965/1966.

The book ” Alle Farben Rot ” by Laksmi Pamuntjak received a German literary award in 2016.

Do not miss this opportunity to get to know your future host country.

Poetry is a particularly popular genre of Indonesian literature. Poetry readings by poets, often associated with a lot of pathos, are extremely popular in Indonesia and often take place in front of several hundred listeners.

The readiness to read books is very low among Indonesians. At best, shallow novels, guides and Islamic literature achieve higher editions.

Comics in particular are becoming increasingly popular among young readers.

German-Indonesian contacts

Numerous local associations in Germany endeavor to promote German-Indonesian contacts. The German-Indonesian society also publishes the magazine ” Kita “, which deals exclusively with Indonesia in German.

There are Goethe Institutes in Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya. German culture is generally perceived very positively.

The online publication “Indonesia Magazin” is particularly dedicated to Indonesian-German issues.

Around 4,200 Indonesians studied in Germany in 2017. In Europe, Germany is the most popular study country for Indonesians.

Among other things, the DAAD and an association of alumni who have studied in Germany endeavor to promote academic exchange. The DAAD offers scholarships for Germans who want to research in Indonesia as well as for Indonesians who want to do research in Germany. There are also grants from the Indonesian Embassy.

Berlin has been twinned with Jakarta since 1994.

Probably the most influential person of German origin in Indonesia today is Father Franz Magnis Suseno, who has been committed to promoting interreligious dialogue for many years.

Knowledge of the context of German history is about as common among Indonesians as knowledge of Indonesian history among Germans. Therefore there is also a relatively uninhibited use of Nazi symbolism as a hip symbol. International protests can, however, have consequences: When Joko Widodo, Darth Vader and Adolf Hitler were exhibited in a room in a newly opened selfie museum in 2017, Adolf Hitler had to give way. The Indonesian President and the “Scourge of the Galaxy” were allowed to stay.

German cuisine is only very popular in Indonesia


In contrast to many other Asian countries, there are relatively few Indonesian migrants who have settled permanently in Western countries.

Permanent migration is more likely to take place within Asia. Around half a million people born in Indonesia live in Malaysia.

According to the Indonesian Ministry of Labor, around 2.9 million Indonesians were working abroad on official work visas in 2013. These Indonesian migrant workers are often poorly educated and the vast majority of them are women. Most of the migrant workers (well over a million) work as domestic helpers. The largest groups of official labor migrants can be found in Saudi Arabia (approx. 670,000) and Malaysia (approx. 1.5 million).

Thousands of Indonesian domestic helpers also work in Singapore – sometimes under unworthy working conditions.

In addition, there are around a million Indonesians who work abroad without appropriate papers.

With around 9 billion US dollars, remittances from Indonesians working abroad are an important economic factor.

Due to the abuse of predominantly female Indonesian domestic workers, the Indonesian government is currently considering completely stopping the labor migration of Indonesian workers to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

Since 1997, around 1.4 million people have been internally displaced due to internal conflicts and natural disasters. Parts of these internally displaced people have been relocated.

Refugees who are picked up in Indonesia (mostly on their way to Australia) often end up in prisons. At the end of 2018, the government put the number of international refugees in Indonesia at 6,098. According to official information, the largest part came from Afghanistan and the Rohignya minority in Myanmar. However, the unofficial number of international refugees is likely to be significantly higher.

The degree of urbanization in Indonesia is 53%. The urbanization currently continues to increase. For example, the population in the Jakarta metropolitan area is currently growing by 3% annually. According to the latest estimates, 21 million people now live there, many of them in illegal poor settlements.