Hugo returns to the Dutch East Indies as a photojournalist in the service of Uitgeverij De Spaarnestad. As an external reporter (Civil Officer) he prepares with the Marines for the large-scale landing on July 21, 1947. This operation marks the beginning of the first Police Actions.

Printing and publishing house De Spaarnestad was the publisher of several popular magazines. During the time that Hugo Wilmar worked for Spaarnestad, his photos were published in the the "Katholieke Geïllustreerde", dragon-fly, Beatrice, Marguerite en Panorama.


In the same year, he impersonated an American journalist. In Jakarta, the lion's den, he makes a photo report of Soekarno, the leader of the Indonesian independence fighters. Spaarnestad publishes the report, as an American report purchased anonymously, in the Dutch magazines. Despite this security measure to protect Hugo's identity, the ground in Indonesia is getting too hot under his feet. Headlong, Hugo leaves the region with destination Suriname.

(…) I ended the year 1947 - worthy of a rock-hard Marine - quite eccentric and original. Incognito and using American. For 2 weeks I "cheated" the whole republic; (…) I interviewed and photographed Soekarno (…)

Adventurer and traveling reporter

From June 1948 Hugo travels in the service of De Spaarnestad through the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa. Gradually Hugo develops more and more in manipulating reality. The adventurer makes tough cartoons of, for many in the Netherlands, virtually unknown areas. It produces beautiful and technically perfect images.

Hugo Wilmar photographs Emperor Haile Selassi of Ethiopia. Picture taken by Wolf Kielich
Hugo Wilmar photographs Emperor Haile Selassi of Ethiopia. Picture taken by Wolf Kielich

Haile Selassi

Hugo's photo reports are viewed by an audience of millions. The flowery adventures in dark Africa include stunning images of excavations in Egypt's Kings Valley, portraits of indigenous tribes and the wildlife of South Africa's Kruger Park. On his next trip through North Africa, Hugo will bring: Emperor Haile Selassi of Ethiopia in an iconic way.


Publishing house De Spaarnestad decided in the early 50s to outsource the reports Hugo likes to make. Television is on the rise, and De Spaarnestad's income is declining. Hugo Wilmar asks his employer if he can defeat the war in Indochina. However, the situation is too dangerous and his request has been rejected. It limits Hugo's field of activity to Europe. By now Hugo has had enough of living out of a suitcase all the time. After a last report of the tuna catch in Portugal, Hugo ends his employment with De Spaarnestad in the autumn of 1951.

Hugo Wilmar says goodbye to the Netherlands in 1953 and emigrates to America.

Photos Spaarnestad 1947 - 1951


Working for Spaarnestad
Photo reportage of Hugo Wilmar in East Java, in the service of Spaarnestad in early July 1947

After Hugo graduated as a Marine in May, he started working for Uitgeverij De Spaarnestad as a "Civil Officer". He will return to Indonesia at the beginning of July.

First Police Actions
First Police Actions

The First Police Actions begin on July 21, 1947. Hugo Wilmar records the landing of the Marine Brigade in Passir Putih. He is an (independent) journalist employed by De Spaarnestad Publishing.

In the Republic
It is also very special (and honorable) that the Rijksmuseum used a photo of Huug Wilmar for the official exhibition poster for the Revolusi exhibition in 2022.

In December 1947 Hugo Wilmar impersonates an American journalist and travels to Yogjakarta, the heart of the Indonesian freedom movement. There he photographs Sukarno and the Indonesian freedom fighters

the Caribbean
Two little boys in the school desks

After his production from Indonesia, Hugo Wilmar goes to the Caribbean by cargo boat. Here he makes reports from the Dutch Antilles, Surniame, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and Venezuela.

Elephants in the Kruger Park
A herd of elephants in the Kruger Park

In the period December 1948 to May 1949 Hugo Wilmar travels through South Africa and the Belgian Congo. Here he makes spectacular images of the wildlife in the Kruger Park.

Belgian Congo
With the pygmies on elephant hunting

In May 1949 Hugo Wilmar travels through Congo. He travels with a Pygmies tribe for five days. They want to hunt elephants in the jungle. For days he walks wading through mangrove forests, fighting with lianas to follow an elephant trail. Eventually they manage to get a monkey.

Haile Selassi
Hugo Wilmar photographs Emperor Haile Selassi of Ethiopia. Picture taken by Wolf Kielich

Around March 1950 Hugo Wilmar photographs Emperor Haile Selassi of Ethiopia. Picture taken by Wolf Kielich

Tuna catch
Tuna catch in Portugal, 1951

In the spring of 1951, Hugo Wilmar spent three months traveling through Spain and Portugal with journalist Kemming. It will be his last trip in the service of De Spaarnestad Publishing. Hugo makes an impressive photo series on color large screen negative of the tuna catch.

<Dutch East Indies     University of Wisconsin>