The first socialist ever to set foot ashore the Dutch East Indies was Henri Hubertus van Kol (1852-1925). In 1876 Van Kol, who had been an early member of the First International, started his career in Java as a hydraulic engineer. Back in the Netherlands he was to become one of the founders of the Social Democratic Workers Party (1894).
But the East Indian Archipelago, the land where he had built his engineering achievements and where he had gotten married and had children, would always remain his favorite. Since his East Indian experience, two souls lived in the heart of Henri van Kol. As a socialist member of parliament in The Hague, he fulminated against the exploitation of 'the poor Javanese people'. As the owner of a coffee plantation in Java, he employed such poor workers himself (but this was known only to a very few people).