Looking through one of my favorite photography books "The Family of Man", I ran across a Henri Cartier-Bresson image of an Indonesian woman in a market. That got me looking to see when he went and why. Obviously in 1949 Indonesia was obtaining its independence from the Dutch. This was the end of an colonization that started in the 1602.
The story is one of legend, literally legend. As countries began exploring and expanding the European countries were fighting to dominate trade. While the English are well known, it was the Dutch that were the most successful. This success was driven by the first publicly traded company called the Dutch East India Company chartered in 1602. The company had broad ranging powers, they could attack, take war and colonize.
They did this is the area that is today called Jakarta and ruled over this part of the world until the Japanese take over in the 1940's. By 1945, two atomic bombs drove the Japanese to surrender and re-awoken the Indonesian desire for independence. It was declared, and while the Dutch fought it for another four years they ultimately got their much desired independence.
A news worthy event drew Magnum and specifically Henri Cartier-Bresson. He arrived with his characteristic Leica and shot some memorable pictures, many of which were shown in the February 13th, 1950 issue. One of these images made it into the Family of Man exhibition created by Edward Steichen.