Peter Schumacher was born in 1933 in what was then the Netherlands East Indies and is now Indonesia. During the Second World War he spent some years in a Japanese prison camp on Java. In 1950, when he was 16, his family settled in the Netherlands.
After an unfinished education as an electronic engineer he decided in 1960 to become a professional photographer. His photographs were well received, in particular those he shot on his travels to Poland and Turkey in the early sixties. Art galleries in Amsterdam, Leyden and Gent (Belgium) put Schumacher’s pictures on show. These solo exhibitions received positive reviews. In 1963, the annual World Press Photo in The Hague selected two photos from his Polish series. The leading Dutch photo magazine FOTO invited Schumacher for an interview and published a selection of his best pictures over several pages.
In 1962 Schumacher began to add stories and travelogues to his photographs in order to appeal to a bigger market. In 1964 he became a full-time photo-journalist. His first job was with the American news agency United Press International in The Hague. Writing became more prominent in Schumacher’s work, when he decided to move to the newsroom of Radio Nederland Wereldomroep in Hilversum. After a short spell as a sub-editor, commentator and reporter at a local Dutch radio station (VARA) Schumacher took up a post as news correspondent for the same radio station and a Dutch newspaper syndicate (GPD) in Jakarta (Indonesia). Expelled from Indonesia in 1972 during the heydays of military dictator general Soeharto, Schumacher moved to Hong Kong to cover the Far East for Dutch radio and the weekly Vrij Nederland; he illustrated his stories with his own photographs of countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, China, The Philippines, Australia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.
After his years in the Far East Schumacher returned to the Netherlands to join the leading Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, as a senior reporter in 1975. This paper bought scores of his photographs he shot in Asia for their photo files.
In 1993, after a career of eighteen years with NRC Handelsblad, Schumacher retired from journalism in order to write more books on Indonesia and on other historical subjects.
In 2005 a newly established Dutch publisher discovered Schumacher’s almost abandoned photo files and decided to publish the photos he shot in Poland in 1963. If this book sells well there will be more photo books in the offing.
List of Schumacher’s main publications and photo picture books:
De Minderheden: 600.000 vreemdelingen in Nederland,
[The Minorities: 600,000 foreigners in The Netherlands]
The first year of publication was 1982. In the six years following four editions appeared, of which the last one, published in 1987, was fully updated. Published by Van Gennep in Amsterdam.
Ogenblikken van Genezing: Indonesische Ervaringen,
[Moments of Healing: Experiences in Indonesia] This partly autobiographical book was published in 1996 by Van Gennep.
Een Bende op Java: Juwelenroof en corruptie in het naoorlogs Nederlands-Indië, [Chaos on Java: Jewel robberies and corruption in post-war Netherlands East Indies] Published by Van Gennep in 2005.
Voor het vaderland weg: Nederlandse dienstweigeraars tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog. [Not indebted to my country: Dutch draft dodgers in the Second World War] Published by Van Gennep, 2007
Polska 1963: A photo journey. Published in Polish and English by Dutch Art and Media House, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands, 2007.