BECK index

Indonesia and the Dutch 1800-1950

by Sanderson Beck

Netherlands East Indies 1800-40
Netherlands East Indies 1840-1900
Indonesia under the Dutch 1900-08
Indonesian Nationalism 1908-27
Indonesia under Dutch Repression 1927-41
Japanese Occupation of Indonesia 1942-45
Indonesia Liberated 1945
Indonesian Revolution 1946-50

This chapter has been published in the book SOUTH ASIA 1800-1950.
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Netherlands East Indies 1800-40

Sumatra, Java, and the Archipelago
Java and Dutch Trade 1613-1800

After the United East India Company, Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) was formally dissolved on the first day of 1800, the States-General gave the Asian territories of the Dutch to Holland’s royal family. Intrigue permeated the Yogyakarta court of Sultan Hamengkubuwana II (r. 1792-1810), and the corvée system used in building projects burdened the people. Mangkunegara II (r. 1796-1835) on his accession at Surakarta had his inheritance taken by the corrupt Governor-General, Baron van Reede tot de Parkeler. After long litigation, Mangkunegara regained his inheritance in 1809.

Louis Napoleon began ruling the Netherlands in 1806, and two years later he appointed Governor-General Herman Willem Daendels to fortify Batavia against the British. Daendels disliked feudalism and treated the chiefs as officials in his bureaucratic administration. He tried to reduce corruption by increasing the salaries of officials. He increased the number of Javanese troops in the Dutch force from 4,000 to 18,000, but they were not well trained. To pay for his enormous military expenses Daendels sold land to private persons, taking over all land not owned by native princes. He greatly increased coffee production, but the British blockade prevented exports. An attempt to issue paper money failed because the Government had no credit. His demands for labor and dictatorial methods alienated the princes. In 1810 the Sultan’s brother-in-law Raden Rangga, chief minister in the countryside, revolted but was easily defeated and killed. Hamengkubuwana II refused to comply with Daendels’ ultimatum for changes in his administration and was forced to abdicate. His son Hamengkubuwana III became prince regent, and the Dutch troops took about 500,000 guilders. Also in 1810 the British attacked and took over Ambona despite its French reinforcements. A mutiny by native troops caused Ternate to fall to the British, and then the rest of the Dutch posts outside of Java went over to the British. The English East India Company ordered Governor-General Minto to expel the enemy from Java.

In 1811 Daendels compelled the Surakarta and Yogyakarta courts to sign treaties ceding territory and abolishing the rent Batavia had paid for the coast since 1746. He imprisoned Pangeran Natakusuma and his son Natadiningrat in Cirebon for suspected rebellion. Jan Willem Janssens became governor-general in May 1811. When sixty British ships arrived in August, he fled east with troops from Yogyakarta and Surakarta to Semarang, where they surrendered in September. Hamengkubuwana II used the opportunity to regain his throne at Yogyakarta.

The English appointed Thomas Stamford Raffles lieutenant-governor of Java and its dependencies. He had already been plotting to remove the Dutch, and at Palembang the Sultan massacred the entire Dutch garrison. Raffles tried to punish the Sultan, but he escaped and was replaced by his brother. The Dutch legal system and paper money remained in effect, and Raffles extended the reforms began by Daendels, aiming to improve conditions for the natives. John Crawfurd became resident at Yogyakarta and released Pangeran Natakusuma in order to overthrow Hamengkubuwana II. The British army of 1,200 men and Mangkunegara’s legion conquered Yogyakarta, grabbing two million guilders in war booty, exiling Hamengkubuwana II to Penang, putting Hamengkubuwana III on the throne, and rewarding Natakusuma with an independent domain of 4,000 households; he was crowned Pangeran Pakualam I (r. 1812-29). Mangkunegara II was rewarded with a thousand more households.

Raffles annexed more outer districts and set up British administration, farming out toll gates and markets to the Chinese. He divided Java into sixteen parts, each with a resident in charge of administration, the judiciary, and revenue collection. The old Supreme Court was replaced by courts in Batavia, Semarang, and Surabaya; each of the sixteen residencies had a land court. Criminal cases used British procedure and juries. Torture was abolished. Instead of requiring labor, Raffles imposed a general tax on land as rent because the government now owned the land. Productive land had to pay half its yield and unproductive a quarter with the average being two-fifths; payment was in rice or money. Local chiefs could no longer collect graft but were paid a government salary. However, labor service continued in the teak forests and the Priangam coffee plantations. Because of the expense of redeeming the paper money, tolls and duties remained on internal trade. Raffles tried to implement individual assessments on land but did not have the staff to do surveys. In 1812 he began taxing slave-owners, and the importation of slaves was abolished. He introduced smallpox vaccinations and banned gambling houses and cockfights. By 1815 the police would no longer detain a slave for an owner. Creditors were forbidden to force their debtors and their families to work as slaves. In 1816 the Java Benevolent Institution began educating people on the evils of slavery.

A puppet sultan set up by Daendels in Banten was retained by Raffles until 1813, when dissatisfaction led to Batavia taking over and ending the kingdom of Banten; its sultan was given an annual pension of ten thousand Spanish dollars. Cheribon was annexed in 1815. That year a plot by Pakubuwana IV and Indian sepoys was discovered; seventeen sepoys were executed, and about fifty were sent back to India in irons. Raffles did not depose Pakubuwana IV, but he exiled an instigating prince. General Gillespie disagreed with Raffles and left Java in 1813. His criticism led to Raffles being removed early in 1816. After the Napoleonic wars ended, the English turned Java back over to the Dutch in 1816. Influenced by Marsden’s History of Sumatra, the next year Raffles published his comprehensive History of Java.

In 1816 Netherlands king Willem I appointed three commissioners with Baron van der Capellen as governor-general. The King decreed freedom of cultivation and trade, and the slave trade was prohibited. Van der Capellen was less progressive than other commissioners; after they left in 1819, he increased the power of native chiefs. He protected the Government’s system of coffee plantations by not allowing European planters to settle in Priangam, nor would he let Europeans or Chinese trade there. In 1824 he cancelled contracts of land tenancy, forcing the native chiefs to pay back the advances they had received by further exploiting the cultivators. This caused unrest in Yogyakarta. As the post-war boom in coffee and sugar exports faded, Javanese ports went into deficit. Money was spent quelling riots outside of Java in Maluku (Moluccas), Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Palembang, and on the west coast of Sumatra. Van der Capellen made a tour in 1824 and abolished the hated limit on the number of spice trees. Muntinghe’s proposal for a national company under King Willem was adopted in 1825 as the Nederlandsche Handelmaatschappij with 37,000,000 guilders in capital and paying 4.5 percent dividends. Hard-pressed cultivators had to pay taxes in money and turned to Chinese moneylenders.

The Javanese resented their European and Chinese landlords, and Hamengkubuwana III’s son Pangeran Dipanagara led a revolt in 1825 that began the five-year Java War. He believed that the Goddess of the Southern Ocean would help him become king of Java. About half the leaders in Yogyakarta supported the rebellion which spread. They used guerrilla tactics against the Dutch forces led by General de Kock, who gradually established strong points to recover territory from the rebels. Devastation led to cholera, malaria, and dysentery. The use of opium spread as the Dutch government by this monopoly brought in more than ten percent of its revenues. In November 1828 the Muslim leader Kyai Maja surrendered to the Dutch, and the next year Dipanagara’s uncle Pangeran Mangkubumi gave up and went back to his respected position in Yogyakarta. Then Dipanagara’s commander Sentot surrendered and was made an officer in the colonial army. In March 1830 Dipanagara tried to negotiate but was treacherously arrested and exiled to Celebes and then Makasar. The Dutch government annexed the outer districts of Yogyakarta and those of Surakarta, provoking Pakubuwana VI to consult the Goddess of the Southern Ocean; fearing another rebellion, the Dutch banished him to Ambon for the rest of his life. The war was very costly as 8,000 Europeans and 7,000 Javanese soldiers were killed; more than 200,000 Javanese died, as the population of Yogyakarta was reduced by half. The Dutch spent five million guilders per year on the war’s expenses.

In 1830 Johannes van den Bosch was made governor-general to implement his cultivation system (cultuurstelsel) that compelled each village to use one-fifth (later one-third) of its land to produce export crops for the Government. This was similar to the old compulsory delivery system that the VOC had imposed on coffee plantations in the 18th century. More than two-thirds of the families were involved in producing these export crops—mostly coffee, sugar, and indigo. Not only did these not provide food, but also they required more labor, depleted the land, and used extra water. Exports increased from 13 million guilders in 1830 to 74 million in 1840.

Outside of Java the Dutch government seldom intervened to protect people from despotic chiefs except in key places. The Dutch from Batavia tried to settle the west coast of the island of Balambangan in the second half of the 18th century but had withdrawn by 1797. The sultan ceded their forts in southern Borneo to the English East India Company in an 1812 treaty. That year Raffles failed at Sambas, but he defeated them the next year. He declared a blockade on all ports in Borneo except Brunei, Banjermasin, and Pontianak; but India’s Governor-General Minto cancelled his project as too expensive. The eruption of the Tambora volcano on Sumbawa in 1815 was more violent than the famous 1883 eruption of Krakatoa on Java. The ash affected the global climate for more than a year and destroyed crops and livestock in the worst famine of the century in the northern hemisphere. However, the ash fertilized the soil so well that crops flourished after that. In 1817 the Ambonese rebelled against the return of Dutch control, and the leader Thomas Matulesia, a Christian soldier, was hanged. Palembang fought for its independence from 1818 until they lost it in 1825.

Piracy and the slave trade disturbed Sumatra. The name Padri was used to describe Muslim pilgrims; it was derived either from what the Portuguese called a priest or because the pilgrims passed through Pedir. The Padri movement was influenced by the Wahhabis as early as 1804. They opposed gambling, cockfighting, and drugs such as opium, alcohol, tobacco, and betel nuts, but they still revered saints and holy places. Their most prominent leader was Tuanku Imam Bonjol (1772-1864). They spread Islam, and their opponents turned to the Dutch in 1821, beginning the Padri War that lasted until 1838. Tuanku spent the rest of his life in exile.

Netherlands East Indies 1840-1900

Trade income balanced the colonial budget, and 832 million guilders were transferred between 1831 and 1877 from these colonies to the Netherlands, providing about a third of Dutch state revenues in the 1850s and 1860s. However, shortages in rice caused famines in the 1840s. Chinese traders kept rice in warehouses to raise prices, which many could not afford.

Revolutionary sentiments among Europeans in 1848 led to some reforms. The Dutch Parliament gained some control over colonial finances, and the king was required to report annually. In 1851 a school for medical training was established. In 1856 the governor-general’s council became more than just advisory. The Christian minister W. R. van Hoevell had been expelled from the Indies for criticizing the Government’s exploitation of Indonesians. He used the pen name Multatuli, which means “having suffered much.” Ronggowarsito was a court poet in central Java who wrote “The Poem of the Time of Darkness” about how the noble obligation to rule justly was decaying. Many Indonesians learned ethical values from watching the wayang theater performances that drew from traditional literature.

Eduard Douwes Dekker came to the Indies in 1839, and in thirteen years he worked his way up to be an assistant resident. After a two-year furlough to Holland, in 1856 he was appointed assistant resident of Lebak, where his predecessor had died, probably from poison. Dekker took the side of the oppressed against the corrupt raja, who exploited peasants by using their forced labor without paying them. When Dekker continued to complain to his superiors about the abuses, he was demoted and resigned. In 1860 Dekker published the novel Max Havelaar that exposed the corruption and oppression of Dutch colonial rule in Java. The autobiographical novel satirizes the greed of the Dutch bourgeoisie, who paid the Javanese just enough to keep them from starving in order to maximize their profits while ignoring the corruption of their feudal lords. He compared his book to Uncle Tom’s Cabin and concluded by saying that the Dutch were mistreating thirty million Javanese.

Uhlenbeck in the Parliament began suggesting that the Dutch government should learn to get along without such contributions from the colonies, and Fransen van de Putte proposed ending monopolies and government agriculture programs except in sugar and coffee. These exports doubled the revenue of the two decades before 1850, but added military expenses caused a deficit by 1858. An 1863 law ended the monopoly in the spice trade, and in 1865 the Dutch Parliament abolished compulsory labor in government forests. Thus the cultivation programs ended for pepper in 1862, for cloves and nutmeg in 1864, for indigo, tea, and cinnamon in 1865, and for tobacco in 1866. Government sugar enterprises were banned in 1870, but they were to be phased out over twelve years starting in 1878. The coffee system would go on until 1917. The Dutch Parliament took control of the colonial budget in 1867. Java’s development accelerated after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the founding of the Netherlands Steam Navigation Company the next year.

In 1840 the Dutch sent H. J. Huskus Koopman to negotiate contracts with the Balinese, and he hired George Pocock King as an agent. When the Balinese plundered a shipwreck that year, Koopman demanded compensation. The Danish trader Mads Lange persuaded his patron, Badung’s Raja Kesiman, to sign a treaty. By 1841 most of the rajas in Bali had signed treaties to recognize Dutch sovereignty, but battles occurred throughout the decade over ratification. After 1845 the Balinese plundered a shipwreck near Buleleng and refused to pay, the Dutch navy invaded with 1,700 men in June 1846 and destroyed the royal palace at Singaraja. George Pocock King mediated a settlement; the Balinese promised to pay a settlement and accept a garrison, and the Dutch left. When the Balinese did not pay, the Dutch came back in 1848 with 2,400 men; but Belelung’s prime minister Gusti Ketut Jelantik had organized an army of 16,000 with about 1,500 firearms. The Dutch made a frontal attack and suffered about two hundred casualties before retreating while more than two thousand Balinese were killed.

The Dutch came back with 5,000 troops in April 1849 and more cautiously captured Jagaraga. A Balinese ruler from Lombok helped the Dutch attack south Bali. Jelantik and his ruler were killed, and the king of Karangasem committed suicide. The Dutch then marched west to invade Klungkung, and their elderly commander, Major General Michiels, was mortally wounded. Lange and Raja Kesiman mediated an end to the war between the Dutch and the Klungkung. The Dutch gained the right to have representatives in Bali, and they promised not to interfere in Bali’s internal affairs. The war disrupted Lange’s trade in Kuta and the south as the Dutch began using conquered Buleleng in the north. Batavia sent forces to put down uprisings on Bali in 1858 and 1868.

Bali and Lombok were combined into a single residency in 1882. Conflicts broke out on Bali the next year. In 1885 the Dutch declined to intervene for the king of Gianyar so that the Klungkung would not be able to unite the rajas. In 1891 the Badung defeated and killed the king of Mengwi, taking his kingdom. The Klungkung were fighting the Karangasem, and the civil war spread to Lombok, where the Hindu Balinese king drafted the Muslim Sasaks to fight on Bali. The Dutch tried a blockade and conquered Lombok in 1894, taking 1,000 pounds of gold and 6,000 pounds of silver. A Dutch language expert discovered a manuscript of the Nagarakertagama, but other Dutch soldiers burned palm-leaf manuscripts to keep warm.

In 1851 a company began exploiting the tin of Belitung. The Dutch quelled disturbances among the gold miners in Kalimantan (Borneo) during the early 1850s, and in the mid-1850s they protected the gold mines of Sambas and Pontianak by settling feuds between Chinese kongsis. Colonial forces intervened at Bone on Sulawesi (Celebes) from 1858 to 1860. A war over a Banjermasin coal mine in Borneo broke out in 1859 and continued until the Dutch annexed it in 1863.

The Dutch colonies were opened up to private enterprise by De Waal’s Agrarian Law of 1870. The Government with its Liberal Policy took control of all the land not owned or used by Indonesians and offered leases for 75 years. In 1871 the Dutch made a treaty recognizing British control over the Asante in West Africa in exchange for Dutch control in Sumatra. By 1875 private exports had increased dramatically to 130,700,000 guilders while state exports had declined to 41,400,000 guilders. The Government’s financial surplus was gone by 1877. In 1885 private exports were ten times those of the Government, but the total exports had doubled since 1860. Indonesian imports quadrupled between 1870 and 1890. The 1880 Labor Ordinance regulated employment with contracts that neither the workers nor employers were allowed to break, but employers had penal powers over imported laborers. Farmers with a small income of eighty guilders paid 20% of it as tax; but a sugar refinery with a profit of 70,000 guilders paid only 3.9% as tax.

Sultan Ali Alauddin Mansur Syah became guardian of the heir Sulaiman in 1838 and ruled Acheh until 1870, as Sulaiman’s attempts to take power in the 1850s failed. The Dutch began negotiating a protection treaty with Siak in 1840 but did not complete it until 1858. Concerned about an American diplomat, in 1873 the Dutch declared war in Acheh. After a small Dutch force failed in April, General van Swieten invaded with more Dutch troops in December and annexed Acheh in 1874. General Karel van der Heyden forced many chiefs to submit to Batavia and tried to establish civil government between 1878 and 1881; but religious leaders declared a holy war, and the fighting revived. The Dutch connected their forts with a railroad by 1885 but suffered heavy casualties. Governor Demmeni tried lifting the naval blockade, but his successor Van Teijn (1886-91) cancelled that and coerced the chiefs. Pompe van Meerd became governor in 1891 and was lenient. He was replaced in January 1892 by Col. Deykerhoff, who won over the chief Tuku Uma in 1893 and paid him to form a legion of 250 men. Dutch forces then reconquered some districts, but in March 1896 Tuku Uma’s legion went over to the other side.

The Arabic scholar Snouck Hurgronje had written a book about Acheh, and Major Joannes Benedictus van Heutsz suggested a “concentrated system” for complete conquest. General Vetter began a bigger campaign with more troops in April 1896 and forced Tuku Uma to flee the next year. Van Heutsz was rewarded for his leadership in these operations by being made governor of Acheh in March 1898 with Snouck as his advisor. Van Heutsz initiated the method of having chiefs accept Dutch authority by agreeing to the Short Declaration. Tuku Uma was ambushed and killed in 1899, and other rebels were chased to the outer regions of Gayo and Alas. Early in 1903 Panglima Polem and a chief claiming to be sultan in Gayo surrendered. Van Heutsz left to become governor-general the next year, but the rebellion would not end until 1918. This war cost 400 million guilders and killed 37,000 Dutch troops and about 65,000 Achehese.

Governor-General Lansberge (1875-81) tried to stop piracy and the slave trade in Maluku (Moluccas) and the Lesser Sunda Islands. In 1878 the chief Si Singa Mangaraja threatened the Rhenish Missionary Society, which was trying to convert the Battak region, but the Dutch drove him out and established a residency at Tapanuli.

In 1882 indigenous officials could no longer demand personal services from their subjects, and other forms of compulsory labor on public works were abolished in the next twenty years. However, they were replaced by a burdensome head tax. The Royal Netherlands Company got the first petroleum concession in 1883, but more early progress was made in coal mining. In 1893 A. W. Nieuwenhuis began five years of exploration in the interior of Borneo, and the same year the Swiss scholars Paula and Fritz Sarasin began ten years of research in Sulawesi (Celebes) for the Royal Netherlands Geographical Society. In the 1890s the length of railroads more than doubled to 3,500 kilometers. The first telephone company began in 1882, and in 1898 the state took over the telephone service from 35 companies. Exports went from 107,570,000 guilders in 1870 to 258,230,000 in 1900 while imports increased from 44,450,000 guilders to 176,070,000 in the same period. Indonesia’s production was helped by importing fertilizers, steel, iron, machinery, and tools. During this period Chinese entrepreneurs prospered, but the incomes and wages of Dutch merchants, artisans, and employees declined. Corn and cassava helped make up for declining rice consumption; but Banten had a famine in 1881-82.

Coffee leaf disease began spreading in the 1870s, and a sugar blight started in 1882. European sugar beets caused the price of sugar to drop drastically in 1884, causing a rural depression on Java in the late 1880s. The Residents of Surakarta took over the finances of Mangkunegara IV in 1888 until they were restored in 1899.

Europeans were one-half of one percent of the population, but they garnered 60% of the taxable income. The Chinese were two percent and had 20% of the income. The other 20% of the income went to the Indonesians, who were 97% of the population. By 1900 about 50,000 Eurasians were classified as European and usually thought of themselves as Dutch unless they were abandoned by their fathers and were treated as illegitimate. Indonesian Christians also gained some privileges under the colonial system. The Chinese and Arabs resented being classified as Foreign Orientals, and Indonesians considered the Dutch use of the term “natives” derogatory.

Theosophy came to Indonesia in 1893 and was promoted by the Eurasian D. van Hinloopen Labberton. Modern trends of western science and the revival of Javanese culture stimulated some Muslims to revitalize their religion. Many ships using the Suez Canal enabled more pilgrims to go to Mecca. The annual number of hajis increased from 2,600 in the 1870s to more than 7,000 by 1900. Many of the pilgrims became landowners, usurers, and leaders of protests. Syaikh Muhammad al-Nawawi of Banten published a long Arabic commentary on the Qur’an about 1884. The Naqshabandhyya and Qadiriyya orders spread and promoted a peasant uprising in Banten in 1888 in which 47 were killed and many were wounding. In 1896 the bupati of Majakerta loaned seed rice without interest to farmers by using mosque funds.

Indonesia under the Dutch 1900-08

Central Java suffered starvation from 1900 to 1902. All but four Chinese opium farmers went out of business, and the state’s Opium Administration took over in 1904. That year Dutch officials sent out an etiquette circular to discourage aristocratic displays involving parasols, retainers, and regalia. Those in the officials class rose by merit as status based on birth declined.

In 1900 Surontiko Samin led a protest movement near Blora in Central Java, but he was exiled to Palembang in 1907 and died there in 1914. Saminists rejected colonialism and believed in “laws of action, speech, and necessity” that meant not doing evil, not fighting, not being jealous, not stealing, and not telling lies. They believed in daily realities, sexuality, and attachment to the land instead of heaven and hell. They challenged authority and refused to pay taxes, perform corvée, or attend government schools. The Saminist movement was not violent but never had more than three thousand families.

In 1899 the liberal C. T. van Deventer argued in “A Debt of Honor” that the Dutch parliament should pay back the 140 million guilders they had exploited from the East Indies since 1867. Dr. Abraham Kuyper had advocated taking moral responsibility for native welfare since he wrote a pamphlet in 1880. In 1901 he became prime minister, and in a speech from the throne he initiated the Ethical Policy. Queen Wilhelmina (r. 1890-1948) endorsed this moral duty and called for an investigation of the diminished welfare of the population of Java, which was currently suffering a famine. Alexander W. F. Idenburg became minister of Colonies the next year, and he worked to implement the policy, especially in education, irrigation, and emigration. To allow Batavia more expenditures for relief during the famine the Netherlands government took over the colonial debt of £40 million. In 1900 the Government also took over the pawnshops and opium business to diminish Chinese exploitation. In 1904 a People’s Credit System was established to provide better terms of credit than those offered by the Chinese moneylenders. By 1912 Java had 12,000 paddy banks and 1,161 village banks. The Agricultural Information Service was established in 1905, but they soon learned that they needed to begin by studying current practices. Many complained that Dutch welfare reforms were too paternalistic and interfering.

The policy of decentralization was initiated in 1903 to allow more local autonomy and encourage emigration from crowded Java to the outer islands. Java was only one-fifteenth of the area but had two-thirds of the population of Indonesia. The Dutch only allowed the councils to be advisory, and the real government remained centralized. To vote on a city council one had to know Dutch and pay more than 300 guilders in annual taxes. Most Europeans resided in cities, but most natives lived in rural areas. In 1899 the Japanese had gained equal rights with Europeans in the Netherlands Indies, but Chinese efforts to get the same status were resisted. In 1901 the Chinese began forming trading associations called Siang Hwee. The famous Dutch novelist Louis Couperus wrote The Hidden Force about colonial life in 1900. Piet Brooshooft (1845-1921) edited the Dutch newspaper The Locomotive and included articles by Snouck Hurgronje on how to understand the natives. Reporters described their declining welfare from poverty, crop failures, famine, and epidemics while the Dutch standard of living rose from 1902 to 1913. Sugar-cane workers often protested by burning the crops. In 1911 they burned 1,383 cane-fields in the Pasuruhan region of East Java.

Snouck and J. H. Abendanon, who was director of education 1900-05, promoted European education in Dutch for the westernized elite in order to provide civil servants. In 1893 the government schools in Java had been divided into two classes so that the sons of aristocrats (priyayis) would get a better education. In 1900 the Dutch East Indies had about 1,500 elementary schools for a population of 35 million. Knowing Dutch was required in the 169 European primary schools in which 1,545 Indonesians were less than ten percent of the students. By 1905 the 3,725 Indonesians were 18% of the students in 184 European primary schools. By 1902 the STOVIA had expanded to a six-year course to train two hundred native students as doctors, though only 135 could afford to graduate by 1914. They treated Indonesians but could not transfer to a Dutch medical school. The Chinese demanded schools in Dutch in 1908, and 17 had been established by 1910 and 52 by 1920.

Raden Adjeng Kartini advocated education for women. She was born on April 21, 1879, and her father was regent of Jepara. He let her attend a Dutch elementary school until she reached puberty at twelve; but then she was “put into the box” of seclusion, where she continued her education by reading. She and her sisters were allowed to visit daily Mevrouw Ovink-Soer, wife of the new assistant resident, to learn feminine crafts; but she also wrote for the magazine De Hollandsche Lelie that advocated women’s rights and socialism and later published Women’s Life in the Village. The Dutch feminist Stella Zeehandelaar answered Kartini’s classified advertisement, and they began corresponding. On May 25, 1899 Kartini wrote Stella that she wanted to be a “modern” and independent girl who would work “for the greater good of humanity as a whole.” She realized that the new woman would take three or four generations because “all our institutions are directly opposed to the progress for which I so long for the sake of our people.”1 Through her father’s efforts to reform education she met Abendanon and his wife Rosa, a feminist born in Puerto Rico, and in 1900 she began writing to Rosa.

In April 1902 H. H. van Kol, the leader of the Dutch Social Democratic Party, visited Kartini in Jepara, and he urged the Parliament to give her a grant to study in Holland. Van Kol believed in occultism, and Kartini experimented with séances. Kartini accepted many elements of the mystical Javanese religion, and she believed that all people are brothers and sisters under one God. The Javanese believe that an orderly inner life and good relationships with other people lead to spiritual insight. When her father became upset, the mystical Kartini was concerned that she was causing his illness. So she gave up the grant and tried to transfer it to Agus Salim. She realized that a Javanese woman could only get away with acting unconventionally if she were married. So she finally agreed to marry the regent of Rembang. She decided to dedicate herself to educating Javanese girls, and in 1903 she sent her famous memorandum “Educate the Javanese!” to the colonial government. In her new home she opened a school for the daughters of regents; but four days after giving birth to her first child she died on September 17, 1904.

Kartini had opposed polygamy and advocated an egalitarian school system for women that emphasized character development as well as the liberal arts and science. Abendanon raised money for the Kartini Foundation. He collected her Dutch letters and published them as Through Darkness to Light in 1911, and they went through several editions and translations. Her three sisters continued her work, and the first Kartini schools for women opened in 1916.

Governor-General van Heutsz (1904-09) and Minister of Colonies Dirk Fock encouraged mass education, and they greatly expanded low-cost village schools. The communities had to spend 90 guilders per year for the upkeep of each school, and the Government provided teachers and textbooks. The first government vocational schools opened in Batavia, Semarang, Surabaya in 1909, but most of their graduates worked for European firms. The British began to invest in rubber in 1905, and by 1912 they owned half the rubber companies in Java.

Native customs (adat) and spiritual beliefs remained strong for many Indonesians. Meditation and making pilgrimages to the graves of saints were ways of developing spiritual abilities of insight and healing. On Selayar the Muhdi Akbar cult replaced praying five times per day with meditation and chanting that could lead one directly to God. Villages often had their own protectors called Fighting Cocks, who also indulged in poaching, gambling, and drinking. They might rob landlords to provide food for the starving. In the early twentieth century hundreds of thousands of laborers traveled for seasonal economic opportunities on plantations and in factories, often returning home only for planting and harvesting.

Gianyar was accepted as a Dutch dependency in 1900. Governor-General W. Rooseboom (1898-1904) was so frustrated by a widow burning (sati) at Tababan in 1903 that he tried to resign; but the Balinese lords agreed to ban sati in 1905. Upset by the plundering of a shipwreck, the Dutch attacked Bali in 1906. The rajas, their families, and servants dressed in white and marched into battle with only lances and daggers, and the Dutch shot them down with guns. The rajas killed their wounded before marching forward again until all of them, about 800, were dead. In 1908 Bali’s most senior king, the Dewa Agung of Klungkung, objected to the Government’s new opium administration, and his family and about 500 servants were wiped out in the same way.

The Dutch also conquered Nusa Tenggara (1905-07) and Flores by 1908, but the Portuguese held on to East Timor. Resistance in Jambi lasted from the death of their last sultan in 1899 until 1907. By 1911 Van Heutsz’s Short Declaration had been used to bring three hundred self-governing states under Dutch rule, which covered most of what became Indonesia. With only 15,866 Europeans officers and men in the army and navy and 26,276 Indonesian soldiers (mostly Javanese) the Dutch ruled over 37 million natives, using only 250 Europeans and about 1,500 indigenous civil servants.

Indonesian Nationalism 1908-27

Dr. Wahidin Soedirohoesodo began editing the Luminous Jewel (Retnadhoemilah) in 1901 in Javanese and Malay for the aristocratic (priyayi) readers. On May 20, 1908 he and students formed the Budi Utomo, which means “beautiful endeavor.” Indonesians celebrate this date as National Awakening Day. By July they had 650 members, and non-students began to join. Their membership reached a peak of 10,000 in 1909, but it did not appeal to the lower classes. The radical doctor Tjipto Mangunkusumo wanted to make it into a political party to lift up the masses and spread it beyond Java and Madura to all of Indonesia, and he was supported by Dr. Radjimam Wediodiningrat, who had been influenced by Theosophy and western philosophy. Tjipto defied the aristocrats and resigned from the board in 1909. In December the Governor-General van Heutsz declared the Budi Utomo a legal organization, and it was a quasi-official party for the government. In 1913 the more aristocratic regents formed their own Bupatis’ Union (Regentenbond), which did little.

In 1909 the OSVIA graduate Tirtoadisurjo founded the Islamic Commercial Union (Sarekat Dagang Islamiyah) in Batavia to support Indonesian merchants. Other branches formed; Haji Samanhudi organized a Javanese batik traders’ cooperative, and H. O. S. Tjokroaminoto became the leader in Surabaya. In 1912 they shortened the name to Sarekat Islam (SI) and began appealing to the masses. By 1919 they claimed to have two million members but probably had less than a half million. SI supported the Dutch regime, and their boycotts of Chinese batik traders provoked violence in Java from 1912 to 1914. Governor-General Idenburg granted SI branches legal recognition in 1913 but not the Central Committee of SI, preventing unity. By April 1914 SI had 366,913 members in Java. In 1915 Haji Agus Salim was converted from being a police informer and joined SI in Mingangkabau; he advocated Pan-Islam. At their first nationwide conference in 1916 representing 80 local groups and 360,000 members they passed a resolution demanding self-government in union with the Netherlands.

The Union for Railway and Tram Workers (VSTP) was organized in 1908, and other unions for teachers, various government employees, factory workers, and peasants soon followed. By 1910 Java had six OSVIA schools for training native officials, and there was another in Menado. After an infestation of rats caused bubonic plague in 1911, hygiene reform led to replacing thatch roofs with tiles, which were more expensive and hard on the peasants. Sutan Maharaja promoted women’s education and began publishing The Malay Ornament (Soenting Melajoe) in 1911. In 1914 Dutch was included in the curriculum of the first-class government schools so that Indonesians would not have to attend European schools to receive higher education.

E. F. E. Douwes Dekker was a Eurasian great-nephew of the famous novelist Dekker, and in 1910 he wrote Letters of a Barbarian from the Civilized World to show that Oriental culture is more humane than European civilization. He founded the radical Indies Party in September 1912 to work for national independence and racial equality. By the end of the year about 5,000 members had joined. Governor-General Idenburg refused to recognize the party and declared it illegal in March 1913. Tjipto and Suwardi Surjaningrat formed a committee to protest the hypocrisy of the planned celebration of the centenary of Holland’s liberation from French domination, and in September they were banished along with Dekker to the Netherlands.

H. J. F. M. Sneevliet was a mystic Catholic who became a revolutionary and represented the Comintern in China. He came to Indonesia in 1913, and the next year he founded the Indies Social-Democratic Association (ISDV) with mostly Dutch members. The Indies Archipelago (Insulinde) party had started in 1907 and in 1913 had absorbed members from the banned Indies Party. In 1915 they had 6,000 Javanese members and joined with the ISDV, which also began reaching out to Sarekat Islam. Between 1911 and 1917 there were nine uprisings against Dutch rule in eastern Indonesia, nine revolts in Sumatra, and five in Kalimantan (Borneo). The Great War (1914-18) disrupted trade with Europe but increased it with Japan and the United States. Prices and taxes rose. The Dutch used the Malay language in government, and it spread. In 1916 the First Congress on Colonial Education met at The Hague, and Suwardi proposed teaching Malay in all schools. In the 1920s it became a symbol of national unity, and eventually Malay became the Indonesian language.

The Government established the Political Intelligence Service (PID) in 1916, and recruits were paid to spy on Indonesians. Communists and other subversives were especially targeted, and such teachers were expelled from the colony. Based on a PID report, the Governor-General and other authorities could jail any political threat without providing any justification. In 1916-17 delegates from Budi Utomo, SI, the Bupatis’ Union, and other groups visited the Netherlands to petition Queen Wilhelmina and give lectures. As a result the bill for the People’s Council (Volksraad) passed, and it was formed in 1918. It was supposed to represent the entire Dutch colony; but the elected did not outnumber the appointed until 1927, and not even half were indigenous until 1929. The People’s Council had no real power and could only give advice. The nationalists wanted a parliament, and in 1918 Governor-General J. P. van Limburg Stirum (1916-21) appointed a commission to propose political reforms. However, Idenburg became minister of Colonies again and agreed with H. Colijn that regency councils were better. The Central Sarekat Islam (CSI) leaders participated in the People’s Council and got Abdul Muis elected in 1918, but the 19-year-old Javanese railway worker Semaun, who increased the SI in Semarang to 20,000 members, opposed that and capitalism.

Two million Indonesians lost their lives during the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918, and a drought led to strikes in the sugar industry involving 20,000 people in 1919. That year Semaun was imprisoned for four months for sedition and wrote A Story of Kadirun, a novel about a revolutionary and workers in sugar factories. Rajas and aristocrats had difficulty maintaining their political privileges and economies during the Dutch reforms, and Sultan Hamengkubuwono VII abdicated in 1920.

In 1918 the socialists Sneevliet and J. H. Brandstedter were expelled from the colony for advocating rebellion. After Abdul Muis made a speaking tour of North Sulawesi, a Dutch Controleur was murdered at Tolitoli in May 1919. Muis was arrested. The next month a shooting in West Java was blamed on secret Section B, and CSI’s Sosrokardono and some ISDV members were arrested. Early in 1920 Tjokroaminoto and Salim set up a committee in Batavia to support the Ottoman caliphate. Sneevliet in July attended the second Comintern congress at Moscow, where he was known as Maring. The Comintern opposed pan-Muslim and pan-Asiatic movements because they feared Turkish and Japanese imperialism. Semaun and the Javanese aristocrat Darsono changed the name of the ISDV to the Communist Association in the Indies in May 1920, and in 1924 it became the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia or PKI). Darsono in October 1920 criticized Tjokroaminoto in his Communist paper Light of the Indies (Sinar Hindia). During the trials in 1921 Tjokroaminoto was charged with perjury.

Dekker and Tjipto had returned from exile by 1918, and they formed the Nationaal Indische Partij (NIP); but they were restricted to house arrest, and NIP was dissolved in 1923. Suwardi came back from exile in 1919 and changed his name to Ki Hadjar Dewantara. In 1921 he founded a school system in Yogyakarta called the Garden of Learning (Taman Siswa) that offered a western curriculum using the Malay language instead of Dutch and Indonesian customs and history. Dewantara was influenced by Theosophy and the educational experiments of Tagore. By 1932 they had 166 schools with 11,000 pupils. In 1922 a few Indonesian students in Europe changed the Indies Association, which had been started in 1908, to the Indonesian Association (PI), and they were led by Muhammad Hatta and Sutan Sjahrir from Minangkabau.

Governor-General Dirk Fock (1921-26) enacted laws to suppress strikes, the press, and public speaking with arrests and banishment. In October 1921 the SI congress excluded any member belonging to another party, and the Communists were driven out. In 1922 the SI established a relationship with the Indian National Congress, which recommended nonviolent non-cooperation. Muis and Tan Malaka organized a big strike of pawnshop workers, but the Government fired the strikers and exiled Muis and Tan. Tjokroaminoto was released from jail in May 1922, and at the SI congress the following February he organized the Islamic Union Party (Partai Sarekat Islam), which became known as the Red SI branch or People’s Union. In mid-1923 the Government crushed a VSTP strike and exiled Semaun to Europe. Civil servants were forbidden to join the PKI or later to purchase its journal. In March 1924 the militant Independent Indonesia (Indonesia Merdeka) began publishing, and that year a law school was founded in Batavia. Randen Sutomo withdrew from Budi Utomo in January 1925 and founded the Indonesian Study Club.

Salim persuaded the CSI to accept the equality of the sexes and to adopt non-cooperation, which meant withdrawing from the People’s Council. In 1925 Salim founded the Young Islamic League, and the next year the first Conference of Indonesian Youth was held to unite the nationalist movements. At the second conference in 1927 Malay was adopted as the national language, and its name was changed to Indonesian. The Javanese language had been rejected because of its complicated feudal structure. In 1929 Salim led the Sarekat Islam (SI) and changed the name to Partei Sarekat Islam Indonesia (PSII).

In 1925 Dutch authorities and priyayi officials encouraged large gangs of thugs and police to attack the meetings of the PKI and SI. A strike by metal workers was suppressed, and the trade unions were also driven underground. Muzzling Regulations outlawed “disruption of the economy” and “undermining of the established authority.” Darsono and many others were arrested in September. Zinoviev and Bucharin urged the Communists to revolt, and in December the PKI decided on an uprising. In 1926 spying warned the Government of the planned revolt, and more PKI leaders were arrested. Andries C. D. de Graeff replaced Fock as governor-general on September 7. On November 12 uprisings in Banten, Batavia, and Priangan were quickly crushed. Armed Communists occupied the Batavia telephone exchange for one night but were captured the next day. Sumatra erupted on January 1, 1927, but that insurrection was ended three days later. Only two Europeans were killed in these rebellions. Yet about 13,000 people were arrested; some were shot, and nine Communists were hanged. Of the 4,500 imprisoned, 1,308 were sent to the new penal colony at Boven Digul in West Irian (West New Guinea), where many died of malaria including the newspaper editor Mas Marco Kartodikromo. At the end of 1927 Tjipto was exiled on the island of Banda for having provided Communist refugees with money, and he was not released until 1941.

Pilgrims in Mecca learned about anti-colonialist movements in Africa and the Middle East. Hasyim Asy’ari and Ahmad Dahlan met after they returned to Java. Dahlan formed the Way of Muhammad (Muhammadiyah) in 1912 to educate Muslims for the modern world, and the number of pilgrims from Indonesia increased to 26,321 in 1913. In 1917 he formed a women’s section named after Muhammad’s wife Aisyiyah. Dahlan died in 1923, and in 1925 Muhammadiyah had only 4,000 members; but they had 55 schools with 4,000 students, two clinics, an orphanage, and a poorhouse. Hasyim Asy’ari and rural Muslim leaders met in Surabaya in 1926 and organized the Rise of Religious Scholars (Nahdlatul Ulama) to promote orthodox Islam and oppose the modernizing innovations of the Muhammadiyah.

On Bali the Dutch ruled directly the five states they had conquered—Badung, Buleleng, Jembrana, Klungkung, and Tabanan, but the other three states of Bangli, Karangasem, and Gianyar had dual governments with local regents and Dutch controleurs and residents. The Dutch made more than a million guilders from their opium monopoly on Bali in 1910, but that year they spent less than 20,000 guilders on Bali. As the Dutch were faced with growing nationalist and Communist threats in Indonesia, they gradually let the traditional rulers have more autonomy. The rajas were big landowners, and the Dutch usually feared investigating their corruption out of fear of antagonizing them. The Dutch let the caste system continue, and the feudal service was used to get workers for building roads, harbors, and bridges. Because the top three castes were exempt from the corvée, many tried to establish their aristocratic heritage in court. In 1917 peasants in Gianyar refused forced labor, and armed police fired on a crowd, killing five and wounding eleven.

Indonesia under Dutch Repression 1927-41

Sukarno was born on June 6, 1901 and was the son of a poor Javanese schoolteacher. He attended a Dutch high school at Surabaya 1915-21 while living with the family of the great Tjokroaminoto, whose 15-year-old daughter Siti he married. Next Sukarno went to the Bandung Technological Institute. When Tjokroaminoto was imprisoned, Sukarno went back to Surabaya to work as a railway clerk to support his family, returning to Bandung in 1922. The next year he divorced Siti and married 34-year-old Inggit Garnisih. Sukarno started the General Study Club in Bandung in 1926, and in a series of articles on “Nationalism, Islam, and Socialism” he pleaded that they had more common purposes than differences. Sukarno argued that Marxism rejected the Church because it supported the ruling classes but that Islam is on the side of the oppressed.

On July 4, 1927 Sukarno and his Study Club founded the new Indonesian Nationalist Association, and the following May its name was changed to the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI). They also joined with the Partai Sarekat Islam, Budi Utomo, and the Surabaya Study Club to form the Union of Indonesian Political Associations (PPPKI), which maintained unity and avoided conflicts by using consensus (mufakat) instead of majority voting. At their youth congress in October 1928 at Batavia they began calling the city by its older name, Jakarta. They demanded Indonesian independence, displayed their red-and-white flag, and sang the Indonesian national anthem that the young poet W. R. Supratman had composed before he died. The Dutch banned the flag, the national anthem, and even use of the terms “Indonesia” and “Indonesian.” When PNI grew to 10,000 members by 1929, the Dutch imprisoned Sukarno and three other PNI leaders on December 29. Governor-General de Graeff reduced Sukarno’s sentence from four years to two. In September 1930 Young Indonesia was formed.

The Congress of Indonesian Women was founded in 1928, and they took up the issues of anti-colonialism and polygamy. The Government published the novel A Wrong Upbringing by Abdul Muis in 1928. By then nearly 75,000 Indonesians had completed some western education, and in 1930 Indonesia had 1,500,000 village schools. The leaders of the Indonesian Workers’ Union were arrested in 1929. Muhammad H. Thamrin began a National Party in the People’s Council in January 1930, and Sutomo changed his Study Club to the Indonesian People’s Union in October. The first official census taken in 1930 counted 60.7 million people in Indonesia.

During the Depression of the early 1930s the average income on Java and Madura dropped from 47.6 guilders to 20.3 guilders per year. The Indonesian sugar industry collapsed in 1929 and never recovered. In 1931 nearly half the work force had to sell themselves as indentured workers. Pay and working conditions were miserable, and gambling and prostitutes often caused them to have to renew their contracts because of debt. International pressure from trading partners caused the phasing out of penal sanctions despite complaints by planters. By 1935 Indonesia was exporting less than a third of what they had exported in 1929.

The PNI dissolved itself in April 1931, and Sartono formed the Indonesian Party (Partindo). Sjahrir in December founded Indonesian Nationalist Education, which was called the new or young PNI (PNI-Baru). After Sukarno was released, he joined Partindo and was elected chairman in 1932. He made this a mass movement also, and by mid-1933 they had fifty branches and 20,000 members. Prince Pangeran Surjodiningrat in Yogyakarta founded the PKN in 1930, and in May 1931 they claimed more than 100,000 members, many peasants believing he was a messianic just king (Ratu Adil). Permi was founded by Muslims in Minangkabau in May 1930, and it claimed 10,000 members in 1933 with 40% of them women; but they aroused opposition, and their leaders were exiled along with those from PSII.

Governor-General Bonifacius C. de Jonge (1931-36) had been minister of War and the director of Royal Dutch Shell. He refused to make concessions to the nationalists, and another former Shell director Hendrikus Colijn became prime minister in May 1933. After the Dutch dropped a bomb on the mutiny aboard the Seven Provinces, killing 23 seamen, Sukarno was arrested again on August 1 and was exiled to Flores. In 1938 he was transferred to Bengkulu in South Sumatra until the Japanese invaded. Partindo was dissolved, but it was replaced by Gerindo. Muhammad Hatta and Sutan Sjahrir formed the Indonesian National Education Club to avoid government suppression, but in February 1934 they were exiled to Boven Digul and then to the isolated island of Bandanaira. Sjahrir’s letters to his wife were published as Out of Exile. The Islamic political movement lost its best leader when Tjokroaminoto died in December 1934.

Haji Rasul took Muhammadiyah to Minangkabau in 1925, and in the 1930s Muhammadiyah’s membership increased to a quarter million with 834 mosques, 1,774 schools, and 31 libraries. The Dutch considered their schools “wild” and in 1932 required private teachers to get permission from the provincial governor; but the author Hamka led the protest in Minangkabau and Ki Hadjar’s protest was supported by Budi Utomo in Java. In 1933 the law was repealed, and teachers only had to give notice to the government, which could still forbid some teachers. In July 1933 the New Poet (Poedjangga Baroe) journal was founded by editors Takdir Alisjahbana and Batak Armijn Pane.

Dr. J. H. de Haas taught public health in the 1930s and tried to lower the high infant mortality rates of up to 300 per thousand by providing better child nutrition with milk supplements and soy milk. Only three or four percent of the budget was spent on health and about twice that on education, which was dwarfed by military expenditures of five to nine times as much. When the Government agreed to the international control of rubber production in 1934, they ordered the Indonesian production reduced from 300,000 tons per year to 145,000 tons, but European-owned rubber production only had to cut back from 220,000 tons to 200,000 tons.

In 1935 the Budi Utomo merged with the Union of the Indonesia People into the Greater Indonesia Party. Douwes Dekker published a history of the world in 1936, but he was fined heavily for criticizing the colonizing of the Indies. In 1936 Sutardjo Kartohadikusumo gave up his demand for self-government within a decade to get Eurasian support in the People’s Council for his petition to Queen Wilhelmina; but Colijn ignored it, as did Charles J. I. M. Welter, who became minister of Colonies in June 1937. That year Partindo was replaced by Pardindra and the Indonesian’s People’s Movement (Gerindo). Salim founded Pergarakan Penjadar to promote Islamic ideals. Alidius W. Tjarda van Starkenborgh became governor-general in 1936, and he was more tolerant of political meetings. In September 1937 Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah agreed to form the Supreme Islamic Council of Indonesia or Majlis Islam A’laa Indonesia (MIAI) as a forum for discussion.

By 1930 more European women had arrived in the colony, and they made up 113,000 out of the 240,000 Europeans. The sexual double standard was prevalent. Dutch men often treated native servants like sexual property; but if a Dutch woman had a liaison with an Indonesian man, it was a scandal. Many European social activities and facilities excluded natives. The sex industry of selling boys and young men suddenly became the target of police raids in 1938 and 1939 when 223 men were arrested and prosecuted for having sex with boys under the age of consent. A majority of the seventy or more who were convicted were Dutch, but the Indonesians and Chinese were given much longer sentences of up to three years.

A grand ceremony recognized the eight royal houses of Bali in 1938. That year nationalists began speaking Indonesian in the People’s Council debates despite Dutch protests. In 1939 the Dutch government gave Christian schools more than one million guilders in subsidies, but the Muslim schools received only 7,600 guilders. Muhammad Husni Thamrin organized several groups into the Indonesian Political Federation or Gabungan Politik Indonesia (GAPI) in May 1939. After the European war broke out in September, GAPI demanded an Indonesia parliament. GAPI represented ten associations with 50,000 members, but no other group had more than 10,000 by 1940. The number of literate people in Indonesia had reached six million with about 100,000 understanding Dutch, and there were more than four hundred newspapers and magazines.

The Dutch in Indonesia had been the main contributors to the Nazi party in the Netherlands; but that stopped after Germany invaded Holland on May 10, 1940. That day Dutch authorities declared martial law in Indonesia and banned all public meetings. In January 1941 Dekker and Thamrin were arrested for being in contact with the Japanese; Thamrin died of a heart attack five days later, and Dekker was deported to Surinam. Indonesian associations tried to work through the People’s Council, and GAPI proposed a federal union between Indonesia and the Netherlands. MIAI supported this but insisted on Muslims as president and two-thirds of the ministers. Colonial Minister Welter visited Indonesia in the spring, but he said that reforms must wait until the war was over. GAPI, MIAI, and the trade unions formed an Indonesian national council in September, and for the first time the priyayis association (PPBB) demanded self-government. The Dutch tried to form a militia of Indonesians. The left-wing Gerindo was anti-Fascist and so opposed Japan, but other nationalists rejected war recruiting and used the slogan “No arms without rights.” Jayabhaya had ruled Java 1130-57, and he had prophesied that the rule by white men would be ended by a short period of domination by yellow men before an age of prosperous independence was achieved.

The University of Batavia was founded in 1941 and later became the University of Indonesia. In 1941 Java and Madura had about 49 million people with an annual rate of increase of 700,000, the highest in the world. Indonesia stopped exporting to Japan in July and froze Japanese assets. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, and Malaya on December 8, the Netherlands declared war on Japan.

Japanese Occupation of Indonesia 1942-45

The Japanese invaded Indonesia on January 10, 1942 and went first for the oil installations at Tarakan and Balikpapan on Kalimantan and at Palembang in southern Sumatra. By the end of February they had defeated the Dutch fleet in the Java Sea. The Japanese occupied much of Sumatra and invaded Java in March. The Dutch refused to collaborate with the Japanese as the French had in Indochina. Instead they signed an unconditional surrender on March 8, and Governor-General van Starkenborgh was arrested. Japan’s 25th Army occupied Sumatra, and their 16th Army was stationed in Java and Madura; their navy controlled eastern Indonesia and Kalimantan (Borneo). During the next year about 170,000 Europeans were interned, including 65,000 Dutch military and 25,000 Allied soldiers. About a quarter of the men and about an eighth of the women and children interned would die by 1945. In February 1942 in Acheh the ulamas began sabotaging the Dutch and killing the administrators, and they welcomed the Japanese; but in March they began a general revolt that lasted until November. The Japanese army put down revolutions and executed the leaders. They forced thousands of “comfort women” to serve them.

The Japanese imposed military law and enforced colonial laws. They banned the use of Dutch and English and tried to promote Japanese, but for their propaganda to reach people they had to use Indonesian. All political activities and associations were banned as the Japanese set up their own organizations, starting with the Triple A Movement praising Japan as the “light of Asia, leader of Asia, and protector of Asia.” When this failed, the Japanese turned to Indonesian leaders. Hatta had just written an article urging they resist the Japanese; but in March he decided to cooperate rather than be punished. Sukarno joined Hatta and Sjahrir in Jakarta in July 1942, and they collaborated with the Japanese in order to work for independence. Sukarno got a commission appointed in September to study Indonesian customary laws, and it became an advisory council to the military government.

Amir Sjarifuddin organized a resistance movement, but in January 1943 he and 53 others were arrested. Several leaders were executed, but Sukarno and Hatta persuaded the Japanese to commute Amir’s death sentence to life imprisonment. The Japanese formed the Center of People’s Power (Putera) in March 1943 and used Sukarno, Hatta, Dewantara, and Mas Mansur of Muhammadiyah as its leaders. Sukarno urged people to support the occupying Japanese because they had freed Indonesia from “centuries of slavery.” Military governor General Yamamoto Moichiro arrived in March and made it clear the only cooperation he wanted from the Indonesians was in helping the Japanese to win the war.

On May 13 a secret conference in Tokyo resolved to incorporate Indonesia into the Japanese empire. Yamamoto began censoring the press and Sukarno’s speeches. On June 15 Prime Minister Tojo told the Japanese Diet that the Javanese should be allowed to cooperate in the government. In mid-1943 the Japanese began training Indonesian youths as auxiliaries (Heiho), and by 1945 there were 25,000. Muslims refused to declare a holy war in support of the Japanese, and they insisted on using Arabic in their schools; but they had to teach Japanese too. The requirement of bowing toward the Emperor in Tokyo was offensive to Muslims, and it was dropped from religious meetings. In October the MIAI held its only congress during the occupation in order to dissolve itself, and in November the Japanese created the Indonesian Muslim Council (Mayumi) for all the Muslims.

Japan did not consider Indonesia prepared for independence, but they appointed Sukarno chairman of a Central Advisory Board in Jakarta. In November 1943 Sukarno, Hatta, and Muhammadiyah chairman Ki Bagus Hadikusumo were flown to Tokyo and were decorated by Emperor Hirohito. Allied submarines blockaded Indonesia and so trading with Japan was minimal. Agriculture shifted to more food production to feed the Japanese military, and rubber production fell by 80%. Yet food requisitioning, forced labor, and poor distribution led to famines in 1944 and 1945, causing about 2,400,000 deaths. The Japanese estimated that 270,000 peasants were sent to foreign labor camps, some as far away as Burma, and only about 70,000 survived. In his autobiography Sukarno admitted that he used propaganda to enlist workers (romushas) into this slave labor under miserable conditions.

The Japanese formed a volunteer army of Indonesians that reached 37,000 men in Java and 20,000 in Sumatra. Those and the youths in the Protectors of the Homeland (Peta) were trained to resist an Allied invasion with guerrilla warfare. Putera was replaced by the Java Service Association (Jawa Hokokai) for everyone over fourteen years of age in January 1944. That month Zainal Mustafa led five hundred Muslims against the Japanese near Tasikmalaja for a few days. Peasants at Priangan rebelled against rice requisitioning in February, but the Japanese brutally suppressed them. A botched experiment with tetanus injections caused the death of more than 5,000 workers outside Jakarta.

Japan’s Prime Minister Koiso Kuniaki promised the East Indies independence on September 7, 1944 without setting a date, and that month Americans landed on Morotai in eastern Indonesia. The Japanese gave the Indonesians permission to fly their flag and sing their national anthem, and rallies and processions celebrated the promise of independence. In November the Central Advisory Committee adopted the five duties (pantja dharma) of the Indonesian people that merged the goal of independence with loyalty to the Japanese empire, and Sukarno began promoting this propaganda. Vice Admiral Maeda Tadashi founded a school for Indonesian independence in December, and he financed speaking tours in Java; Sukarno spoke on politics, and Hatta lectured on economics and cooperatives.

In February 1945 the Japanese let their Muslim organization Masjumi begin training volunteers for the Army of God (Hizbullah), and by the end of the war they had 50,000 members. On February first a Peta battalion led by Lt. Suprijadi killed some Japanese soldiers at Blitar in eastern Java; 68 were court martialled, and eight were executed. On May 1 the Allies invaded eastern Borneo at Tarakan. Youth organizations met at Bandung in May and decided to challenge the Japanese with the slogan “independence or death.”

The Japanese formed an Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Indonesian Independence (BPKI), and 62 nationalist leaders met in late May with Radjiman Wediodiningrat as chairman. On June 1 Sukarno made a speech in which he recommended five principles (pantja sila). He had been strongly influenced by the three principles of Sun Yat-sen—nationalism, socialism, and democracy. He got humanitarianism from Gandhi and belief in God from his Muslim background. The first principle of national unity meant independence, and the second principle of humanitarianism expanded this to internationalism as well. For Sukarno democracy was representation, deliberation, and consensus. Social justice, the fourth, meant social and economic rights as well as political ones, and the fifth principle, belief in God, included tolerance of all religions. These five were unified by the Indonesian principle of mutual help (gotong rojong).

On July 2 the youth (pemuda) formed the New People’s Movement (Gerakan Rakjat Baroe). The Japanese tried to control them but failed to unite the youth groups. The BPKI met and voted 55-6 for a republic rather than a monarchy. The Committee drew up Indonesia’s first constitution for a unified republic with a powerful president. They included Malaya as well as all of Borneo, Timor, and New Guinea. Muslims complained and insisted on the president being a Muslim and the obligation of Muslims to carry out Islamic law. Sukarno persuaded the delegates to accept this Jakarta Charter. On August 7 the Japanese in Saigon announced that the BPKI was replaced by the 21 members of the Preparatory Committee of Indonesian Independence (PPKI). Sukarno, Hatta, and Radjiman were flown to Saigon, and they met with Field Marshal Terauchi Hisaichi in Dalat on August 11. He promised them independence but without Malaya, British (northern) Borneo, and Portuguese (eastern) Timor. Sukarno was appointed chairman of the Preparatory Committee with Hatta as vice-chairman.

Indonesia Liberated 1945

The Japanese surrendered on August 15, but the Gunseikan had orders to wait for the Allied forces to replace them. Youth leaders and Sutan Sjahrir wanted to declare independence, but Sukarno and Hatta were waiting. Peta leaders abducted them from Jakarta because they expected the revolution to begin. When nothing happened, they brought them back to Jakarta. Maeda let them use his house to prepare the declaration of independence. On August 17 to a group of about a hundred people outside his house Sukarno made the following simple proclamation:

We the Indonesian people hereby proclaim
the independence of Indonesia.
All matters concerning the transfer of power etc.
will be carried out in an orderly manner
and in the shortest possible time.
In the name of the Indonesian people

They raised the red-and-white flag and sang “Indonesia Raya.” The proclamation was signed by Sukarno and Hatta, who later said the Dutch should be ashamed that the Japanese did more to recognize Indonesian independence than the “democratic Dutch.” Adam Malik broadcast the proclamation over Japanese short-wave radio, and other youths in Maeda’s office printed thousands of leaflets. On August 19 the Japanese-sponsored PPKI was transformed into the Indonesian National Committee (KNI).

Sukarno and Hatta negotiated with the Japanese, who agreed to maintain law and order without interfering in Indonesian affairs. The KNI formed the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) as a provisional parliament and revised the constitution, taking out pro-Japanese phrases and the concessions to the Muslims. The KNIP had 135 members and chose Sukarno as president and Hatta as vice-president. Indonesian administrators were named vice-residents in the Republic that included the eight provinces of West Java, Central Java, East Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Maluku (Moluccas), and Nusatenggara (Lesser Sundas). They changed the name of the Jawa Hokokai to the Indonesian National Party (PNI); but Sjahrir, Muslims, Socialists, and Communists objected, and it was dissolved after a few days. Sukarno made his first broadcast as president on August 23 and urged all segments of the people to join together for independence to create lasting unity, provide national security, and give reality to ancient ideals. New organizations were formed in place of those sponsored by the Japanese to aid the families of war victims and protect the people.

Meanwhile the Japanese were trying to disarm the Peta and Heiho forces in Java and Sumatra, but young Indonesians raided Japanese stores. On September 1 the Younger Generation of Indonesia (Angkatan Pemuda Indonesia or API) formed with headquarters at Menteng 31. They published a manifesto calling for the people of Indonesia to take power from the Japanese by seizing their arms and enterprises. Sukarno announced his cabinet on September 5. He appointed G. S. S. J. Ratulangie the republican governor of South Sulawesi, and he was accepted by the king of Bone and most of the Makassarese and Bugis. In September youths took over installations in Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Malang, and Bandung. Communist Tan Malaka had returned from exile, and he encouraged the young leaders of Menteng 31. Rallies were held in Surabaya on September 11 and 17 and a mass rally in Jakarta on the 19th with 200,000 people. The Japanese were prepared with machine guns; but Sukarno’s oratory persuaded the crowd to depart without challenging the Japanese. However, the youths in Sumatra began an armed struggle. Adam Malik and D. N. Aidit were arrested on September 20. Tan Malaka wanted to overthrow Sukarno, but Sjahrir refused. The Dutch internees began leaving their camps after the Japanese surrender, and some fights erupted.

Louis Mountbatten was the Allied commander for Southeast Asia, and in Indonesia he focused on his primary responsibilities of disarming and repatriating 283,000 Japanese and releasing and protecting 200,000 Dutch internees and Allied prisoners of war. Australians began arriving in mid-September and occupied the major cities in eastern Indonesia. British forces landed on September 29, and Lt. General Philip Christison avoided conflicts with Indonesians by directing the Dutch troops to eastern Indonesia. In October the Japanese tried to recover their authority in Java, and on the 3rd the military police (Kempeitai) massacred republican youths in Pekalongan. The Japanese took control of Bandung and turned it over to the British. On October 5 the Indonesian government decreed the forming of a national defense force.

Many in the KNIP wanted it to be a legislative body, and they presented a petition to Sukarno and Hatta on October 7. While Sukarno was in Central Java, on October 16 Hatta announced that the KNIP would have legislative powers. Sjahrir was more acceptable to the Allies because of his opposition to the Japanese. He and Amir Sjarifuddin, who had been imprisoned by the Japanese, were elected chairman and vice-chairman of the Central Committee (KNIP) on October 20. The Committee diminished the presidential powers.

In Semarang on October 14 the republicans murdered at least 130 Japanese prisoners. Japanese forces killed about 2,000 Indonesians while losing 500 men before the British arrived six days later. Air strikes were used against Indonesians in Magelang and Ambarawa. Sukarno arranged a cease-fire at the request of the British on November 2, but fighting resumed later in the month.

Vice Admiral Shibata Yaichiro gave the Indonesians the Japanese weapons in Surabaya as he surrendered to a Dutch navy captain. Muslim leaders declared a holy war in defense of the Indonesian fatherland. When 6,000 British Indian troops arrived in Surabaya on October 25, they demanded that all Indonesians turn in their weapons or they would be killed. Large gangs of youths totaling more than 120,000 attacked them, and many of the Indian soldiers, especially the Muslims, defected to support the struggle against colonialism. The British flew in Sukarno, Hatta, and Amir Sjarifuddin, and they arranged a cease-fire on October 30. However, fighting broke out again hours later, and Brigadier-General A. W. S. Mallaby was killed. On November 10 using naval and air bombardment, the British forces killed more than 6,000 Indonesians while conquering half the city in a few days. The Indonesians probably killed about a thousand Dutch and Eurasians and even more Chinese. After this the British realized the revolution had popular support, and they decided to be more neutral. By the end of 1945 about 8,000 Indonesians had also died in Jakarta.

On November 10 Sjahrir published his pamphlet “Our Struggle” advocating democratic socialism and calling for a purge of the collaborators. On November 14 Sukarno agreed to be only a “representative” head of state, and he appointed Sjahrir prime minister. Sukarno’s cabinet resigned. Sjahrir also became minister of Foreign Affairs, and only Information minister Amir Sjarifuddin was carried over as Defense minister; but many independent commanders refused to obey him. That month the Arab League recognized the Republic of Indonesia. In December 1945 social revolutionaries became active in northern Java, and they were supported by Republican army units. Indonesia’s war for independence had begun.

Indonesian Revolution 1946-50

By January 1946 the Dutch had relieved the Australians in East Indonesia and reoccupied Jakarta. The Republicans moved their capital to Yogyakarta, where they increased the electorate for village councils and promulgated laws, abolishing the head tax. The Indonesian language replaced Javanese for official communication. The Dutch had also occupied Bandung and controlled both universities. So Gajah Mada University was opened in Yogyakarta in part of the Sultan’s court. While the Allies evacuated the Japanese from Acheh, more than a hundred joined the Republicans as instructors in the civil war. The religious ulamas led Republican forces, and the uleebalangs could not unite the opposition; most of their leading families were imprisoned or killed as Islamic law dominated Acheh.

The Indonesian Socialist Youth (Pesindo) led by Amir Sjarifuddin had joined with Sutan Sjahrir’s Socialist Party in December 1945. The main Islamic party Masjumi included Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah who were taken over by the urban Modernists led by Sukiman Wirjosandjojo, Muhammad Natsir, and others. In January 1946 the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI) was revived without President Sukarno as chairman. The revolutionary political parties also included the Communists (PKI). The army had elected Sudirman as supreme commander, but the Republican government favored those more professional on the general staff and Ministry of Defense. Abdul Haris Nasution was given command in May of the West Java Siliwangi Division.

The Marxist Tan Malaka demanded 100% independence, and his seven-point Minimum Program also demanded removing all foreign troops from Indonesia, a people’s government, a people’s army, disarming Japanese troops, taking charge of European internees, and confiscating and controlling plantations and industries. At a conference in Surakarta on January 15-16 that was attended by 133 organizations Tan Malaka and young leaders formed the Struggle Union or Popular Front (PP). Sjahrir did not want a one-party state but a democratic revolution, and none of the invited cabinet ministers attended the conference. In February about 85% of the KNIP supported Tan Malaka’s demands, and Sjahrir resigned. However, Tan Malaka also wanted to overthrow Sukarno, and even with Amir’s support he could not gather a majority. So Sjahrir formed a coalition with PNI, Masjumi , and Parkindo to gain a majority. He and Amir persuaded the Pesindo to withdraw from the Struggle Union, and at the PP conference on March 17 Tan Malaka denounced the new government. He was arrested with Abikusno Tjokrosujoso, Muhammad Yamin, Chairul Saleh, Sukarni, and Adam Malik, but they were released on June 27. In Surakarta radicals led by Dr. Muwardi had abducted Pakubuwana XII in January 1946. The armed Barisan Banteng took over and were protected by Sudirman and the local army.

In East Sumatra armed Bataks led by leftists attacked the rajas in March, and hundreds of aristocrats were killed, including the poet Amir Hamzah. The Republican politicians opposed this violence, and by the end of April most of these social revolutionaries were arrested or hiding. A similar revolt in Tapanuli in northern Sumatra killed about three hundred people in May as the Christian Toba Bataks fought the Muslim Karo Bataks.

In April the Dutch arrested Ratulangie, six of his aides, and the rajas of Bone and Luwu, and that month the British turned over Bandung to the Dutch. Sjahrir had begun negotiating with the Dutch governor-general Hubertus van Mook in March, claiming only Java, Sumatra, and Madura. When Hatta in a speech in Yogyakarta on June 27 revealed this limited position, those wanting complete independence felt betrayed. That night Sjahrir and others stopped in Surakarta and were arrested by the local army who hoped that Sukarno would take over; but he declared martial law and demanded they release the Prime Minister. Three days later Sukarno’s radio broadcast persuaded them to release him. The Government arrested fourteen opponents, but army units let them out of jail on July 3. Yamin and Dr. Sudarsono went to Sukarno in Yogyakarta, demanding that he dismiss the Sjahrir government and put Sudirman in charge of security; but Sukarno had them arrested, and his supporters captured about a hundred others. Tan Malaka was also re-arrested and was not released for two years.

On July 13 the Southeast Asia Command formally turned over all of Indonesia to the Dutch except for Java and Sumatra. That month the Dutch organized a conference at Malino in South Sulawesi which agreed on a federation, but the Indonesians wanted autonomy. The British insisted that the Dutch make an agreement or they would not leave in December. Negotiations in October led to a ceasefire in Java and Sumatra. On November 12 at Linggajati the Dutch recognized Republican authority in Java, Madura, and Sumatra, and both sides agreed to reduce the numbers of their troops. Militarily trained Republican youths returning from Java threatened to take over South Sulawesi. In December the Dutch sent Captain Raymond Westerling, who used terror against the Republicans, resulting in at least 3,000 Indonesian deaths in the next three months.

The Dutch returned to Bali in March 1946 and attacked the Republican forces. On November 20 I Gusti Ngurah Rai led the Balinese into a disastrous battle at Marga in Tabanan, where the Dutch defeated them with the aid of planes, killing Rai and 95 others. In December the Dutch created the state of Eastern Indonesia at a conference in Bali. Kalimantan was divided with Muslims in the south and Republicans in the east.

The KNIP was expanded from 200 to 514 members in order to gain approval for the Linggajati agreement. Threats by Sukarno and Hatta to resign brought ratification in February, and the agreement was signed on March 25, 1947. West Kalimantan was formed under Sultan Abdul Hamid II of Pontianak in May, and Sunda became a state at Bandung. The Dutch were not withdrawing their troops, and their backing of rajas and sultans to set up states alienated many Indonesians who wanted democracy. Sjahrir offered concessions to the Dutch in order to avoid war, and Amir Sjarifuddin and the left wing withdrew their support from him in June. Sjahrir left to represent the Republic at the United Nations, and Amir became prime minister in July.

The Dutch still refused to recognize the right of the Republican government to police their own territory. They had 100,000 soldiers in Java and launched a police action on July 21. Troops from Jakarta and Bandung moved to occupy most of West Java, and forces from Surabaya occupied Madura and Eastern Salient; others secured Semarang. The Dutch now controlled all the deep-water ports in Java, and in Sumatra they held the oil and coal near Palembang, plantations of Medan, and Padang. The Americans and British persuaded the Dutch not to march on Yogyakarta. Australia’s H. V. Evatt, India, and the Soviet Union supported the Republic at the United Nations. At the end of July the Dutch accepted a UN call for a cease-fire, and Sukarno agreed with them on August 4. Republican territory was shrunk to one-third of Java with 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. Sjahrir was allowed to speak for the Republic at the United Nations, but representatives of areas claimed by the Dutch were turned away. A UN Good Offices Committee with representatives from the United States, Australia, and Belgium was set up to assist with the Indonesian-Dutch negotiations. They met aboard the USS Renville in Jakarta harbor, and on January 17, 1948 they recognized the cease-fire along the “van Mook line.” Dr. Frank Graham of the United States promised that the agreed upon plebiscite would be held in former Republican territories during the second half of the year.

This compromise caused Amir Sjarifuddin’s government to fall, and he resigned on January 23. Hatta led an emergency cabinet and was responsible to Sukarno rather than KNIP. Col. Sudirman in accordance with the Renville Agreement moved 22,000 soldiers from Dutch West Java to Republican Central Java. Sjahrir’s followers formed the Indonesian Socialist Party (PSI) in February and supported Hatta’s government; but Amir organized the People’s Democratic Front with leftist parties, and they advocated breaking the agreement with the Dutch. The mystic S. M Kartosuwirjo led the Muslim guerrillas in West Java, and in May he proclaimed the Indonesian Islamic State (Darul Islam). In March 1948 van Mook had proclaimed a provisional federation with himself as president, and in July the Dutch established an Assembly for Federal Consultation. A strike in the state textile factory in Central Java began in May and won favorable terms in July. Meanwhile the Dutch had set up the states East Sumatra, Madura, and Pasundan in West Java, and in the fall of 1948 they organized South Sumatra and East Java.

In August the PKI leader Musso returned from the Soviet Union after twenty years of exile. Amir Sjarifuddin announced that he was a Communist, and they proposed a single party for the working class. The PKI encouraged the workers to demonstrate and take over landlords’ fields in Surakarta; but Masjumi opposed this, and strict Muslims refused to join the strikes. Communists killed 240 Muslim leaders and dumped their bodies down wells. Tan Malaka was pardoned on August 17, but he denounced Amir as an agent of the Dutch and formed his own party. In September the PKI formed a new politburo replacing Alimin and Sardjono with Musso, Amir, and others. The PKI fought the Republican army, but the Siliwangi Division drove them out of Surakarta.

On August 18 the PKI took over Madiun, killed Republican officials, and announced on radio a National Front government. Musso, Amir, and others rushed to Madiun to take charge. However, no uprising in Yogyakarta took place. The next day about 200 PKI and leftist leaders were arrested in Yogyakarta, and Sukarno denounced them as rebels on the radio. The insurgents retreated to the mountains and fought for weeks. The PKI had more than 5,000 soldiers in Madiun, but Nasution’s Siliwangi Division pushed them out of there by September 30. The Communists were killing Masjumi and PNI officials, but one of their last units was captured on October 28; Musso was killed three days later while trying to escape. Amir and 300 soldiers surrendered on December 1. About 35,000 people were arrested, and an estimated 8,000 PKI supporters had been killed. Crushing the PKI at Madiun persuaded the United States that the Indonesian revolution was not Communist. Followers of the Trotskyist Tan Malaka opposed the Stalinist PKI and formed the Proletarian party in October.

On December 18 the Dutch launched another police action and took Yogyakarta the next day. Sukarno, Hatta, Agus Salim, Sjahrir, and two other ministers allowed themselves to be captured. Republican forces killed Amir Sjarifuddin and more than fifty other captured PKI leaders before they fled and fought as guerrillas on both sides of the van Mook line. Acheh under Daud Beureu’eh was now the only territory controlled by the Republic. However, on December 22 the United States stopped all financial aid that was going to Dutch Indonesia. UN Security Council calls for a cease-fire on the 24th and 28th were not heeded. The occupying Dutch found themselves under siege, and they complied with a UN call for a ceasefire in Java on December 31 and in Sumatra on January 5; but guerrilla fighting continued. Sultan Hamenghubuwana IX refused to lead the Javanese state and resigned as head of Yogyakarta in January.

On January 28, 1949 the UN Security Council called for the release of the Republican cabinet, an interim government, and transfer of sovereignty by July 1950. The United States condemned the Dutch and threatened to cut off the substantial Marshall Plan aid to Holland. Tan Malaka in East Java called for total resistance, but in February he was defeated by a Republican army unit, captured, and executed. Col. Suharto led Republican forces that took over Yogyakarta for six hours on March 1, 1949. The Dutch offered to talk with the Republicans, and on May 7 they agreed that Sukarno and Hatta would return to Yogyakarta and declare a cease-fire. The Dutch promised not to create any more states and to accept the Republic at a conference. Dutch troops evacuated Yogyakarta by the end of June, and the Republican government returned on July 6. A cease-fire was announced on August 1 and took effect in Java on the 11th and in Sumatra on the 15th, which gave the Republicans enough time to recapture most of Surakarta. Isolated fighting lasted until October. During the revolution 1945-49 about 700 Dutch and British soldiers were killed, and in Bandung alone 1,057 Japanese were killed. Between 40,000 and 100,000 fighting Indonesians were killed plus 25,000-100,000 civilians. The Dutch in Sulawesi executed about 6,000 insurgents in late 1946 and early 1947. About seven million people on Java and Sumatra were displaced, and tens of thousands of Chinese and Eurasians were killed or made homeless.

The Round Table conference at the Hague began on August 12 and concluded on November 2. The Republic of the United States of Indonesia (RUSI) would be in a loose union with the Netherlands, which retained sovereignty over Irian Jaya. The Republican debt to the Dutch was fixed at 4.3 billion guilders, which was about the amount the Dutch spent on the war. The Dutch released about 12,000 Republican prisoners between August and December. Sukarno was elected president on December 16, and he appointed Hatta as prime minister. The Netherlands transferred sovereignty on December 27, 1949.

Captain Raymond Westerling gave the Hatta government an ultimatum to stop anti-federal propaganda, and on January 23, 1950 he led 800 Dutch troops and took over the Republican headquarters in Bandung, killing sixty people; but the Dutch High Commissioner and the Bandung garrison commander persuaded him to withdraw the same day. Discovery of his plot to assassinate Republican cabinet members led to the arrest of Pasundan leaders, and that state was dissolved on January 27.

Most of the smaller federal states were dissolved by the end of March. Sultan Hamid II of Pontianak in West Kalimantan was arrested as a major conspirator with Westerling in early April, and that state was taken over by RUSI. Ambonese colonial soldiers clashed with Republicans in Makasar, and a new East Indonesia cabinet planned to dissolve the state; but on April 25 Dr. Soumokil proclaimed the Republic of South Malaku in Ambon. They fought Republican troops from July to November and were finally crushed. East Indonesia and East Sumatra ended their statehood on May 19. The Senate was abolished, and a new Parliament was formed.

The new constitution was endorsed by the old RUSI government, and three days later on August 17, 1950 the RUSI with its federated states was replaced by the unitary Republic of Indonesia with its capital at Jakarta. To unite the various peoples they adopted the motto “Unity in diversity.” About 180,000 bureaucrats from the states were merged with about 240,000 from the Republic. The Republican army was reduced to 200,000 men by November. The Communist Party (PKI) revived under new leaders, and they had 13 seats in the People’s Representative Council. Masjumi had 49 seats, PNI 36, PSI 17, the Catholic party 9, the Christian party 5, and Murba 5. Masjumi and PSI made Natsir prime minister of the cabinet in September, and that month Indonesia was admitted as the 60th member of the United Nations. Sukarno was president, and Hatta was appointed vice president in October.

Australia 1800-1950


1. Letters of a Javanese Princess by Raden Adjeng Kartini, p. 31.
2. Historical Dictionary of Indonesia by Robert Cribb, p. 193.

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book SOUTH ASIA 1800-1950.
For ordering information, please click here.


British India 1800-1848
British India's Wars 1848-1881
India's Renaissance 1881-1905
India's Freedom Struggle 1905-1918
Gandhi and India 1919-1933
Liberating India and Pakistan 1934-1950
Tibet, Nepal, and Ceylon 1800-1950
Burma, Malaya and the British 1800-1950
Siam, Cambodia, and Laos 1800-1950
Vietnam and the French 1800-1950
Indonesia and the Dutch 1800-1950
Australia to 1950
New Zealand to 1950
Summary and Evaluation


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Chronology of Asia & Africa to 1800
Chronology of Asia & Africa 1800-1950
Chronology of South Asia to 1950

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