On the Bookshelves

The gamelan Digul and the prison camp musician who built it: an Australian link with the Indonesian revolution
Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia and Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta
Black Armada: Australia & the struggle for Indonesian independence
The return of the exiles: Australia’s repatriation of the Indonesians, 1945-47 and Australia and the Indonesian Revolution
Indonesia Calling (feature film)
Van Mook and Indonesian independence: a study of his role in Dutch-Indonesian relations,The Netherlands Indies and Japan: their relations, 1940-1941 and The Stakes of Democracy in South-East Asia
The Dutch in Australia, The Netherlands and Australia, The other Dutch, Traces, Four years till tomorrow and The Dutch down under
An unconventional woman
Echoes: Books one and two
Refugees and Rebels: Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia

The gamelan Digul and the prison camp musician who built it: an Australian link with the Indonesian revolution  

Kartomi, MJ 2002, The gamelan Digul and the prison camp musician who built it: an Australian link with the Indonesian revolution, University of Rochester Press, Rochester, NY.

Reviewed by Dr E Sally Vickery.


Biographical and historical information – the Gamelan Digul

The Gamelan Digul is an orchestra of Javanese gamelan instruments made at Tanah Merah camp on the Digul River by Pontjopangrawit, master musician of the court of the central Javanese city of Surakarta, who was interred there between 1927 and 1932. 

Upon arrival at Tanah Merah, each exile was given a set of carpentry tools to make a house. Pontjopangrawit certainly put his carpentry tools to good use. As well as being an outstanding musician, he was a wonderful instrument maker and he fashioned a full gamelan orchestra from materials available at the camp.  

Wood from the jungle or scavenged from discarded building materials was planed with loving care to create the frames and bodies of the instruments.  Food utensils such as iron milk pots and food bowls were fashioned into gong chimes and scraps of metal became xylophone keys.  Animals were killed to provide skins for the drumheads and the body of stringed instruments.

Despite the unorthodox materials used in its creation in such an unlikely environment, this gamelan was tuned perfectly, and the individual instruments produced tones of the most beautiful quality.  The gamelan orchestra played regularly at social gatherings and theatrical events.

Its fame spread to the world outside when the widow of a former inmate gave an account of the beauty of its sound in an article published in the news and entertainment magazine, Pandji Poestaka.

Gamelan orchestras form part of the belief systems, spirituality and mythology of the Javanese environment in which they are played.  Therefore, it is not surprising that when Pontjopangrawit was released from Boven Digul in 1932, he left the gamelan behind. 

Before returning to Indonesia in August 1946, an Indonesian national named Jack Zakaria presented the Gamelan Digul to the Museum of Victoria, where it was stored until 1977. 

It was then taken to the Department of Music at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.  Professor Margaret Kartomi has spent twenty years researching the story of this unique set of instruments and Pontjopangrawit, its maker.  She has written a book about it.  It was staff of the Monash Department of Music who named the gamelan, since it did not have a name. 

Book review

Professor Kartomi’s book, which has now been published both in Bahasa Indonesia and in English, is a very scholarly work. 

For anyone interested in learning more about gamelan orchestras in general, and the Gamelan Digul in particular, it is essential reading.  Also, by purchasing the book, you will be able to obtain a CD that includes music played on the Gamelan Digul.

The Gamelan Digul is of great historical significance to both nations since the Digulists gave it to the Australian people, in recognition of their support and friendship, to be held by them in perpetuity.  

One of the key issues Professor Kartomi raises in her book is the importance of having the Gamelan Digul permanently displayed in Australia, so that future generations could see this unique and very precious religious, artistic and political symbol. 

In the meantime, if you would like to see what the Gamelan Digul looks like, just click on the link to the Gallery.  The pictures you will find there include one of Professor Kartomi with her book. 

For more information visit the following sites.

Read an ABC Radio National broadcast transcript on her book
Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2002, Gamelan, broadcast transcript conducted by Peter Mares, Radio Eye, Radio National, 17 August, viewed 19 January 2006, <http://www.abc.net.au/rn/arts/radioeye/stories/s610194.htm>.

Description from a past exhibition at Monash University of Museum of Art in Melbourne, Australia

Monash University Museum of Art 2005, Past Exhibitions—1999, Gamelan Digul 1 September-11 September 1999, Monash University, Melbourne, viewed 28 February 2006, <http://www.monash.edu.au/muma/exhibitions/past/1999/gamelan.html>.

For other reviews of this book, the following is worth reading.

Review by Monash University
Monash University Library 2006, Book description, Monash University, Melbourne, viewed 19 January 2006, <http://www.lib.monash.edu/collections/monash-authors/2002/1580460887.html>.

Review by University of Wisconsin
Sutton, RA 2003, Review, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, 26 September, viewed 19 January 2006, <http://www.antarakita.net/reviews/r23.html>.

Review by Suara Pembaruan Daily (in Bahasa Indonesia)
Kurniadi 2005, ‘Gamelan Digul, Bukti Sejarah Kesenian di Penjara’, Suara Pembaruan Daily, 25 November, viewed 19 January 2006, <http://www.suarapembaruan.com/News/2005/11/25/Hiburan/hib01.htm>.

To purchase this book visit our Links section for information on online stores.

Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia and Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta

Mrázek, R 1994, Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Rose, M 1987, Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta, Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Reviewed by Dr E Sally Vickery.


Biographical and historical background – Mohammad Hatta’s history prior to going to Boven Digul

In 1902, Mohammad Hatta was born in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, into an aristocratic Minangkabau family.  He excelled scholastically and was sent to Rotterdam where he received a doctorate in Economics.  During his time in Europe, he became a democratic socialist and was President of Perhimpunan Indonesia, a student organisation for Indonesian nationalists studying in the Netherlands. 

On his return to the Netherlands East Indies (NEI), Hatta continued to promote nationalism but he was soon very critical of Sukarno’s mass movement, the PNI (Indonesian Nationalist Party), with its reliance on mass rallies and emotive oratory.  Therefore he and Sjahrir started a new movement called the Pendidikan Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian Nationalist Education, or PNI-Baru) and in 1932 Hatta became Chairman.

The PNI Baru was conceptually very different from the PNI, since it was well organised with educated leadership and membership and a sound theoretical framework for political action.   There is no doubt the PNI Baru better reflected both Hatta’s personal style and political viewpoint than other NEI nationalist organisations at the time.

Unfortunately, the NEI colonial administration had also recognised that the development of the nationalist movement along lines advocated by PNI Baru was far more likely to be effective in the long term than mass agitation.  Therefore, in 1934 the entire executive of the PNI Baru was arrested. 

Hatta was not surprised that they were never put on trial, since he had already written an article calling the NEI a ‘police state’ and condemning the Governor-General’s ‘exorbitant powers‘.  In January 1935, Hatta and Sjahrir, (together with a young executive member called Mohamad Bondan), were sent to Boven Digul.

Book review - Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta

Mavis Rose’s biography of Mohammad Hatta, Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta, is a most useful and informative text for any student of the history of the development of the Republic. 

For me, the weakness of this biography lies in the manner of its publication.  It is a political monograph and the rather poor typesetting and obtrusive referencing detract from the flow of the narrative.

Rose’s strength lies in the meticulous way her narrative of Indonesia’s history is played out against the development of Hatta’s political beliefs.  Under her pen, Hatta emerges as a significant political theorist as well as a successful and effective politician.   The more I read, the more I grew to admire and to like this man. 

A bonus for Australian readers is the inclusion of the outcome of personal communication Rose had with Thomas Critchley, the Australian Representative on the Good Offices Committee, regarding Hatta as a person. His observation was that Hatta was “friendly and pleasant, small in stature but big in intellect.”  He said that he felt Hatta regarded him as a “close friend and I was not conscious of a cultural gap.”

I particularly enjoyed the account of the signing of the transfer of sovereignty by Queen Juliana, which Rose declared to be “…. the crowning moment of his (Hatta’s) life”.  

Book review - Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia

Rudolf Mrázek’s biography of Sutan Sjahrir is scholarly.  I agree with Takashi Shiraishi, who said that in it he gives an excellent account of the time Hatta and Sjahrir spent at Boven Digul.  It is full of informative footnotes and is meticulously referenced. 

In contrast to Rose’s biography of Hatta, this book is elegant in its publication, so that despite its very considerable scholarship, it is easy to read and enjoy as a narrative. 

Sutan Sjahrir emerges as a complex and interesting, if somewhat mercurial, figure. For me, his relationship with his Dutch wife Maria is most fascinating.  I found myself comparing their relationship with that of the three Australian women who married Indonesian men and whose biographies are cited in this website.

Maria’s experiences are very different from those of Molly Bondan, Jean Tahija and Charlotte Maramis.  She was put under police surveillance, criticized in the newspapers for wearing a kebaya and sarong and her marriage declared invalid, before being put on a ship and sent back to the Netherlands.

Finally, Sjahrir abandoned her although she remained faithful to him, and co-operated with Mrázek in the writing of the biography.  Sjahrir’s letters to her in Boven Digul are an important source of information on the subject.

I would certainly urge anyone interested in the key personalities of the revolution to read this book, which Mrázek dedicates to the great historian, George McTurnan Kahin. 

The quote on his front page of Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia is a fitting way to conclude this brief review.  “These days young people read stories only because they love to hear their melodies; some of them listen to stories only to laugh.”  (Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir) 

For other reviews of these books, the following is worth reading.

Reviews of Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta:
Southeast Asia Program 2006, Indonesia Free: A Biography of Mohammad Hatta, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.einaudi.cornell.edu/SoutheastAsia/publications/item.asp?id=965>.

Review of Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia
Southeast Asia Program 2006, Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.einaudi.cornell.edu/SoutheastAsia/publications/item.asp?id=900>.

For more information visit the following sites.

Review of another book by Rudolf Mrázek
Princeton University Press 2006, Engineers of Happy Land: Technology and Nationalism in a Colony, Rudolf Mrázek, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, viewed 4 March 2006, <http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/7282.html>.

To purchase these books visit our Links section for information on online stores.

Black Armada: Australia & the struggle for Indonesian independence

 

Lockwood, R 1982, Black Armada: Australia & the struggle for Indonesian independence, 1942-49, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney.

Reviewed by Dr E Sally Vickery.

Biographical and historical background – Rupert Lockwood

Rupert Lockwood (1908-1997) was an Australian journalist who was a committed member of the Communist Party of Australia from 1939 to 1969.  He held editorial positions with the Maritime Worker, (the journal of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, WWF), from 1952 to 1985.  During that time, (when he was a paid writer for the WWF), he became widely known as a Communist journalist, pamphleteer, orator and finally author, with the publication of the book, Black Armada.

Lockwood is best known for his part in the so-called 1954 Petrov Affair. At the Russian Embassy in Canberra, he wrote a document called “Document J”.  This was one of a number of the documents given to ASIO by the Russian spy, Vladimir Petrov, when he defected.  

Document J was essentially communist propaganda; but three of the staff of the Leader of the Opposition, Dr HV Evatt, were named in it. Dr Evatt became convinced that the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, had arranged for the page with the three names on it to be added to the document, in order to damage both the ALP and Evatt politically.

However, at the Petrov Royal Commission Lockwood declared that he had written the entire Document J himself, in order to promote in Australia "the kind of society the Soviet Union is achieving."  

In the wake of these events, the Labor Party lost the next election and split into two separate parties.  Dr Evatt was destined never to be Prime Minister and the Labor Party languished in opposition for many years.

Book review

Rupert Lockwood was a master craftsman with the English language and therefore Black Armada is a very well written and persuasive book.  However, most of the sources Lockwood cited are either newspaper articles or interviews he undertook himself. 

His literary style has been criticised by others.  Even fellow communist Rex Mortimer acknowledged there were some “patches of purple prose”.  Personally, I quite like the “yarn telling” genre, in which I would place this book.  This however brings up questions of the validity of his material.

Some of Lockwood’s accounts of particular events do not stand up to critical scrutiny.  Frank Bennett Jnr gives examples of this in his book, The Return of the Exiles.   We, too, have found examples of inaccuracies in the Lockwood story. 

Furthermore, given Lockwood’s admission of his willingness to fabricate material to promote the CPA (Communist Party of Australia), I feel quite justified in saying that I found the Lockwood account to be biased to the point of distortion.

What offends me most about this book is the cynical way he promoted the role of the CPA-dominated maritime unions at the expense of acknowledging the true abilities and achievements of the Indonesians themselves. 

Lockwood demonstrated little capacity for insightful characterisation, relying largely on the use of arch-types or caricatures to portray the interactions of the Dutch and Indonesians.  His account of the return of Dr Van Mook to the NEI is spiteful and petty, and does little to convey the complexity and tragedy of the man destined to be the last Lieutenant Governor-General of the NEI.

As I read other accounts of the Indonesians in war-time Australia, I found myself saying that the more I read Black Armada, the less I liked it.  I found Lockwood to be embarrassingly patronising in the way he wrote of the well educated, cultured and often refined Digulist leaders. 

Furthermore, he over-emphasised the PKI at the expense of the other nationalist parties. Indeed, Lockwood revealed himself to be quite ignorant of Indonesian culture and political history, particularly that of the nationalist movements and the revolution; and never demonstrated any real interest in redressing this. 

However, I do agree with the polemic Voltaire, who said:  “I know many books which have bored their readers, but I know of none which has done real evil.”   

In giving us a very warm and readable account of the humanity of the Australian working class in the mid to late 1940s, Lockwood partially redeemed himself.  However, his real contribution lies in the documentation of the successful boycott of the Dutch shipping.  This is an important story and one worth telling.  Lockwood certainly told it well. 

For other reviews of this book, the following is worth reading.

Review by Maritime Union of Australia
Maritime Union of Australia 2001, Black Armada: Australia & the struggle for Indonesian independence 1942-49, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://mua.org.au/aboutus/lockwood2.html>.

Review from Rex Mortimer who was an Australian communist who often wrote about Indonesia and the PKI
Mortimer, R 1976, ‘Australian Support for Indonesian Independence: A Review’, Indonesia, vol. 22, October, pp. 171-175, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://cip.cornell.edu/DPubS/Repository/1.0/Disseminate/seap.indo/1107107681/body/pdf>.

The return of the exiles: Australia’s repatriation of the Indonesians, 1945-47 and Australia and the Indonesian Revolution

 

Bennett, Jr, FC 2003, The return of the exiles: Australia’s repatriation of the Indonesians, 1945-47, Monash Asia Institute, Clayton, VIC.

George, M 1980, Australia and the Indonesian Revolution, Melbourne University Press in association with Australian Institute of International Affairs, Carlton, VIC.

Reviewed by Dr E Sally Vickery.

Book reviews

Frank Bennett Junior’s book, The return of the exiles, is an extremely well researched, clearly written documentation of how the Indonesians who found themselves in Australia at the end of World War II returned to their homeland. 

Early chapters outline how the Indonesians came to be in Australia.  The book is well balanced and endeavours to present Australian, Dutch and Indonesian perspectives.  Much of the research focuses on Australian archives at the time.

The book suffers somewhat from being the publication of a thesis, since sometimes attention to detail becomes pedantic and is distracting.  However, it is not nearly so academic in style as Margaret George’s book, Australia and the Indonesian Revolution, which was a posthumous publication of her doctoral thesis.

It is my view that, for students of political history, George’s book is core reading, but for younger readers, or those who are reading about the topic for interest in a second language, Australia and the Indonesian Revolution is not an ‘easy read’.

If I had to nominate one book only as the most important to read on the topic of our website, it would have to be Frank Bennett Junior’s book, The return of the exiles.  It is one of the best-researched and most readable adaptations of a thesis that I have read and I have read several in researching for this website.

For other reviews, the following is worth reading.

Review by Australia Defence Association  
Mackie J 2004, ‘Review of The Return of the Exiles: Australia's Repatriation of the Indonesians 1945-47 by Frank Bennett’, Defender: The National Journal of the Australia Defence Association, vol. 21, no. 1, Autumn, pp. 39-40, viewed 3 March 2006,  <http://www.ada.asn.au/defender/Defender%20Autumn%202004.pdf>.

For more information visit the following sites.

Information on Dr Margaret Lorraine George
The Margaret George Award
Dr Margaret Lorraine George (1945–74) n.d., National Archives of Australia, Canberra, viewed 3 March 2006,
http://www.naa.gov.au/about_us/margaret_george_biography.html>.

To purchase these books visit our Links section for information on online stores.

Indonesia Calling (feature film)

Ivens, J 1946, Indonesia calling, video recording, Quality Films, Sydney, NSW.

Reviewed by Dr E Sally Vickery.

Film review

When I went to the Australian National Screen and Sound Archives in Canberra where you can obtain or view a copy of the Joris Ivens’ film, Indonesia Calling, they knew the work immediately.  This really surprised me.  Their explanation was that Indonesia Calling is regularly used as a good example of a short feature film produced in a newsreel style.

Whenever I play Indonesia Calling to my friends, they just burst into laughter.  By today’s standards, it is extremely “amateurish”.  My favourite example of this is where the Australian and Indonesian actors are reading the script behind a banner.  They were certainly not professionals slickly delivering their lines!

One scene of note is that in which a contemporary Indonesian band was playing. It was an Ambonese band, and probably the one that played at the Indonesia Club in Sydney.  Similarly, there is a traditional Javanese dancing sequence and O’Hare and Reid used a still from this in their photographic exhibition.

The opening title screen is very important as it reveals that in fact Indonesia Calling was funded by an Australian trade union. This was the first time in Australia a propaganda film was funded by a union. Now, of course, all manner of community organisations fund advertising and even documentaries or short films.  Indeed, following on the success of Indonesia Calling, Rupert Lockwood, while in the employ of a union, wrote his book, Black Armada.

From an Australian film-lover’s perspective, the ‘voice over’ for Ivens’ film is very interesting.  Peter Finch, who was the first Australian actor to win an Oscar, donated this free.  Peter Finch had gone to the Garden School in Sydney, which Molly Bondan also attended.  He was a member of the Independent Theatre and a supporter of the Theosophical Society.  His working on the film is therefore due to Molly.

Ironically, Finch, who went on to play in many films, won his Oscar in Network, which is a satire about television networks and their propensity to publish only ‘bad news’ stories because of a perception they keeps ratings higher than ‘good news’ stories do.

Despite the limited budget, use of volunteer actors and obviously staged scenes, this small feature film has a lasting appeal and was very important at the time of its release.   While it will retain a place in the history of Australian feature films simply because of its importance in the Joris Ivens story, it also deserves to be part of the history of the beginning of the Australian Indonesian friendship.

For other reviews of this film, the following is worth reading.
A unionist’s view of the film
‘History, Indonesia Calling’ 2001, Workers Online: Official Organ of LaborNet, no. 106, 10 August, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://workers.labor.net.au/106/c_historicalfeature_indonesia.html>.

For more information visit the following sites.

Information on Joris Ivens

Biography
Short biography n.d., European Foundation: the legacy of Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.ivens.nl/upload/?p=158&k=1&t=2&m=1>.

Mundell, I 2005, Joris Ivens, Senses of Cinema Inc, Cinema Studies Program, The School of Fine Arts, Classical Studies and Archaeology, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/05/ivens.html>.

Information on Indonesia Calling

Duncan, C 1948, ‘As others see us’, Sight and Sound, vol. 17, no. 65, Spring, pp. 12-14 in Deane William 2004, ‘Catherine Duncan: As others see us’, Screening the Past: An international, refereed, electronic journal of visual media and history, La Trobe University, Victoria, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/classics/cl_16/dwcl16.html>.

To purchase a copy of this film visit our Links page for information on online stores.

Van Mook and Indonesian independence: a study of his role in Dutch-Indonesian relations,The Netherlands Indies and Japan: their relations, 1940-1941 and The Stakes of Democracy in South-East Asia

Yong, Mun Cheong 1982, H.J. Van Mook and Indonesian independence: a study of his role in Dutch-Indonesian relations, 1945-48, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague.

Mook, HJ van 1944, The Netherlands Indies and Japan: their relations, 1940-1941, George Allen & Unwin, London.

Mook, HJ van 1950, The Stakes of Democracy in South-East Asia, George Allen & Unwin, London.

Reviewed by Dr E Sally Vickery.


Book reviews

No discussion of the events relating to the Indonesians in Australia during World War II, or their repatriation back to Indonesia, is complete without some consideration being given to the person of Hubertus J van Mook.

There are very few texts about van Mook written in English.  Fortunately, we have readily available two books he wrote himself, and one biography, H.J. van Mook and Indonesian independence: a study of his role in Dutch-Indonesian relations, 1945-48, written by Professor Yong Mun Cheong from Singapore University.

As the title suggests, Yong’s book is focused on the post-war years.  Fortunately, it also documents well van Mook’s early days, particularly those at university in the Netherlands.  Thus, we have a good picture of van Mook’s political credos to compare with his later actions and views as analysed by Yong and presented in his own words in his two books.

A key issue to the understanding of the post-war attitudes of van Mook and other liberals to the Indonesian Republican leaders, was that when they had been forced to leave Jakarta quickly to negotiate with Australia, they were not able to take their wives with them. Their wives were then interned in the NEI. Subsequently, they regarded the Republican leaders as pro-Japanese collaborators.  This in part explains some of the hardening of their views towards the Republic and their reluctance to negotiate.

After reading van Mook’s own books and the early part of Yong’s biography, I had some initial sympathy for van Mook.  There can be no doubt that, in theory, van Mook was a liberal thinker with an inclusive view of a multi-cultural Indonesia.  However, any sympathy I had for him had disappeared by the end of my reading of H.J. van Mook and Indonesian independence: a study of his role in Dutch-Indonesian relations, 1945-48.

Van Mook resigned in the October of 1948, just before the second police action in December, and he cannot be held responsible for the actions of Dr Beel, the conservative who took his place.  Notwithstanding, history has rightly judged Hubertus J van Mook harshly.

Mun Cheong Yong, his biographer, is both fair and thorough. However, in the end, neither Yong nor his reader has any real sympathy for van Mook.   Through intellectual arrogance, inflexibility and a lack of compassion, he squandered any opportunities he may have had to negotiate a non-violent solution.

Before he died and when he was living in the US, Hubertus J van Mook was a tragic figure.  He effectively died “stateless”, since, by his own admission, he was neither at home in the Netherlands or Indonesia.   He felt that each had rejected him.  In trying to serve two irreconcilable masters, he had ended up failing both.

For other reviews of these books, the following is worth reading.

Review of Professor Yong Mun Cheong’s book
Department of History n.d., Staff publications, H.J.vanMookandIndonesianindependence: a study of his role in Dutch-Indonesian relations, 1945-48, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore, viewed 3 March 2006,
<http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/hist/publications1_2.htm>.

For more information visit the following sites.

Information on Hubertus Johannes van Mook
Biography
Biography of Mook, Hubertus Johannes van 2005, Allsites LLC, viewed 3 March 2006,
<http://www.allbiographies.com/biography-HubertusJohannesvanMook-42010.html>.

Photo on the cover of Time Magazine in 1941
Time Magazine Cover, Hubertus J. van Mook, Aug 18, 1941 2005, Time Inc, viewed 3 March 2006,
<http://www.time.com/time/magazine/archive/covers/0,16641,1101410818,00.html>.

Information on Professor Yong Mun Cheong

Biography
Department of History 2005, Faculty Profiles, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://ap3.fas.nus.edu.sg/fass/hisymc/>.

To purchase these books visit our Links section for information on online stores.

The Dutch in Australia, The Netherlands and Australia, The other Dutch, Traces, Four years till tomorrow and The Dutch down under

Duyker, E 1987, The Dutch in Australia, AE Press, Melbourne.

Cock Buning, Antoinette de, Verheijen, L, Tom, D (eds) 1988, The Netherlands and Australia: two hundred years of friendship, O Cramwinckel, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Brummelaar, Eve ten 1995, The other Dutch: a short history of those Dutch-Australians, who spent their youth in the Dutch East Indies, Dutch Australian Centre, Sydney.

Roeloffs, P 2001, Traces: memoirs of an Indonesian wartime boyhood (1939–1946), Minerva Press, London.

Tromp, SG 1999, Four years till tomorrow: despair and hope in wartime Dutch East Indies: a collection of 26 eye witness' stories by members of the August 15, 1945 Foundation, Vanderheide, Surrey, BC.

Peters, N 2006, The Dutch down under, 1606-2006, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, WA.

Reviewed by Dr E Sally Vickery.

Biographical and historical background

In preparation for our website, Dr Siti Zulaiha (Izul) and I undertook an interview with Indonesian-born Frank Coenders and his charming Dutch-born wife, Anna.  I would like to acknowledge Frank’s and Anna’s generosity in allowing us to interview them.

Frank has made a great contribution to promoting friendship between the land of his birth and Australia, both in Melbourne and on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.  Recently, over a number of years, he has organized some wonderful Indonesian Independence Day Functions on the Sunshine Coast.

He is an honorary lecturer in Bahasa Indonesia at the Centre for Multicultural and Community Development at the University of the Sunshine Coast University, Queensland.  This Centre is an acknowledged leader in the study of multicultural affairs in Australia.

To learn more about Frank’s inspiring story, I recommend you visit this site: http://intranet.usc.edu.au/wacana/isn/frank_coenders.html.

Book review - The Dutch in Australia

Duyker’s history of Dutch migration to Australia is a well-researched book. I found it very readable.  Duyker, who is of Dutch and Mauritian heritage, writes with warmth and integrity.  The Dutch in Australia is part of the series on multicultural Australia published in the mid-1980’s, but despite being almost twenty years old, it has stood the test of time.

No study of the Indonesians in wartime Australia can be undertaken without studying the history of the Dutch, and Duyker’s book is often quoted.  In my view, it has earned its reputation as key reading material on the subject of Dutch immigration.  

However, while I recommend reading The Dutch in Australia, the official work commissioned by the Netherlands Government to commemorate two hundred years of friendship, The Netherlands and Australia did not have as much appeal to me. 

This book is not referenced.  This left me, when I read it, with an impression that it was more an official “handout”, rather than a well researched account of the relationship between the Netherlands and Australia. 

The exception to this is the account of pre-war Dutch shipping, which is note-worthy, given the importance of Dutch ships and the Indonesian seamen who manned them to our own story of the beginnings of the Indonesian Australian relationship.

Book reviews

The other Dutch: a short history of those Dutch-Australians, who spent their youth in the Dutch East Indies
Traces: memoirs of an Indonesian wartime boyhood (1939–1946)
Four years till tomorrow: despair
and hope in wartime Dutch East Indies: a collection of 26 eye witness' stories by members of the August 15, 1945 Foundation

There are three important books that I have read during my research for Teman-teman from the start as listed above.

All three are a testament to the extraordinary power of love, of great courage and of the indomitable will to survive of the Dutch civilians, particularly women and children, interred during the Japanese occupation of the Netherlands East Indies.

In reading research about Australian POWs interned in Indonesia at that time, I found that the Australian men frequently praised the Dutch women for their outstanding courage.  Their words kept reminding me of that great Gandhi quote:
“Courage has never been known to be a matter of muscle; it is a matter of the heart.”

The stories these Dutch men, women and children tell are profoundly moving. They are reminiscent of the account of Tanah Tinggi written by Soemono Mustoffa.  One of the great ironies of this whole period in Indonesian history is that what they suffered under Japanese imperialism is what the exiles of Tanah Tinggi suffered under Dutch imperialism.

Parallels with the exiles of Tanah Tinggi do not stop there.  Many of the Dutch internees were repatriated back to the Netherlands, only to find they were not really accepted there and no one wanted to hear their story. 

The poignancy of their accounts about this period are reminiscent of the story of the brief time Sarjono spent in the fledgling Republic, before he was killed in September 1948 by Republican forces following the declaration of a “Soviet Republic of Indonesia” at Madiun in East Java.  (Sarjono was a leader of PKI and an exile in Tanah Merah and Tanah Tinggi from 1927 to 1943. You will find mention of him in Teman-teman from the start.)

One of the most inspiring stories was one about a Japanese doctor who had learnt English in Hawaii, and who was tortured to death for failing to reveal the names of the girls whose messages he had delivered to their fathers in the nearby men’s internment camp.  So great was the children’s love for this Japanese doctor that even when they were forced to watch his death, they said nothing, so his sacrifice would not be in vain. 

This story is reminiscent of the point former internee Rudy Kousbroek makes in his book,  Het Oostindisch kampsyndroom (The Dutch East Indies Detention Camp Syndrome), when he calls on fellow Dutch Indonesians to remember their role in the colonisation of the NEI for three hundred years before continuing to demand apologies from the Japanese.

Each of these three books is different, though with similar themes.  Eve ten Brummelaar lives in Sydney, Australia.  I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of life in pre-war Indonesia from a Dutch perspective. 

Pieter Roeloffs lives in Indonesia, having gone back to Sumatra as a retiree.  His book is a personal account but he has contextualized his story exceptionally well.  I would thoroughly recommend this book.   If you visit Pieter’s website, you will see some reviews of Traces: memoirs of an Indonesian wartime boyhood.

The third book, which I read in the British Library, is more harrowing to read than Roeloff’s book.  It is a collection of personal accounts by a group of people now living in Canada, but who were formerly in Japanese internment camps for Dutch civilians. The writing of this book has, for them, been a way to heal some very deep wounds.  I found this book to be profoundly moving.

The Dutch down under, 1606-2006

The Dutch down under 1606 – 2006, published by the University of Western Australia Press, is the most recent book to be published of relevance to the story told on this website. 

The book, which spans a four hundred year period, examines the Dutch presence in Australia from the perspective of three groups, called the “three M’s” - mariners, military and migrants.

The co-coordinating author is Nonja Peters.  She is the Director of the Migration, Ethnicity, Refugees and Citizenship Research Unit at Curtin University of Technology.   A number of academics have written chapters of the book, depending on their areas of expertise.

Key features of the book are the excellent key informant interview research and the rich collection of unique photographs and illustrations of artifacts, memorabilia and newspaper articles.  

Although the book is academic in style, Peters has ensured all contributors have written text that is easy to read and engaging.  As such, the book, which is very reasonably priced at $69.99, makes an excellent gift. It can be ordered online at: 
http://www.uwapress.uwa.edu.au/titles/index/the_dutch_down_under_16062006

From the viewpoint of our story, the chapters on the war years and emigrants from the Netherlands East Indies are certainly worth reading for two reasons.  Firstly, they provide information that is not published elsewhere. 

Secondly, although they are written from a Dutch perspective, they are very fair and well balanced in their treatment of the subject matter.  In particular, Chapter 7 written by Nonja Peters herself, entitled “Evacuations into Australia from the Netherlands East Indies 1942-1948”, is highly recommended.

Two other chapters which explore issues canvassed on this website are Chapter 8, “Breaking down the white walls: the Dutch from Indonesia”, by Wim Willems; and Chapter 15, “Indisch identity in Australia”, by Loes Westerbeek. 

For more reviews, the following is worth reading.

Review of Sheri Tromp’s book
Books on Dutch East Indies: Four Years till Tomorrow, Sheri Tromp n.d., goDutch.com: The Dutch Heritage Website, Vanderheide Publishing Co. Ltd, Lynden, Washington State,viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.godutch.com/catalogue/bookN.asp?id=22>.

Review of Nonja Peters' book
Review by University of Western Australia Press
The Dutch Down Under, 1606-2002 2005, UWA Press, viewed 18 January 2008, <http://www.uwapress.uwa.edu.au/history/maritime_history>..

For more information visit the following sites.

Information on Pieter Roeloffs
Biography and reviews
Roeloffs, P 2001, Traces: Memoirs of an Indonesian Wartime Boyhood (1939-1946), Pieter Roeloffs, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://roeloffs.com/pieter-sr/1/>.

Review of another book on the same subject as Pieter Roeloffs’
Eight Prison Camps: A Dutch Family in Japanese Java, Dieuwke Wendelaar Bonga n.d., goDutch.com: The Dutch Heritage Website, Vanderheide Publishing Co. Ltd, Lynden, Washington State,viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.godutch.com/catalogue/bookN.asp?id=156>.

Information on Rudy Koesbroek
Biography
Rudy Kousbroek, Biography 2006, NLVPF: Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.nlpvf.nl/basic/auteur.php?Author_ID=84>.

Information on Edward Duyker
Biography
Profile: Edward Duyker 2005, Australian Public International Network, Australia Research Institute, Division of Humanities, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.api-network.com/cgi-bin/page?who/update=Edward_Duyker>.

To purchase these books visit our Links section for information on online stores.

An unconventional woman

Tahija, Jean 1998, An unconventional woman, Viking, Ringwood, VIC.

Reviewed by Anna M D Landy.


Biographical and historical background – Jean and Julius Tahija.

Jean Tahija was born Jean Walters in East Brunswick, Victoria, Australia on 3 February 1916. The oldest of three children, Jean graduated from Melbourne University in 1941 and practiced dentistry at Melbourne’s Dental Hospital for five years.

Born in 13 July 1916 in Surabaya, East Java, of Ambonese parents, Julius Tahija had a strong desire to improve his life largely due to his father’s insistence on a good education. In an era when Indonesian children did not receive basic education, much less went past third grade of elementary school, Julius was given entry into a Dutch elementary school and continued on to high school. By the age of twelve years old he mastered Dutch, Malay, English, Javanese and German. By the age of eighteen years old, his acute entrepreneurial skills resulted in his own business trading in textiles, housewares, books and cosmetics.

By deciding to join the Dutch East Indies (DEI) Army at the age of twenty-one, Julius came to be in Camp Pell, a transit camp for Allied troops in Royal Park, Melbourne, in 1942. He was part of a boat crew escorting Japanese internees to Australia when they were notified that the Japanese had invaded Indonesia on their way back to Java. The crew altered their course to Fremantle, Western Australia, and sailed onwards to Melbourne. A friend of the Walters Family suggested they invite these young DEI crew members for dinner that lead to the first meeting of Jean and Julius, an Indonesian sergeant in the DEI Army, on 18 May 1942.

In September 1946, Julius was among the only three Indonesians decorated with the Militaire Willems Orde—the Dutch equivalent of the Victoria Cross—for his bravery in sabotaging Japan’s invasion into Australia through Jamdena Island in the Tanimbar archipelago near Darwin, Australia. This led on to his involvement in the Z Special Unit, a secret division within Allied forces operating behind enemy lines. For this, Julius was awarded an honorary Order of Australia by Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who presented membership of the award at a special ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia, in February 2002.

On 22 November 1946 Julius and Jean married at Wesley Church in Melbourne. Julius returned to Indonesia the next day and Jean was not to join her husband until 21 April 1947, in Makassar (Ujung Pandang), Sulawesi. By this time he had been elected as a representative of the East Indonesian Parliament and became Minister for Information. From this point onwards Jean’s life was entwined with Julius’. They had two sons, Sjakon and George, who were both born in Indonesia.

Amongst his many business enterprises Julius occupied the highest leading position at Caltex Pacific Indonesia from 1966 to 1993. Jean and Julius’ legacy is formed in the The Tahija Family Foundation that supports many philanthropic causes and is managed by their two sons.

Jean passed away in June 2001 and Julius followed on 30 July 2002.

Book review

From their first meeting and throughout their marriage, Jean and Julius demonstrated the inspiring power of love, commitment and courage to overcome the challenges of race, cultural differences, prejudices and political instability. We consider their compelling romance an additional inspiration in the telling of Teman-teman from the start. As evidenced by Mohamad and Molly Bondan, the story of Jean and Julius Tahija reflects on the deep relationships between the peoples of Australia and Indonesia.

Jean wrote this book for her family and it mostly concentrated on her husband’s military and political lives in the tumultuous period of Indonesia gaining her independence in 1945 and onwards. Yet despite some of its personal subject matter, this book was written for easy reading enhanced by Jean’s own insights peppered throughout the pages. There are photographs of their lives together that make for an interesting perusal, as well as samples of personal correspondence between them written between 1942 and 1945. Consisting of 296 pages with an index directory, An unconventional woman is a powerful story not to be missed.

For more information visit the following sites. You can access free articles from the links provided below but for non-free articles, visit your local information centre.

Review of Jean Tahija’s book by University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne 2002, Jean Tahija (1916-2001), The University of Melbourne 150th Anniversary, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, viewed 27 February 2006, <http://www.unimelb.edu.au/150/150people/tahija.html>.

Information on Z Special Unit
Australian Defence Force 2000, Our special forces: Commandos and the Special Air Service Regiment, Facts About Our Defence Force No. 9, June, Student Reference Material, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, Russell, ACT, viewed 27 February 2006, <http://www.specialoperations.com/Foreign/Australia/SASR/09-sas.pdf>.
 
Information on Z Special Unit in Saumlaki in connection with Julius Tahija
Ryan, Peter 2004, ‘Remembering Saumlaki’, Quadrant Magazine, vol. 48, no. 1-2, January, viewed 27 February 2006, <http://www.quadrant.org.au/php/article_view.php?article_id=598>.

Information on Julius Tahija receiving an Order of Australia award
Munro, C 2002, ‘Indonesian patriarch Tahija receives Order of Australia’, Australian Associated Press General News, 15 February, viewed 28 February 2006, <accessed from Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre through EbscoHost Research Databases>.

The Tahija Family Foundation and some of its contributions
To combat dengue fever in Indonesia
Jean and Julius Tahija Family Foundation n.d., Partners: Foundation, The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, viewed 27 February 2006, <http://www.cdcfoundation.org/partners/foundations/JeanandJuliusTahijaFamilyFoundation.aspx>.

Established a Memorial Garden at Karrakatta Cemetery in Western Australia in 2003
School of Anatomy and Human Biology 2004, Memorial Gardens, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, viewed 27 February 2006, <http://www.anhb.uwa.edu.au/about/bbp/gardens>.

Information on Austindo Resources Corporations NL, an Australian listed gold company in connection with The Tahija Family
Journal article
Baker, R 1998, ‘Buried treasures’, Bulletin with Newsweek, vol. 117, no. 6139, 9 August, pp. 48-49, viewed on 28 February 2006, <accessed from Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre through EbscoHost Research Databases>.

Online presentation slides
Austindo Resources Corporations NL 2005, Developing Indonesian Gold Mines: Strong relationships, online presentation slides, May, London, viewed 27 February 2006, <http://www.austindoresources.com.au/LondonPresentationMay2005/SlidePresentation04.html>.

Various notices commemorating the passing of Julius Tahija

Obituary notice from Kompas newspaper (in Bahasa Indonesia)
Pour, J 2002, In Memoriam Julius Tahija: Sulit Mencari Teladan untuk Generasi Muda, PT Kompas Cyber Media, 31 July, viewed 27 February 2006, <http://www.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0207/31/Utama/suli01.htm>. 

Obituary notice from The Australian newspaper
Walters, P 2002, ‘War hero thrived in peace’, Australian, 13 August, p.14, viewed 28 February 2006, <accessed from Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre through EbscoHost Research Databases>.

To purchase this book visit our Links section for information on online stores.

Echoes: Books one and two

Maramis, CC 2006, Echoes : Book one, Australia and Indonesia, Charlotte Clayton Maramis, Australia.

Maramis, CC 2005, Echoes : Book two, my years in Indonesia 1949-1962, Charlotte Clayton Maramis, Australia.

Reviewed by Dr E Sally Vickery
.

Book review

Anton Maramis was a member of the Komite Pusat (KNIP, Central Indonesian National Committee) who met his Australian wife Charlotte when he was stationed in Australia during the Second World War.  He was Manadonese, the son of a Lutheran Minister, and a key supporter of the Republican cause in Australia.  A former Petty Officer himself, he played a key role in fighting for the rights of the Indonesian seamen in Australia. 

After the death of her husband of fifty-two years standing, journalist Charlotte Clayton Maramis wrote a two-part autobiography, Echoes, telling the story of how she and Anton Maramis met and married in war-time Australia and of their life together in Indonesia from 1949 to 1962.

In simple yet clear prose, Echoes Book One documents the difficulties faced by an Australian woman and an Indonesian man embarking on marriage in the period 1945-1949.  

Some of these difficulties, such as British and Dutch colonial attitudes and Anton’s commitment to the cause of Indonesian Independence, relate specifically to the life and times in which their romance blossomed and to the individuals themselves.  However, young couples today can still occasionally face similar problems to those faced by Charlotte (Lottie) and Anton, such as an unsympathetic Australian press, visa restrictions and racial prejudice.

As an analysis of political and historical events of the time, the first book adds very little to the information which may be gleaned from such scholarly texts as those written by Margaret George and Frank Bennett Junior; and historical inaccuracies are of concern.

However, it pays homage to those Australians who supported the Indonesian struggle for independence and who offered friendship to lonely Indonesians exiled in war-time Sydney.  This included the establishment of the Indonesian Club and the Australian Indonesian Association.  It is also good to read her acknowledgement of the part played by the Australian diplomat, Thomas Critchley, in the Dutch handover of sovereignty.

Charlotte Maramis’ account in Echoes Book One of the role her husband played in promoting the development of trade links between Australia and Indonesia in the period between his return to Australia and his second deportation in 1947 is original material; not found in other texts written about that period.  In particular, it includes mention of his clash with the Australian communist, self-styled, ‘rogue’ trade official, Clarrie Campbell.

In Echoes Book Two, the second part of her autobiography, Charlotte Maramis tells the story of how in 1949, as a young twenty year old, she travelled alone to Indonesia to join Anton, whom she had married in 1947 shortly before he returned to Indonesia.  She tells us about setting up house, meeting his family and establishing English classes.

Charlotte became a journalist, working for many years as a columnist with the Indonesian Observer, edited and published by Herawati Diah, whose husband owned and operated Merdeka Press.  The Indonesian Observer was established to provide a newspaper in English prior to the first Asia Africa conference in Bandung in 1955.

Some of the book’s content is based on material she wrote when she was a journalist, so that there are some interesting anecdotes about key people and events of that time.  Equally enjoyable are the stories from her diaries that chronicle the lives of the Indonesians she met from day to day. 

Echoes Book Two, which Charlotte published herself, is certainly worth reading.  Her style is informal, its appeal partly being a combination of gentle self-deprecating humour and honesty.  However, her book reveals her to be a woman who has sharp powers of observation and a good understanding of human nature. 

Furthermore, she is never saccharine, and her “spoonful of sugar” often helps her reader digest some rather bitter “medicine”, (to misquote a famous line from the novel or movie, “Mary Poppins”).  I found her description of the famine in the early days of the Republic very bitter sweet, since I know from Pat Noonan’s research that at least one Australian bride died of the effects of malnutrition in that famine.

The major deficiency in is the fact that it is not indexed.  Admittedly, Charlotte did not publish it for the purpose of research.  However, for English speakers who are not familiar with Indonesian history and geography, a map of the places she mentions and an Index would be very helpful.  Also, if the names of her chapters were on the top of the page it would be much easier to cross-refer to her various anecdotes.

One of my favourite Maramis stories is that of the meeting between Khrushchev and Soekarno.  Her observations of Soekarno provide an interesting contrast to the picture Molly Bondan paints of Indonesia’s first President.

When I purchased Echoes Book Two, I found, to my surprise, it contained a hidden bonus.  This was a number of delightful sketches by Tony Rafty, the famous Australian war artist and peacetime freelance journalist and artist for The Sun and The Sun Herald

Rafty had first gone to Indonesia during the struggle for Indonesian independence, covering the battle for Surabaya.  After the war, he returned to Indonesia.  He is well known for his work in promoting emerging art in Bali. The sketches certainly capture the spirit of Bali.

To purchase these books visit http://www.berkelouw.com.au/about/rose_bay.

For more information on Tony Rafty visit the following sites.

Abridged Biography of Tony Rafty, Caricaturist, born 1915- n.d., Coubertin.com Olympic Collectors Auction, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.coubertin.com/Tony_Rafty.html>.

ACA History n.d., Australian Cartoonists’ Association, Safety Bay, Western Australia, viewed 4 March 2006, <http://www.abwac.org.au/ACAhistory.htm>.

Basuki, Abdullah RA 1945, Tony Rafty and subject [picture], Digital Collections Pictures, National Library of Australia, Canberra, viewed 4 March 2006, <http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an8418217>.

Second World War Official War Artists n.d., Encyclopedia, Australian official war artists, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, viewed 3 March 2006, <http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/war_artists/
artists.htm
>.

 

Refugees and Rebels: Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia

Lingard, J 2008, Refugees and Rebels: Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia, Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, VIC.

Reviewed by Dr E Sally Vickery
.

Book review

Written during an academic sabbatical, this book is a very comprehensive compilation of ‘primary resource’ material. In a sense, it is the final book in what I would term the ‘academic trio’, the other two texts being those of Margaret George and Frank Bennett. All deal with different aspects of the story.  

This work has been a long time in coming and has been published by Australian Scholarly Publishing. Unfortunately, the inferior quality of the paper and reproduction of photographs, including those taken in the late 1990s by the author herself, do not do justice to the volume of scholarship this book contains.