The Bersiap

Neither the Japanese nor the British, who had not been given orders to do so, dared to engage in real law enforcement. The Pemoedas, the young Indonesians, were in charge on the streets!

The Japanese camp commanders had to guard the camps against the explosion of violence from the Pemoedas, whom they had incited against the Dutch during the occupation. However, they could also be killed if they took their duty to protect seriously. Of all the groups, the Pemoedas were the most fanatical. They were young Indonesian rebels, not part of the Indonesian army. They were fervent and full of hatred towards the Dutch.

The worst outbreak of violence occurred in the autumn of 1945. The Japanese units in Surabaya did everything they could to make it as difficult as possible for the Allies after the capitulation. Japanese weapon arsenals were opened up to Indonesian fighting groups, while Indian youths who had been trained by the Japanese during the occupation were incited to start revenge actions against anyone with European blood. However, 400 Chinese residents of Surabaya also fell victim to these actions. And at least 600 people of Dutch descent met a gruesome death. In total, around 12,000 Indonesians would be killed in the battle for Surabaya, which would still follow, and in which at least 429 British Indian soldiers also perished.

The 16th army of Japan opened its weapon depots to Indonesians and selected a thousand officers and non-commissioned officers to establish a regular Indonesian army.

The nationalist youth were armed to the teeth with samurai swords (stolen and given by the Japanese) and klewangs, impressive long police sabers, which they usually reached for first. Their equipment was complemented by two pistols in holsters, a bayonet, and sunglasses. Some even managed to obtain cartridge belts, which they wore crisscross over their chests. They rode around in trucks confiscated from the Japanese troops. Proud and domineering, they shouted at the top of their lungs for freedom, independence: "Merdeka, merdeka"!

It became dangerous outside the camps. If they caught you, you would be "getjingtjangt" (chopped into pieces). A certain Soetomo, who was the driving force behind these hate campaigns against the Dutch, paid no attention to Soekarno and Hatta, who preferred to fight for the freedom of their country in a constructive way and with the support of the United Nations.

The actions of the extremist groups led Soekarno and Hatta to feel compelled to declare independence on August 17, 1945, totally unprepared. The Bersiap period had begun. Bersiap means be prepared! (From: Ik beken)

Commandant Whitmarsh-Knight, who at that time was in charge of the 5th Indian division, testified about a Jack Boer, reserve captain in the Royal Dutch East Indies Army, about his decisiveness and strategic insight. 2348 Dutch people who were imprisoned in the Werfstraat prison in Surabaya were to be murdered by extremists. Tons of poisoned rice were ready for the starving prisoners. If they had eaten that, the prison would be set on fire with barrels of gasoline, burning all the prisoners, dead or alive.

On November 10, 1945, the spectacular rescue operation took place. Jack Boer and 10 Gurkha soldiers saved these Dutch people. After disabling the guards, a tank was used to break through the wall, allowing the prisoners to escape. Cell locks were shot open. A truck was waiting outside to take them to safety. One Gurkha lost his life in the process. (Pia Media-Jack Boer and I confess.)

The massacres of the Simpangclub and the Goebeng transport form a blind spot in Indonesian independence history, writes Inez Hollander. She describes the attack on the transport of women and children. Indonesian sources about the revolution in Surabaya don't even mention the tragic fate of the Goebeng transport.

After all the aggression of a severely tested people, they came to their senses. They preferred not to talk about it anymore. A description of this is in her book "Silenced Voices and Concealed Lives." There is a mass grave of this transport in Surabaya.

In the battle of Surabaya, hundreds to thousands of Indonesians also lost their lives, the exact numbers are not known.

Jacques Movig was placed with his family in the Hotel des Indes, Batavia, until they were transported to Australia. During that period of bersiap killings, he could count new bodies floating in the water near the hotel every day.

The Japanese, in addition to their protection duty, now also had to do corvee.

Soekarno (before the war)

Soekarno founded the Indonesian National Party (RNI) in 1927. This party aimed for the independence of Indonesia. In 1929, he was arrested by the Dutch and imprisoned in the Soekamiskin prison. He was granted a reduction in sentence and released on December 31, 1931. His journey home became a triumphant procession. In August 1933, Soekarno was arrested again and exiled to Flores. Due to health reasons, he was transferred to Bengkulu (South Sumatra) in February 1938. This journey once again drew masses of people.

When the war with Japan broke out in 1942, he was freed again. It was believed that Soekarno and Hatta were being manipulated by the Japanese, but in reality, it was Soekarno who was playing a clever game with the Japanese. He assisted the Japanese, sometimes at the expense of his own people, by handing over his people as forced laborers (who were lured by misleading campaigns). He used the Japanese to achieve his goals.

Due to Japan's unconditional surrender in August 1945, a power vacuum emerged, which the British refused to fill. As a result, Soekarno was forced by his own supporters to proclaim the Republic of Indonesia on August 17, 1945.

After the war, Soekarno was not democratically elected to rule over all these islands, which had been brought together by, among others, the Dutch, but had never formed one kingdom before.

Moluccans, Timorese, Medanese, and Papuans, to whom Queen Wilhelmina had promised independence, were very upset that Soekarno was ruling over them by force. Many Moluccans obtained a residence permit in the Netherlands through the courts.

British assistance.

Due to the confusion surrounding the Japanese surrender, a quick takeover of power by the Allies of the still Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies was impossible. The embarkation of Maharata, Gurkha, and Sikh troops from British India only took place in October 1945.

In these two lost months, the return of the prisoners of war to their families and pre-war stationed places should have taken place. The leadership of the British army rearmed the Japanese with bayonets and rifles (without bullets) for the defense of the camps. This forced the Japanese to aim the bayonets, which they had previously aimed at us, at the pemudas. The dark role of the Japanese in post-war politics has never been fully clear. After all, they had been given time to destroy all incriminating material about their atrocities. This has made it difficult to prosecute many Japanese.

At first, the British focused only on the liberation of prisoners of war and the disarming of the Japanese. Restoring Dutch authority was not their task. They also did not interfere in the Indonesian independence struggle.

As a result, the first five battalions of Dutch war volunteers were quarantined for months in Malacca, while pemudas slaughtered the Dutch. Two police actions were necessary to militarily make the Netherlands the victor, but politically, the Netherlands lost international sympathy and was in fact the loser. Dutch politics was and remained the only guilty party in the senseless violence, not the East-Indonesian Dutch or the soldiers sent from the Netherlands, who are now veterans (Living on Borrowed Time).