THE INDONESIAN REVOLUTION 1945 – 1950

This is the short story of the Indonesian Revolution which occurred between the years of 1945 and 1950.

Indonesian independence was proclaimed to the people with the cry of ‘Merdeka’ by its firstl President ‘Bung Karno’ Soekarno on 17th August 1945.

This was only two days after the Japanese had agreed to surrender in the asian-pacific section of the second world war.

At the time of the declaration of independence, there were, of course, many Japanese soldiers who were still on Indonesian soil, plus prisoners of war, internees and euro-asians, most of whom would require repatriatiation to their homeland.

In addition to this, there was a need to avoid the military armament left behind to fall into the wrong hands.

Great Britain was delegated the task of all this in Indonesia at the Potsdam Conference of International leaders held in Germany at the end of world war one.

There was, however, a distinct lack of intelligence about Indonesia by the British which would make the task more arduous and cumbersome than expected.

Despite the popularity of ‘Bung Karno’,  there were power vacuums across the archipelago which would mean both confrontation and diplomacy would play their part during the Indonesian revolution.

Britain had no wish to be engaged in another war so soon after active engagement in two simultaneous world wars in Europe and Asia=Pacific.

Netherlands, on the other hand, still stubbornly believed that they could pick up their colonial rule of this vast nation as it was before the outbreak of world war two in 1939.

As a matter of fact, Indonesia celebrates Heroes Day on 10th November.

That is the date on which Indonesian militia used aggression against both the British and the Dutch in a prolonged confrontation which would eventually cost Indonesia as many as 100,000 lives of its people.

It became known as the ‘Battle of Surabaya’ and the benchmark of the revolution which would bring world attention leading to International ratification of Indonesia as a colonial-free nation-state.

Another is the ‘Bandung Sea of Fire’ of 1946 when the whole of the southern half of the city was burnt down by militants in pursuit of anyone in the city who was chinese or otherwise not of pure Indonesian extraction.

General Sudirman was the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and fought a mainly guerrilla warfare in the countryside and villages.

Generals Soeharto (later to become the second President) and General Soetomo amongst others would play significant military roles in achieving the final outcome.

The British humanitarian mission was completed in 1946 and the Dutch bowed to International pressure and made their own final exodus in 1949.

On 27th December 1949, the Transfer of Sovereignty was signed by Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands at the royal palace in Amsterdam in the presence of vice President Hatta.

Finally, on 17th August 1950, President Soekarno could declare Indonesia was a truly independent and world-recognized nation comprising 32 States in the constitutional format we are familiar with today.

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