Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The cannonade of Candi (Indonesia) on October 19th, 1947

About 2 years ago, Max van der Werff (NCRV-TV) and Ady Setyawan visited Ravie Ananda in Kebumen. They interviewed him about a story on his website "Wahyu Pancasila", called "Commemorating the Cannonade of Candi". Here he reports about the Dutch artillery bombarding the market in Candi-Karanganyar causing 786 casualties. 

Left: Drs. Mathieu Willemsen (conservator of the Nederlands Militair Museum) in front of a 25-pounder cannon (with a range of 12.25 km and a firing speed of 7 shots per min) as used by the 3-6 Regiment Field Artillery. Right: Photograph from the book "Success in a lost war" by Ben Bouman (see ref. 1).

I am interested in this history, because Ravie Ananda is a current resident of Kebumen, who gives the victims of the colonial war, in the words of Martin Witteveen (nrc-article in my previous blog), "a face and a voice". In addition, the story belongs to the history of Keboemen, the first place in the Dutch colony where my parents arrived in 1933 and from where my mother started to describe her experiences in the colonial society in weekly letters to her parents in Switzerland (see "Java 1933: un blog posthume" posted by Catherine Marchand). Ravie Ananda reacted to my post "Kebumen:past and present", on September 20, 2015. Since then we regularly corresponded with each other.

Things beyond description have happened in Candi and in Keboemen, also on the grounds of the Dutch Mexolie factory. Why do I describe them? Because I want to know what is in all those documents, photographs and letters left behind by my parents and because I hope to understand better what they have experienced and endured.
Do I feel ashamed of this history? No, I don't. Am I proud of my father, who survived the bombardment of Tjilatjap on March 5, 1942 or of my mother who survived the camp-hospital Sint Vincentius in Batavia at the end of the war? No, pride is not the word. Their documents make me realize how easy, how spoiled my life has been. Rather, I feel thankful for the way they took up their lives when they united in the Netherlands in 1948.
But what about the Indonesian people who fought and survived the Dutch? How were they able to take up their lives in Kebumen? How did the grand parents of Ravie Ananda experience the Japanese and Dutch army during and after WW-II? I hope to understand something of their lives through Ravie Ananda's stories.

Timeline of events in the Dutch Indies after WW-II
- 1945. August 15th: Japanese capitulation (V.J.-day), - October battle of Soerabaya. Start of the so-called Bersiap-period (the battle-cry bersiap means "be prepared"). It was a period of Indonesian revolutionary violence that could develop during the retreat of the Japanese occupational army. It lasted until the British and later the Dutch military forces had been build up at the end of 1946.
-  1945. October 5th: establishment of the TKR (Tentara Keamanan Rakjat), later called TRI (Tentara Republik Indonesia ) and in 1947 called TNI (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, Indonesian National Army consisting of 195.000 men).
- 1946. March: Dutch troops are allowed to enter Indonesia to take over British positions
- 1946. November 15th: Agreement of Lingadjati (Linggajati).
- 1947, 21 July. The Dutch launch "Operatie Product" ("Eerste politionele actie"; general Spoor; 95.000 men), breaking the Lingadjati Agreement by entering Republican-held territories and outraging world opinion. The Republican army, TNI (Tentara Nasinal Indonesia) could not offer much resistance. The "Police Action" lasted until August 5th, 1947. A newly organized bataljon called Andjing Nica, belonging to the Vth Brigade, moved under heavy fighting from Bandoeng to Gombong, west of Kebumen. Another section of the Vth Brigade was the 3-6 Regiment Field Artillery stationed in Gombong. The section was deployed in extensive cleansing operations as the one on October 19, 1947 near Karanganjar in Republican territory. On page 51 and 137 of his book about the Andjing Nica (see ref. 2), Sjoerd Lapré describes the action against Karanganjar. He describes fierce fightings and the capture of large stocks of mines and bombs, but does not mention the involvement of artillery.
- 1947. October 19th: "Cannonade of Candi".
- 1948. January 17th: Renville-agreement about demarcation lines, also so-called "van Mook-grenzen".
- 1948. December 19th until January 5th, 1949: "Operatie Kraai", second war or "Tweede Politionele Actie".
- 1949. January 28, Resolution of the United Nations condemning the Netherlands for its strategy in the colony and proposing the formation of a federal government in which the Republic would participate. August, Cease-fire.
- 1949. December 27th: transfer of sovereignty in Amsterdam.

Maps of central Java. The middle insert is from the book of Lapré (ref. 2, page 49).
Karanganyar and Kebumen locate to the east of the demarcation line at Kemit.
Lower panel: the distance between the alun-alun of Karanganyar and the Monument
of the Candi-cannonade is about 1 km.

Commemorating the Cannonade of Candi on Sunday October 19th, 1947
The story written by Ravie Ananda on his website "Pancasila" was freely translated from Javanese with the help of Julia Tampubolon and using Google translate:
"Candi (signifies temple) is the name of a village located east of the alun-alun (central square) of Karanganyar in the District of Kebumen in Central Java.

After the First Dutch Military aggression (in dutch: Eerste Politionele Actie), in which they carried out an attack on the markets of Gombong and then Karanganyar (located on the highway Gombong - Kebumen), the markets were closed and moved to Candi as a general security measure, to avoid Dutch acts of violence. The Dutch knew about the existence of COP (“Corp Pertahanan” = Defense Corp) located in the Perlawanan street east of the alun-alun. At the market of Candi there was a COP-office and a warehouse, which at the time was led by Lt. Moeryoeni; there was also a “General Galley Kitchen” (kombuis), which was established voluntarily by citizens and opened to fighters.

The COP logistic’s office was hit by a Dutch cannon 3 times. The Dutch often fired their cannons to areas that are considered to be highly suspected. The intent of the cannonade was to screw up the concentration of TNI (Republican Army) defense forces. The Dutch previously conducted aerial reconnaissance with a dragonfly plane (a Piper Cub?) on October 19th 1947,  Sunday at 06.00 a.m. in cloudy weather. The Dutch first shot towards the south Sugihwaras village. The dragonfly plane was later seen above Candi giving ray code as well as dropping a few bombs as a guide towards the target for cannonades at two locations: Kenteng and Ragadana.

The Candi market was on two locations: east and west of the small river. The market is very simple but crowded by people carrying out sales and purchases. At 08.00 a.m. the market crowd was surprised by the arrival of the dragonfly plane, followed by the first canon shot that hit near the market. The plane was also guided by a Ducht spy who was in Legok (sub-village of Candi) by reflecting a mirror to the top as the location code. The spy was eventually killed as he was also exposed to the cannonade. His body was washed away in the river that was flooded by residents. The shellfire from Gombong was intensive like a hail of bullets.
Arround 10.00 a.m. the shooting stopped. Residents in the surrounding of Candi rushed to be evacuated. But it was not long before the cannonade started again, convulsing in the Candi village which includes the sub-villages: Pasar Candi, Cengkoreh, Sigedong, Serang, Kandangan, Legok, Gemiwang, Kepel, Plarangan and Pucung. The cannonade stopped arround 01.00 p.m. The number of grenades fired about 600. That can be calculated from the number of holes in the ground. After stop, citizens sheltering in Sigedong cave or in their homes fled to safe areas in Somawangsa, Karanggayam, Pandansari, Sruweng etc. Injured walked towards Kebumen for help in hospital.
Severe casualties at the Kebumen hospital were taken to hospital in Yogyakarta by train. The cannonade killed many local residents (covering 10 sub-villages of Candi) and other villagers that were on the market as well as refugees who were scattered around Candi. There are also members of the TNI, TP (Tentara Pelajar/ Students’ Army) and fighters.
Dead bodies were everywhere, especially in Candi market to the east of the railroad track. Many bodies occurred with head, hands and feet separated. There is also a body part caught in trees. The number of victims could be recorded as many as 786 people (13 members of TP). It’s very likely that bodies were washed away when the river was flooding.
Coffins were prepared by the DKT (Djawatan Kesehatan Tentara/ Health Army troops Departement) and RST (Rumah Sakit Tentara/ Hospital Army Troops) in Kebumen. The bodies of huge numbers of victims were buried in the yard – the holes were not deep enough to reduce odors, so the next day many graves were found that had been reopened by animals such as dogs and so on. Many parts of the bodies could not be buried separately because they had been devoured by animals. If bodies could be clearly identified as member of TP, they were collected and treated by his unit and transported to Kebumen. Subsequently transported to Purworejo or Yogyakarta by train according unity.
In addition there are also casualties in damaged or destroyed homes and a number of pets died like cows, buffaloes and goats. After the events of the cannonade Dutch troops often entered the Candi area and confiscated a variety of foodstuffs and livestock of residents, because the existence of a common kitchen in Candi as a fighter logistics persists.
After the state returned safely in 1949 survivors maimed for life were given compensation by the District of Rp15 (At that time the price worth of a little goat). The houses that were destroyed by the cannonade were rebuilt by the people without any help from the government. Until 2013 only some of the victims are still to be found; among others: Ahmad Sofyan (98 years old), Ahmad Suwito (88 years old) and Baniyah (80 years old).
Most of the victims with disabilities and child victims of the cannonade had died due to aging. To commemorate the event of the cannonade of Candi a simple memorial was made ​​of rocks in the middle of the market by citizens, then restored by TP. The first monument was moved in front of the Village Hall Candi.
Greetings Pancasila..!!
·  Interviews with the fighters cannonade Candi
·  Interviews with survivors: Ahmad Sofyan (98 years old), Ahmad Suwito (88 years old) and Baniyah (80 years old)."

  Ravie Ananda standing with his son at the first monument commemorating the cannonade 
of Candi. Right, the restored monument at the market place of Candi. 
Below: On three sides the inscription says (i) Warning Dutch cannonade during war 
of independence. (ii) To the victims of the cannonade. 786 deaths; 600 shots. 
(iii) Not fallen in vain. People have given ...?
Information about the cannonade as retrieved from the Dutch National Archive
Dr. Bart Luttikhuis of the KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) kindly helped me to find the Dutch sources that contain information about what happened on October 19th, 1947 in Karanganjar (Candi). In the National Archive in the Hague they gave me the original documents of the inventory numbers as noted by Bart Luttikhuis.

Below follows a summary of what I found in some of these documents (Archive #2.13.132, inventory numbers 1298, 2276, 2277, 3064, 3071, 3078 and 3225):

(1) From September 13th onwards many Republican infiltrations, directed from Karanganjar,       occurred in the region of Tjandjoer, where bombs and mines were placed by "civilians".
(2) As a result, the Dutch decided to clean the region between Gombong and Karanganjar, that lies beyond the Van-Mook-line. According to a Memo of 29 October 1947 by Lt.Kol. Six (see figure below; in Dutch), this line runs between Gombong and Karanganjar (at Kemit).
(3) The military action of the 3-6 Regiment Field Artillery about the action of October 19th (document 2277), is very scanty. It only mentions that the action started at 5:00 o'clock. A total of 1304 brisant grenades were fired, mainly on 2 kampongs that were not named. Many bomb loads (141) were unusable because of humidity and 50 grenades refused. It is further mentioned that the first shells hit own troops because of defects in the aiming devices.
(4) Military action of the Vth Bataljon KNIL Infantry by Lieutenant Colonel A. van Santen (Commanders Lapré and Trieling). From their chronological account:
6:00 Troops march from kampong Kaleng to kampong Kebongan.
6:30  Appearance of Pipercub.
6:35  Artillery firing on Kaligowog and kampong Madja.
6:50  Artillery firing on kampong Pagoetan.
7:12  Artiller firing stopped because grenades hit own troops.
9:45  Artillery fires on Karanganjar.
10:12 Firing stops.
11:45 Infantry advances to Karanganjar.
11:57 Houses in Karanganjar are searched. Many weapons and hundreds of grenades are found. Twenty three people taken prisoner.
13:00 Artillery is pulled back.
14:25 Heavy fighting near kampong Doewoer.
15:00 Infantry is retreating.
In total were 56 people taken prisoner. The enemy left 94 people dead on the battle field; not included deaths caused by artillery fire. No losses on Dutch side.
(5)  Note on Memo of Lt.Kl. Six (see image) written in pencil: "Is it true that during the cleansing operation of Karanganjar 500 people have been killed as reported by Djocja (radio)?" Answer on November 3rd: 124 dead people have been counted.

One of the documents (a Memo by Lt.Kl Six) reporting about the Karanganjar battle on October 19th, 1947. For handwritten pencil remark about the number of deaths, see text.

Remarks on the cannonade
The Dutch battle reports give a very factual and stand-offisch narrative of what happened in Karanganjar on the 19th of October 1947. By and large they agree with the story of Ravie Ananda reflecting the Indonesian experience (see above) and also with the account of Lapré in his book about the Vth Andjing Nica Bataljon of the KNIL operating in Central Java (see ref. 2).
In his book "The burning villages of General Spoor", Rémy Limpach (ref. 3) makes the following remark on page 395 (see also photograph #48 after page 466):
"Compared with tanks, planes and naval ships, it was the artillery, with its prolonged fire, that caused the greatest number of casualties, injuries and property damage. This was primarily because there was a lot of artillery capacity and the number of tanks and fighter planes remained very limited throughout the conflict. Moreover, Major General Simon de Waal (KNIL) estimated that based on his experiences, the shelling of the civilian population was generally more fatal and demanded more fatalities than air shelling. When in November 1947 he faced the question whether he would "punish" the enemy for laying a deadly roadside bomb with artillery or air shelling, he opted for an air strike that was more precize in his eyes and would make fewer civilian casualties."

From the Dutch reports it remains unclear how many civilians were killed; they only counted fighters from Republican army groups. The infantry entering Karanganjar must have seen the result of the shelling on the civilian population as reported in the above story of Ravie Ananda taken from his website "Wahyu Pancasila". Considering the large number of brisant grenades fired (1304), a death toll of 786 seems realistic.
Remarks on the books of L. de Jong and Rémy Limpach
In the study of dr. L. de Jong, entitled "Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog", written down in 14 volumes, the chapters about the colonial war 1945-1950 appeared in the second part of volume 12. A first concept of the description of possible dutch war crimes or "derailing violence", was retracted by de Jong, because of protests from army veterans. He left the description to Lt-Gen. F. van der Veen in an annex to volume 12-2 (edition 1988). In an interview with the dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad (30 October 1984), de Jong confessed that if in that period (1945-1950) an organization like Amnesty International would have existed, the Netherlands would have been heavily critisized in every report.
For the first time Rémy Limpach's book gives us a scientific and extensive overview of the "faits accomplis" of dutch misbehaviors and war crimes. What would have happened if this study had appeared in 1969, the year that J. Hueting told his story? Would it have been able to break the protests of veteran groups, of the dutch public opninion? Or would it have been put aside as communist propaganda, a popular cliché at that time.

After previous studies by Van Doorn and Hendrix (1970), by civil servants (Excessennota, 1970) and by Oostindie (2015), Rémy Limpach's book effectuated a final push for our government to start an independent follow-up study of the decolonization in the Dutch-Indies; the decision was taken on 3 December 2016.

I want to thank Julia Tampubolon (Jakarta) for helping me with translations of Ravie Ananda's web site, Dr. Bart Luttikhuis (KITLV) for giving me the document numbers of the National Archive, Prof. Petra Groen (NIMH) for helping me with abbreviations of faded ammunition of the KNIL-Infantry, Roelof Wartena for showing me around in the Netherlands Military Museum, Drs. M. Willemsen (NMM) for information about the cannons used by the KNIL and Rémy Limpach (NIMH) for discussions, advise and corrections of my story.

(1) Ben Bouman, "Succes in een verloren oorlog - het 6e Regiment Veldartillerie en zijn Speciale Troepen in de onafhankelijkheidsstrijd van de Republiek Indonesië, 1946-1949."
(2) Lapré,S.A. "Het Andjing Nica Bataljon (KNIL) in Nederlands-Indië (1945-1950)" (Ermelo, 1988).
(3) Limpach, Rémy P., "De brandende kampongs van Generaal Spoor". (Boom, Amsterdam, 2016) (www.boomgeschiedenis.nl).

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Zwarte Piet en dekolonisatie

 (English follows dutch)

Na in Zwitserland twee weken geen krant gezien te hebben, viel het me bij terugkomst op dat hier de Zwarte Piet discussie weer op gang was gekomen. Fokke en Sukke hadden, als Zwarte Pieten, geen zin om naar Nederland te komen, omdat ze er alleen maar zouden moeten DICUSSIËREN. En Marcel van Roosmalen (nrc-columnist Achterpagina; 3 oktober) citeerde: "Jumbo vindt het jammer dat volwassenen in Nederland de discussie over Piet zo scherp voeren."
Het herinnerde me aan een familiebijeenkomst waar ik twee volwassenen vroeg of ze ook niet vonden dat Zwarte Piet moest veranderen. Beiden antwoorden niet maar lieten meteen weten dat ze zo genoeg hadden van "die discussie". Dat komt waarschijnlijk omdat praten over een racistisch relikwie nu eenmaal ongemakkelijk is. Je moet ervoor proberen mee te voelen met zwarte mensen die zich bij ons nog steeds moeten ontdoen van hun slavernijverleden, óns koloniale verleden.


Er mag niet getornd worden aan onze traditie: een racistisch relikwie?

Wat dat laatste betreft zal het proefschrift, waarop de Zwitsers-Nederlandse historicus Rémy Limpach op 15 september 2015 in Bern summa cum laude promoveerde, voor nog veel meer ongemak zorgen. Het proefschrift is eindelijk na een jaar openbaar gemaakt, vertaald en zojuist verschenen in een handelsversie met de beschuldigende titel "De brandende kampongs van generaal Spoor".


Handelsversie van Limpach's proefschrift getiteld: " Die brennende Dörfer des Generaal Spoor. Niederländische Massengewalt im Indonesischen Unabhängigkeitskrieg 1945-1949."

Volgens Martin Witteveen (Internationaal Strafhof in Den Haag; Opinie-artikel in nrc 5 oktober, pag. 18) erkent Limpach dat hij in zijn studie niet zowel historisch onderzoeker, aanklager als rechter kon zijn en dient er dus een vervolgonderzoek te komen. In een dergelijk onderzoek zouden zowel de slachtoffers als de daders een stem en een gezicht moeten krijgen (Limpach noemt de namen van de geweldplegers in zijn proefschrift).
In mijn vorige blog van 23 januari 2016, stelde ik dat de door de Nederlanders begane wreedheden verband hielden met en getolereerd werden dankzij een wijdverspreid superioriteitsgevoel onder de militairen en bestuurders; een gedurende 300 jaar ingebakken houding van minachting tegenover de "inlanders".
In een interview met Edwin Ruis (Historiek.) merkt een genuanceerde Limpach op dat een dergelijke houding in elk geval heeft geleid tot een grove onderschatting van de tegenstander.
Citaat uit het interview:
"Onder Nederlandse militairen worden ook de Nederlandse kolonialen, Indo’s en inlandse militairen van het KNIL gerekend. Waren zij als ‘locals’ meer of juist minder bloeddorstig dan hun collega’s en leidinggevenden uit Nederland zelf?"
Limpach: "Het aandeel van de KNIL-militairen was zonder twijfel groot. Maar ook hier kunnen geen harde cijfers worden gegeven. Wel staat vast dat voor KNIL-militairen in sociaaleconomisch opzicht veel meer op het spel stond dan voor hun blanke collega’s van de KL uit Nederland. Bovendien moesten zij in het geval van een Nederlandse nederlaag een bijltjesdag vrezen. Mede daardoor vochten zij vaak bijzonder fel. Anderzijds gaven zij bij gevechtsacties vaak de voorkeur aan een zogeheten directe methode, lees de frontale aanval op de tegenstander met getrokken klewang. Een KL-getuige vergeleek dit optreden van zijn KNIL-collega’s treffend met een zwerm op de tegenstander duikende agressieve bijen. De KL-eenheden en de Mariniersbrigade gaven daarentegen meestal de voorkeur aan de indirecte methode, lees eerst inleidende beschietingen met zware wapens als artillerie en vliegtuigen. Deze beschietingen waren vaak onnauwkeurig en niet zelden ook willekeurig. Daarbij kwamen talrijke Indonesische burgers om het leven. Bovendien pleegden KL-militairen ook structureel extreem geweld tegen gevangenen. "
Die "indirecte methode" is mogelijk toegepast tijdens de "Canonade of Candi-Karanganyar" (1947, Kebumen) genoemd op de website van Ravie Ananda. Hierop hoop ik in een volgend blog terug te komen.

After two weeks in Switzerland without seeing a newspaper, I noticed upon returning that here the debate about "Zwarte Piet" had started again. In a cartoon of the newspaper NRC, Fokke and Sukke did not want to come to the Netherlands as Black Peter, because they would only have to have DISCUSSIONS. And Marcel van Roosmalen (NRC columnist Backpage, October 3) quoted: "Jumbo (a store) regrets that adults in the Netherlands conduct the discussion about Piet so sharply."
It reminded me of a family reunion where I asked two adults whether they felt that Zwarte Piet had to change. They did not answer this question, but immediately stated that they were so tired of "that discussion". This is probably because talking about a racist relic makes one uncomfortable. You need to try to empathize with black people (mostly from Suriname) who are with us and still have to get rid of their slave history, our colonial past.

Concerning the latter, the thesis with which the Swiss-Dutch historian Rémy Limpach doctorated summa cum laude in Bern on September 15, 2015, will provide much more discomfort. The thesis is finally made public after a year and just appeared in a commercial, dutch version with the accusatory title "The burning kampongs (villages) of General Spoor".

According to Martin Witteveen (International Criminal Court in The Hague. Opinion article in NRC October 5, page 18), Limpach acknowledges that in his study he could not be both historical researcher, prosecutor and judge at the same time and that therefore there should be a follow-up study. In such a study both victims and perpetrators should get a voice and a face (Limpach mentions the names of the perpetrators of violence in his thesis).
In my previous blog on January 23, 2016 (http://woldringh-naarden.blogspot.nl/2016/01/decolonization.html) I suggested that the atrocities committed and tolerated by the Dutch were due to a widespread sense of superiority among the military personnel and administrators; an attitude of contempt ingrained for 300 years against the "inlanders".

In an interview with Edwin Ruis (History. Http://historiek.net/remy-limpach-brandende-kampongs-generaal-spoor/64316/), a nuanced Limpach remarks that such an attitude had at least led to a gross underestimate of the opponent.
Quote from the interview:
"Under Dutch soldiers are also the Dutch colonials, Eurasians and native soldiers of the KNIL (Royal Army of the Netherlands-Indies). Were they as locals more or less bloodthirsty than their colleagues from the Netherlands?"
Limpach: "The contribution of KNIL soldiers was undoubtedly great, but again no hard figures can be given. However there was much more at stake for KNIL soldiers in socio-economic terms than their white colleagues from the Royal Army of the Netherlands (KL). Moreover, they had to fear a reckoning in the case of a Dutch defeat. Partly because they are often very fierce fighting. Secondly, in combat operations, they often prefer a so-called direct method, the frontal attack on the opponent with pulled klewangs (swords). (...) The Dutch army units and the Marine Brigade on the other hand, usually prefer the indirect method, read introductory shelling with heavy weapons like artillery and aircraft. These shootings were often inaccurate and often too arbitrary, causing many Indonesian citizens to be killed. Furthermore, KL military committed structurally extreme violence against prisoners. "

This "indirect method" may have been used during the "Canonade of Candi-Karanganyar" (1947, Kebumen) mentioned on Ravie Ananda's website. I hope to come back on this in a future blog.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Reflections on the drawings of my grandmother Zilla Warren's great-aunt, Georgiana Houghton

With thanks to my second cousin John Rust, who drew my attention to the drawings of our great-great-grandmother's sister, GH.

The "Spirit drawings" of Georgiana Houghton (1814-1884) are being exposed at the Courtauld Gallery in London, from 16 June to 11 September 2016. The magnificent drawings in water colours have been preserved by the Victorian Spiritualist's Union and were previously exhibited by the Monash UniversityMuseum of Art in Victoria, Australia, under the pregnant title: "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits" (2015).


Watercolor drawings by Georgiana Houghton.

Why was this artwork, although submitted at the time to the Royal Academy, only once exhibited and not appreciated as it seems to be the case now? One reason is perhaps that Georgiana Houghton embedded her work in a spiritual decor, claiming that others than she led her hand while drawing. One such spirit was Henry Lenny, a deaf and dumb artist who had died and led her hand from beyond the grave (information from John Rust).
The Victorian Spiritualist's Union in Melbourne, Australia, that got hold of Georgiana's drawings, is a well-established spiritual center with a church and ordained ministers. In their explanation of Spiritualism they predict that science, dedicated to working out the laws of the universe, "can only proof us to be correct". Mentioning Quantum Physics and the String Theory they suggest that the vibrations forwarding messages from the spirits reflect the properties of vibrating strings. Is this "certainty" perhaps meant to give comfort to those, like me, who do not understand the deep concepts of the Standard Model of physics?

Georgiana Houghton must have found comfort in believing that spirits were supporting her. According to the story of Lucy Davies, journalist of TheTelegraph, she was a lonely spinster, who grieved about the loss of her siblings, especially her youngest sister Zilla Rosalia Warren-Houghton. While taking care of Zilla's 4 children, she must have had a very difficult life, obtaining status and consolation from being a medium.

My grandfather
Although I do not know to what extent my grandfather, Conradus Woldringh, believed in afterlife, clairvoyance, reincarnation or astrology, he certainly supported the Theosophical Society, probably already in Java, but certainly in the Netherlands.


My grandfather in his "theosophical library", Bussum, around 1955. Here, as a teenager, I spent many hours looking into his books.
Below: The emblems of the Victorian Spiritualist's Union resembles that of the Theosophical Society, which bears the promising sanskrit motto: "There is no religion higher than truth"  (translation by H.P. Blavatsky).

I remember some of his stories, like "hidden forces" experienced in Java and performances of fakirs in India (Bombay). In our conversations, my father took hardly part, while my deep-religious mother just believed all the stories. Without realizing my father must have conveyed some skepticism to me.

(See: also my blog in dutch.)

Left: 'The Flower and Fruit of Henry Lenny' (August 1861) by Georgiana Houghton. Credit: Victorian Spiritualist's Union/ Courtauld Museum. Right: Some of the drawings of Georgiana Houghton reminded me of my schematic representations of DNA supercoils.
Here, an adapted and enlarged cutout of such a drawing.

As a student, trying to become a biologist, many of my more spiritual friends reproached me that I was arrogant and self-assured in my views about phenomena that could not be proven to be correct.
Now, after so many years of research on a question in the field of bacterial cytology (i.e. the segregation of DNA), I have learned that in science it is not fruitful to try to confirm your views to be correct. It is more rewarding to expand your uncertainties by formulating new questions and to renounce any consolation from work or recognition from colleagues.
Most people, searching for consolation in the big questions of life, have no patience or time to ask detailed, explicit questions that require repeatability in painstaking measurements. I was privileged in being allowed to do just that.
Now the tables have turned: I see arrogance in the assuredness with which my more spiritual friends and societies like the above mentioned Victorian Spiritualist's Union, say that science will proof them to be correct.
I understand and accept that there is consolation in the implicit answers religion and spiritualism can give to the big questions of life. But there must be another aspect of spiritualism that is not involved in "proving the truth", in status or comfort. Especially in present day Indonesia, spiritualism involving the search of the history of ancestors and the recovery of hindu-javanese traditions seems to pervade society. This is at least my impression from the (Javanese) websites of young, indonesian people from Kebumen, like the one of Ravie Ananda (the blog is in Javanese; use Google translate). They certainly seem to be "trying the spirits".

Monday, February 15, 2016

Bezoek aan Dordrecht: tussen Groningen (Suriname) en Kebumen (Indonesië)

(English summary follows dutch)

Ramon and Marie Maddamin in hun huis te Dordrecht, vol herinneringen aan Suriname en Indonesië.

Tijdens mijn bezoek aan de tentoonstelling "Koloniale oorlog 1945-1949" in het Verzetsmuseum te Amsterdam kwamen twee gedachten steeds bij mij op: allereerst het gevoel dat ik mij gelukkig mocht prijzen nooit in de positie te zijn geweest van die Nederlandse soldaten, die jonge opstandelingen moesten doodschieten. Ten tweede, het besef dat het jarenlang ingeslepen superioriteitsgevoel bij de koloniale gemeenschap en hun gebrek aan respect voor de inlandse bevolking, de conditie moet hebben geschapen waarbinnen de begane wreedheden werden toegelaten.
Maar klopt deze voorstelling van zaken wel? Ik bedoel, is dit het volledige beeld? En zo ja, hoe is dat na te gaan? Hoe werd die koloniale oorlog door Indonesiërs ervaren? David van Rijbrouck is Bahasa (de taal in Indonesië) aan het leren om de mensen te kunnen interviewen die deze oorlog nog hebben meegemaakt "aan de andere kant". Ik moet het helaas proberen in het nederlands. Daarvoor kon ik Ramon en Marie Maddamin in Dordrecht bezoeken. Ramon is de oudoom van Ravie Ananda, die ik beschreef in mijn blog "Kebumen, past and present" maar die zijn website over o.a. de geschiedenis van Kebumen, alleen in het Bahasa schrijft. Ravie informeerde me over zijn oudoom die nu in Dordrecht woont, maar in Suriname is geboren en een paar keer Kebumen heeft bezocht. Wat is zijn geschiedenis?

Groningen, Suriname
Ramon's moeder Samilah (geboren in Kebumen; ~1902 - 1984) kwam als jong meisje in 1923 naar Suriname. Ze was mogelijk geronseld, maar was ook boos op haar echtgenoot, bij wie ze een dochter, Siti Maryam, achterliet.
In Suriname trouwde Samilah met Karis Maddamin (verkeerde spelling van Amadamin), die een jaar eerder uit Tjilatjap (Java) was gekomen. Ze ontmoetten elkaar in de plantage "Peperpot". Later vestigden ze zich in Groningen (even ten westen van Paramaribo) als kleine landbouwers. Ze kregen 7 kinderen, waaronder Paing Radjingun (woont in Groningen, Sur.), Karisah (21-11-1933 - 3-11-2007), Rohmat (Ramon; woont in Dordrecht) en Joenoes (woont in Rotterdam).
Toen Ramon 19 was ontvluchtte hij zijn ouderlijk huis en trok naar Paramaribo. Daar werkte hij een aantal jaren voor de journalist André Kamperveen, één van de mensen die op 8 december 1982 door Bouterse en de zijnen vermoord is. Hij heeft verschillende keren zijn familie in Kebumen bezocht.

Links, Ramon's ouders, Karis Maddamin en Samilah, op latere leeftijd in Groningen, Suriname (rond 1960). Rechts, Ramon op bezoek in Kebumen bij de ouders van Ravie in 1985. Rechts onder, Ravie met zijn vrouw en zoontje in 2015.

Kebumen, Indonesië
In Kebumen trouwde Ramon's halfzuster, Siti Maryam met Supandi. Zij kregen 6 kinderen. Op 19 december 1948 vluchtte Siti Maryam voor de Nederlandse patrouilles ("Politionele Actie 2") de bergen in, naar de desa Binangun. Daar werd in 1950 hun jongste zoon Sumadi geboren. Hij trouwde met Hanimah en hun kinderen zijn Ravie Ananda en zuster Aila Rezania. Rond 1980 werkte Sumadi op dezelfde copra-fabriek (Mexolie) als mijn vader rond 1934.
Na 1946 kwam Kebumen in het territorium van de Republiek Indonesia te liggen. Wat gebeurde er tijdens de Koloniale oorlog in Kebumen?
Op een van zijn vele website-hoofdstukken vertelt Ravie Ananda hoe de Nederlanders op 19 december 1948, tijdens "Dutch Military Agression II" Kebumen binnentrokken. Zij bezetten snel het terrein van Mexolie, de copra-fabriek waar mijn vader rond 1933-'35 werkte. Vier mensen ("youth leaders and employees of the plant") werden gevangen genomen, ondervraagd en op de tennisbaan tegenover het huis van mijn ouders doodgeschoten. Het huis was door de Kempetai (Japanse militaire politie) gebruikt als hoofdkwartier en werd nu door de Nederlanders ingericht als commandopost. Later werd het overgenomen door het Indonesische leger, zoals ik kon ervaren tijdens mijn bezoek in 2000.

Op het Mexolie-terrein: Links, het huis van mijn ouders en de tennisbaan in 1933. Rechts, het huis als militair hoofdkwartier en dezelfde tennisbaan waar executies werden verricht.

Koloniaal geweld
In het NIOD-blog "Nederland en de Indonesische onafhankelijkheidsstrijd" van 13 augustus 2015 staat geschreven:
"In een nog nauwelijks publiekelijk opgemerkt boek geredigeerd door Bart Luttikhuis en Dirk Moses, Colonial counterinsurgency and mass violence (2014), plaatsen achttien Nederlandse en buitenlandse auteurs het conflict in een koloniale en internationale context. Een bijdrage, van de Zwitserse historicus Rémy Limpach, vraagt bijzondere aandacht.

Het boek van Luttikhuis en Moses (Routledge, 2014) kost $150. Gelukkig is het gebaseerd op een speciale uitgave van de Journal of Genocide Research, waarin ook een artikel van deze auteurs (vol.14, 3-4; pag. 257-276; 2012). Zij schrijven: "Soldiers entering the violent conflict, including those coming from a background of armed resistance against the German occupier in the Netherlands, could be socialized to regard ‘excessive’ violence as normal and acceptable." "Could be socialized", d.w.z. gewend doen raken aan het geweld.


 Interview J. Hueting. VARA uitzending Achter het Nieuws, 17 januari 1969.

J. Hueting, die in december 1969 hierover geinterviewed werd door de Volkskrant, geeft er een voorbeeld van. Hij vertelt tijdens een later bezoek aan dezelfde kampong waar ze toen jonge mannen te pakken hadden gekregen en langs de weg hadden neergezet: "Ik kan me pijnlijk goed herinneren dat de chauffeur van de voorste wagen, een Brabantse jongen, uit zijn truck stapt en zijn lichte mitrailleur meeneemt, een van de Owen guns die we gekregen hadden in J(?), het hoofdkwartier,.... en zo eens rondkijkt.... en naar zijn pistool-mitrailleur kijkt....en.....hij ontgrendelde de mitrailleur en schoot 2 gevangenen dood.... om z'n Owen gun te proberen..."

Indonesisch onderzoek
Ook van Indonesische zijde wordt onderzocht wat er in die Koloniale oorlog gebeurd is. Zoals hierboven gemeld vertelt Ravie Ananda op zijn in het Bahasa geschreven website in tientallen verhalen wat er tijdens de Politionele Acties 1 en 2 en later rond Kebumen gebeurd is.
In een reportage van Max van der Werff (NCRV TV) en de Indonesische onderzoeker Ady Setyawan, die Ravie Ananda hebben bezocht, wordt verteld hoe het Nederlandse leger op de weg van Gombong naar Keboemen een marktplaats bij het dorpje Karanganyar met artillerie beschoten heeft. Volgens Ravie's verslag ("Herinnering aan de kannonade op Candi-Karanganyar") vond de artilleriebeschieting plaats op zondag (Wage) 19 oktober 1947, waarbij 786 dorpelingen omkwamen en een tiental militairen (van het Republikeinse leger, TNI). Het is mij tot nu toe niet gelukt dit na te gaan in de archieven van de KITLV en NIOD, maar zijn verhaal vertoont grote overeenkomst met het bloedbad in Rengat op Sumatra op 5 januari 1949 (!), waarover gerapporteerd wordt in de NRC van 13/14 februari 2016. Bij die aanval kwamen meer dan 1000 Sumatranen om het leven.

Datum beide foto's: 8 augustus 1948. Links, van de website van Ravie Ananda, "Pancasila, Kebumen2013" (foto uit archief van het KITLV). Ravie's onderschrift suggereert dat de Nederlanders de terrorist Jatin zullen executeren. Rechts, Fotocollectie Dienst voor Legercontacten Indonesië. Reportage / Serie
[DLC] Evacuatietrein vanuit Gombong. Nummer archiefinventaris:
bekijk toegang Bestanddeelnummer
3626. Gombong ligt even ten westen van Kebumen.

In een ander verhaal op de website van Ravie Ananda toont hij een voor mij aangrijpende foto (uit het KITLV archief), met een legenda waarin hij lijkt te suggereren dat de gevangene Jatin door de Nederlanders geëxecuteerd zal worden.  Maar het KITLV-bijschrift bij een foto van dezelfde gebeurtenis vertelt een ander verhaal:
"Een belangrijke bijdrage in het herstel van orde en veiligheid rond de Status Quolijnen (o.a. bij Gombong), levert de samenwerking tussen de Nederlanders en de Daerah (districts)politie. Zij bestaat uit agenten, gerecruteerd uit de kampongs en dessa's, die de patjol (schop) voor de karabijn hebben verwisseld. De Daerah-politie heeft in de afgelopen maanden geleerd efficient te werken. Enkele keren konden door deze politie grote en belangrijke arrestaties worden verricht. Het gelukte de Daerah-politie van Gombong de hand te leggen op een gevreesd terrorist met name: Jatin. Het is nog maar een jongen, maar desondanks heeft hij negen moorden en talloze plunderingen op zijn kerfstok."

Voor het lot van Jatin moet gevreesd worden. Maar door wie zal hij geëxecuteerd worden, door de Nederlanders of door Daerah-politiemensen? En wat waren dat voor mensen? Hoe verschilden zij van de KNIL-militairen in het Andjing Nica Bataljon dat nauw samenwerkte met de Daerah?

Een ingewikkelde geschiedenis
Na 60 jaar keerde ik voor het eerst weer terug naar Java. Voor mij was één van de raadsels van Indonesië, van de mensen daar, het ontbreken van haatdragende gevoelens jegens de Nederlandse toeristen (Dat was op Curaçao wel anders!). Ook in het filmpje van Max van der Werff wordt dit opgemerkt in een interview met een oude man.
Tijdens de Koloniale Oorlog (Politionele Acties 1 en 2) kwamen ~6000 Nederlandse soldaten om tegenover ~150,000 Indonesiërs. Dat lijkt een Israelisch-Palestijnse verhouding. Maar is dat wel zo? Zijn niet veel Indonesiërs omgekomen tijdens schermutselingen (moordpartijen) tussen eigen groepen? En als dat zo is, zou deze ingewikkelde geschiedenis de reden kunnen zijn waarom er geen speciale haat gevoeld lijkt te worden jegens de Nederlanders?
Een informatief artikel over deze ingewikkelde geschiedenis, ook wel de bersiaptijd genoemd, is dat van William H. Frederick (Ohio University) in de Journal of Genocide Research (vol.14, 3-4; pag. 359-380; 2012), getiteld "The killing of Dutch and Eurasians in Indonesia's national revolution(1945-49): a 'brief genocide' reconsidered." Op pag. 369 worden hoge getallen genoemd voor het aantal gedode Nederlanders en Indo's (Euraziaten). Zie echter het artikel van Bert Immerzeel in Java Post. Of het "genocide" genoemd moet worden blijft een vraag, maar duidelijk wordt gemaakt dat het buitensporige "dekolonisatie geweld" een gevolg was van Nederlands en Japans kolonialisme en van raciale spanningen, niet alleen tussen Indonesiers en Nederlanders, maar ook tussen etnische Indonesiers en Indo's.

De film "Merdeka" gezien in het Verzetsmuseum in Amsterdam: Hoe moeilijk, ja onmogelijk is het om de geschiedenis te verbeelden?

In de film "Merdeka" (Verzetsmuseum, Amsterdam) worden mensen als Hatta ("National Hero"; Minangkabauer), Nasoetion ("National Hero"; Bataker), en Abdulgani (jeugdleider van de PRI; de pemuda, republikeinse jongeren organisatie) geinterviewed. Ogenschijnlijk zonder haatgevoelens jegens Nederland vertellen zij hun verhaal en de voor hun gunstige loop van de geschiedenis na de Japanse capitulatie. De sympathieke indruk die de voor mij onbekende Ruslan Abdulgani in dit filmpje op mij maakte staat in schril contrast tot de feiten die Frederick in zijn artikel naar voren brengt over de PRI en over hen die er leiding aan gaven. De wandaden, begonnen in Surabaya en voortgezet op het platteland gedurende de bersiaptijd, waren van een ongekende wreedheid en de verdenking bestaat bij onderzoekers als Frederick, dat de Republikeinse leidinggevenden en zelfs Sukarno, ervan op de hoogte waren. Ik ben benieuwd wat Rémy Limpach en David van Rijbrouck hierover gaan zeggen.

English summary:  " Decolonization-2"

Ravie Ananda, who lives in Kebumen and whose father worked at the same copra-factory Mexolie as my father, sent me photographs of his great-uncle, Ramon Maddamin. Ramon now lives in Dordrecht, but was born in Suriname, where he learned to speak Bahasa Indonesia (and Javanese). He visited the family of Ravie in Kebumen several times. I visited Ramon and his wife Marie in Dordrecht, where they showed me pictures and a movie about Kebumen.

Ravie has an elaborate website with many historical accounts about what happened in his town during the colonial war 1945-'49 and later. It appears that the house where my parents lived in 1933-'35 became a military headquarter and that the tennis court in front of the house had served as execution place in 1947.

On Dutch television a documentary has been shown by Max van der Werff about Ravie Ananda's story of the "Canonade ofCandi-Karanganyar", where hundreds of civilians were killed.

In spite of excesses performed by the Dutch, it was my impression during my visit to Indonesia in 2000, that the Indonesian people were not hateful against Dutch tourists. Could the reason for this be that it were not only the Dutch who committed killings, but also the Indonesians who committed atrocities against Dutch, Eurasians (Indo's) and their own people, when suspected not to be loyal towards the Republic? This complex history of the post-war period, the so-called bersiap, is described by William H. Frederick (Ohio University) in the Journal of Genocide Research (vol.14, 3-4; pag. 359-380; 2012), entitled "The killing of Dutch and Eurasians in Indonesia's national revolution(1945-49): a 'brief genocide' reconsidered."