Magazine article History Today

Independence for Indonesia November 2nd, 1949

Magazine article History Today

Independence for Indonesia November 2nd, 1949

Article excerpt

WHEN THE JAPANESE surrendered in 1945, the East Indies nationalists seized the opportunity to throw off the colonial yoke of the Dutch and proclaim the independent state of Indonesia which the Japanese had promised them. Neither Communism nor Islam much appealed to the nationalists, who were led by Achmed Sukarno and Muhammad Hatta. Sukarno, the son of a school-teacher and Theosophist, had little time for religion or ideology and believed himself a man of destiny. He had been imprisoned and exiled by the Dutch. So had Hatta, a Sumatran with a Rotterdam University degree in economics. Both had collaborated with the Japanese and helped to organise a Japanese-backed Indonesian army.

Equipped with Japanese weapons, the nationalists waged an armed struggle against the Dutch, who had powerful economic reasons for recovering the East Indies and believed that most Indonesians wanted them to return. Dutch forces made substantial headway in Java and Sumatra, but there was fierce criticism in the United Nations, and the United States pressed for a negotiated solution. …

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