Children of Revolution: Social Sides of Jakarta in a Time of Revolution, 1945-1949

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After the Proclamation of Independence on August, 17th, 1945, Jakarta became a turbulence city, even tended to be chaos. Jakarta, or called as Batavia in the times of Dutch colonial power, was relatively a quiet and stabile, but fast growing, capital city. The dynamics terminated when it fell into the Japanese military colonialism. The Japanese had a main goal to all their possessions in Asia, i.e. to be exploited to win the Pacific War. Therefore, Jakarta endured a hard time at the times, when it lost a lot of infrastructure facilities and a pace of social-economic growth. Even though, the hard times were approximately 3 ½ years. The deteriorating circumstances were inherited by the new Republic that made the city as its capital and center of governance. At the times, Jakarta was resided by 4 authority powers, i.e. the Republic of Indonesia, the Japanese, the British and the Dutch. The British military arrived there as a representative of Allied Forces to take over and relieve the area from the Japanese. The Dutch, i.e. NICA (Netherlands India Civil Administration) followed the British to reestablish its former colonial realms. Under such a situation, Jakarta bore a task as a diplomatic city among their different interests and intentions. However, conflicts, even armed clashes, could not be avoided. Those took a cost of life, caused deaths. Jakarta’s people experienced a misery under such unsecured and uncertain circumstance. It was hard for them to enjoy their daily life like the days before. However, the situation was better than its surrounding areas. When the conflict between Indonesia and the Dutch escalated and widespread to another parts of Java island, the city became a destination of urbanization. It caused Jakarta more crowded, dirty, and unsafe when many homeless people moved from one place to another without any clear motives, including children and teenagers. They did anything possible to fulfill their needs, as meals, although with theft, violence, and by force. Therefore, they became social problems for other residents and the municipal government. The unsecured circumstances gave a negative image to Jakarta as a diplomatic city. The Dutch official took an initiative to handle the problems. The concern was on the homeless and starving children and teenagers. It was important to the city achieving a secure, clean, and orderly situation to be convenience and conducive for international talks and meetings. However, the authority did not have such a chamber to deal with the matters. Therefore, the resident asked a voluntary association that had a long and wide experience in handling such problems and social works. It already had orphanage homes and social shelters. It was the Batavia’s Vincentius Vereeniging, that also known as Perhimpunan Vincentius Jakarta, a Catholic social work foundation established in 1855. The association was granted a building at a fringe of South Jakarta, in Srengseng Sawah, Lenteng Agung. It was a former psychiatric hospital. In few weeks, it was transformed into a complex of orphanage, completed with residential sections, schools and yards that were able to shelter and take care the children. This research based on historical methods, i.e. a process of analyzing and writing facts to expose and explain the past. The facts derived from material resources that could be compiled at the National Archives and Library. From the archives, there are some published document like Regeering Almanacs (Government Gazettes) and Staatbladen (State Decrees). Unpublished documents come from collections of Algemeene Secretarie (State Secretary) and Municipal Jakarta or Batavia. The main documents originated from a collection of Keuskupan Agung Jakarta. The facts subsequently are interpreted by some concepts and colligation structures. Thereafter, the results are written into a critical and scientific work. Recent Indonesian historical writing shows such a fast growing development, in numbers and qualities, since Sartono Kartodirdjo introduced Social History (1966; 1982), as a response to Conventional History that focused on politics, description and great men. Thereafter, some historical genres arouse and grew, like Local, Economic, Maritime, Diplomatic and Public History. The trend is still moving to explore new themes, approaches and resources. This research deals with Jakarta, that already written from many aspects and points of view, especially from politics, economic and culture (Ebing & de Jager 2000; Grijns & Nas 2007). This paper is intended to explain Jakarta in a time of revolution from its social condition development. Robert Cribb (1990; 2008) already wrote about the role of social armed groups, like militias, gangsters and bandits, during the revolutionary circumstances in Jakarta. This paper focuses on a role of voluntary social works association to handle such a social problem, concerning homeless and displaced children as victims of turbulence circumstances in Jakarta. The heuristics deal with such a rather new material resources that derive from a collection of Jakarta’s Archdiocese, together with some documents from National Archives. The goal also includes to provide a scholarly work on the issue, to complete the available works that merely commemoration publications (Kasino 2017, Kristiyanto 2018 , Anya 2005, Perhimpunan Vincentius 1955, 2015, tt, Heuken, 2005). Keywords: Jakarta, Revolution, Children, Social Problems, Perhimpunan Vincentius Jakarta
Original languageIndonesian
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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