474 Pritchett to McIntyre

Letter BATAVIA, 19 August 1949

I understand that Critchley used to send a weekly letter to the Department to supplement his cable reports. I shall follow this practice and should have done so last week, except that Miss Cock, the Delegation's Secretary, was away on sick leave and the pressure of meetings allowed me no time to draw up a chair and sit down with my pen.

2. In the talks Dow had with Lovink and Van Vreeden they stressed to him that the situation was as grave as could be: it was deteriorating hourly and there was definitely an immediate danger of fighting flaring up. Throughout the week members of the Netherlands Delegation and Central Joint Board representation have continued to emphasise their acute anxiety and to stress that the situation is highly inflammable.

3. Since Saturday, August 13, the Dutch have written three letters to us. The first, dated the 13th, alleged infringements of the Cease-Hostilities Agreement in Sourabaya, Solo, Modjokerto, Sidohardjo and 'different places throughout East Java'. The Dutch claimed that: in Sourabaya at about 0100 hours on August 11th, some units of a TNI battalion moved in from about 15 kilometres west of Sourabaya; 65 of them then seized a BPM motor bus and drove into the eastern quarter of the town. Here they dispersed, but at the same time about 200 men of the same battalion appeared in groups in the centre and western sectors of the town. In Solo at daybreak on August 7, TNI forces began armed disturbances which developed 'into a co-ordinated action on a large scale amounting to an attempt to disturb order in the town, possibly to occupy the town before the Cease-Fire entered into force'. Fighting continued until midnight August 10/11 and then died down, but the TNI continued to commit hostilities in the sense of Article 3 [1] of the Manual by mine laying and putting up barricades which, in the course of the next day, August 11, were gradually pushed forward up to the centre of the town.' In Modjokerto on August 11, TNI forces infiltrated into the town 'thus improving positions in relation to the Netherlands troops in contraversion of the Cease- Fire Agreement'. In Sidohardjo the night of 10/11 August, TNI units kidnapped 33 Indonesian officials and during the following night 5 more. They also claimed that written orders and several other documents were found on members of the Republican armed forces concerned in these incidents which proved the Dutch allegations. They concluded that the events did 'not constitute isolated incidents but (formed) part of a wider scheme to be applied at other places in East and Central Java'.

4. In their second and third letters of 15th and 18th August, they repeated their complaints about infringements and forwarded further supporting documents.

5. As reported in my K.339 [2], we met the Dutch members of the Central Joint Board informally on Tuesday night to hear their story in detail. De Beus led off with a brief recapitulation of the incidents already reported and then their military man, Van der Wijk, expounded from intelligence maps. These showed mass movements of TNI troops throughout East and Central Java from their status quo positions towards Dutch-held towns and lines of supply. Van der Wijk argued that such widespread movements could only be a co-ordinated operation and quoted from various captured documents and orders to substantiate this conclusion. He pointed out that the movements were only possible because of the Dutch troops' strict observance of the Cease-Hostilities Agreement, but stressed that the pressure on Dutch positions was extremely provoking and that the military situation had become most acute.

He feared that fighting might flare up in some area and rapidly spread. At the end of the meeting he took Dow and me aside and said he feared TNI attacks on the towns next day, Republican Independence Day. In particular, the Dutch military expected a major attack on Semarang the following morning.

6. It is worth nothing that in their letter of August 13 the Dutch themselves indicated the situation in both Sourabaya and Solo to be no longer dangerous. They said that in Sourabaya they had captured nearly all the penetrating troops and in Solo they had established contact with the local TNI commander and persuaded him to withdraw his troops from the town.

7. It is not yet possible to give a full account of what has actually been taking place in the places mentioned by the Dutch.

On information so far received it would appear that there was a definite infringement of the Agreement in Sourabaya, insofar as the TNI Commander knew of the Cease-Hostilities agreement, even if he did not understand it. Apparently he, a TNI major, imagined that if he succeeded in getting some troops into town before the Cease-Hostilities became effective he could then reveal their presence the next day and claim portions of the town as a zone of control. He was disabused of this notion by military observers and on August 11th they arranged a conference between him and the local Dutch Chief-of-Staff. The parties agreed at this conference that the TNI troops should either be transported back into the countryside by the Dutch, retaining their arms, or should be taken into custody until their fate could be settled by the Local Joint Committee. Major Djarot, the TNI Commander, chose the second alternative, but when the military observers visited the Kampongs with him the following day to round up the TNI troops they were told they had mostly surrendered to the Dutch. The observers asked Djarot did he wish them to drive him into the countryside or did he wish to surrender. He chose to surrender to the Dutch. Contact has since been established between the Dutch and the TNI Divisional Commander in the area and the Local Joint Committee is functioning.

8. Unfortunately our military observers usually spend one week in Solo and one week in Salitiga and had left for Salitiga the day before the fighting broke out. Dutch and Republican reports as to how it started differ. The Dutch claim that TNI infiltrants began an armed uprising supported by TNI forces from outside who developed an attack on three sides of the town. The Republicans claim that the Dutch began a round-up of TNI in the town and when these resisted, forces from outside the town came to their assistance. In any case, the fighting apparently developed into a serious battle in which the Dutch used artillery and bombers (though they did not mention this in their letter). The Dutch Commander-in-Chief, Van Vreeden, himself flew to Solo on August 11th, and succeeded in contacting Colonel Slamat Riadi, the local TNI Commander. Riadi declared that he had only heard about a 'Cease-Fire' and was not instructed in the Cease-Hostilities Agreement. The latest reports indicate that the contact then established has been maintained and a local agreement reached.

However, we still have no report from the Chairman of the Local Joint Committee.

9. In Modjokerto our observers reported that TNI troops took up positions in the vicinity of the town (not inside the town as the Dutch reported) on August 11th. They attempted to contact the TNI Commander but no responsible officer could be found. They therefore left stencilled copies of an instruction announcing the Republic's proclamation of the Cease-Hostilities and requesting the Commander to withdraw his troops. When they visited the area the next day the Dutch had made a sweep and captured some troops but most of the posts had withdrawn.

10. We have no information from Sidohardjo.

11. As reported in my K.339 the major attack on Semarang did not develop and Milex reported that the Dutch General in charge was unperturbed by the military situation. Since then the Chairman of the Local Joint Committee has established contact with the TNI Brigade Commander in the area and arranged a satisfactory conference with the Dutch.

12. When the Cease-Hostilities Agreement was reached, nobody expected a full and immediate implementation and it was generally anticipated that there would be widespread infringements for some time. It is certain that in some areas there is still ignorance of the Agreement, and in many more no definite news about it.

Republican communications are extremely poor and on top of this, it must be remembered that it is not sufficient merely to tell of or to order a Cease-Hostilities; trusted officers must fully explain the Agreement.

13. With the cessation of Dutch resistance some movement of the TNI from its 'status quo positions'-mainly mountainous and deficit areas-towards the towns, is not very surprising. The position has been complicated by two factors: the inaccuracy of local Dutch military intelligence and the exaggeration of reports in transit to Batavia; and the existence of TNI orders in certain areas, perhaps only Sourabaya and Sedmarang, for attacks upon the towns.

However, these orders date back to April, June and July and only one, Major Djarot's, is dated August. (The captured order instructing that all orders will be pre-dated is a fantastic document and the Dutch have not pressed it as a serious piece of evidence. It is mainly concerned, incidentally, with a sinister plot between the TNI, an Australian Milob and 'Brigadier-Colonel' Prior for, if I remember, the seizure of Sourabaya. I shall forward a copy next week.) 14. It is obvious that the Dutch greatly exaggerated the situation in Semarang and there seems no reason for their fears in Sourabaya, Modjokerto and Solo. In other areas, though, the situation has been 'deteriorating hourly' since last Friday, August 12th, they have reported nothing to us which might bear out their anxiety.

15. When we met the Dutch on Saturday, August 13, to discuss their refusal to go to Djokjakarta, they had jumped to the most unlikely explanation of the reported infringements in East and Central Java. s'Jacob obviously suspected the central Republican Government to be responsible and I gathered that the Dutch thought the Republic hoped to improve its strategic position to strengthen its bargaining power at The Hague. It was in this light that they refused the Sultan of Djokjakarta clearance for his trip to Bandoeng, fearing that he would not instruct his authorities in Pasundan in the implementation of the Cease-Hostilities Agreement, but would arrange for movements in West Java similar to those to the East. Dutch tactics to meet this alarming situation were reminiscent of the days before December 19th. s'Jacob refused even to consider going to Djokjakarta and demanded that the Republicans should come to Batavia. Furthermore, he considered that the matter was far too serious to be dealt with by the Central Joint Board, though this provided the agreed machinery for dealing with infringements, and wanted the matter to be discussed between the main Delegations. It was clear that he considered even this would be useless and that the only measure which was likely to have any worthwhile effect was for the Sultan to come to Batavia at once and speak with Lovink. (A symptom of the lack of balance among the Dutch that morning was their later notion that UNCI should proceed to Djokjakarta and bring the Sultan back.) 16. To draw the curve, before Saturday ended the Dutch dropped their charge against the central Republican Government and were content with accusing high TNI circles. On Sunday they moved a point further and blamed the local divisional Commander in East Java. At our interview this morning with De Beus and De Ranitz, they admitted that they had no proof of a co-ordinated plan and treated this question as a 'secondary issue'.

17. Since Saturday Dutch policy has been twofold: to demand meetings of the Central Joint Board to press the Republicans to issue a high-level command from Djokjakarta to all troops that they should withdraw to their status quo positions; and to have the Sultan come to Batavia to discuss the situation with Lovink.

18. My impression is that the driving force behind the Dutch during this week has been the alarmism of their military circles in Batavia. These succeeded in stampeding the civilians from Lovink down. And once this jitteriness was communicated to The Hague, Lovink no doubt, was catching it from both directions. (On a side note: I don't think Lovink and other 'men of goodwill' have been receiving much comfort from old hands such as Van Hoogstraten and Koets. These two appeared thoroughly to be enjoying themselves at the Republican Reception on Wednesday evening, telling how terrible the situation was...) 19. The Deputies' position during the week has been very uncomfortable and since Saturday, when we succeeded in bringing the Dutch back to some sort of balance (and by the way, having them re-draft their letter to tone down its ultimative character) we have had to spend most of our time avoiding position A, where we would find ourselves pressing the Dutch case with the Republicans and position B, where the Dutch could say at some time that UNCI took no note of their warnings and offered no assistance at all. After Sunday's Board meeting, when we went as far as we felt we could properly go to meet the Dutch requirements, we have therefore spent most of our time listening to the Dutch tell us how inflammable the situation is, and stalling on a further Board meeting until either the Republicans or we had some information.

Actually, we believed that Sunday's decision gave the Dutch all they could ask from the Board at that stage, and the question was not one of further measures by the Board but of implementing the decision. This could best be effected at the local level, and is in fact being so effected. However, as I explained in my K.339, there has been unavoidable delay because of the Military Observers not being able immediately to take up their new posts as Chairmen of the local Committees. (The shortage of military observers has considerably handicapped our work on the implementation of the Cease-Hostilities and for this reason also we have had to reduce the number of local Joint Committees from 17, which both parties agreed would be necessary, to 13, there not being enough Milob Chairmen to go round.) 20. During the week it has not been possible to get the Dutch to talk about anything but the 'crisis' and we have made no progress with other important business such as the delineation of zones of patrol, supply, political prisoners, etc. However, at this morning's talks De Beus emphasised the importance of the delineation of zones and pressed (sic) for us to go to Djokjakarta this afternoon to discuss it. We have been urging this for two weeks, ever since the first informal meeting of the Board, so gladly agreed to go to Djokjakarta tomorrow morning, when we would have had time to give the Republicans some notice. The second item on the agenda will be 'the observance of the Cease- Hostilities in East and Central Java'. De Beus explained that he was instructed by his Government to raise this formally. However, his tone was much more reasonable today and though I anticipate they will still try to have the Republic issue an order from their Central Command, as requested of the Sultan by Lovink on Thursday, they might be content merely to register their complaints formally.

They are unlikely to receive much change from the Republicans, since the Sultan returned from his trip to Sourabaya satisfied with the progress of the implementation and unable to understand what all the fuss was about.

21. The situation has eased since a week ago, but there is still an air of tension. Though the Dutch reports have undeniably been exaggerated, one cannot dismiss them altogether and the lack of independent information from our military observers keeps one in suspense. However, the highly inflammable situation has lasted a week without any flames and with most of the main centres under control and the Local Joint Committee Chairmen established in their posts, we are now in a fair position to deal with any incidents which might occur.

22. We have to date no news from Sumatra or West Java to indicate that the implementation of the Cease-Hostilities Agreement is not progressing smoothly there.

1 Article 3 of the Manual containing definitions of 'guerilla warfare' operations'.

2 Dispatched on 19 August, it reported that the Netherlands authorities had complained of breaches of the cease-fire agreement by the republican army.

[AA : A1838, 401/1/2/6, ii]