"Indonesia was one thing, but Australia!"
|Agatha and Kees at their home in Lugarno, Sydney, Circa 1970's. de Jong family archives.|
Not all of Australia's new Dutch immigrants had come straight from Holland, people such as Agatha and Kees, had been living and working in the Dutch East Indies for many years. The islands had been under Dutch administration since the 1800's and they had been working towards full colonisation of the archipelago. In the lead up to World War Two and the Japanese invasion they had been finding increasing resistance from various Indonesian groups (6)..
|Source: Evolution of the Dutch East Indies, Wikipedia 2010|
Capturing and interning the Dutch, the Japanese sought to remove as much of the colonised state as they could. Many leadership and administrative roles went to Indonesians although the Japanese still had power of control. In 1945 the Japanese had surrendered, however during their occupation had encouraged and backed Indonesian nationalistic feeling, had created new Indonesian institutions and promoted nationalist leaders. On the 17th of August, two days after the Japanese emperors surrendered, Indonesian Independence was declared by new political leaders (6).
Agatha remembers a time after the war when her husband returned to his teaching duties in Indonesia, the couple had been home to Holland where their first child was born, and despite the capture of Dutch men in Menado were convinced to return and maintain the school. Her husband Kees went to school with a gun in his belt, he also gave her a gun and taught her how to shoot! (2).
Headmaster of the school Nick v. de Post told Kees that,
"A THOUSAND PEMUDAS IN THE SCHOOL WERE BETTER THAN A THOUSAND PEMUDAS ON THE STREET"
|Agatha and Kees house in Indonesia. Circa 1930's. de Jong family archives.|
Agatha's friend and husband were keen to go, convincing her with jokes of quests to find gold! Not fully convinced on a move to Australia they put in an application and were accepted. After seeking further information and advice from friends already there, Agatha protested but finally agreed to the move. (2) She could not write to her mother for two months - Indonesia was one thing.....but AUSTRALIA!
The following article was published in the Australian Womens Weekly in 1979 (Wednesday, 10th October, 1979) and provides insight into what immigration to Australia was like for those of Dutch-Indonesian descent.
|Article from the Australian Womens Weekly, 10th October, 1979. Accessed: National Library of Australia, 5/11/10|