After almost a year ago, when I visited Ereveld Menteng Pulo, now I visit the other Ereveld in Jakarta. It is located in Ancol and actually the first Ereveld in Indonesia from 7 others (two in Jakarta, one in Cimahi, one in Bandung, two in Semarang, and one in Surabaya).
I wrote about Ereveld Menteng Pulo last year in our blog, you can read it here:
Right then.. back to Ereveld Ancol.
Once again, I met a friendly and communicative superintendent (opzichter) of this ereveld, Mr. Dicky, just like the caretaker in Menteng Pulo, Mr. Eliza, he too a good tour guide. He shows around the place with detail explaination the history of ereveld Ancol.
Ereveld Ancol was established in September 1946. This is the first cemetery of the Dutch army and Indonesian (who is pro-Dutch) that got killed or executed by the Japanese back in colonization era. The layout of the graveyard is rectangular and divided lengthwise by a main path that leads to a monument.
At the right of the entrance is a pendopo. Where visitors can write their names on the guest book and listen to the superintendent’s explanation of the history of ereveld Ancol while sit down and sheltered from the sun. Keep in mind, Ancol is a beach area plus the hot weather.
There is one corner, if you standing from the pendopo facing to the monument, on the right side, you’ll see a tree that appears only its trunk without any leaves. That spot is where 200 people (Dutch and local) got executed by the Japanese during Japan colonization 1942. These 200 executed people were buried on the place where they built the monument.
The uniqueness of this place is, if you standing on the conblock. Right on that level. You are actually standing 50 cm below the sea level. So, when the rain season come, the pump inside that house on the left is working to pump out the water that rising from the sewer to the wall you see in the picture. -SK-
Jakarta is a big and busy city. We often felt we knew every inch of the town where we were born, but we always found a new place that we never knew its existence before yet its been there decades ago. One of those places is this Dutch war cemetery in Menteng Pulo.
Ereveld Menteng Pulo is a field of honor for the Dutch armies who died when Japanese invaded Batavia in 1942. During those time, Dutch war cemeteries were all 22 places, scattered throughout the archipelago. Between 1946 and 1950 these were built by the Counts department of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army /Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (KNIL). After the handover, in agreement with the Indonesian government, the remains were reburied at seven war cemeteries located in Java.
The seven war cemeteries are ereveld Menteng Pulo and ereveld Ancol in Jakarta, ereveld Leuwigajah in Cimahi, ereveld Pandu in Bandung, ereveld Kembang Kuning in Surabaya, ereveld Candi and ereveld Kalibanteng in Semarang. From all these seven Dutch war cemeteries, ereveld Menteng Pulo is the most famous. This is mainly due to the Simultaankerk (Simultaan Church) and the adjoining Columbarium which usually make a deep impression on visitors.
The cemetery was built in 1947 initiated by Lieutenant General SH Spoor and finished in 1949. The Simultaankerk and Columbarium finished in 1950. The graves in Menteng Pulo are victims (both civilian and military) of the Japanese camps and Dutch soldiers who were killed in 1945-1949.
The Simultaankerk was built of white plastered brick. The construction was completed in 1950. Rectangular vessel terminates in an altar room. The highest point of the complex is the 22 meter high tower of the chapel. The entrance to the chapel consists of two doors that open outward. There’s an ironwork with the symbols of creation on both doors. On the right door, from top to bottom, the images of a bird, the animals of the land and the trees. On the left door, the fish, the plants and fruits. In the bell tower clock with the inscription hanging: "The gratitude of the people of the pious interpreter, I tamp over the graves of their allegiance to the red, white and blue bars here in dust and ashes."
Next to the church is the Columbarium, a two-part gallery with white columns. There are shelves with 754 urns containing the ashes of (Dutch prisoner of war) deceased in Japan and cremated.
Top of the columns are carved medallions. These contain different symbols. At first, the signs of the four major world religions. The other symbols relate to Life, Death, Time, the Immortality and Eternity. There is a pond in the middle of Columbarium.
In the corner of the gallery, there is a small square tower with a mosque dome-shaped roof. This building have urns of the unknown soldier. There is a niche on the wall with an urn tabernacle with a relief above it. The relief is a female figure with raised hands. She carries a burning torch on her right hand. Above her there’s a text “De geest heeft overwonnen” means The spirit has prevailed. This was the motto of the military graves department of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army.
On the right and left sides of the niche are two stained-glass windows with images symbolizing the reconciliation between the Indonesian and the Dutch people. The windows in the Columbarium and those in the church were made in 1950 by C. Stauthamer.
When we walked around the cemetery, we saw other war cemetery of British soldier. It is very next, side by side, and it only bounded by a wall of trees and small gate.
Ereveld Menteng Pulo is very quiet and peaceful in the middle of the bustling metropolitan city. For you who like to learn about history this place is worth a visit, and plus you can have a moment to enjoy the serenity before get back to our routine life. Please note, in order to visit ereveld, you will need a permission from the management (Oorlogsgravenstichting) by sending them an email. If you do visit this place, take a moment and sit on one of the bench on the garden. It is very peaceful. -SK-
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