My Opa – Johannes Hubertus Theodorus Gerardu
Continuing the story from my previous post – A Very Long Trip – Rotterdam to Tanjung Priok
When someone decides to make a momentous change in location, one must ponder the pros and cons of such a decision. In this case, the pros were the adventure, advancement opportunities, and financial gain, whereas the con was moving away from everything he knew. It is hard to prove what Hubert considered an adventure, but I do have his military record documenting his compensation history, which may give us a peek into this aspect of his life.
To give a little context, established in 1814, the Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (KNIL) or Royal Netherlands Indies Army, was a separate military organization from the Netherlands Koninklijke Landmacht (KL) or Royal Army. It fell under the governance of the Ministry of Colonies whose mission was to oversee all matters regarding the colonies. In 1921, when Hubert arrived in the Dutch East Indies, the KNIL’s purpose was primarily policing of the colonies, so he was now a part of the system that supported colonial rule.
To understand what life was like for him, in my last post I included a video of a city in the Netherlands around the time he left, and so now I present a video from Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia) a few years before his arrival. It is always surprising when the image in your head does not match reality. In my case, I imagined Indonesia was nothing but jungle and my father grew up in a tropical house on stilts; however, it did happen to include servants (I know, duh!), so when I saw videos like this one I was surprised. It looks so very European but set in a tropical climate, they drive on the left side of the road (in the Netherlands it is on the right), and native culture is evident in the markets. Take a peek.
Now that you have seen what it was like around the time of his arrival, it is obvious the Dutch were the ruling class. Continue reading