Istana Negara 1947

Istana Negara 1947

Paleis Rijswijk, now Istana Negara, in 1947

Four innocent children playing and wandering around the gardens of Paleis Rijswijk (now Istana Negara), possibly unaware of the important developments that happened inside this majestic white building. At the time of this photo Lieutenant Governor-General Huib van Mook (1894-1965), Indonesian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sutan Sjahrir (1909-1966) and delegations from both Indonesia and the Netherlands conducted the early independence negotiations in this building, leading to the agreement of Linggadjati.

The palace dated back to the late 1790s when it was built as a private residence by a certain J.A. van Braam. The government bought it in 1820 and until Paleis Koningsplein (now Istana Merdeka) opened in 1879, this was the official residence of the Governors-General, although not popular as the highest in rank mostly preferred the cooler environment of the Buitenzorg/Bogor palace.

Although widely respected internationally for his non-cooperative stance during the Japanese occupation (1942-1945), Sjahrir was quickly ditched by President Soekarno later in 1947 and the two eventually became political enemies, ultimately leading to the imprisonment (!) of Sjahrir in 1962, without even being put on trial. After he sadly passed away in 1966 in exile in Switzerland, former Dutch Prime Minister Schermerhorn hailed Sjahrir at his funeral and called him “a noble political warrior with high ideals, who hopefully will be recognized as such by next generations in Indonesia”. This indeed and fortunately happened, and in the 21st century Sjahrir’s legacy in Indonesia has been publicly rehabilitated.

photo: Cas Oorthuys; source: Netherlands Photo Museum