Nov 17, 2018 Last Updated 12:17 PM, Nov 15, 2018

50 years ago

Published: Sep 11, 2007

Damien Kingsbury

The Dutch photographer Julius Timmerman was based in what his people still called Batavia. On 27 December 1949 he was commissioned by the Dutch Government Information Service to record the internationally recognised handover of political authority from the Dutch colonial government to the (then) Republic of the United States of Indonesia. The day ended four years of fighting.

This photo has never been published before. Tens of thousands of joyful citizens overwhelmed Indonesian soldiers trying to keep the way free for dignitaries arriving at the governor-general's palace. Welcoming Sukarno in the picture were home affairs minister Anak Agung Gde Agung and armed forces chief of staff Colonel Simatupang. On the left, a Dutch policeman carries away a fainted Indonesian woman. A moment later Sukarno turned at the top of the palace steps, lifted his arms and shouted to the crowd: 'Alhamdulillah thank God, we are free!'. Inside, speeches were made and hands were shaken. Then the Dutch flag was lowered and the red-and-white raised in its stead. The palace, still located on Jakarta's huge Freedom Square, was that day renamed Freedom Palace.

Damien Kingsbury ( is executive officer of the Monash Asia Institute and author of The politics of Indonesia (1998). The photo is part of a collection in the possession of Julius Timmerman's family, who now live in Melbourne.

Inside Indonesia 60: Oct-Dec 1999

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