My small collection of revolutionary badges from the Indonesian War of Independence is on loan in museum Bronbeek but when I come across an interesting example I still tend to buy them, in this blog I will show some of these.
In most cases the story behind them is lost and even the meaning of the badge can be difficult to trace as there is very little literature on this subject.
The Republic Indonesia had their own formally organised and uniformed army the TNI (Tentara Nasional Indonesia) during the war for independence. The Siliwangi Division is one of the best known divisions from that war and was considered an elite unit within the TNI. This cloth badge came from the estate of a Dutch Para who was killed in action in 1949 but I’ll leave the rest of that story for another time.
Next to the TNI there were many other political and religious groups often with their own battle groups. Sometimes uniformed but often not. Nevertheless al these groups had badges. These badges were taken from POW’s and casualties by the Dutch forces and used to indentify the activities of different groups by the Military Intelligence community.
Next to all military documentation there were also generic books by the Dutch Government like the one below identifying all political groupings:
Inside the book a total of 106 political groupings are identified!
The badge below recently came into my collection as an unknown item but I did have a feeling that it would be a revolutionary badge. With the help of Museum Bronbeek I found the meaning of this badge. It is the badge of the Indonesian People’s Revolutionary Front, in Indonesian know under the acronym BPRI which was founded in October 1945 in Surabaya by a man called Sutomo
Bronbeek museum has an identical badge with only a different serial number.
The next badge is from the PKI, the Communist party of Indonesia that had a history from long before the War of Independence, starting in 1914/1920 (depending on source) but also was very active in the Independece period and remained so until it was banned in 1965. Next to a political group they were also active in the war.
Next to political there were also many groups with a religious background. On the left the badge of the Daroel Islam and there fighting force Hizboellah. On the right the badge of the Islamic group Sabilillah.
The amount of different badges give a view of how widespread the oppostion against the colonial rule was and how many different political and religious groupings formed that resistance.
Indonesian propaganda leaftlet against the Dutch (soldiers).