Sunday, March 13, 2011

De Zikel (Marba) Building, One Stop Shopping Services in the Old Days

An illustration made by Frits van Bemmel around 1930 depicting the crowd on the old model of self-service stores in East-Indies. (source:

De Zikel Stores on 1920 (source: Leiden University Library)
Semarang as a main harbour city in Central Java region seems so attractive for the new businesses. Also for a Hamburg born entrepreneur, Adolf Zikel the founder of Toko Zikel & Co. , which believed as the first department store in Semarang. Adolf Zikel with His brothers, Bernhard Zikel, founded Zikel & Co. in the early 20th century, and in Semarang they start their shop by purchasing the former Genie-Atelier (Military Engineering Workshop) on the corner of the Heerenstraat, nowadays Jalan Letjend Suprapto  in the main artery of Kota Lama (Old Town)of  Semarang whereas was the main business district in the city of Semarang.  Long before Semarang, Adolf Zikel started His business in Medan, as its written in the articles of Bataviasch Nieuwsblad in December 16th 1890 when He sue His employee for a fraud in His shops in Medan which handled by Raad van Justitie (high court) of Medan.  But still unknown, when He’s started His business in Indonesia, or at that time was Dutch Indies.

The initial Toko Zikel in Semarang, bought by Zikel brothers to set up their shops in 1902. The buildings before was used as a Genie-Atelier, a workshop for Military Engineering Department. (souce: Leiden University Library)

Zikel & Co. seems gained success in Semarang, its even has its branch in Bandung, also in its main business district, in Groote Postweg or currently known as Jalan Asia Afrika. In 1906, they were not only act as a local shop, but took it to the next level as importer. Zikel & Co transform into NV. Impot Maatschappij Zikel & Co with the initial capital of 1000 Guilders, more than USD 55.000 in todays money.  But in that announcement  which published in Bataviasch Nieuwsblad dated December 5th 1906, it seems that Adolf were no longer involved in the business as His name not mentioned there, only Bernhard and Carl Zikel. Such an interesting name with this Zikel families? Since its start with Adolf, then Bernhard and Carl, which when we take initial of their name will be A B C Zikel, lol.

Adolf Zikel seems back to Europe prior His retirement, as in a obituary in one’s of the local newspaper in Nijmegen, Netherlands, Adolf was died there in 1919 and the obituary was presented by Bernhard and Carl Zikel. Zikel & Co. later in the 1920’s decade built its famous building right in the “heart” of the Kota Lama Semarang. A two story buildings with remarkable wall of an exposed red bricks, with a neoclassic style combined with tropical architecture soon become one’s of the notable building surround it. The buildings of Toko Zikel appears many times in the postcard issued about Semarang during colonial period, mostly taken from the east and its perfectly depicted Zikel & Co. with Koepelkerk and the old buildings of Borsumij with its famous gevel that changed into a simple art-deco style in 1939.

De Zikel or Marba Building on 2008.
De Zikel & Co or simply known at that time as Toko Zikel provides so many stuffs on their shop and mainly its imported stuffs. They provides stuffs from fashion, sportswares, housewares, groceries and even furnitures. Its fashion stuffs that provides for man, women, childern and babies was following the trends that emerged from times to times  which used mannequins to display it, something that consider as sophisticated at that time. The economic disasters in 1930’s that brought the period known as Great Depression also affected to the fate of this company. Mainly since during the period, the purchasing power were declined. Its indeed for Toko Zikel which provided such a luxury goods, this circumstances were disastrous.  The company then went into bankruptcy in 1932, and its announce to sell their property also in the same year.

The next owner of the building after its sold? There’s still no records about it, but perhaps the Yemenite businessman, Martha Badjunet, which then the buildings was bear His name as Marba, the acronym of His name. Today the building well-known as Marba , rather than Zikel and for its initial building in the corner of Jalan Letjend Suprapto, its more unrecognized as one’s of Toko Zikel buildings, as its not as famous as it which located in the centrum, nearby Taman Srigunting or before was Paradeplein, a park which as consider as main destination in Kota Lama Semarang.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Early Hospital in Semarang (Part I) : St. Elisabeth Hospital

Elisabeth Ziekenhuis, or now known as RS St. Elisabeth around 1947 (source:

In the city of Semarang in early 1920's there's only 2 hospitals, Central Burgelijk Zienkenhuis (CBZ), which is a government hospital (now RS dr.Kariadi) and Juliana Zienkenhuis which is a privately owned hospital (now RS Bhakti Wira Tamtama). At that time, both hospitals are no longer able to accommodate the patient who increasing significantly by the presence of various types of disease outbreaks that often hit the city of Semarang and claimed many casualties. Its really need one new hospital to built to overcome the problem.

A Dutch soldier being treated at Elisabeth Ziekenhuis,
the photos taken on 1947 (source: 
According to RS St. Elisabeth official sites its written that the sisters of the catholic brotherhood St.Francis in Semarang strive to accomplish their goals to establish a new hospital in Semarang. Well, the preparation itself is begun a couple years before by collecting funds from the noblemen in Semarang municipal government and from the center of the Sisters of St. Francis. On 3 September 1923 the funds used to purchase land former Chinese cemetery in the area covering 34.000 in the Nieuw Tjandi(Candi Baru) Region, with beautiful landscape, and quiet area(at that time actually, now is so crowd,haha) it’s a best place for a the hospital. Since laying the first stone on March 9, 1926 by Mgr.APF Van Velsen SJ, the development is carried out by three contractors Ir.Karsten, Ir.Zoetmulder, Ir.Peters and Ir. Keliverda. Prices of building materials has increased remarkable during Ir.Kersten development, so that required substantial additional funding. But finally, the building construction is completed on August 8, 1927. Various preparation for the inauguration held among others by placing 50 beds and other equipment. On October 18, 1927, St. Elisabeth Hospital was officially opened by Mgr. Van Velsen, SJ, accompanied by Fr. P. Hoeberechts, SJ and Mr.Van Gulk, the Resident of Semarang City. (Source:St.Elizabeth official page)

A ward on St. Elizabeth Ziekenhuis
The hospital continue to serve the people until the Japanese occupation in 1942, whereas this hospital was taken over and used as a military office. Well, at that time, all of the Dutchman were sent to the Internment camp. In Semarang City itself the Internment camp was established in Lamper Region, Bangkong(on the Sedes Sapientiae Senior High School), Halmahera Region, and so on. The Dutch nuns from the St.Elisabeth hospital also being taken and 9 of them died in the camp. Folowing Japanese surender in 1945, the St. Elisabeth opened again on 1 September 1945 in a state of disarray and lack of energy. But since the Semarang city was controlled strongly by the Dutch troops during the Independence War of Indonesia, the hospital also become one’s of the important hospital for the Dutch troops. After the war was over in 1949, the St.Elizabeth hospital continued to serve da people and together with the others hospitals in Semarang, providing the best healthcare to the society.

Paul Acket (source: wartajazz)
There's a interesting story about this hospital related with Jazz. How come?Well, this hospital become the born place of the founder of Rotterdam North Sea Jazz Festival, Paul Acket. According to the story Mr.Sambudi in Jazzngisoringin session, Paul Acket's parents actually residenced a plantation in Pemalang City, a city 135km to the west from Semarang. When the time to engender is come closer, since, the medical support is not as good as in Semarang city so Paul Acket's parent decided to go to Semarang by train and engender their babies in St.Elizabeth Hospital.

Paul was not alone, beside him, there's also famous jazz figure born in this hospital. In 1950, this hospital also become the born place of Daniel Sahuleka, the famous Jazz artist. 2 weeks later, little Daniel with their families moved to Winterswijk, Netherlands, a land where he grow up and start his career as musician.

Maybe, Paul and Daniel is just one of a thousand stories related with this hospital. Well, do u have any stories too? Lets share :)