Sunday, April 6, 2014

The story of German Mercenaries in Indonesia

The Württembergisches Kapregiment Kaserne in Jurnatan, Semarang. The headquarters and the base of Wurttemberg Cape Regiment, unfortunatelly this complex has been demolished and now used as Semarang Plaza shopping centre.
(source: Tropenmuseum)


Being a soldier in the past is a profession that is not very popular. Very few people wanna be a soldier in the army especially those who were sent to the expedition to the east. The solution is hired the mercenaries in order to overcome this problems . During the colonial period, one's of the mercenaries is a people from Württemberg, Germany that being one's of the mercenaries during the VOC rules as well during the Dutch Indies. These regiment known as Württembergisches Kapregiment (eng: Wurrtemberg Cape Regiment), its named after firstly this units was stationed at the Cape of Good Hope or now known as South Africa.  

Taken from Wikipedia , Württemberg Regiment soldiers contracted into the Dutch East Indies in 1790-1808 and consist of 2,000 troops. In the beginning of November 1786 came the commander ( responsible for the fund) the officers of the Staff of the I. Battalion and the first regimental quartermaster their service to the recruits met by little one . After its formation in Ludwigsburg, the first battalion on 2 was May the Second Battalion on 26 October 1787 in Vlissingen on the V.O.C. sworn . A regiment remained nominally the whole time the reigning Duke of Württemberg , but neither Carl Eugen nor his successor, to whom the respective regimental commander regularly (as far as the political situation allowed boat transport to the mainland in Europe) sent reports , attending more to the regiment .

VOC Soldiers eqquiped with musket
(source: semarang.nl)
The French set the Dutch Republic as their Client State on 1795 with the Louis Bonaparte with the accession of Louis I to the throne of Holland. Thus the Dutch being the French allies opposite the British and their allies (Spain, Portugal, Austria, etc), and these conflict also occurs in their colony. The Württembergisches Kapregiment  also take a part during this conlict, where almost all of these companies were moved to East Indies in 1791.

In Java island, the battalion headquarters and three companies of Württembergisches Kapregiment stationed in Semarang , one company in Surabaya, one company in Meester Cornelis (now: Jatinegara, Jakarta). Thus in Semarang there is a place named Württembergisches Kapregiment Kaserne ( eng: military barracks of Wurrtemberg Cape Regiment) situated in Jurnatan, on the south of Kota Lama Semarang. The facilities were so large but unfortunatelly this complex has been demolished and now used as Semarang Plaza shopping centre.

Due to the climatic conditions the Württembergisches Kapregiment mortality rate as well as the dessertion rate was very high. Exact figures of the total losses can no longer be determined . Around 2,300 of the disengaged were killed in the regiment. Only about 450 were in British captivity and were partly in local services, 229 were taken in Dutch services, about 50 have been adopted. ; on their fate is almost nothing known. Only about 100 are likely to be returned

 Replica of a VOC galleon in front of the Batavia Town Hall during
 the event of Pasar Malam Gambir 1938 (source: Tropenmuseum)
The regiment was on 1 March 1808 on the orders of the Dutch Governor-General, General Herman Willem Daendels , officially dissolved , then the surviving remaining 229 men, including the officers were incorporated with the local Dutch troops. Many of these former German soldiers and officers who later lived and married in Dutch Indies, later Indonesia. Thats why there are several generations here, in Indonesia who have a German surname. Perhaps its also why the Indonesian people have the words "Cus" on their conversation as a term to say goodbye, and its similiar with the German word "Tschüss" who have the same meaning.

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