501.BC Indonesia/1–1549: Telegram

The Consul General at Batavia (Livengood) to the Acting Secretary of State

secret   us urgent

84. Gocus 547. For Cochran: While with GOC today at Muntok, Island of Bangka, where Hatta et al. are confined to hotel under guard, had opportunity to see Hatta privately and procured hurriedly letter which he declares accurately expresses his sentiments. Some sentences may be useful re Asiatic conference. Told him it would be published or not as you and Department might find it advisable. Hatta entirely agreeable to this. Do not believe publication letter could in any way prejudice Hatta here. If you decide it now advantageous and consistent with Department policy to release in whole or part, you might consider possibility release Batavia five or six hours before Washington. Press men here state stories bearing Batavia dateline likely get greatest attention present time. Letter follows:

“Bangka, January 15, Dear Mr. Cochran: Mr. Lisle tells me that you have returned to the United States for consultations with your government. I am sorry that you could not come to see me today as [Page 153] one of the Committee of Good Offices. On the other hand, it is a great satisfaction to me that you are now in a position to explain the Republic as you have seen and known it to your associates in America.

A little more than a month ago I handed to you my letter of December 13.1 I tried in that letter to make it very clear that, so far as the Republic was concerned, the path of peaceful negotiation was still open. Despite the failure of all the approaches I had made, I was still confident, as I stated in the letter, that ‘reasonable men can and must agree when the consequences of disagreement are so serious to both parties.’ The consequences of disagreement have been more than serious. My own fate, political or personal, is unimportant. But, in the space of four weeks, I have seen my country torn by warfare; thousands of my fellow countrymen dead or cruelly wounded, many women and children among them; villages and towns burned or deserted and tens of thousands homeless; starvation widespread. This is the price we are willing to pay for our freedom. I wonder if the consequences of this unworthy war have not been even more serious to the Netherlands. Indonesia, which as a partner could richly reward from its potential wealth a Netherlands which would make freely available its experience: and services, will now at best be a continuing drain on the Netherlands economy. The Netherlands will find its youth subject to the continuing, and ever-increasing resistance of our guerrillas, a resistance which can and will continue until complete victory is achieved, whether it takes one month or ten years. I wonder if the Netherlands will not have to pay a price even greater than that represented by its young men and wealth. What can be the effect on the spirit of a people, themselves free, when they devote themselves to the enslavement of another people? May not their own freedom perish when they give themselves over to the path of military conquest?

I am heartened by the wave of sympathy which has flowed from the hearts of the people of the United States and those of the other peace-loving nations of the world, a sympathy which as I see it knows no race or creed, no division between east and west. I could expect no less from your people who themselves resisted the colonialism of a former age and laid down those principles of freedom and liberty which I have read in your Declaration of Independence.

I have not given up my trust in the United Nations and in its ability to find a fair solution. I know that it will not abandon us in our hour of need.

I affirm again my faith that only by the processes of democracy can a lasting settlement be obtained, that colonialism is dead, that the aspirations of a freedom-loving people for a government of their own cannot be long denied.

A great American spoke of ‘one world’. I know that the modern world is one, that there cannot be a division into east and west, that all nations must cooperate for their mutual good. We need the west as the west needs the east. I do not hate the people of the Netherlands. I do hate the policy of military conquests which they are following. I regret that they and so many officials of their government have been deceived

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I know and admire their struggles for freedom in the past. May they now seize the opportunity to give an example to the modern world, that of a people who will voluntarily surrender that which they hoped to win by force and heed the conscience of the world which tells them they have erred.

I know that you, Mr. Cochran, have seen the people of the Republic at their work, in their patriotic exercises, in their moments of recreation. I know that you must have come to realize that the Republic is not a mere governmental structure. I think you will be able to explain to your associates that the real strength of the Republic is in the hearts of the people of Indonesia, a fortress which cannot be taken by the assaults of tanks and bombers.

I have not attempted to suggest in this letter any definite plan of settlement. I must leave that to a time when my status is again that of one free to negotiate and not merely free to surrender.

I trust that I shall see you again very soon and at a happier time for my country, perhaps when a free and sovereign United States of Indonesia has been achieved. That it will be achieved cannot be doubted by those who know the Republic and the affection in which it is held by all the people of Indonesia.

I shall ask Mr. Lisle to make sure that this letter reaches you. Sincerely yours, M. Hatta.”

GOC preparing full report visit tomorrow. Will transmit Department soonest. Signed Lisle.

  1. See telegram 1090, Gocus 484, December 13, 1948, 11 p. m., from Batavia, Foreign Relations, 1948 vol. vi, p. 552. For text of letter, see UN SC, 3d yr., Supplement (Dec.), p. 215.