756D.00/1–2450: Telegram

The Ambassador-Designate in Indonesia (Cochran) to the Secretary of State

secret
priority

125. Embtel 124. Received by Hirschfeld 1:15 p. m. today following my visit to Hatta. Told Hirschfeld Hatta had asked I see him and had expressed serious concern his government over Bandung and related incidents. Hirschfeld had not yet heard of Ambon affair. Hirschfeld stated 140 men had deserted from two special KNIL battalions and 160 from “pre-federal troops” Bandung Saturday night to join Westerling forces and attack Bandung early Monday morning. Said TNI forces had withdrawn hurriedly without putting up resistance.

Hirschfeld said Netherlands Commander-in-Chief, consulted with him Monday forenoon and Van Langen was sent to Bandung. Latter consulted with local Netherlands Commander General Van Engles upon arrival. Said Engles thought troops had deserted under misapprehension they were to be used in “restoring law and order.” Word was sent out in south part of Bandung occupied by troops in question they should report to Netherlands headquarters. Instead, entire group agreed withdraw quietly from Bandung. Answering my query, Hirschfeld said Westerling was not with troops.

Hirschfeld said all but 3 of the KNIL deserters and all but 10 or 15 of “pre-federal,” deserters had come into Bandung early today and surrendered with their arms. They were being flown to island near Djakarta for Netherlands court-martial. Said Netherlands military would remove rest of two special battalions from Bandung. He did not know where Westerling forces had gone or how many earlier deserters from Netherlands forces might be included in unascertained total Westerling troops.

I told Hirschfeld different version had been given me by Hatta for lack resistance by TNI at Bandung, namely, that important part [Page 972]had withdrawn following assurances from Netherlands military that latter had situation in hand. Hirschfeld admitted chagrin over failure Netherlands military to implement promises. Said Maarseveen and he had expressed regret to Hatta and that appropriate press statement had been issued. He said Netherlands military had provided TNI command Djakarta 10 planes yesterday to transport troops to airfield Bandung. Said Netherlands officers of opinion such troops were not anxious enter conflict with dissident and Westerling forces. Hirschfeld said military considered this to be revelation weakness TNI.

I told Hirschfeld we had been agreeably surprised since cessation hostilities agreement by degree of discipline manifested by guerrilla and other TNI forces. I said I knew RUSI Government had been consistently seeking avoid bloodshed Bandung and had undoubtedly issued instructions to that end to their troops. I reminded Hirschfeld I had told him at suggestion RUSI leaders of their feeling that Netherlands military bore blame for Westerling being at liberty and should shoulder responsibility in connection with their own dissident troops. Hirschfeld asked if I did not think it ample that Netherlands court-martial deserters who have surrendered and removed questionable battalions from Bandung. I said I was glad deserters had been taken without bloodshed. I emphasized, however, that Westerling affair is not only still unsettled, but that action of RNIA troops has spread elsewhere. I cited Ambon. I asked Hirschfeld whether Netherlands could devise some means taking Westerling into custody. I also asked why Netherlands had neglected arrest two Netherlands police officials who headed Westerling forces. He expressed doubt these policemen were really Netherlands subjects. He still insisted handling Westerling was now RUSI affair no matter how much he regretted Netherlands had not cleared up this situation before transfer sovereignty.

I told Hirschfeld I did not desire make any recommendations as to what he should do. I stressed his and my common interest in seeing succeed the agreement which we had helped negotiate. I said Netherlands military were spoiling entire results RTC by their intransigence. Maarseveen himself should see this. I said that unless Netherlands achieved better discipline in forces still under their command, there would be increasing danger of renewed conflict and certainly agitation to expedite evacuation Netherlands forces. Feeling that Hirschfeld means well but is lacking courage to be tough with Netherlands military, I reminded him of Van Royen’s1 experience. I said Van Roy en had much difficulty in first weeks Djakarta last spring as [Page 973]result intransigence Netherlands military. He was able to make progress only after he had convinced Spoor2 of necessity look at situation realistically. To do this had killed Spoor. I said I did not want to see Hirschfeld’s well-intentioned efforts frustrated by some of his high-ranking military. I hoped he would take every precaution. He thanked me for my visit. Said he was going at once with his military leaders to keep appointment with Hatta at 1:45.

In conclusion, I said looked bad for former Netherlands officials to consort with Westerling. I mentioned reported visit of Westerling to Ritman, former RVD head, being used by RUSI as advisor on press relations. Hirschfeld said Mononutu, RUSI Information Minister, called on him Saturday. Asked him if HC could use him, Ritman, and one other Dutchman in press relations. Said RUSI no longer wanted Ritman since he was consorting with Westerling. Hirschfeld did not accept offer. Said Ritman arrested early this morning by RUSI officials.3

Cochran
  1. J. H. van Royen, head of the Dutch delegation to Indonesia in early 1949 which negotiated the agreement of May 7, 1949, leading to the Round Table Conference. For documentation on the negotiation of the agreement, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. vii, Part 1, pp. 407 ff.
  2. Lt. Gen. Simon Spoor, Commander in Chief of the Netherlands Army in Indonesia.
  3. In telegram 98, January 25, from The Hague, not printed, Ambassador Chapin reported that the Netherlands Government felt Indonesia was trying to lay the blame for the Bandung situation on it and regarded the events there as “damned serious.” (756D.00/1–2550)