Saturday, September 14, 2013

Remembering the fallen heroes of Surabaya

The two major historical memorials in the city are the Tugu Pahlawan (Monument of Heroes) and the 10th of November Museum, both located on Jl. Pahlawan in the downtown area.
The Monument of Heroes, officially opened by then president Sukarno on Nov. 10, 1952, after a year of construction, was built to commemorate the Indonesian soldiers and militias who died in battle against the Dutch and British troops in Surabaya in October and November 1945.
The Battle of Surabaya is widely regarded as the heaviest of the revolution for independence and became a national symbol of Indonesian resistance that helped the nation in gaining international support for its freedom.
Standing more than 41 meters tall, the monument sits on a 2.5-hectare plot of land that used to house the Raad Van Justitie, or the high court, during the Dutch colonial era and also the Japanese military police headquarters during the period of Japanese occupation.
During the wars of independence, the building was destroyed.
The 10th of November Museum is located at the northern end of the monument. The first floor was built underground, thus visitors have to go down the stairs to reach it.
Interestingly, above the ground, the top of the museum building was designed like the Louvre in Paris, with three unique glass prisms, one of which is bigger than the others.
After paying only Rp 2,000 (20 US cents) per person as an entry fee, visitors can stroll the two-story establishment that was officially opened on 2000 by then president Abdurrahman Wahid after a long construction period that started on Nov. 10, 1991.
Much of the memorabilia found in the museum had belonged to Sutomo, or Bung Tomo, one of the most renowned heroes of the 1945 Battle of Surabaya.
Sutomo, who founded the Indonesian People's Struggle Front (BPRI) in October 1945, is famous for his fiery battle speeches about Indonesians' refusal to surrender to the invading forces “as long as local bulls still bleed red, which will turn a white flag into a red-and-white one”.
The red-and-white is Indonesia's national flag.
An authentic tape recording of this soul-stirring speech can be found in the museum and can be listened to, as it plays periodically over the museum's loudspeakers.
Bung Tomo's car, a 1956 Opel Kapitan, can also be found near his statue at the monument complex.
In the museum's first floor, visitors can find bambu runcing (sharpened bamboo used by local militias during the revolution) replica collections, electronic dioramas, photos, paintings, movies at the visual auditorium and the "gugur bunga" (fallen flowers) statue that was created to commemorate the unidentified soldiers who died during the war.
Afterwards, visitors can head to the second floor to see static dioramas, Bung Tomo private collections such as his radio and knives, weapon collections and more revolutionary photos and paintings.
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 2.30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and is closed on Monday and holidays.