In the story of Indonesia’s fight for independence in the 1940s, Australian women were a part of the cause — and for some of them, it became personal enough to change their lives forever.
These Australian women married Indonesian men.
For some, their personal relationships brought them into the cause for Indonesian independence. For others, it was politics that led them to forge these relationships. But regardless, this happened at a time when racial segregation was still enforced in Australia.
One of these women was Lotte Maramis. Her husband Anton was among the Indonesians in exile in Australia after Japanese invasion. While Lotte wasn’t initially that politically active, that changed through her relationship with Anton. She met him through social gatherings in private homes:
Lotte fell in love with Anton Maramis, a Manadonese petty officer, and married him with her family’s support, although she battled much antagonism from the broader Australian public she encountered. Many other young Australian women faced strong opposition from families and friends to the decisions they made to marry their Indonesian fiancés and return with them to their homes once Independence had been declared.
But Lotte’s relationship with Anton was one that “proved strong enough to embrace and flourish in the very different society and cultures they found in Indonesia.”
Australian Molly Bondan offers a different example — for her, politics came first and then led to those personal relationships that developed into marriage:
Molly moved from helping to set up the new Australia-Indonesia Society, to developing a personal relationship with Mohammed Bondan, an ex-Digulist who was active contacting the new Indonesian government. Bondan and Molly moved to Brisbane in September 1945 to set up CENKIM, the Central Committee for Indonesian Intelligence and Molly herself took on a role operating the radio to receive broadcasts from the Republican government and writing the press releases to circulate the news. She married Bondan and they began a life together which continued when she joined him in Indonesia where she remained for the rest of her life.
In fact, after moving to Indonesia with their husbands, Molly and Lotte remained involved in supporting the newly independent country. They served as interpreters and journalists, and covered some major stories (such as the first Afro-Asian conference in Bandung 1955).
If you would like to read the full piece in detail, head on over to the website for the Australia National Maritime Museum and read Personal and Political — Australian Women and Indonesian Independence.
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