From 1947 onwards a number of houses on Laan Wiechert (now Jalan Kramat VII) were occupied by Moluccan/Maluku families. And even today there is a lively Moluccan community in the area. Following the events of Indonesia’s independence in August 1945, many residents from predominantly Christian districts in Indonesia, like Minahasa (North Celebes/Sulawesi), Timor and Ambon, who were traditionally well represented in the Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL) were accused of ‘sympathising’ with the Dutch during the bersiap years (1945-1949). Many of them felt unsafe in Jakarta and were threatened and bullied by local residents. After a Moluccan family was terribly killed in Jatinegara and thrown into a well, an estimated 120 Moluccan families fled to Kramat.
Japanese internment camp
As the side streets of Kramat had been part of a Japanese internment camp during World War II, the streets were still partly fenced off and secluded, hence many felt safe to gather in this area. The community installed guards and built the Eben Haezer Church on Jalan Kramat VII in 1948, which still stands today. Following the events of the declaration of the Republik Maluku Selatan (RMS) in 1950, the Kramat area was the scene of many Moluccan protests and gatherings, like on this picture from November 1950taken in front of the house on Jalan Kramat VII 23. The name Jalan Kramat VII was only given to the street around 1960.
Following the mass change of street names in independent Djakarta in July 1950, Laan Wiechert changed into Djalan Sofir. Also Jalan Kramat V had an intermediate name: Kramatlaan changed into Djalan Mutiara in July 1950, before it obtained its current name 10 years later.
sources: Google, Moluks Historisch Museum, BBC Indonesia
When researching the development of architect P.A.J. Moojen’s houses in Kramat, there are unfortunately many gaps. Especially as over the years very few photos were taken. There is a decent series of pictures from 1912, taken just after the completion of the houses on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) and Laan Wiechert (Jalan Kramat VII). Since then, not a single history book on Batavia and Jakarta published about these architecturally interesting monuments. Hence we are dependent on current and previous residents, their cameras and their well kept archives. Fortunately there are some photos of the house on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) number 14. This was the first Moojen house on the right side of this street when approaching from the main Kramat road (now Jalan Kramat Raya).
One of the first residents were the Van Velthoven family in the 1910s. In 1933 this house was owned by the famous Dutch novelist Maria Dermout (1888-1962) and her family. We see her standing in the middle of the top right photo. Between 1942 and 1945 it was part of the Japanese internment camp Kramat and a few dozen families lived in this house under poor circumstances. During this time many original fittings, especially timber and glass, were removed.
In the late 1950s house number 14 was the office of SOBSI (Sentral Organisasi Buruh Seluruh Indonesia), the largest trade union federation in Indonesia at the time. In the decades after the house has been severely altered, and today there is not much that reminds of the original Moojen design. We are grateful that the granddaughter of Maria Dermout shared the 1933 photo with us. Also a big thank you to Pak Larry Jacob for providing us with the 1950s photo, which was taken from the first floor of the opposite house on number 1, which has been in his family since 1948.
One of the largest and most beautifully designed houses of architect P.A.J. Moojen in Kramat was the one on Kramatlaan 24 (now Jalan Kramat V 24). It was at the end of the street, close to the Ciliwung River, and together with the house on the opposite side of the road (Kramatlaan 15, also known as the “Haunted House”, see our previous post), it had the largest plot of land. When seated in the spacious garden, residents of this house were able to hear the calming sound of the nearby river. Most of these houses were inhabited by influential Batavia/Jakarta residents at the time, of which a few were members of the Raad van Indië (Council of the Indies).
Between 1923 and 1926 this house on Kramatlaan 24 was the residence of Herman Salomonson (1892-1942), also known under his pseudonym Melis Stoke. Salomonson was a dynamic personality, novelist and editor-in-chief of newspaper Java Bode. He also wrote rhyming chronicles, published in the papers at the time, and this made him a household name in the Dutch East Indies during the mid 1920s. Salomonson left Batavia in 1926 after the founder of news agency Aneta, Dominique Berretty (1890-1934) had asked him to become the director of Aneta’s branch in The Hague.
World War II
The events of World War II sadly cut his life short. Herman Salomonson, a Jew, was murdered by the Germans in 1942. The photo shows Herman Salomonson and his family in better times, relaxing in the garden with the majestic Moojen house at the back. Part of this house still stands today (see the photo in the comment section) but it has been severely altered and despite some characteristic Moojen elements left, the house has lost all of its former grandeur.
source: Gerard Termorshuizen, “A humane colonial, life and work of Herman Salomonson, a.k.a. Melis Stoke”, Amsterdam 2015
None of the 22 two-storey houses on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) and Laan Wiechert (Jalan Kramat VII) were identical. They all had their own unique design, ornaments and fittings. The house on this photo is called “Spookhuis” (Haunted House) and we can only guess why. The photo is from circa 1913 and shows a family with four children, two of their servants and two visitors, probably a couple or extended family. What we know is that this is a house on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) but we don’t know exactly what house number. There were 14 two-storey houses along the western end of this street and all were unique; 13 houses do still stand today, although most in a heavily altered or deteriorated state, hence it is challenging to determine which of these would nominate.
Most likely this is the house on number 15, closest to the Ciliwung River. This house was designed by Moojen and built in 1909. This particular one is larger than most others in the street due to the extended patio on the right side of the house. It is also one of few houses in this street with four windows and four panels with stained glass windows on the left front side above the entrance and front gallery. What we do know is that this family did not own the house but rented it for approximately 125 guilders per month. The original building company still owned all houses in this street. If anyone knows more about this particular house or this family, please let us know. All photos, and some more, are included individually in the comment section too.
The 22 two-storey houses designed by architect P.A.J. Moojen on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) and Laan Wiechert (Jalan Kramat VII) answered the need to tackle Batavia/Jakarta’s housing shortage in 1909, as mentioned in the previous post. In addition, Moojen applied an entirely new contemporary Indies architectural style with sturdy elements. What was new to Batavia at the time was the fact that he used reinforced concrete as the base material, and included kitchen, bathrooms and toilets in the main building. Until then it was common in the Indies/Indonesia that these were placed in the outbuildings or pavilions, usually separate buildings at the back of a house. For the bathrooms upstairs there were pressurised pumps placed on the ground floor of each new house. Furthermore there was a network of concrete drainage pipes installed from the houses to the nearby Tjiliwoeng/Ciliwung River.
Modern materials used
As both streets in Kramat were situated much higher than the river itself this did not result in any inconveniences during the monsoon season when the water in the river usually raised. Moojen also frequently used stained glass windows, venetian blinds, porches, awnings and glazed tiles. Most bricks were plastered, while he left some exposed as ornamental design. Anticipating on the arrival of automobiles the houses in Kramat were the first built in the city without horse stables, but in most cases now with a garage to accommodate the new era of transport. The historic photo dates from 1912 and shows the northern side of Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) with from right to left house numbers 14, 16, 18, 20 and 22. Numbers 18 and 20 have been demolished, 14 and 22 are still present but in a heavily altered state. Number 16 is still in a good but unfortunately not entirely original condition, see the coloured photo from 2014.