The Funeral of R.M. H. Soerjo Soebandrio, 1918
By Noto Soeroto
On 13 November 1918, Raden Mas Hario Soerjo Soebandrio, the younger brother of Z.H. Prince Mangkoe Negoro VII, passed away at the Hague at the age of 29 years, a victim of the current influenza epidemic.
On 15 November the funeral took place in a rather Javanese ceremonial manner, with the Committee of the Indian Association (Perhimpunan Orang India) acting as master of ceremonies. The funeral procession attracted the attention of those present because of the particular decoration of the coffin which was painted ivory. The middle part of this was covered with a white sheet on which were hung traditional Javanese flower arrangements. In addition, many wreaths of flowers filled the carriage, including those of Mrs. van Deventer, Mr. Abendanon, the Indian Association, Minahassans and Sumatrans, Solonese princes and many friends and countrymen. Five carriages of the closest friends who had already gathered at the house of the deceased at Fahrenheitstraat had already left in advance.
At the Old Oak and Dunes Cemetery, a number of Indonesians and interested people waited who wanted to pay their last respects to the deceased. After that his countrymen, all wearing white mourning armbands, carried the coffin from the funeral wagon, preceded by the wife of Mangoenkoesoemo, Noto Soeroto and Surya Ningrat, carrying respectively a bowl of flowers, a vessel for incense and the Quran, the coffin was placed in the van Deventer family crypt.
After the usual spreading of flowers and the reading of texts from the Quran by one of his Islamic compatriots, a brief eulogy was given by the chairman of the Indian Association, Dr. Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo, who described the deceased as a quiet and serious man who was driven only by the desire for greater knowledge of Europe. Everyone who knew him, knew how friendly Soerjo Soebandrio was, how extremely kind and gentle he always was. The speaker described how not only here at the grave side, but also on his deathbed, his countrymen had surrounded him and that this could be seen by Soerjo Soebandrio himself with his own eyes. And now the beloved is not on strange soil in the family tomb of Mrs. van Deventer.
Then a few words were then said by J. Oudemans representing the Minister of Colonies, Dr Tumbelaka on behalf of the Minahassans, Mr. Dahlan Abdoellah spoke on behalf of the Sumatrans in Malay, Mr. Soenario in Javanese, Mr. J. H. Abendanon and Mr. W. J. Giel. Soerjo Soebandrio’s teacher Mr. Herman Middendorp also spoke in moving words how the relationship between teacher and student had quickly become a relationship of two friends. Then how he had grown to know what Soebandrio was like: so good, so clever, so sincere and so straightforward. But that it had been in this simplicity that the depth of his soul had been revealed.
On the career of Noto Soeroto see Mirror of the Indies: A History of Dutch Colonial Literature, Robert Nieuwenhuys, p. 184.
For background on Dr. Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo see Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo, Sang Visioner: Usia 15 Tolak “Politik Dinasti”.
For background on Indonesian students in the Netherlands in the early twentieth century see Indonesian Identities Abroad: International Engagement of Colonial Students in the Netherlands, 1908-1931.