The Rozendaal family in the garden of their house in Meester Cornelis near Batavia

The Church Council of the Reformed Church in Solo (Grandpa far left)

the ss Tabanan of the Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd

Somewhere in this crowd Grandpa waves goodbye to his family as they leave by ship for the Netherlands.

Opa van 1939 tot begin 1940 tijdelijk vrijgezel ,

(rechts  een collega):

The Zomerluststraat in Haarlem now

I have tried to write down my grandfather's story of the Indies as clearly and concisely as possible. I am well aware, therefore, that the story below is far from complete.

His East Indies story starts in 1920 with the sending off to the Dutch East Indies of grandfather Lijbert Rozendaal with his, at that time, small-scale family (which included my father) and it ends at the end of early 1940 with the return to the Netherlands.

Grandpa Lijbert (born in Oud-Beijerland in 1894) had already been working as a teacher at several schools in the Rotterdam area for some years when he became seriously ill in 1920.

He was a religious man and made a vow to the Lord: if he would recover from his illness, he would serve the Mission in the Dutch East Indies and commit himself to giving Christian education to the local population.

He did recover from his illness and resigned from his appointment in the Netherlands, which was honourably granted to him.

In November 1920, he left for the Dutch East Indies on the ss Tabanan of the Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd.

He was accompanied by his wife (our grandmother Teuntje van Driel, also born in Oud-Beijerland in 1894) and their two children: my father Paul(us), born in Rotterdam in 1918 and my aunt Nan, born in Rotterdam in 1920.

Grandpa Lijbert and Grandma Teuntje with my father and his sister Nannie just before leaving for the Dutch East Indies

Later, in Rotterdam, filming became father's passion. He made dozens of 8-mm films about steam locomotives worldwide. He also collected models and built gigantic model railways in the basement of his the home in Rotterdam where they would later reside. Brother Jaap wrote a book about steam trains in Indonesia. He also contributed many articles to the English railway magazine "Locomotive International".

Father received his basic education in the Indies: Primary school and MULO-B (final exam in 1934). Then he went back to the Netherlands on his own to do the Gymnasium-B (final exam in 1938) to be able to study law in Leiden afterwards with the Adat (Indonesian common law) and Indonesian agricultural law as specialties. He already knew then, that he would return to his "roots", his beloved Dutch East Indies.

His brother Jaap went through primary school and secondary school in the Indies too, in Solo.

Grandpa and Grandma felt -as proofed to be justified- the threat from Japan coming. After my father had gone back to the Netherlands for his studies, Grandma followed a while later in 1939 with the other children on the ms 'Johan van Oldenbarnevelt'.

Finally, Grandpa left the Indies at the beginning of 1940. He wanted to build up a full pension first. In those days, the tropical years counted double for his pension.

Grandpa arrived one week before the German invasion in the Netherlands. They settled in Haarlem at Zomerluststraat 14. Grandad and Grandma stayed there until he died in 1973 and Grandma later moved to a home for the elderly and died in 1984.

In period 1942 – 1945, the family was no longer in the occupied Dutch East Indies.

Guus Rozendaal, September 2020 revised May 2022

St. Nicholas and Christmas in the Indies

Relaxation in those days:

Grandpa and Grandma  Rozendaal in front of their house

at the Zomerluststraat 14

St. Nicholas and Christmas in the Indies

Brother Jaap was the first child born in the Dutch East Indies, in 1922 in Meester Cornelis, a suburb of Batavia (later known as Jakarta). Seven more children followed suit. The family lived successively in the suburbs of Meester Cornelis and Weltevrede near Batavia, in Soekabumi (West Java) and in Surakarta (Solo, Central Java). Grandpa Lijbert taught at the Mulo's in those places and later became headmaster of the school in Solo.

It was a happy time for everyone. My father, Uncle Jaap and their brothers and sisters have had a very happy youth, which included holidays and outings in the mountains, being around the swimming pool, playing tennis etc. Sinterklaas and Christmas were of course also celebrated there.

This was a good illustration of the reason that many called it Tempo Doeloe (The Good Old Days).

Grandpa was also very active in the Reformed Church in the Indies:

They went to the Netherlands on leave twice (in 1927/1928 and in 1933) for a number of months. The first time they stayed with relatives in Oud-Beijerland in the old mansion "Iependaal" at the bottom of the dyke on the road to Rotterdam and the second time they stayed in a rented house in Heemstede. As the family had grown rather large it was impossible to stay for a few months at home with relatives.

Aunt Jeanne's daughter Elsbeth wrote me the following when asked about her mother's general experiences as a little girl in the Dutch East Indies and an adolescent:

"She always talked about her youth in the Dutch East Indies with some nostalgia. When the aunts were together, they often returned to stories about their youth. All the Malay words they could remember would then be recalled; it was a delight! Our grandmother was pregnant almost continuously in the Dutch East Indies. This was very hard for her; she suffered a lot from migraines but...fortunately she had her staff to take care of things.

Grandpa was headmaster of the school there and thus a person of some standard. The children enjoyed themselves in and around the house and of course accidents sometimes happened. One of the children almost drowned in a pit (dug by one of the uncles) that had filled up during a huge downpour. The holidays were spent in the mountains because of the pleasant temperature there. They also came to Holland several times "on leave" and stayed with relatives in Oud-Beijerland.

There were contacts with other Dutch families and later these contacts were continued in the Netherlands. This is the general information I can give you. For the rest it is personal experiences with girlfriends, school, sisters, brothers and the journey back to Holland. My mother has never been back to Indonesia. That is something I have never understood. When I asked her "Why not?" she answered that her memories were enough for her".

In Surakarta the basis was laid for the later passion of both my father and his brother Jaap: steam trains. As children they often played near a railway, under and on a viaduct. Since then, an interest in steam locomotives has always lain dormant in both of them.

Grandpa Lijbert (far right back) with one of his classes in the Rotterdam area