Friday, 22 January 2016

Born in Semarang

Source: Noordhollands Dagblad
January 21, 2016
The other day I read an article in Dutch regional newspaper Noordhollands Dagblad. It was about plans to revive the old city center of Semarang. For those unaware of its whereabouts, Semarang is situated on the Indonesian island Java. It is the capital of the province Central Java. The city itself has over 1.5 million inhabitants. Today Greater Semarang is the sixth community of the country.
The city has a long history among others as a settlement of the Dutch East India Company, commonly abbreviated as the VOC, the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie. The old city still looks very European with a church in its center, wide boulevards and nice, spacious housing. Over the years this Dutch heritage deteriorated considerably. Lack of funds and maybe more important, a lack of interest to maintain these buildings erected by the former colonial rulers, caused the state in which it is now. If you add  the humid, hot climate and the heavy traffic passing these buildings every day, the recipe for a disastrous development is there.

The Heerenstraat in the old center of Semarang

However, there seems to be a change of mind in the city. According to The Jakarta Post the mayor of Semarang says he wants to renovate at least 105 buildings in the old center now called Kota Lama. An equivalent amount of € 2,000,000 is said to be available for this project. Tourism supposedly is the stimulus. In any case it is an indirect homage to two Dutch architects viz. Thomas Karsten en K.P.C. de Bazel. The latter one also designed glassware for the Leerdam glass works, but that is different subject.

Fragment of the 1917 city map of Semarang
Source:, Semarang Photo Archives
available under CC Licentie 3.0
Kota Lama, the old city center, is in the red rectangle

My interest for this subject is caused by the knowledge that even today there are many people living here in the Netherlands who have been born in the former Dutch Indies. I also happen to have a collection of death notices of people born there (yes, ok, I agree it is a bit peculiar but in case you are interested it may be consulted here). All together there are over 800 notices in my collection now. 8% of these people were born in Semarang. So my guess is that there are still many people here who may be interested in their own place of birth or in that of their parents. Therefore, I tried to find out the old street names used in pre war Semarang. Those names are no doubt part of their family history.

Dutch street names in Kota Lama, the old Semarang city center
To enlarge click on the image.
Map ex Google
Born in Semarang in the year indicated and since deceased mainly here in the Netherlands:

Semarang - Belloni 1950
Semarang - Boot 1936 [1]
Semarang - Borlée 1923
Semarang - Broekhuys 1923
Semarang - Cosse 1929
Semarang - de Boer 1924.jpg
Semarang - de Groot 1927
Semarang - de Ridder 1948
Semarang - Dirkzwager 1924
Semarang - Dorst 1940
Semarang - Elink Schuurman 1916
Semarang - Emmen 1926.jpg
Semarang - Haak ca1892.jpg
Semarang - Hartog 1930.jpg
Semarang - Jonkman 1923.jpg
Semarang - Jonkman 1925.jpg
Semarang - Kahle 1932
Semarang - Kerlen 1915.jpg
Semarang - Kerlen 1917.jpg
Semarang - Kerlen 1919.jpg
Semarang - Kerlen 1921
Semarang - Kessing 1941
Semarang - Klerks ? 1891 [Wd]
Semarang - Kloppenburg 1917
Semarang - Köehl 1923
Semarang - Kollmann 1854.jpg
Semarang - Koster 1949.jpg
Semarang - Kouwenaar 1929.jpg
Semarang - Lie 1926.jpg
Semarang - Lincklaen Arriëns 1941.jpg
Semarang - Lind 1924.jpg
Semarang - Mac Gillavry 1916
Semarang - Mac Gillavry 1931
Semarang - Maingay 1933
Semarang - Middeldorp 1928
Semarang - Mual 1930
Semarang - Mulder 1919
Semarang - Nazloomian 1926.jpg
Semarang - Nota 1926
Semarang - Oei 1938
Semarang - Oosterling 1934
Semarang - Provoost 1939
Semarang - Schilling 1926.jpg
Semarang - Schuit 1932
Semarang - Sillevis Smitt 1929.jpg
Semarang - Smit 1922
Semarang - Soeters 1926
Semarang - Soffner 1929
Semarang - Soutendam 1923
Semarang - Steffin 1941
Semarang - Tan 1929.jpg
Semarang - Tholen 1928.jpg
Semarang - van Barthold 1926
Semarang - van de Graaf 1925
Semarang - van der Fange 1927
Semarang - van der Knoop 1917
Semarang - van der Werf 1937.jpg
Semarang - van Eldijk 1950
Semarang - van Garderen 1934.jpg
Semarang - van Lookeren Campagne 1929.jpg
Semarang - van Lookeren Campagne 1931
Semarang - van Marken 1926.jpg
Semarang - van Pernis 1929.jpg
Semarang - van Putt 1923
Semarang - van Rooyen 1951
Semarang - van Rossum 1933
Semarang - van Vliet 1931
Semarang - von Meyenfeldt 1917
Semarang - Vunderink 1938
Semarang - Wesly 1935.jpg
Semarang - Westbroek 1943.jpg
Semarang - Westphal 1938
Semarang - Westra 1932
Semarang - Woerdeman 1952.jpg
Semarang - Worst 1940
Semarang - Zecha 1929
Semarang - Zeelig 1950
Semarang - zur Muhlen 1933

Update August 2, 2016: Added some 15 names to the above list.

In case you are interested in a particular death notice, please post a comment below or send me an email: patmiebies at gmail dot com.


  1. Hello, I'm a resident if Semarang and your post caught my attention, mainly because there is Sillevis Smit on your name list, which is the name of our first Pastor in Geereformeerde Kerk te Semarang (Gereja Ngaglik). Our church also have a lot of Dutch guest from Netherlands that seeks for their parents or grandparents Marriage Records or Baptist Records. Semarang actually consist a larger Dutch parts oter than Oudeburg area, and the Dutch Settlement were mainly concentrated in Nieuw-Tjandi and Gergaji area where our Church is located. Please do support the government's work of restorating the beautiful old semarang by visiting and spread the news that more buildings could be spared, because most of the oudeburg original structure were either replaed with modern structure or destroyed, which is unfortunate because old semarang is a copy of Amsterdam.

  2. Hi Christian, I mailed you my reaction on May 9. Peter


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