There are approximately 5000 graves in Kembang Kuning Cemetery, Surabaya. This is where Dutch soldiers died. Those soldiers convert various of religion, from Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and Islam. The blocks are set according to the dead’s religion. According to the caretaker ARM Soekarjono, there was only one Jewish soldier buried there signed by stars.
This cemetery is not open for public. Visitors should get official permission from Oorlogsgraven Stichting di Jakarta. This area has diplomatic immunity signed by fence encircle the cemetery that is painted with red white and blue on the upper sides. This sign officially mark that the cemetery is part of The Netherlands.
A Joglo building is built to accomodate visitors or relatives visiting their ancestor. Brochure about the cemetery is provided in English and Dutch. Showing that there is no retribution or corruption in this area, there is NO TIP sign on the Joglo building.
Not only Dutch soldiers, here also buried the civilians that were perished in Japanese Camps along the Japanese Occupations from 1942 to 1945. In the cemetery, there is Karel Doorman Memorial that commemorates Java sea Battle in February27th 1942. Names of 915 sailors who died in the battle are carved on the memorial.
PENELEH CEMETERY, THE OLDEST MODERN CEMETERY IN THE WORLD
Though the condition of this cemetery is not as well as people imagine, Peneleh Cemetery is the oldest modern cemetery in the world. The site plan is set in blocks, and it has record about the bodies, family tree, even the standard crematorium facility had been built since the cemetery established. This Cemetery is established in 1814, with official name as De Begraaflaats Peneleh Soerabaja located at Jalan Makam Peneleh Surabaya. It was built much later after Kebon Jahe Cemetery in Jakarta in 28 September 1795. But Peneleh is the oldest modern cemetery among the others in numerous countries, such as Fort Cannin Park (1926) in Singapore, Le Chaise Cemerety od paris, Gore Hill Cemetery (1868) in Sydney, Arlington National Cemetery in 1864, Mont Auburn Cemeteryof Cambridge in 1831 that was said to be the oldest modern cemetery in the world. Among those other old cemeteries, the condition is the worst.
The condition of Peneleh concerned the Netherlands after 2006 when a legatee wrote an article entitled ‘De geiten en de doden wonen samen’ (means ‘Being Dead with Living Goats’) in NRC Handlesbald. The cemetery caretaker said that the relatives of the dead moved the dead to other cemeteries.
Peneleh Cemetery is the resting place of numerous important people that contribute to the development of Surabaya, Indonesia and even the world. There is tomb of Alfred Emile Rambaldo who was born in Rembang, Pasuruan East Java, the inscription of his tomb says ‘He was the pioneer of air travel, He found and developed air transportation device between 1908 and 1911 using a motorized air balloon’. His initial career was Navy Soldier and shifted his interest in technology. He resided in Surabaya and later built motorized air balloons, beside also developed meteorology observation and aerial photograph. This guy died when flying air balloon in Blora, Central Java, in a very young age, 31. For his service a statue of him erected at Kroesenpark (currently Taman Apsari). The statue has been replaced with the first of East Java governor , Governor Suryo.
The former Governor General Pieter Merkus was also buried here. His legatee, Rob van de Ven Renandel, stated in Monsun magazine on 10 April 1999, that Merkus was moved from Bogor Palace to Simpang Huis Palace (Now Gedung Grahadi) in Surabaya after he got ill.
Martinus van den Elsen a Jesuit priest, Neubronner van der Tuuk commander of Indochina war, Ibrahim Simon Heels the architect of Porong Bridge, and PJN de Perez the Supreme Court Deputy were also buried there.
Peneleh Cemetery formerly covered 5.4 Hectares, and situated far from Surabaya city. The cemetery was located hidden across Kalimas River and in the midst of Peneleh and Lawang Seketeng village farms. There was no bridge and road that the cemetery was isolated as it was flanked by Kalimas River and Pengirikan River. The cemetery is 100 meters from the bank of Kalimas river, the entrance gate faced Kalimas River and the gate is neo classic style. The only entrance to the cemetery is via river, the only transportation route. On the end of Peneleh Cemetery (currently fruit market), there was a port for dead body. The body then transported to cemetery using horse carriage, and the number of horses showed the social status of the dead. In that very time, there was a bronze bell on an iron pillar at the port. The bell is rung when the body arrived so mourners could prepare.
Peneleh Exclusive Photos
Text and Photo by Dwi