Hario Kecik’s diary is without peer in Indonesian literature as a portrait of talented and brave young revolutionaries during the first days of the Republic which followed a brutal Japanese occupation and finally led to the November 1945 Battle for Surabaya, the longest, bloodiest and most decisive warfare in the Republic’s history.
More than one hundred thousand young men and women — the majority under twenty years of age — took up weapons against the modern British-Indian Army and arriving Dutch forces intending to re-establish Dutch colonial rule in the Indies.
For Indonesian readers, no period of Indonesian history will better repay study than the events in Surabaya in the last months of 1945, when the August 17 Proclamation of Independence seemed had become almost a dead letter as the British and Japanese forces to combined to put down Merdeka! movements in Bandung, Bogor, Cirebon and Semarang. Young readers, especially, will take courage and marvel at the bravery of school-aged boys taking up arms, while Indonesian readers in general will finally understand that while August 17 was the date of the Proclamation, independence was by no means guaranteed as city after city fell post-war to the British.
Surabaya and Hario’s Kecik’s generation changed all that.