Maria Hertogh (Nadra)
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Maria Bertha Hertogh a.k.a. Nadra bte Maarof (sometimes spelt Natra) (b. 24 March 1937, Tjimahi, Java, Indonesia - d. 8 July 2009, Huijbergen, Netherlands) was the central focus of racial riots in December 1950, sparked off by controversy over her custody between her Malay-Muslim foster mother Aminah and her Dutch-Catholic parents, the Hertoghs. She was nicknamed Putih meaning "white" by Aminah.
Maria was the third child of seven children that Adeline Hertogh bore. She was baptised Maria Bertha Hertogh by her Dutch-Eurasian parents. The Japanese invasion of Java during World War II saw Maria's father become a prisoner-of-war in 1943. Struggling alone and pregnant with their sixth child, Adeline gave Maria to the care of a family friend, Aminah bte Mohammad, on 15 November 1942. The process was witnessed by Adeline's brother, Soewaldi. Maria was brought to Bandung, raised as a Muslim and given the name Nadra bte Maarof at her circumcision a year later.
Aminah and Maria moved to Jakarta for one period but soon returned to Bandung, where Aminah's fluency in Japanese enabled her to work as an interpreter for the Japanese military police. In 1947, fearing that Maria's Dutch background made her vulnerable during the Indonesian War of Independence, Aminah and Maria fled to Terengganu, Malaysia. She grew up in Aminah's hometown Kemaman, Terengganu, where Aminah was highly regarded. Studying at Chukai Malay Girls' School, Kemaman, Maria also was trained in Koran reading outside school hours by an ustazah.
Reunited after the war, Maria's parents began seeking for their lost daughter in the late 1940s. They lodged a request with Dutch officials to locate their daughter. Arthur Locke, the Administrative Officer (East), was the first to alert authorities to Maria's whereabouts when he spotted her at a school competition in Kemaman. A custody battle then ensued over Maria, which, through sensationalist press reports, drew much public attention and fuelled religious sensitivities.
Initially, custody of Maria was given to Aminah. Within four days of the ruling, on 1 August 1950, Maria was married off to Mansoor Adabi, a 22-year-old teacher at Bukit Panjang Government School heading a second-year Normal Class. The marriage of the juvenile 13-year old-Maria was raised in court, at Adeline's appeal for custody over Maria. On 2 December 1950, custody over Maria was gained by Adeline who whisked her to Amsterdam, Netherlands. On 11 December 1950, riots were sparked off over the custodial ruling, resulting in the death of at least 18 people.
Maria married a Dutch cabinet maker, Johan (Joep) Gerardus Wolkenfeld, on 20 April 1956 and they had 13 children, three of whom did not survive infancy. However, a 1975 television production on Maria's story stirred up Maria's unhappy memories and led her to tragic actions. Miserable over working at her husband's cafe-cum-bar, the "T Pumpke", from early morning to midnight, she plotted to murder her husband through two friends but the plans were found out and she was brought to court on 16 August 1976. However, after reviewing her tragic past, Maria was acquitted within one day of hearing. Her marriage ended by the 1980s. She died of leukaemia on 8 July 2009, at her residence in Huijbergen, Netherlands.
Grandmother: Louise Winterberg a.k.a. Nor Louise. A Eurasian of Indo-Dutch parentage. She had left her Scottish husband, Joseph Hunter for an Indonesian opera actor Raden Ismail. She gained fame as a Bangsawan performer and through this became friends with Aminah.
Uncle: Soewaldi, son of Louise Winterberg through Hunter. Converted to Islam
Father: Adrianus Petrus Hertogh (b. 1905), army sergeant with the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army. He is of Dutch origins. He married Adeline Hunter on 23 December 1938.
Mother: Adeline Hunter. Spoke fluent Bahasa.
Sisters: Wiesge (b. 1935)
: Corrie (b. 1936)
: Bennie (both brothers were born between 1938 - 1941)
: Kareltje (b. 26 December 1942)
: another brother (b. 1948)
Mother: Aminah bt Mohammad. From a respected Malay family in Kemaman, Terengganu. She married her first husband, Abdul Rani (a.k.a Abdul Ghani) who had been the private secretary to the Sultan of Terengganu in 1919. Abdul Rani, was the cousin to Datuk Bukit Gantang who became Mentri Besar or "Chief Minister" of Perak after the war. She accompanied her husband to Tokyo where he taught Malay language for almost 11 years. They mastered Japanese and adopted a Japanese girl whom they named Kamariah.
Father: Maarof bin Haji Abdul, a jeweller from Bandung, whom Aminah married in the mid-1930s after Abdul Rani had passed away.
Hughes, T. E. (1980). Tangled worlds: The story of Maria Hertogh. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
(Call no.: RSING 364.143095957 HUG)
Maideen, Haja. (1991). The Nadra tragedy: The Maria Hertogh controversy (pp. 29-41, 103, 303-305). Petaling Jaya: Pelanduk Publications.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.5704 MAI)
Maria Hertogh: Her life at a glance. (1998, July 14). The Straits Times, Home Focus, p. 28.
Zaharah Othman. (2009, July 10). Maria Hertogh, 72, dies of leukaemia. New Straits Times. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/12nadra/Article/index_html
Chee, J. (1992). My name is Nadra, not Bertha [Videotape]. Singapore: SBC.
(Call no.: SING 959.5704 MY)
Conceicao, J.F. (2007). Singapore and the many-headed monster. Singapore: Horizon Books.
(Call no: SING 303.623095957 CON)
Netto, L. (1996). Maria: Based on a true story. Singapore: Derby Publishers.
(Call no.: SING S822 NET)
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.