Major General Professor Moestopo (13 July 1913 – 29 September 1986) was an Indonesian dentist, freedom fighter, and educator. He was declared a National Hero of Indonesia on 10 November 2007.

Moestopo in the 1940s
Born(1913-07-13)13 July 1913
Kediri, East Java, Dutch East Indies
Died29 September 1986(1986-09-29) (aged 73)
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
Cikutra Cemetery, Bandung
Service/branchArmy, medical
RankMajor General
Battles/warsBattle of Surabaya
AwardsNational Hero of Indonesia
Other workDentist, founder of Moestopo University

Born in Kediri, East Java, Moestopo moved to Surabaya to attend the School of Dentistry there. At first becoming a practitioner, his work was interrupted in 1942 when the Japanese occupied Indonesia and Moestopo was arrested by the Kempeitai for looking suspicious. Upon his release, he became a dentist for the Japanese but eventually decided to train as an army officer. After graduating with honours, Moestopo was given command of PETA troops in Sidoarjo; he was later promoted to commander of the troops in Surabaya.

While in Surabaya, during the Indonesian National Revolution Moestopo dealt with British expeditionary forces led by Brigadier Aubertin Walter Sothern Mallaby. When relations broke down and President Sukarno was called to Surabaya to mend them, Moestopo was offered a job as an adviser but declined. During the war he held several other positions, including leading a squadron of regular soldiers, pickpockets, and prostitutes to spread confusion in the ranks of the enemy Dutch forces. After the war, Moestopo continued to work as a dentist, and in 1961 he founded Moestopo University. He died in Bandung in 1986.


Early life and dentistryEdit

Moestopo was born in Ngadiluwih, Kediri, East Java, Dutch East Indies on 13 June 1913. He was the sixth of eight children born to Raden Koesoemowinoto.[1] After his primary schooling, Moestopo went to the School of Dentistry (STOVIT) in Surabaya. His education initially paid for by his elder siblings, Moestopo later took to selling rice to earn his way through university.[2] Taking further education in the field in Surabaya and Yogyakarta, in 1937 he became an assistant orthodontist in Surabaya. From 1941 to 1942, he became the assistant director of STOVIT.[1]

Japanese occupationEdit

After the Japanese occupied Indonesia in 1942 Moestopo was arrested by the Kempeitai as a suspected Indo (a person of mixed European and Indonesian heritage); this suspicion was based on Moestopo's large frame.[3] However, he was soon released and, after serving as an army dentist for the Japanese,[4] received military training in Bogor. Along with future generals Sudirman and Gatot Soebroto, he finished at the top of his class. During his training he wrote a paper on the military applications of bamboo spears tipped with horse feces, for which he received high marks.[5]

Upon graduation, Moestopo was given the command of troops command of PETA troops in Sidoarjo. Soon afterwards, he was promoted to commander of the native forces protecting Gresik and Surabaya; he was one of only five Indonesians to receive such a promotion.[4] While in Surabaya, he worked at relieving the rising unemployment rate by establishing workshops to produce soap and toothbrushes and reportedly pushed for his men to put horse manure on their bamboo spears to spread tetanus and eat cats for better night vision – the remains of eaten cats are said to have been buried in their own heroes' cemetery.[6]

National RevolutionEdit

After the end of World War II, on 17 August 1945 Indonesia proclaimed its independence; Moestopo maintained control of the nascent military forces in Surabaya and forcibly disarmed the Japanese forces while armed with bamboo spears.[5] In October of that year he declared himself interim Minister of Defence.[6] On 25 October of that year, the 49th Indian Infantry Brigade under the command of Brigadier Aubertin Walter Sothern Mallaby, arrived in the city; Mallaby sent his intelligence officer Captain Macdonald to meet with Moestopo. According to Macdonald's report, Moestopo was heavily against the coming of the British forces.[3]

When the British then went to Governor of East Java Soeryo seeking a more positive response, Moestopo reportedly wanted the envoys, Macdonald and a naval officer, shot upon arrival. Soeryo, however, proved amenable to the British declaration that they came in peace; he only refused to meet Mallaby on HMS Waveney after Moestopo refused to concede accept the British.[7] The British landed in Surabaya that afternoon, after which Moestopo met with Colonel Pugh; Pugh emphasized that the British were not intending to reinstate Dutch rule, and Moestopo agreed to meet with Mallaby the following morning.[8]

At the meeting, Moestopo reluctantly agreed to disarm the Indonesian forces in the city.[9] However, feelings soured almost immediately. That afternoon, Moestopo may have been forced to assist Mallaby in rescuing Dutch captain Huijer,[10] and on 27 October a Douglas C-47 Skytrain from the capital in Batavia (modern day Jakarta) dropped a series of pamphlets signed by General Douglas Hawthorn demanding that the Indonesians surrender their weapons within 48 hours or be executed. As this was against the agreement with Mallaby, Moestopo and his allies took offense to the demands[9] and refused to entertain British requests.[10] Fighting between the forces took place from 28 to 30 October after Moestopo told his troops that the British would attempt to forcibly disarm them;[10] the fighting culminated with Mallaby's death.[5]

When the British forces asked President Sukarno to interfere, the president took Moestopo as an adviser and told the Indonesian forces to stop fighting. Moestopo, unwilling to relinquish his command, chose to go to Gresik instead. Thus, when the Battle of Surabaya continued, Moestopo was no longer in command.[5] By February 1946, when Dutch troops had already returned to Java, he went to Yogyakarta to work as a military educator, teaching for a time at the military academy there.[6]

In mid-1946 Moestopo was sent to Subang, where he led the Terate Troops. Aside from regular military forces, members of the Terate Troops under Moestopo's commanded also included legions of pickpockets and prostitutes who were tasked with spreading confusion in and procuring supplies from behind the Dutch lines.[6] Moestopo also served as the political educator for military forces in Subang.[11] In May 1947, after serving a period as head of the Struggle Bureau in Jakarta, he was transferred to East Java after being wounded in a skirmish with Dutch forces.[12]

Later lifeEdit

After the war, Moestopo moved to Jakarta, where he took office as Section Head for Jaw Surgery at the Army Hospital (now Gatot Subroto Military Hospital). In 1952, Moestopo began training other dentists in his off time from his home, giving basic training in hygiene, nutrition, and anatomy.[13] Meanwhile, he came under consideration for position of Minister of Defence for the Wilopo Cabinet, but was ultimately not chosen;[14] instead, he led a series of demonstrations against the parliamentary system.[15]

Moestopo formalized his home dentistry course in 1957, and in 1958 – after training in the United States – he established the Dr. Moestopo Dental College, which he continued to develop it until it became a university on 15 February 1961. That same year, he received his doctorate from the University of Indonesia.[13]

Moestopo died on 29 September 1986 and was buried in Cikutra Cemetery, Bandung.[1]


On 9 November 2007, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gave Moestopo the title National Hero of Indonesia;[16] Moestopo received the title along with Adnan Kapau Gani, Ida Anak Agung Gde Agung, and Ignatius Slamet Riyadi based on Presidential Decree Number 66 / TK of 2007.[17] That same year he was awarded the Bintang Mahaputera Adipradana.[18]


  • Ajisaka, Arya; Damayanti, Dewi (2010). Mengenal Pahlawan Indonesia [Knowing Indonesian Heroes] (in Indonesian) (Revised ed.). Jakarta: Kawan Pustaka. ISBN 978-979-757-430-7.
  • Anderson, Benedict (1972). Java in a Time of Revolution. London: Cornell University Press. OCLC 490792401.
  • Cribb, Robert (1991). Gangsters and Revolutionaries: The Jakarta People's Militia and the Indonesian revolution, 1945–1949. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-979-3780-71-9.
  • Feith, Herbert (1958). The Wilopo Cabinet, 1952–1953: A Turning Point in Post-Revolutionary Indonesia. Ithaca: Cornell University. OCLC 3943883.
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  • Megarani, Amandra Mustika (8 November 2007). "Gelar Pahlawan Nasional untuk AK Gani, Ide Anak Agung Gde Agung, Moestopo, Slamet Riyadi" [National Hero Title for AK Gani, Ide Anak Agung Gde Agung, Moestopo, Slamet Riyadi]. Tempo (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  • "Presiden Anugerahkan Gelar Pahlawan Nasional" [President Awards National Hero Titles]. Suara Merdeka (in Indonesian). 10 November 2007. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  • "Ratusan Peserta Kenali Pahlawan Lewat Lomba Menulis" [Hundreds of Participants Learn about Heroes Through a Drawing Contest]. Antara (in Indonesian). 20 November 2011. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  • "Sejarah Singkat Yayasan Universitas Prof. Dr. Moestopo" [A Brief History of the Prof. Dr. Moestopo University Foundation] (in Indonesian). Moestopo (Beragama) University. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012.