On 17 August 1945, 11 days after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Sukarno proclaimed Indonesia's independence in Jakarta. Before the Dutch could return to restore order, Balinese militants moved to seize weapons from the Japanese. The subsequent war of independence against the Dutch lasted for more than four years.
On 20 November 1946, the Battle of Marga was fought in Tabanan in central Bali. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai, 29 years old, led his 95 guerrillas in a last-ditch battle in which all were killed by aerial bombardment-a reenactment of the 'puputans' of 40 years earlier. Today you see Ngurah Rai's name commemorated on street signs all over the island; Bali's international airport is named in his honor.
Although Balinese resistance was broken, the Indonesians eventually won the war. In 1946 the Dutch made Bali the headquarters of their federal "Republic of East Indonesia" (NIT), which they backed as a rival to the revolutionary republic based on Java. Their plan was to one day merge the island into a pro-Dutch federation.
The Dutch tried to build support among the people by promising to revitalize Bali's devastated economy. But the Dutch lost their chance at dividing the islands when they broke their treaty with the new government and launched a direct attack on republic headquarters in Yogyakarta in central Java. After this "police action" proved ineffectual, Holland formally transferred the former Netherlands East Indies-including Bali-to Indonesian authorities in 1949. The Dutch left behind their most precious legacy. A wildly diverse Indonesian nation welded into a unitary state.
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