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Undated photo of Musso

Musso (1897, in Kediri, East Java – Madiun, in 31 October 1948) was one of PKI leaders and one of figures in Madiun affair.


Early life[edit]

Musso was born Munawar Musso in 1897, Pagu, Kediri.[1][2][3] His father was a bank clerk in Wates, Mas Martoredjo.[3]

In Batavia, Musso studied at teacher school. He met Alimin, disciple of G.A.J. Hazeu and D. van Hinloopen Labberton.[2] According to Soemarsono, one of PKI leaders in Madiun affair, Musso continued to Hogere Burger School in 1913.[4] Musso stayed at Tjokroaminoto's boarding house with Alimin and Sukarno.[5] According to Arnold C. Brackman, at the time Musso worked as cashier at Surabaya post office.[6] In Surabaya, Musso also met Henk Sneevliet.[7]

Beginning of PKI career[edit]

Musso and Alimin had more important task in infiltrating Sarekat Islam than Surjopranoto. They were members of both PKI and SI before they were arrested due to Afdeling B affair.[8] Musso involved in farmer revolt in Cimareme, Garut supported by Sarekat Islam Afdeling B.[9] In the trial, while Alimin confessed the false statement he made to help Tjokroaminoto, Musso didn't do the confession. In the prison, Dutch government handled him poorly. Agus Salim complained to Voolksraad for this treatment. According to McVey, Musso held a grudge to Dutch government after this treatment. After Musso and Alimin were released in 1923,[10] the former was offered to teach Indonesian language with English as language of instruction in Japan by van Hinloopen Labberton.[2] However Japanese government rejected Musso reasoning he didn't have sufficient academic diploma, though McVey assumed the main reasons were his experience in prison and his political view.[11] Musso then reorganize Batavia PKI branch and led the new one.[12]

In January 1925, committee of Indies National Congress conducted a meeting resulting the neutral, Surabaya-based association Indonesian Study Club. There was presence of Musso at the club first convention in February supporting the club agenda and wishing it to be closer to grassroots.[13] Also in early 1925, Musso and Alimin gave speech in a rally organized by VTSP in Banten increasing communism influence there.[14] After the failure of machinists' strike on 5 October, Musso concluded that the strike was too early than expected.[15]

In December 1925, PKI leaders planned to rebel to the Dutch Indies government. The government knew this and arrested most of the leaders in January 1926. Musso was one of who managed to escape.[16] He along with Budisutjitro and Sugono fled to Singapore meeting PKI agent Subakat and Alimin who previously staying with Tan Malaka in Manila.[17] The five plus Sardjono, Mohammad Sanusi, and Winanta discussed for three days concluding the execution of revolt middle of the year. The meeting also resulted sending Alimin to Manila to request Tan Malaka to support the idea which was rejected.[17][18] In February, another meeting was held but Alimin didn't mention the rejection by Tan Malaka.[19]

Comintern member[edit]

Some times in March 1926, Musso and Alimin went to Moscow via Canton to ask for support from Comintern for a revolt.[20][21] Knowing the plan from meeting in Singapore remained to be implemented, Tan Malaka arrived in Singapore in June to prevent Musso and Alimin, but he was too late because both of them had already gone to Russia.[22][23][24] The plan was if Comintern supported, they instructed PKI in Dutch Indies to refrain of the revolt until aid stuff arrived there then PKI launched full revolt, else if Comintern didn't support, PKI launched guerrilla and terror attacks.[22] Comintern rejected the request reasoned that Dutch Indies government was still too solid. To prevent the revolt idea brought up by Musso and Alimin, Comintern instructed them to stay in Moscow longer studying the Trotskyist deviation.[20] However, in October Musso still managed to instruct his people in Dutch Indies to do revolt.[25]

In 1927, Musso and Alimin went to Russia and studied at Lenin school for several years.[26]

In July 1928, Musso under the name Manavar along with Alimin, Semaoen, Darsono, and Tadjudin attended the Sixth Congress of Comintern led by Stalin. He expressed his opinion about the failure of the revolt in Jawa and Sumatra the year before.[27] After the congress, Musso served as member of executive committee of Comintern. Musso also continued his study at Lenin University in Moscow but he didn't finish it.[28]

Musso married a Russian woman in 1929 and became father of two children.[20][28]

In April 1935, Musso went to Surabaya meeting Siti Larang Djojopanatas, wife of Musso's old friend Sosrokardono to request residence for several months.[29] Musso was sent there to consolidate the old PKI that crushed in 1927.[20] Musso explained Dimitrov line, a new Communist tactical approach, in several newspaper, including three times inIndonesia Berdjoeang.[30] Focusing in Surabaya and Solo, in this consolidation, Musso managed to persuade Pamudji, Azis, Sukajat, Djoko Soedjono, Amir Sjarifudin, and Tan Ling Djie to join PKI.[31] Musso instructed the new members to infiltrate and join the nationalist organizations. The Dutch Indies government discovered this and exiled the members to Boven Digul. However Musso went back to Moscow before the government arrested and exiled him.[20]

Article written in Bintang Merah stated that Musso went to Prague in early November 1947 helping Soeripno that represented Indonesia to discuss consular agreement with USSR. However, Soeripno himself claimed that Musso went there in March 1948.[32] In January 1948 after the signing of Renville Agreement, Musso defended his comrades in Indonesia from criticism by Moscow, especially Amir Sjarifudin, stating that it was "just a tactic, in order not to draw attention of anti-communist faction."[33] After the talks in Prague finished on the third week of May that concluded the establishment of diplomatic relations between USSR and Indonesia,[34] Musso, under the name Soeparto, and Soeripno returned to Indonesia on 21 June 1948. They dropped in New Delhi and stayed for half a month or three weeks waiting Indonesian Air Force finished the transaction of aircraft. They join the flight of a newly bought aircraft to Indonesia, stopped by in Thailand then stayed in Bukittinggi for eight days.[32]

Musso planned a Communist revolution idea, consistent with Soviet policy, named A New Road for the Indonesian Republic whether in Prague or on the way home.[35] During in Prague, Musso discussed with Soeripno and Paul de Groot, a Dutch communist, about Netherlands-Indonesia relation whether Indonesia became Netherlands' commonwealth or fully independent.[36] The plan, according to Ann Swift, was doubtlessly instructed by Moscow, though Musso himself denied this.[37] According former Armed Force Chief of Staff Himawan Soetanto, the idea was influenced by "Zhdanov line". The idea was named New Road because it was different from old PKI which was influenced by Dimitrov line.[38]

Musso and Soeripno landed in a swamp in Tulungagung on 10 August.[39] After picked up, they moved to Solo to meet the military governor Wikana.[40] They arrived in Yogyakarta on 11 August 1948.[41][42] On 12 August, Merdeka, a newspaper based in Solo, wrote that "there was a possibility that Musso the veteran leader that was very popular had returned".[43] Later on 13 August, he met Sukarno to discuss about revolution.[42] During a meeting of Politbiro PKI on 13–14 August, Musso presented the New Road. He criticized the Indonesian revolution as bourgeois revolution, not proletariat. He also demanded more labor representatives in government and armed force.[44] Musso also criticized PKI movement while he was not there: use of funds from van der Plas 25000 gulden by Amir Sjarifudin to fight Japanese army, the resignation of Amir as prime minister without consulting to the party, leader of illegal PKI didn't hasten the formation of legal party after independence, and complexity of the communist organizations which divided into PKI, Pesindo, and SOBSI.[45]

Musso then through Politbiro announced to merge PKI that had a poor leadership with Pesindo and SOBSI which was under Front Demokrasi Rakyat on 21 August and turned PKI as a mass based party, though the idea of merger was rejected by Asrarudin and SK Trimurti.[46][44][47] Other cadres that refused to merge under PKI were from Pesindo and Barisan Tani Indonesia which was inclined to Sjahrir and from Murba and Angkatan Komunis Muda (Akoma) which was inclined to Tan Malaka. The merger was officially conducted on 27 August.[48]

On 28 August, Musso discussed with Ibnu Parna from Gerakan Revolusi Rakjat (GRR) and Akoma leaders for a possibility both organizations merged with PKI. However, after PKI published its reorganization on 31 August, GRR criticized Musso and PKI.[49]

In early September, leftist parties were merged to PKI. After the reorganization, the new Politbiro was created on 1 September. The new members were younger and more amenable of Musso's idea including D.N. Aidit, M.H. Lukman, Njoto, and Sudisman.[41]

To publicize PKI's new course and gain more support, Musso conducted speeches and mass meetings. On 3 September Musso met Barisan Tani Indonesia, while on the 5th Musso met with students. Started on 7 September, Musso, Wikana, Setiadjit, and Amir Sjarifudin attended mass meetings in Central and East Java, beginning in Solo, Madiun the day after, Kediri on the 11th, Jombang and Bojonegoro on the 13th and 14th, and Cepu and Purwodadi on the 16th and 17th.[50]

Madiun affair and death[edit]

In the middle of the month, an incident between PKI influenced armed force and government loyalist armed force occurred in Solo.[41] After this incident, according to Bintang Merah, on 16 September in Cepu, Musso ordered his men in Solo to prevent the incident to spread.[51] On 18 September, the crossfire broke up in Madiun. PKI sympathizer stated that the new government called National Front was formed after killing government loyalist officers and taking strategic places over. Hearing this, Musso, Amir, and the others went to Madiun to control the rebellion.[41] According to the PKI-influenced militia leader Soemarsono, his action was approved by Musso when Soemarsono visited Musso and Amir two days before. However, according to Ann Swift and Himawan Soetanto, Musso didn't know about this.[52]

On the evening of 19 September, Sukarno ordered his people to choose himself and Hatta over Musso. According to M.C. Ricklefs, Musso had no experience in Indonesia so he had no power over majority of Indonesian people compared to Sukarno, even local militias that influenced by anti-government side didn't support Musso.[53] Responding this, Musso formed Front Nasional Daerah Madiun, appointed Soemarsono as military governor and Djoko Soedjono as militia commander. Hatta was dissatisfied with the response, and stated that Musso wanted to take over the government and "establish Soviet government."[54]

The rebels were pushed after Siliwangi Division was ordered to attack PKI force in Madiun.[53] Musso and Amir knew that they couldn't resist Subroto-led attack instructed PKI force to escaped to and hid in hills.[55] On 28 September, Musso, Amir, and Soemarsono left Madiun to Ngebel and Dungus, Ponorogo.[56] When in Balong, Ponorogo, Musso and Amir had a disagreement. Musso wanted to move to south while Amir preferred north.[57]

On 31 October, in mountain in Ponorogo, Musso was killed by government force in an assault while trying to escape.[53][58]

Political view and legacy[edit]

Musso was a Stalinist that thought there can only be one party for the proletarian.[41] After returning from Moscow, Musso created idea Jalan Baru untuk Republik Indonesia (The New Road for Indonesian Republik) which changed the direction of PKI from Dimitrov to Zhdanov.[38] The next PKI leader after Madiun affair, Alimin, disagreed the idea and offered the idea that PKI as little party but has militant cadres throughout Indonesia. However, young cadres in Alimin era such as Njoto, Aidit, and M.H. Lukman were influenced by Musso.[59]

Sukarno described Musso as "jago", a rooster pet for fighting because when Sukarno and Musso lived together in Tjokroaminoto's house, Musso "liked to fight".[35] Ruth T. McVey paired Musso with Alimin as the leaders of revival of PKI in 1920s. Soe Hok Gie described Musso similar to Haji Misbach who "liked to run amok" and rather reckless.[60]

Musso Statue will be built in a park in Phnom Penh as a tribute to Musso who visited Phnom Penh in 1931.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Swift 2010, p. 91.
  2. ^ a b c McVey 2006, p. 169.
  3. ^ a b Dhyatmika 2011, p. 2.
  4. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 8.
  5. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 8, 10.
  6. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 9.
  7. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 10.
  8. ^ McVey 2006, p. 168.
  9. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 10-11.
  10. ^ Triyana 2011, p. 137.
  11. ^ McVey 2006, pp. 169-170.
  12. ^ McVey 2006, p. 170.
  13. ^ McVey 2006, p. 283.
  14. ^ McVey 2006, p. 303.
  15. ^ McVey 2006, p. 310.
  16. ^ Ricklefs 2001, p. 225.
  17. ^ a b McVey 2006, p. 316.
  18. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 13.
  19. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 17-18.
  20. ^ a b c d e Swift 2010, p. 92.
  21. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 18.
  22. ^ a b McVey 2006, p. 321.
  23. ^ McLane 2015, p. 92.
  24. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 19.
  25. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 20.
  26. ^ McVey 2006, p. 202.
  27. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 30.
  28. ^ a b Dhyatmika 2011, p. 31.
  29. ^ Dhyatmmika 2011, pp. 32–33.
  30. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 34.
  31. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 34-35.
  32. ^ a b Swift 2010, p. 93.
  33. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 38-39.
  34. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 40.
  35. ^ a b Swift 2010, p. 94.
  36. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 42.
  37. ^ Swift 2010, pp. 101, 108.
  38. ^ a b Dhyatmika 2011, p. 43.
  39. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 37.
  40. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 38.
  41. ^ a b c d e Ricklefs 2001, p. 280.
  42. ^ a b Swift 2010, pp. 91, 94.
  43. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 41.
  44. ^ a b Dhyatmika 2011, p. 44.
  45. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 45-46.
  46. ^ Swift 2010, p. 108.
  47. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 50-51.
  48. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 51.
  49. ^ Swift 2010, pp. 113–114.
  50. ^ Swift 2010, p. 106.
  51. ^ Swift 2010, p. 121.
  52. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 77, 95.
  53. ^ a b c Ricklefs 2001, p. 281.
  54. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 98.
  55. ^ Swift 2010, p. 130.
  56. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 99, 103.
  57. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 104.
  58. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 105.
  59. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 117.
  60. ^ Triyana 2011, p. 135.


  • Dhyatmika, Wahyu, ed. (2011). Musso, Si Merah di Simpang Republik. Seri Buku Tempo. Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia. ISBN 9789799109194.
  • McLane, Charles B. (2015). Soviet Strategies in Southeast Asia: An Exploration of Eastern Policy under Lenin and Stalin. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400879663.
  • McVey, Ruth T. (2006). The Rise of Indonesian Communism (reprint ed.). Jakarta: Equinox Publishing. ISBN 9789793780368.
  • Ricklefs, M.C. (2001). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1200 (3rd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781403990242.
  • Swift, Ann (2010). The Road to Madiun: The Indonesian Communist Uprising of 1948 (reprint ed.). Equinox Publishing. ISBN 9786028397223.
  • Triyana, Bonnie (2011). "Jalan Berliku Tuan Mussotte". In Dhyatmika, Wahyu. Musso, Si Merah di Simpang Republik. Seri Buku Tempo. Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia. ISBN 9789799109194.