Charles Emile Benjamins: 1. YOUTH 1873-1900

Charles Emile Benjamins was born on 13 July 1873 in Semarang, Java, as the third son of Henri Louis Benjamins and Frederika Johanna Sorg.

Charles Emile’s father, Henri Louis Benjamins, 1836 Arnhem-1899 Leiden, ,was a medical officer first class on Java and the oldest son of Jacob Joseph Benjamins, 1807 a merchant from Arnhem, Netherlands and Henriette Calis 1811.

NB. The genealogical family tree of the Benjamins family starts with Wolf Benjamins, who passed away in Rotterdam in 1796. His son Joseph Benjamins Rotterdam 1770-Arnhem 1833 was the father of the above mentioned Jacob Joseph Benjamins and the grand father of Henri Louis Benjamins.
Henri Louis brother Eduard 1837 Arnhem-1921Cannes was also a medical officer on Java and Sumatra and worked later as a private doctor in Cannes, France.


In 1867, when Henri Louis was stationed as an army doctor in the garrison of Cilicap, West Java province, he met Frederika Johanna Sorg and married her on 5 June 1868.

Frederika Johanna Sorg, Charles Emile’s mother, was born on 28 February 1843 in Fort Erfprins Surabaya, as the daughter of Frederik Johan Sorg, an army major, stationed in the Surabaya garrison and Badine Karto, a daughter from the Karto family, a well known Central Javanese family, of which several members have or had important social functions in Javanese Society.                                
In 1846 Frederik Johan Sorg married, Freule van Kinschot, a Dutch lady in 1846 and registered his two daughters Frederika Johanna and Jacqueline 1845-1870, officially as his children.
He passed away in 1851, after which their stepmother traveled with the two girls by sailing boat via Cape Town, to the Netherlands, where in 1852 she also passed away. Thereafter Frederika and her sister were educated by relatives. In 1865, Frederika Johanna took a job as a governess to the children of Baron van Sytzema in Bergen, Holland, after she had obtained her teaching diplomas in French and English.  In 1866 she traveled back to Java. Here she first served as a governess to the children of Mr. Henny. In 1867 she was appointed as a governess to the family Du Perron in Cilicap, where she met her future husband Henri Louis Benjamins, whom she married on 5 June 1868.

In Cilicap their two eldest sons were born: Frederik Johan on 28 February 1869 & Henri Alfred on 28 April 1971. In 1872 Henri Louis was transferred to the Semarang garrison in Central Java Province. In this town Henri Louis bought a house at the Bodjongse weg no 6, where he started a part time medical practice. It was here, on 13 July 1873 that his third son Charles Emile was born.

Charles Emile and his brothers Frederik Johan and Henri Alfred attended the primary and secondary school in Semarang.

In 1874 Charles Emile’s father took a two-year leave to Europe with spouse and three sons. After a three months’ stay in Rotterdam, he worked for six months in a London hospital to update his medical knowledge, after which the family stayed in Paris with his brother Ferdinand for three months. Hereafter the family stayed in Amsterdam. In 1876 the family returned to Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia, where H.L. Benjamins was again stationed as military doctor. From Padang he went on several short assignments to the Atjeh Province, while his family remained in Padang, in which town the first photos of Charles Emile were taken: Image 001
In 1880 H. L. Benjamins was promoted major and again assigned to the Semarang garrison. Here he started his part time private medical practice again in his house on the Bodjongse weg no 6. In 1882 he was offered the position of chief medical officer in Jakarta. Charles’s father however preferred to stay in Semarang and resigned from the military service to continue his clinic as a full time private doctor.


In 1888 the family returned to The Hague, The Netherlands. Charles Emile went to grammar school in Gouda and in 1892, after graduation, to Leiden University to study medicine.
Image 003, 1892, shows the family Benjamins, with Charles Emile as the youngest son, sitting right from his mother with his student’s cap next to him on the table while in the middle behind the table stands his older brother Henri Louis in military uniform and on the right side his eldest brother Frederik Johan, who had studied business and worked as a volunteer with the Victoria trade company in Rotterdam.
During his student years Charles Emile worked as student assistant in the departments of internal diseases of Professor Rosenstein and pathological anatomy of Professor Siegenbeek van Heukelom. Already during his studies Charles Emile became interested in surgery and ear, nose and throat diseases, as is shown by the subject of his first medical article, written in 1899 while still a student: “Een struma op den wortel van de tong”- An enlargement on the thyroid gland. On April 28, 1899 he received his physician’s certificate, which allowed him legally to practice as a medical doctor. From October 1899 to October 1900 he was a full assistant of Professor Rosenstein, internal diseases in the Leiden academic hospital, while working for his PhD degree which he received in early 1901 from Gent University. The reason for obtaining his PhD degree in Gent University was that Charles Emile’s secondary school diploma was Hogere Burger School B, a grammar school education without Latin and Greek. Before 1920 in the Netherlands, students with this diploma were not allowed to write a dissertation.  For this reason the professors of these students made arrangements with their colleagues from Gent University to have their students obtain their PhD in Gent University.
In addition to his medical studies Charles was active in student activities. He was a very talented pianist and was also member of Semper Crescendo the orchestra of “Het Corps”, the  main Leiden University students club, in which orchestra he played timpani-drums and piano.




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