Krugersdorp Concentration Camp Cemetery

The many victims of Krugersdorp Concentration Camp are buried in Burgershoop Cemetery in Krugersdorp, and I have been in that cemetery on a number of occasions since I first went there in June 2008. That visit was not about the camp cemetery but more about the military graves in the cemetery. 

Cemetery main entrance

When I originally made that visit the camp cemetery was in a dismal state, as was the whole cemetery for that matter. The grass was uncut, weeds were everywhere, and frankly I could not understand why those who continually raise the issue of the camps were not in there tending the graves!

By the time I left South Africa in 2013 the cemetery, and particularly the concentration camp graves were in a much better condition; the latter being restored by the Erfenis Stigting. As a result most of the images I am using are from June and September 2012. Notice the difference?

From what I have read, the Concentration Camp was established on 19 May 1901, and was one of the biggest camps in the Transvaal with 5488 people in the camp. It was situated north east of what is now Coronation Park on the site of what is now the Dr Yussaf Dadoo Hospital. A blockhouse; Fort Harlech, one of the few still remaining today, overlooks the site. 

Burgershoop Cemetery is literally “up the road” from the concentration camp site and it contains a wide variety of graves ranging from concentration camp deaths, to Jameson Raid, Boer War, both World Wars, miners and ordinary people.

It is difficult to know what the death rate was for the camp, but one source mentions that there are over 1800 concentration camp graves in the cemetery. The stone for the crematorium was unveiled on 13 December 1961.

As far as I can tell the grave markers are symbolic, and very few are actually marked as belonging to a specific person, this is one of the exceptions.

Most of the graves are of a similar pattern, a rectangular kerb with a headstone engraved “Konsentrasiekamp 1899-1902, Rus in Vrede” and filled in with pebbles as below.  

Restoration started in 2011 and not only the concentration camp were being restored, but other ABW were getting attention. 

The cemetery is a very historic one, and it is sad that it had reached such a state of disrepair, but given that it seems to be a common problem this attention it was receiving was very welcome. More information on the camp may be found at  the British Concentration Camps of the South African War website

It is tragic to walk amongst these unmarked graves and to try to imagine the funerals that passed this way over a century ago, and to know that even today the bitterness still remains as does the hatred of the British. I have learnt one thing though; there are two sides to every story, and when I was in school we were only taught one side; and therein lays the tragedy because I was never told about the Black Concentration Camps. That bit of information was conveniently left out when the hand wringing was being done and blame being apportioned.

The Krugersdorp Native Refugee Camp was situated on the farm Roodekrans, and later they were relocated to the farm Waterval.  There are no visible graves for those victims that I am aware of. The sites of those camps are probably inaccessible and it is doubtful whether there would be anything to see anyway.  

Burgershoop cemetery in general.

Burgershoop is also the final resting place of many people, and it was quite an interesting cemetery to walk around because of the diverse range of graves in it. Unfortunately I never really felt safe here at all, and never really ventured far from my car. I did however cover a lot of ground and saw many things that saddened me. One area of the cemetery has a preponderance of children’s graves and the small statues have often been the targets of vandalism at some point. 

This small plot is next to the the Jewish section that used to be fenced at some point but the fence was very porous when I last visited. 

Incidentally the Krugersdorp Prison faces onto the Jewish Cemetery and it sounds like a very noisy place.  There is also a crematorium at the cemetery and it was in use while I was there. 

There is a small Muslim burial area too at the bottom of the cemetery and I have images of it when it was very overgrown and from when I visited in 2011 which showed that it had been cleaned up.

Muslim burial plot. (1500×393)

A register does exist, and it is arranged in date order, from 1904 to 1940 although the first 3 pages are taken up by children’s graves. The register used to be held at Sterkfontein Cemetery in Krugersdorp, but that may no longer be true. You were also able to get lookups done at Sterkfontein (last info was 2012).  An accurate cemetery map did not really exist when I was there so I started to create my own based on two that they had at Sterkfontein, but alas I did not finish that project so use this map at your own risk

One of the more famous people buried in the cemetery is George Walker,  one of the alleged discoverers of the main gold reef on the Witwatersrand.

Random images


Burgershoop Cemetery may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates 26°6.164’S 27° 45.610′.

DRW 2008-2021. Images recreated 04/03/2016, Link recreated 05/02/2018, some images added 02/06/2019

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