musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

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.

When I originally made that visit the camp cemetery was in a dismal state, as was the whole cemetery for that matter.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 may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates 26°6.164’S 27° 45.610′.

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