The relationship between the Boers and the
German nation was an unusual one. During the Boer war there was great support
for the Boer struggle within Germany
and the Kaiser sent a telex to the Boers voicing his support for their war
The Boers were armed with weapons made by
Mauser and Krupp. Although the Boer Commandoes fought in a manner foreign to
European battlefields the Artillery was well trained in European methods. Major
Albrecht, the officer commanding the Orange
Free State artillery was a German Veteran.
A German Freikorps of Volunteers was formed
who fought on the Boer side. This included German Officers and Graf Zeppelin
who was killed at the battle of Elandslaagte. Another prominent European
volunteer killed in action was the French colonel Villebois de Mareuil, a
Foreign Legion officer serving on the Boer side.
Above: Major Albrecht in the German influenced uniform of the Free State Artillery.
Above: German volunteers at X-Mas 1899
During the war Boer emissaries toured Germany
collecting funds for the war effort and later for the widows and orphans who
had lost family during the war.
Although there was no official monetary aid
from the German government men like Koos Jooste, an ex member of Danie Theron’s
elite scouting corps spent years gathering funds in Germany. Long after the war he
managed to eke out an existence, living off the Boer legend.
In the latter stages of the war the Kaisers
support waned as he recognized that alienating the British by supporting a
small nation on the tip of Africa was
potentially more trouble than it was worth.
Right: The "Burenwirt", one of the Bars/meeting halls near München where the pro Boer associations met. It seems this bar was owned by a Boer.
At the end of the war a number of Boers
fled over the border to German South West Africa
to avoid surrendering to the British and having to lay down their arms. Among
them were figures like Manie Maritz who after a time spent in the German
colonies would return to South
Africa and astonishingly be given command of
the Union of South Africa troops along the border to GSWA.
At the outbreak of the First World War the
Germans equipped the Burenfreikorps and supported Maritz when he went into open
rebellion, fleeing to GSWA where he hoped to raise an invasion force with
German help (see HERE), with which he could help topple the Union Government. The
Rebellion was short lived and numerous accounts show the German frustration
with the untidy and disorderly Boer conduct, ironically the same
individualistic conduct that had enjoyed German admiration during the Boer war.
Left: General Kemp (left) and an unknown rebel (middle) in uniforms issued by the Germans. Maritz is on the right.
General Louis Botha led the South African
troops into German South West Africa, at his
side a mixture of officers and men of British and Boer extraction. The Germans
proved less apt at irregular warfare than the Boers had been a little over a
decade before and the campaign was quickly wrapped up.
Old wounds heal slowly and in the 1920s and
1930s there was still a strong Boer force that was waiting for the moment that South Africa
would shake off British influence. Certain sections of Boer society were
involved in Right wing organizations that were loosely copied from the
Freikorps and the National Socialist storm troops that followed.
Manie Maritz, Boer War hero and 1914 rebel
evolved into a true anti Semite in the 1930’s publishing his memoirs in a
poisonous volume called “My Lewe en Strewe” (My life and struggle) which now
focused his spite on the problems of “World Jewry”.
At the outbreak of the Second World War
there was once again a South African movement that was eager to support the
Germans in exchange for independence from Great Britain.
On the political scene Pro Nazi Dr. Daniel
Malan called a vote that brought the Union of South Africa to within 13 votes
away of staying Neutral in the War.
Right: A Boer war era German Beerglass with the flags of the Transvaal and Orange Free State. On the banners it says "Long live Uncle Paul (Kruger) and his band of Boers"
On the underground scene a group of
Afrikaaners was ready to resort to violence to topple the Pro British
Government. Although they played on the theme of “keeping the flame alive”
their efforts and achievements were minimal and can in no way be compared with
the legendary Boer commandoes who had fought a running battle with the might of
the British Empire just 40 years before.
In May 1948 the Afrikaaner political right
took power the Democratic way, by that time any interest in South Africa
from the German side was limited to tourism.
Ephemera and collectables relating to the
Boers can readily be found in Germany.
Countless postcards (HERE) were printed during the war, either to raise funds
for the Boers or simply to make fun of the British.
An amazing amount of books were published
during and after the war as Pro-Boer associations, German volunteer combatants
and novelist fell over themselves to bring the war to print in the German
language. It can be said that there is more written in German about the war
from the Boer side of the war than in any other language, Afrikaans included.