British Hell Camps in the Anglo Boer War

They say that if you don’t learn from your past, you will forever repeat it…

And this is no truer than in the case of the Boers. Here we are, a century later, and still they are the whipping boy of the English, characterized as a lowly farmhand, one with whom the English can act superior, using their guile and innuendo ad infinitum. The Boers, a fiercely independent nation, who had made the mistake of wanting nothing to do with the haughty British. A grave error given the British penchant for populism. The Boers also made the mistake of discovering more than half the worlds Diamond and Gold reserves under the ground of their two Independent internationally recognised Sovereign Republics. Bit as history has taught, the British have very little regard for law or morality if there is booty at stake. The Boers had established 17 Independent Boer Republics over a centuries, each one in succession forcefully taken over by the British. 17! 

This is Don from Here we are a century later, after the British have successfully applied a band aid called Mandela onto their shattered empire and morals, to hide the blatant theft of a nation, not once but umpteen times! When one looks at Iraq or even Germany, the modus operandi of the so called good guys becomes clear… In Iraq it was WMD, in Transvaal it was unhappy foreign mineworkers, which like WMD, ended up being nothing more than media hype ending in the failed Jameson raid.

Still they use the Boers as a stepping stone to the moral high ground… as we will see, this story goes hundreds of years before the Boer War and really reflects two opposing ideologies, one of Supremacy and narc ism on the part of the British and one of restraint and discipline on the part of the Boers… who all along have only ever wanted to rule themselves in their own land, so why do the British press label Supremacists at every opportunity to this day? It was after all the British who setup Apartheid in SA with the now infamous ANC starting in 1912, only 3 years after Britain forced the colonies into an unnatural Union, leaving the bantu outside… 

Boer Genocide in the concentration camps by the British during the Boer War (1899 – 1902) 

  1. Introduction

 It is officially claimed that 27000 Boer women and children were killed in the concentration camps which were erected by Britain during the Second World War (1899 – 1902) and, this still has a profound influence on the population and existence of the Boer nation.

This figure has been revised, even by a BBC documentary to 34,000. Boer historians and heritage caretakers having discovered that many graves contained more than one or two bodies…

This genocide came eminently to mind everytime the Queen of England visited South Africa in recent years,

The ten Boere-Republican organizations led by Vryheidsaksie Boererepublieke presented her with a message from the Boer Nation, demanding that England rectify the wrong he had imposed on the Boer Nation


  1. Background

The Second Freedom War (1899 to 1902) occurred when England, under the false pretext that it wanted to protect the rights of foreigners who had flocked to the Witwatersrand gold fields, only wanted to gain control over the South African Republic ‘s recently discovered mineral wealth of gold and diamonds.On the battlefield the British superiority could not claim victory, hence the decision to instead launch a full-scale war against the Boer women and children, and employing a genocide to force the citizens to surrender.

  1. Development of Genocide

3.1. The fight against women and children begins 

Under Kitchener, Milner and Roberts more than 60000 homes and farms of Boer Farmers were looted and burned. Farms and crops were burned.Boer animals were killed in the cruelest conceivable ways, while the women and children, whose husbands were at war, had to watch helplessly . The purpose of this action was to destroy the farms so that the fighting citizens could not obtaining food, and to demoralize the farmers because their wives and children are left homeless on the field.England, however miscalculated the strength of the Boer. The women and children, despite the harsh conditions in the field, survived and the men continued fighting. Worse measures were to be taken.The English drove the Boer women and children like animals on open cattle trucks or on foot to concentration camps.  

3.2. False pretenses

Facing the world, England pretended it was acting very humanely by caring for the fighting farmers’ wives and children – in “refugee camps”. English school textbook – issued in Johannesburg in 1914 – but printed in England – Historical Geography: South Africa – by JR Fisher, make the following statement:

“During the later stages of the war,  the relations, women and children,  of those Boers still in the field, were fed and cared for at the expense of Great Britain,a method of procedure which, though humane, postponed the end of the war, at the expense of many valuable lives and much money.”
Several sources contradict this statement.  The Cape Argus of 21 June 1900 clearly shows that the women and children’s homelessness was the result of the British looting of farms:  “In 10 miles we (England) burned not less than 6 farmhouses. Between Bloemfontein and Boshoff between 30 and 40 homesteads were burned and completely destroyed.Several others were also burned. With their homes destroyed  the women and children in the bitter South African winter were left behind in the open field. “Of this the English history book said nothing.” Awfully generous of English to take care of those whose houses they burned down!
Breytenbach – writes in Kmdt Danie Theron:

“The destruction is carried out in a diabolic way, even Mrs Prinsloo, a 22-year-old woman who had just 24 hours previously given birth to a baby in the Van Niekerk home was not spared. A group of Tommies (British soldiers), including a English doctor, entered her room and after the doctor  examined her, they chased her out of the house. Helped by her sister, she managed to cover herself with a few pieces of clothing and then walked out making her way through the soldiers. Her mother brought a blanket to protect her from the cold, which was rudely pulled from the mother’s hands by the Tommies and, after they looted whatever they wanted, they set fire to the house.The old man was driven on foot by the cavalry khakis to Kroonstad, while his wife and daughter (Mrs Prinsloo) and her baby were left homeless on the burning Farm. ”

For England to boasts on the allegation that they cared for the Boer- women and children is like a person that boasts over the fact that he saved a person, he himself had pushed into the water, from drowning. There is only one difference: the genocide on the Boer Nation only began in earnest when the Boer women and children – unwillingly under British “care” ended up in the concentration camps! Despite the English claims that the concentration camps were “voluntary refugee camps”,

The following questions should be asked

– From whom did the “refugees” fled? Certainly not from their own husbands and sons!
– How is it that the “voluntary” women and children were forcibly dragged there? – Why would “voluntary refugee camps” be surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by armed soldiers?Kimberley camp’s barbed wire fence was five meters high and some camps have two or even three rows had wires!
– Why would one of the kamp commander by Emily Hobhouse made the following statement ?:”The guards were under orders not to interfere with the inmates, except when they would try to escape.”What” voluntary refugee “would want to escape?

Perhaps the words of the Welsh William Redmond in the British parliament were closer to the truth:

“The way in which these wretched, unfortunate and poor women and children are treated in South Africa is barbarous, outrageous, scandalous and disgraceful.” 

3.3. Planned death

The English’s claim on humane behavior towards the Boer women and children are contradicted further by the location of the concentration camps.The military authorities, who often set up camps for their troops, had no doubt a good knowledge of the essential requirements for such camps. Yet the concentration camps were erected at the most unacceptable places imaginable.
At Standerton the camp was erected on both banks of the Vaal River. Since it was on the Highveld, which ensures extremely cold winters and, in the summer it was infested with mosquitoes. The fact that the ground at Standerton exists out of turf soil and the high rainfall period, ensured that the camp, including the ground in the tents, in summer was a big pool of mud. The same circumstances were found in camps such as Brandfort, Springfontein and the Oranjerivier.


At Pretoria, the Irene Camp was erected at the cold south end of the town, while the north side had a much more favorable climate. Balmoral, Middelburg and other camps on the cold Highveld were also located on the southeastern slopes of the hills to ensure that it is exposed to the cold south-easterly wind. Merebank camp was erected in a swamp with an excessive presence of all kinds of insects, and water seeped from the soil. with the result that everything was constantly wet and slimy By October 1900 there were already 58,883 people in Transvaal camps and 45,306 in the Free State camps. The facilities in the camps were clearly calculated to ensure that not many of the women and children would be able to survive.They were housed in tattered tents which provided no protection against the elements.

Emily Hobhouse, the Cornish lady who campaigned for better conditions for the Boer women, wrote: “Throughout the night there was a downpour. Water lying in pools everywhere. – The soaked ground they tried to keep themselves and their possessions dry.” (Hobhouse: Brunt of the War, page 169.) Dr. Kendal Franks writes about the Irene Camp: “In one of the tents there were three families, parents and children, a total of 14 people and all were suffering from measles.”In the Springfontein camp 19 to 20 people were squeezed into a tent.There were no beds or mattresses and the entire camp population had to sleep on the bare cold and damp ground.

One person – wrote to the New York Herald for help – with the following words:

” I ask for help in the name of small children having to live in open tents, with barely any clothes and without fires to heat their bodies.”

3.4. Let them starve According to a British journalist, WT Stead, the concentration camps were nothing but a brutal torture machine.He writes: “Each of these children who died as a result of the halving of their ration, to exert pressure through their families in the field, was deliberately killed.The half ration system was exposed as a naked and unashamed cold-blooded act of state policy, which was implemented with the aim to ensure the surrender of people we were not able to defeat on the battlefield. ” The prisoners received no fruit or vegetables; not even milk for the babies.The meat and flour supplied were crawling with maggots.

Emily Hobhouse wrote:”I have coffee and sugar in my possession which by a London analyst were described as follows: In the case of the first, 66% forgery in the case of the second, sweepings from a warehouse.” Sarah Raal wrote in her book, Met die Boere in die Veld, that there were poisonous vitriol, crushed glass, fish hooks and razor blades in the rations. So widespread is the evidence that this is the truth, that it must be regarded as a historical fact.

3.5. No hygiene

The lack of sanitary facilities was one of the aspects of the camps which increased diseases and epidemics. At the Bloemfontein camp there were only 13 toilets for more than 3,500 people. The Aliwal North camp had one toilet for every 170 people.A British physician, Dr. Henry Becker wrote: “First, they chose a site for the camp which was ineffective. In addition, they supplied so little water that people could could not bath themselves nor wash their clothes. Furthermore, they did not make provision for enough dirt cars so that the rubbish could be driven away soon enough. And finally they did not provide for a sufficient number of latrines for the too many people who they have accumulated in the camps. ”


Of the 118,000 people who were farmers in the concentration camps, nearly 28,000 died . In fact , a whole generation of potential Afrikaner Boers were eradicated. Officially altogether 22,074 Boer children and 4,182 Boer women , while almost 500 men ( mostly elderly ) died in the camps . There have been estimates that today, almost 600,000 more Afrikaners could have existed if it were not for the deaths in the concentration camps . Within months the inmates, especially the children , faded away and were transformed into living skeletons. The poor sanitary conditions in the almost fifty camps led to the outbreak of epidemics, including a measles epidemic which was deadliest.

The black people who were detained by the British in separate camps, had it even worse. Some of them were expected to establish their own accommodation and had to survive with even smaller rations than the internalized white women and children.

3.6. Murder Hospitals

Sick and healthy people were crammed together in unventilated spaces and as a result the condition for the spread of diseases and epidemics were favourable.  At the beginning there were no medical facilities in the camps. Later doctors were appointed but too little. In Johannesburg, there was one doctor for 4,000 ill patients. In a report on the Irene Camp, it was reported that there were about 154 sick out of a population of 1,324 residents and 20 died in the previous three weeks. However, this camp had only one doctor and no hospital.In some camps it was even worse. The large Bloemfontein camp did not have a single doctor; only one nurse who simply could not handle the situation. The Norvalspont camp had, during the visit of Emily Hobhouse, not even one trained nurse.

The subsequent appointment of medical staff did not improve the situation. They were not appointed for their competence, but because of their loyalty to the British war effort. The Boers were treated in a brutal manner. Emily Hobhouse told the story of the young Lizzie van Zyl who died in the concentration camp at Bloemfontein:  “She was a frail, weak child who needed good care, but her mother was one of the undesirables. Since her father did not make himself guilty of betrayal of his people, she was placed on the lowest ration scale and as a result, so starved that she was transferred after a month in the camp to the new hospital. Here she received harsh treatment. The pro English doctor and his nurses did not understand her language and  because she could not speak English, she was branded as an idiot although she was mentally a normal child. One day she began chanting sadly in the hospital – Mother! Mother! I want to go to my mother! A certain Mrs Botha walked to her to  comfort her and to tell her that she will see her Mother soon, when she was interrupted bluntly by one of the nurses who supervised that sick room, and was told say that she was not to interfere with the child, because the child is a burden. ” Lizzie van Zyl died shortly afterwards.


Lizzy van Zyl

Treu, a medical assistant in the Johannesburg concentration camp, wrote that the sickly were abused and even beaten with a strap.

Sick patients who were taken to the camp hospital were as good as dead. One woman said: “We are more afraid of the hospitals than death itself.”
The following two descriptions give an idea of ​​the inefficiency of the camp hospitals: “

“It often happened that patients who only had a minor illness, were removed by force from the protesting mother or family members’ tents and transported to the hospital. Mostly after a view days they were transported to their graves. ““It was simply a miracle when a child returned alive from these hospitals..”

(Both quotes from Stemme uit die Verlede – A Collection of Sworn Statements of Women who were in the concentration camps during the Boer War.

3.7. The ultimate sacrifice

In the British hell camps a official total of 27 000 women and children brought the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle for the freedom of the Boer Nation. Mrs Helen Harris who visited the Potchefstroom concentration camp, said:  “Imagine that a baby of one year has no milk, and have to drink water or coffee – there is no doubt that this is the cause of the poor health the children had to endure. ” If you then consider it that it was the same English that stabbed the farmers’ cattle, with bayonets, to death and thus took the children away from their food sources, then the great mortality seems in no way a coincidence. Despite shocking mortality rates in the camps, the English did nothing to improve the condition and the English nation remained deaf to the weeping in the concentration camps as thousands of people, especially children, were carried to their graves.

The Welshman Lloyd George said: “The death rate among our soldiers in the field, which carried all the risks, was 52 per thousand per year, while the deaths of women and children in the camps were 450 per thousand per year. We had no right to place women and children in this position. “ 

The Irish, Dillon, said:I can provide an endless range of evidence to argue that the conditions in most of the camps are frightening and brutal. The mortality rate is in my opinion nothing but cold-blooded murder.”
A European man had this to say about England’s conduct in the concentration camps:

 “Great Britain cannot win her battles without resorting to the despicable cowardice of the most loathsome cur on earth — the act of striking at a brave mans heart through his wife’s honour and his childs life.”

The savagery of the English comes to light if one looks at the way they had thrown the dead infant corpses unceremoniously in heaps on wagons to transport to the cemetery. The grieving mothers had to follow the wagons on foot, and many were unable to keep up due to illness or exhaustion, and they missed their children ‘s funerals.
According to PF Bruwer, author of the book named “Vir Volk en Vryheid”, all evidence indicated that the concentration camps, also called the hell camps, were a planned and deliberate attempt by England to commit genocide on the Boer.

4. Conclusion

4.1. “Peace”

As a direct result of the concentration camps, the “Peace” agreement  of Vereeniging was signed on 31 May 1902, in which the Republics came under British control.

4.2. Commandeered by the enemy 

It is a bitter irony that during the First World War, England commandeered the same boys who survived concentration camps, to fight against Germany, who were sympathetic towards the Boer, and they had to risk their lives for the second time to the advantage of England. HS van Blerk described in “Kroniek van die Kampkinders”  how this generation, after World War was also kept out of the labor force and as result impoverished – simply because they were Boers.

4.3. Immortalized in our literature

In modern times it seems that few people realize the hardships our forefathers went through for the sake of our freedom, only for it to be sacrificed without the loss of our nation’s honor.It is therefore appropriate to look at the response that the camps found in our literature, where the greatness of our ancestors are immortalized.
A new song on an old tune ( excerpt )

By C Leipoldt

You , the hope of our nation ;

You , who our people can not miss ;

You , who must grow to a man ;

You , who must do your duty if you can :

You , who have no part in the war ;

You ; who should sing out of pure fun –

You should disappear in a children’s camp

You should be kicked out for peace

Fold your hands tightly together

Close your eyes and say amen!

Whooping cough and tuberculosis, without milk

Bitter for you the cup of life !

There is your place at the graves –

Two in a box , a bridal pair!

All you win is that we remember :

The freedom was more than woman or child!

Leipoldt also wrote touching about a little soap box in which infants could be buried in the luxury:

They made you in England little soap box ,

To serve here for our children as a coffin;

They found you little corpses, little soap box,

And I myself have seen you as coffin.


Equally memorable is AG Visser’s description of an orphan in the concentration camp in his poem, Die Jongste Burger (The youngest Citizen):

The camp of the women are ruled by silence and darkness
The misery graciously covered by the night.
Here and there in a tent flicker a faint light,
Where the angel of Meely – the Angel of Death – wait.
In the place of sorrow and lead filled hearts
A little boy comfortless, lay weeping.
Oh, who count all the tears, who measures all the sorrows
Of an orphan abandoned, alone in the world!

Later in the poem Gen. De Wet describes the battle to an escaped child that came to join his commando and says:

Freedom requires this from our members
Men of courage who provokes danger.
But in the camp, also the mother, the tender
And the innocent child close to her heart.
And the reward? Maybe in the fields a lonely rest place, wetted by no tear.
afterwards, perhaps, the honor from our hero’s children.
Son, are you prepared?
(the answer)- General, I join! 


During the set-piece battle stage of the Boer War (1899-1902), the Boers always gathered for a short sermon before entering into battle. They prayed and sang psalms. Such a gathering was always concluded by the loud and inspirational singing of the Boer Battle Song (Boerenkrijgslied). The Boer Battle Song is originally a Dutch victory song, called Merck toch hoe sterck, which means “See how strong”. The Boers adapted the lyrics and called it the Boerenkrijgslied (Boer Battle Song).

The Dutch in the European Lowlands fought a hard and bloody campaign against the Spanish Occupation (1568-1648), in the 80-year war.

This song is the story of Bergen op Zoom. Defying the Spanish who failed to stranglehold the fortified city successfully.

During the Eighty Years’ War, also known also the Dutch War of Independence against Habsburg and Spanish tiranny, Bergen op Zoom was besieged twice, but both times the fortified city was impregnable.

The ‘Merck toch hoe sterck’ (free translation: “See how strong”) is a remembrance song to that Second Occupation by the Marquise Spinola and his adjutant Don Luis de Velasco, that lasted from the 18th of July to the 2nd of October 1622.
The text originates in 1626 and was written by Adriaan Valerius. Although the song is already almost four hundred years old, every inhabitant of Bergen op Zoom still knows it by heart:

Merck toch hoe sterck nu in ‘t werck sich al steld,
Die ‘t allen tijd’ so ons vrijheit heeft bestreden.
Sie hoe hij slaeft, graeft en draeft met geweld,
Om ons goet en ons bloet en onse steden.
Hoor de Spaensche trommels slaen!
Hoor Maraens trompetten!
Siet hoe komt hij trecken aen, Bergen te bezetten.
Berg op Zoom hout u vroom, Stut de Spaensche scharen;
Laat ‘s Lands boom end’ sijn stroom Trouwlijck doen bewaren!
‘t Moedige, bloedige, woedige swaerd
Blonck en het klonck, dat de vonken daeruijt vlogen.
Beving en leving, opgeving der aerd,
Wonder gedonder nu onder was nu boven;
Door al ‘t mijnen en ‘t geschut,
Dat men daeglijcx hoorde,
Menig Spanjaert in sijn hut In sijn bloed versmoorde.
Berg op Zoom hout sich vroom,
‘t Stut de Spaensche scharen;
‘t Heeft ‘s Lands boom end’ sijn stroom
Trouwlijck doen bewaren!
Die van Oranjen quam Spanjen aen boord,
Om uijt het velt als een helt ‘t geweld te weeren;
Maer also dra Spinola ‘t heeft gehoord,
Trekt hij flux heen op de been met al sijn heeren.
Cordua kruijd spoedig voort,
Sach daer niet te winnen,
Don Velasco liep gestoord:
‘t Vlas was niet te spinnen
Berg op Zoom hout u vroom,
‘t Stut de Spaensche scharen;
‘t Heeft ‘s Lands boom end’ sijn stroom
Trouwlijck doen bewaren!


4.4. We must never forget

Altogether there were 31 concentration camps. The adjacent cemeteries exist in most cases still and as often as possible are visited by Boer people to spiritually keep our people’s struggle for freedom burning. The concentration camps were at: Irene, Barberton, Volksrust, Belfast, Klerksdorp, Polokwane, Potchefstroom, Vereeniging, Turffontein, Balmoral, Nylstroom, Standerton, Heilbron, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Middelburg, Kroonstad, Heidelberg, Krugersdorp, Vryburg, Vredefort, Brandfort, Springfontein , Bethulie, Norvalspont, Port Elizabeth, Aliwal North, Merebank, Pinetown, Pietermaritzburg and Howick…

4.5. Support

Amid all the misery done to our people by the English, there was some support: first, knowing that the Boer’s case was just and that this is a matter of faith, but in addition also, people who had made great sacrifices in an attempt to ease the Boer women and children’s fate  No study of the concentration camps would be complete without the mentioning of Emily Hobhouse. Amid all the pain this woman of Cornwall was a shining light for the Boer women and children. Emily Hobhouse did everything in her power to help the women and children. As a result of these efforts to humanity and reason, the British authorities had banned her from South Africa.To this day the Boers remain eternally grateful to Emily Hobhouse for her efforts, and her remains rest in a place of honor at the foot of the Women’s Monument in Bloemfontein.Other people who had expressed their support against England’s barbaric methods were J Ellis (Irish), Lloyd George (Welsh), CP Scott (Scottish), William Redmond (Welsh), Ramsey McDonald (Scottish).


5. Consequences

1. The Boer’s numbers are today at least 2 million less than it would have been as result of the genocide England had committed on the Boer. It deprives our people of any autonomy in the new so-called democratic system. (In fact democracy means government by the people and not government by the mob as is currently the case in South Africa) (See Handbook of African Language.)

2. Genocide, along with the betrayal of Anglicised Cape Dutch Afrikaners (Note: not Boers) as Jan Smuts and Louis Botha, the Boers were forced to sign the Peace of Vereeniging, by which our people’s freedom was taken away.

3. The strange and inferior British culture imposed on our people.

4. The various indigenous peoples of South Africa was thrust insensitively together in Union, where everyone’s identity and self-determination had been sacrificed.

5. As in the case of the Boer nation, local black people were also stripped of their freedom, which led to the establishment of the ANC in 1912 (two years after the establishment of the Union) who’s aim was to fight for black nationalism.

6. The British system of apartheid, which they applied globally (for example in India, Australia and New Zealand) was forced and applied here, to order the mixed population. The first signs of it was signs that read: “Europeans” and “non-Europeans”. No Boer ever considered himself  as a “European”. Apartheid unleashed racial hatred which still continues until today, and the irony is that the Boer nation, which since 1902 has never been in charge of his country and who himself was a victim in the sense that apartheid robbed him from his country and his work ethic, is blamed for it today.

7. The foreigner miners, England had held up as an excuse to unleash the war, were treated so badly after the war by the British and Jewish mining executives that in 1913 and 1922 (3 and 12 years after the establishment of the Union) it resulted in a general strike during which many miners were killed in the streets of Johannesburg by the British-minded Union Government.

8. The effective and fair republican system of government of the republics was replaced by the unworkable Westminster system of government, which led to endless misery and fighting.

6. in Conclusion

The concentration camps were a calculated and deliberate genocide by England on the Boer committed for the purpose of eradicating the Boer and to gain the Boer republics.If the stories of German gas chambers where true during the Second World War, it was a very merciful way to kill people than to let them die of hunger, deprivation and to  be poisoned. After the 2nd world war England ruthlessly insisted on the Nuremberg trial that the charges be imposed  on the entire German people, that they had committed a Holocaust. At the insistence of England,  Germany still pays compensation, annually, to the Jews for the alleged genocide of the Jews. This means that Germans who were not even born during the Second World War, today, continue to pay for the alleged violations of the Germans. If England applies today the same principles to himself as it imposed on Germany, England must  today shed everything into the struggle to restore the Boer Republics and also pay annual compensation to the Boers for the injustice committed against us by English people.

Translated Article out of the Boere Afrikana

This following song is sick, Siembamba, seeing the cheerfulness of the song, but alas that is how the enemy of the Boer nation wanted it and has managed to do it. This song was about the Boer woman and girls who were raped in the British concentration camps, but then they killed the child at birth, by twisting its neck and throwing it in the ditch (words in the song) so as not to bring bastard blood into their nation…

Enjoyed this post? Share it!