New book released on suffering of women and children in concentration camps
The names of more than 34 000 women, children and men who died en route to and in British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War were displayed on banners against the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria today as part of the commemoration of 110 years since the end of the war. During the commemoration, Kraal-Uitgewers (the publishing arm of the Solidarity Movement) released its latest book in the Erwe van ons vaad’re series, entitled Onthou! Kronieke van vroue en kinderlydig, 1899-1902.
The revelation of the names is significant, as it disproves earlier figures on the number of deaths in concentration camps. The list of deaths* is based on researcher Celeste Reynolds’ extensive research on the subject.
According to Dr Dirk Hermann, Chairman of Kraal-UItgewers’ Board and Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity, this research is remarkable because it rewrites the history of the Anglo-Boer War as it were. For more than 100 years, it was believed that about 27 000 women and children died in the concentration camps, but this new research proves that the deaths that occurred in and as a result of the concentration camps were underestimated by at least 7 000.
The revelation of the names took place during Kraal-Uitgewers’ commemoration of 110 years since the end of the war. The 34 000 names, surnames and ages of people who died in and as a result of the camps were displayed on huge banners on the side of the Voortrekker Monument. The word “Onthou” (“remember”) appears at the top of the banners and conveys the message that the suffering of those who died as a result of Britain’s scorched earth policy must be remembered.
The release of Kraal’s latest book, Onthou! Kronieke van vroue- en kinderlyding, the fifth in the Erwe van ons vaad’re-reeks, formed a central part of the commemoration. The book was written and compiled by AWG Raath of the University of the Free State and Elria Wessels of the War Museum in Bloemfontein. (See the complete media statement regarding Onthou! which is attached.)
According to Raath, Onthou! focuses on the moral and humanitarian implications of the indignity that Boer women and children suffered. ‘Historians’ indifference over the moral implications of the camps and the humanitarian values that were violated by them, creates a breeding ground for future ethnic cleansing, a disregard for the political and economic interests of groups and individuals and support for the view that the end justifies the means. While certain researchers are debating the quality of the medical facilities in the British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War, no attention is being paid to the death cries of women and children who were stripped of their dignity under the heel of political rulers,’ Raath said. ‘The subtext of Onthou! is that faith, hope and love triumphed over injustice, marginalisation and the suppression of Afrikaners – as in the case of a old mother who, like a dove, fed a 14-year-old disabled boy with her mouth in the Bethulie concentration camp.’
Apart from the release of Onthou! and the revelation of the list of names, Kraal is involved in various other actions in commemoration of the 110 years since the end of the Anglo-Boer War. The commemoration also coincides with a court case regarding the preservation of heritage sites of the war (including cemeteries and battlefields) and an action involving the descendants of people who were in the concentration camps.
* The Reynolds list of deaths is not included in Onthou!, but is expected to be published in a separate publication on concentration camps in the near future.
The book is available from Kraal-Uitgewers only and is priced at R520 (excluding R60 postage). There is a pre-order offer of R450 (excluding R50 postage) per copy until 31 May.
Orders can be placed as follows
– SMS: Text the word “Onthou” to 34388 and an agent from Kraal will contact you (R2/SMS).
– Fax: 086 593 2882 or 012 644 1824
– Tel: 012 644 4329
– E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org