The Anglo-Boer War Museum
Did you know?
The Anglo-Boer War featured the first use of concentration camps during wartime.
The Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein commemorates the Anglo-Boer War (now called the South African War) of 1899-1902, an inevitable conflict given the clash between the imperialism of Britain and the nationalism of the Boers of the Transvaal and Orange Free State republics.
While the British had believed that the threat posed by these little states was negligible, the reality was that they were more powerful than most realised.
This led to calamitous disasters for the British Army at the outset, but by the middle of the war they had annexed the 2 republics. That, however, was not the end of the matter as the war entered a bitter 2-year guerilla phase.
To contain the conflict the British commander, Lord Kitchener, introduced the notorious scorched earth policy in March 1901. The idea was to sweep the country bare of anything that could sustain the Boers, including their women, children and black farmhands. These folk were placed in the world's first concentration, where thousands succumbed to illness in poor living conditions.
For those wanting insight into the conflict there is no better place than the Anglo-Boer War Museum. Using art collections, dioramas and exhibits, the museum details the causes of the war and how it unfolded.
There is art on show too, including an exhibit of painted tiles depicting Boer life during the war, which were found in a store in Holland in 1969, and other works of art in the Kestell and Hobhouse galleries.
In close proximity, and attached to this Bloemfontein war museum, is the National Women's Memorial. Built in 1913, it is dedicated ‘to the glorious memory of the mothers, women and children, who, during the war, passed away, or had otherwise suffered bitterly, either in the concentration camps or outside'.
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Anglo-Boer War Museum
Tel: +27 (0) 51 447 3447/0079