Love its power to give and bear.”—Shelley.
Early in the year (Feb. 7, 1901), Mr. Rowntree thus describes the more highly blessed camps of Cape Colony and Natal. In a former chapter it has been shown how Port Elizabeth Camp was brought under excellent conditions in the end of 1900. Mrs. Fawcett has spoken of this camp as a “ show camp.” Mr. Rowntree writes—
“ I was given a pass by Mr. Hess, who remarked he wished us to see the camp so that we could assure people in England how well its occupants were treated. He put a note in the margin of the letter he gave me to the Captain at the head of the military organisation of the town, to the effect that it would have its use in England. There was barbed-wire fencing to a considerable height all round, and sentries with their rifles on at least three sides of the square.
A sensible Afrikander woman came to greet us. She took us into a hut. The iron walls were bare, and the room resounded with the voices of the infants in the adjoining shelters. Chairs are scarce, but neighbours lend willingly, and boxes are gracefully tendered also.
“ There are 330 souls within the wire fence, 80 of them are mothers, 10 of them are persons of culture and means, the rest being absolutely destitute. The needs for the body are fairly met. They have clothing for the present, but the problem is, and will be, to keep the mind healthy and occupied and free from self-brooding in this life of enforced idleness. In the hospital to-day there were only two mothers and two newly-arrived infants. Any news we could give was drunk in most eagerly. One person with whom we conversed had heard nothing of her husband for many months, and evidently yearned for tidings.”
“The conduct of the inmates is excellent; they have a great regard for the matron. Miss Hauptfleisch, of whom I cannot speak too highly, She has managed the camp and the inmates with a wonderful tact and skill and the present efficient state of the camp is entirely due to her exertions and sacrifice of her time and health to her sisters in distress.
“ There is a good deal of crowding in some of the rooms, as many as ten, eleven, and fourteen persons living in one room together.
“Charles P. Piers, Captain.
“ March 27, 1901." Cd. 819, p.43.
“ We came later,” continues Mr. Rowntree, “ to Pietermaritzburg (February 14), and learnt that of the 1,800 persons in the camp here at Christmas, some 500 persons have been taken to Howick. This camp became unmanageably large. I fancy several children died, and that changes were needed. The Colonel is evidently a humane man, desirous to act for the best on the limited means allowed him. The food, said to have been insufficient, is now said to be improved, but is not apparently always up to the mark, and barely sufficient.
“ We have spent the afternoon at the camp. The thermometer was 95’ in the shade. It is a vast space, almost like a deer park, on a slope, with much long coarse grass. The Rev. Sir. Rousseau, who is able to go into and come from the camp as he pleases, drove us right in without challenge. We saw many boys about, and feared we should miss the school, but soon came on a biggish tent, bursting with boys and girls. The head teacher is a young man, a British subject who did not fight, but it was thought best for the Empire that he should live in a gaol, and so he did for eight months. He still thinks, poor man, that he should have been charged with some offence and tried, but this is a vain thought, and he is perhaps hardly sufficiently thankful that he is now moved to a camp. We visited several tents. One old man had got a protection order for his farm, but some dynamite was found on the line about six miles away. He knew nothing whatever about it, but he and his wife were called out, and the house fired. They were very quietly sad. Many of the women had had their furniture, indeed practically all their goods except a little clothing, confiscated, without any receipt or attempt at remuneration, because their husbands or sons were on commando. In some cases this has been done to women whose husbands or sons are in Ceylon. One of them burst into tears when she said they took a lamp which her son had made for her, though she pleaded for it. Speaking generally, such statements were never proffered, only given in answer to questions, and often with remarkable absence of colouring. One lady said she would gladly shake hands with English soldiers, they often shared their rations with the hungry, but she would not with the officers, who sent them away hungry and cold on long journeys. One had come, with thirty-six others, in an open truck, in cold weather, for a day and a night
“ To one tent the news was brought us that more prisoners were coming. Their quick eyes caught them detraining when I could not distinguish them at all. In an hour the new prisoners came. A few soldiers first, who looked good-natured, and as if not particularly relishing their work, then a long straggling procession, broken often into clumps. Mostly mother and children, many babies in arms, many toddling alongside, clutching gown or hand, most of them weary, sad, grave, a look of destitution imprinted on faces and clothing alike. One little lad of seven or eight was so tired that he lay down twice on the grass, and was made to go on. All, down to the infants, had some little thing, presumably the most precious or;necessary, in one hand, a water-bottle, a kettle, a small bundle of clothing; here and there a bag with a few provisions; one lone woman was cherishing a cat One old woman, with a little child by her side, came in a ricksha; the rest were all on foot and with no umbrellas against the sun. The general effect was very sombre and infinitely sad. I saw two or three in tears, and one had to move away by one’s self for a time. My wife followed them to see if anything could be done in the way of food, but a cordon of soldiers was formed, and all others were kept away. We could not well object, but out of their penury the older prisoners were evidently very anxious to supply the new-comers with coffee, and share what they had.”
" February 27.
“ What is to be the future? The past is mainly very sad— the 200 persons we saw ten days ago had been slowly collected. One woman, with a good face, told me to-day that she and her children had been driven for two days to Standerton, where they stopped nine days. Then they were a day and a night in open trucks, coming here, with no rations, and only the bare tent when they got here at sundown; no bedstead, no bedding. They are many of them fine people, very much like Lowland Scotch.
Their hearts unlock quickly, even to kind looks. Your head may soon swim with quietly told experiences, and now and then you may get tired of one or two interposing too often, but as a whole they have the true strength and dignity of self-restraint.”
Mr. Rowntree continues—
“ March I.
“ Large numbers of homeless women and children are being drafted down continually. There are about 3000 bereft of almost everything but a bundle of bedding and a box of some sort. The authorities begrudge rations to those who
have any means. Mrs. --------- showed me a formal notice she had received from the Camp Commandant stating he was ordered to discontinue rations to her, understanding that she had means of her own. . . . The British Government has confiscated most of these people’s effects. Is it intended that they should become pauperised ? As it is they have to beg of a Dutch Reformed minister for a postage stamp or a needle.”
There was something indescribably sad, as Mr. Rowntree shows, in watching the passing group of exiled women.
“ Oh!” cries a lady of Thaba ’Nchu, writing to her sister on the 29th of May, “ how weary I am of it all! The never-ending stream of poor women and children still continues to flow through here on the way to that awful camp in Bloemfontein, where they are dying off like sick sheep. About a month ago all the women from just round about Prynnaberg—about 230—were brought here and * plumped ’ down. They were crowded into the Dutch Reformed Church, schoolroom and hall,and left here in the greatest discomfort for three weeks; many got ill, one woman and one child died here—the woman was Mrs. Van Wijk, Aunt Maria Sephton’s mother. She was 77 years old, weak and ill, and not fit to be carted over the country in all sorts of weather in an old jolty buck-waggon.
“ The Van Niekerks and Boschmans and all the women you knew round here were of the lot. I used to go and see them and ‘ hold their hands ’ for them, there is so very little one can do for these poor women. If you see what they have to put up with, it just makes one * boil.’ . . . How I do boil, and one has to keep it all bottled in and ‘ keep smiling.’
“ Well, these poor women show one how to take things bravely; they laugh, and seem to get as much fun out of their misfortunes as they can; I do admire them. But there is the other picture too; lots of them just used to come and sit and weep out their miseries to me in my room, because I was your sister.
“ Well, last week they were all packed into more buck-waggons to be taken to the ‘camp*; when they got to the waterworks, the order came for no oxen to cross the river on account of the rinderpest having broken out here. So these poor women are stranded on the flats with hardly any food and next to no shelter. They had been there for days when I heard from them, and I can’t say if they have been taken on to Bloemfontein yet Some of them said they would let me know what became of them eventually if they survive it all, poor souls. The sick (about six families) are still here.”
Mrs. P. Maritz Botha writes—
“ On presenting my ticket for admittance ” to the camp at Johannesburg, “the guard informed me that there were two or three thousand women there, also that he had just come from Potchefstroom District, where he had spent five or six months, being one of a column employed in destroying homesteads and farms in that district, and bringing in the women and children into the camp there. He condemned the practice, saying that retribution was sure to follow on the English.
“ In the camp I found a lot of sick lying about in the iron sheds—ill principally with measles—though other diseases were rife. These people were of the superior class of Boers.
In the small space allotted to each family were to be seen sick, dying, and dead.
“ I found one poor woman with her face turned to the wall, weeping bitterly. On my questioning her as to the cause of her grief, she turned round and said that she had just lost her sixth and last child, all having died in camp.
“ A great and righteous complaint amongst the women was, that for all the divers diseases and illnesses rife in camp, from enteric and measles to a broken leg, only two kinds of medicines were used, and these were served from two separate vessels. This treatment naturally caused suspicion, and the result was that the women took to what are called home remedies.
“ As far as rations are concerned, thanks to Governor Mackenzie, just at this time there were no complaints about the food, which a little while back had been practically unfit for consumption. Also at this time the D.R.C. ministers were allowed to supply small sums of money, which helped to build small ovens.
" ‘ Housing, —This leaves much to be desired. There is no provision for privacy. . . nothing less suitable for families could well be conceived. I leave out of the question such objections as the want of privacy. ... There are to my mind more serious objections.
“ The buildings are very draughty, and in winter will be very cold. The earth between the floors will soon become very foul, etc.
“ Dr. Turner.”
Cd. 819, p. 30.
“ Month ending 31st May,
population . . . 3379
During May, deaths . . 79
“ The health of the Burgher Camp, Johannesburg, during the month of May has generally been exceedingly good. (!)
“ Dr. Crook (Medical Officer).’ Cd. 819, pp. 54-56.
" Dr. Croizier - Durham entirely failed to cope with the situation, and I returned him to the coast, appointing Dr. Crook in his stead. Already an improvement is noticeable in the general health and appearance of the women and children, owing mainly to his efforts and the assistance rendered by a committee of the members of the local Dutch Reformed Church, who have provided nurses and some medical comforts for the invalids.” Report of G. W. Goodwin, General Superintendent.
Cd. 819, p. 23.
“ The method of taking these women from their homes was truly conspicuous for its barbarity. They were literally robbed of everything they had before being sent away ; and I know women, once well off, who were carted about the country for months without once being able to change their dress. Some were made to give up their rings, others even their precious heirloom Bibles.
“ One woman told me that, having hidden £35 in her breast for safety and to feed her children with, she was approached by an officer, who snatched open her dress and took the money from her.
“ I personally, on visiting some of the poor families at night who were brought into Pretoria, have seen a father, mother, and eight children huddled together in two tiny zinc rooms, with nothing either above or below them for warmth and protection ; and I have given bedding from my son’s bed just to aid these people who were left in this neglected state for weeks at a time.”
Mr. H. A. Cornelissen and Mr. F. Smits Verburg, now in Europe, were both in the Concentration Camp at Irene as prisoners, and had therefore good opportunities for describing the life of the camp. Mr. Cornelissen was a war correspondent with the Boer forces, and, after being six months in the two camps of Irene and Pietersburg, was allowed to leave for Europe in October 1901. He attributes the high mortality to various causes. First, the exhausted condition of the women and children on their arrival at the camps; secondly, the fact of the inmates being housed in tents—no Boer would ever think of living in a tent with his family in winter on the South African veld; thirdly, the inadequate medical aid. His most serious complaint is about the bad quality and insufficiency of the food supplied. The meat generally had to be thrown away. He says that but for private charity the women and children would have perished with the cold. His story is endorsed by Mr. Verburg [Mr. Smits Verburg. See De Telegraaf, Amsterdam.]—
“On the 21st of April last I arrived at the Concentration Camp at Irene. It was a Sunday afternoon. There was to be no distribution of rations before Monday morning at eight. We had to live meanwhile as best we could manage. On Monday morning we received 7 lbs. of Australian flour, 4 English ozs. of coffee (roasted maize), 7 English ozs. of sugar (black and tart), and half an oz. of rough salt. Every Wednesday and Saturday was served out, besides the above, an English pound of mutton, the sheep being so lean that they much resembled greyhounds.
“The sheep supplied have undoubtedly been in very poor condition. ... On the whole, the ration satisfies the people, especially since children were allowed I lb. of flour a day, instead of £ lb. as formerly. The flour supplied has been of very good quality on the whole.
“N. J. Schotz, Supt., Irene.”
Cd. 814, pp. 58, 59.
“What they got too little in meat was made up for by the living things which the flour contained—black corn-weevils and beetles. And hundreds of women I saw sifting such flour, without complaining, to free it from living animals and mouldy clots. I myself took it back for Mrs. Aart van Wijk, Renoster-poort, Zoutpansberg, and after a deal of talking and flattery managed to get for her as much other flour as the mouldy clots and weevils weighed which she had sifted from her flour.
“One round tent was assigned to every twelve persons to live in, without considering whether they belonged to the same family, so that they lay very close together, almost the one on the other; which, however, had one advantage, that the want of a sufficient quantity of bedclothes was not so severely felt during the bitterly cold nights of that time, as otherwise would have been the case.
“ The weather has been extremely cold at night, and on some days the wind extremely cold. I have done all in my power to assist the people and minimise their hardships, by issuing to them blankets, sheepskins, and canvas coverings. On the whole they are fairly comfortable. Complaints are inevitable in a camp with 4500 people. . . . The scarcity of wood has been the cause of considerable anxiety, and is one of the greatest hardships of the people. . . . There is more than enough work for another medical officer to do in the camp, as it is quite impossible for a man _ to visit more than fifty patients ai\d give them proper attention in one day.
Dr. Green’s Report. Cd. 819, p. 61.
“ When I arrived there was one doctor to look after the patients, afterwards there were two, but this number cannot be considered sufficient for a camp of 4000 souls. The number of funerals was every day ominously great.”
Mrs. Bodde, an English lady whom I have the pleasure of knowing, wrote thus about Irene Camp. Parts of her letter were published last summer—
“ May 23, 1901.
“ When I left Pretoria there were 5000 men and children in the camp at Irene, and 1000 were reported to be sick. The camp itself is on the site of a camp previously occupied by the British soldiers when they were prisoners in Pretoria. The ground is high and sloping. The camp is surrounded by a fence of barbed wire, and guarded by sentries, who refuse to permit any entrance or egress excepting under military pass. There is no truth in the statement, which to my surprise I find repeated in London, that the women and children went to the camps by their own consent, or are willing to remain there. In almost every case, these women, with their little ones, have been taken by force from their homes at a moment’s notice. They have not even been allowed to take with them a morsel of food, or to be removed in their own carts. They were taken by the soldiers, and put into open cattle trucks and waggons, while their own beautiful waggons, carts, and vehicles were burnt before their eyes.
“ The work of the destruction of the goods of these unfortunate people was not by any means confined to food-stuffs or to houses that might shelter the enemy. Thousands of bales of valuable wool, in the Standerton and Ermelo districts, were destroyed by first saturating them with paraffin oil, and then setting them on fire. Bales of wool cannot be used for food.
“ The impression seems to prevail in this country that the work of farm-burning has ceased. Nothing could be further from the truth. When a sweeping operation takes place, and a column goes out for the purpose of denuding the country of supplies, the farmhouses are uniformly first gutted and usually set on fire. When Mrs. Botha received permission from Lord Kitchener to visit her husband, she crossed the country in a Cape cart, and stayed each night at a farmhouse en route. After staying five days with her husband, she set out to return to Pretoria. She could not come back the way she went, because all the houses which had given her shelter had been burnt to the ground in that brief interval. The work of destruction is usually done in a desperate hurry, for the soldiers are afraid that they may be surprised by the Boers in the midst of their work. They therefore usually set a house on fire, or blow up the walls with dynamite if it is strongly built. The crops are destroyed, hundreds of bags of grain are ripped open and trampled under foot, fruit trees are cut down, and all this has to be done in a few hours. In most of these houses which have been destroyed are stored excellent tents, used by the young people of the Boers when they go out into the veld to pasture their cattle. If they had been permitted to remove them they would at least have had shelter over their heads, but no woman was allowed to bring with her a tent to protect her from the sun by day or the cold by night. The tents were burnt with all the other furniture of the household; and, thus beggared and homeless, they were carted off across the veld, and consigned to the camps, in which they remain prisoners to this day.
“ When I left Pretoria it was already very cold, even inside my own home. What it must have been outside in the tents on the bleak hillside I shudder to think. Yet that was only the beginning of winter. The number of deaths occurring among the children is appalling. Unless the death-rate is checked there will be no children left in the camp when the winter is over. The women and children sleep on straw mattresses, on the bare ground. The tents are without lining, and they afford hardly any protection against wind, nor have the women adequate clothing. Some were allowed to snatch a blanket from the bonfire which was made of all their goods and possessions, but if they had only been allowed to bring their bedding they would at least have been saved some of the intense misery to which they are at present doomed. As a rule, they were allowed to bring nothing with them but the clothes which were on their backs. There is also hardly any fuel in the camps, it being exceedingly scarce.
“ While the shelter is miserably inadequate, the rations are very bad. The military authorities have entered into an arrangement with a contractor, by which he supplies the camp with food for adults. No special food is supplied for children. The rations supplied by the contractor, which are by no means the regular Army rations, consist of flour that is often bitter and unfit to be eaten. Even if it were good, the women are not accustomed to white flour, and do not like it They have always used either whole ground meal or Boer meal, but white flour many of them touched for the first time when their day’s ration was handed to them. The coffee is hardly deserving of the name, and appears to be made largely of roasted acorns. The sugar is the result of the skimmings of the sugar boiler. The food is quite inadequate for adults, and the poor children simply starve and die. The mortality among children is really terrible. From one farm alone ten children have died, and there are cases in which every child in the family has perished. How can it be otherwise? Children under seven years of age require to have some kind of milk diet. Of course, I am well aware that milk fresh from the cow is impossible. Every milch cow is commandeered for the use of the sick in the military hospital, but that is no reason why children should not be supplied with condensed milk and Mellin’s food. The statement that it is impossible to supply condensed milk to the prison camps may be made here, but I never heard of any such excuse in Pretoria. I know of my own certain knowledge that there is any amount of condensed milk in Pretoria. I brought my own baby up on it for the last two years, and never had any difficulty in procuring as much as was wanted, with the exception of the first four months after the occupation of Pretoria. Not only is there any amount of condensed milk in Pretoria, but a Hollander Charitable Committee, which was formed for the purpose of relieving the distressed women and children, actually kept many children in the camp alive by distributing condensed milk and other foods to the little ones ; but for some reason or other—I think it was about the month of April—the military authorities withdrew the licence by virtue of which the Hollander Committee had been able to distribute these necessaries of life to the children, with the result that the children are dying like flies. Why they should be deprived of condensed milk and other food necessary to keep them alive I do not know. But you can hardly be surprised if it is misinterpreted by the Dutch. They are aware that the authorities did, as a matter of policy, order that the women and families of the men still fighting should only receive half rations and no meat whatever [See Appendix A.] Since I came to this country I hear that the rescinding of this inhuman order was attributed to pressure brought to bear on Ministers in the House of Commons. We knew nothing about that in Pretoria. All that we knew was that the foreign Consuls protested against the refusal of full rations to the women and children whose husbands were still on commando, and the distinction was blocked in deference—so we always understood—to the representations of the Consuls. A few nurses are allowed in the camp, but the doctors do not understand the language of many of their patients, and obstacles have been placed in the way of the granting of a licence to the Hollander Society, which undertook to supply medical relief to the sufferers.
“ It is merely human nature that the Dutch should take a rather sinister view of these proceedings.”
The desire to improve the conditions of the unfortunate inmates of this camp took the form of an appeal to the foreign Consuls for their intercession with the military authorities—
“ To his Excellency D. Cinatti, Consul-General of Portugal, and the other Representatives of Foreign Powers.
“ Pretoria, May 25, 1901.
“ Excellencies,—The condition of the women and children of our burghers, especially of those whose men are still fighting, is of such a nature that we, the undersigned women, consider it highly necessary to call in the aid of the Consuls. These poor helpless beings suffer indescribably; they have been so weakened by bad and insufficient food that they cannot possibly withstand the ravages of disease and cold. Already the cold is intense at Irene, considered to be a warm climate. We dread to think what it must be on the high veld, at Middelburg, Standerton, and Vereeniging, etc. Only very few families were allowed to bring clothing with them, the others having nothing but what they were clad in when forced to leave their homes, and those are worn and soiled. A few were also allowed to take bedding, but the majority have insufficient or none, and are compelled to lie on the cold earth, only sheltered from the bitterly cold weather by canvas. Their food is mostly unfit for consumption. We know of a case where the mother saw three children carried away within sixteen days. They died from diarrhoea, caused by bad meat, flour, coffee, and sugar; no other food is dealt out to the imprisoned women and children. Another daughter, 13 years of age, is still lying dangerously ill. Neither soap nor candles have been given to them; these are called ‘articles of luxury.* Our African nation cannot exist on flour, even when of the best quality; the poorest are used to plenty of milk, and plain, but nutritious, food.
“ We are convinced that (this) pitiful state of affairs is aggravated by rough and heartless men such as Superintendent Scholtz at Irene. The women prefer to starve and suffer with their children, even when twenty are herded together in one tent, almost without bedding, rather than expose themselves to insults when they approach with their needs.
“ Is it considered such a crime in these present days to fight for home and independence, that it is wreaked on defenceless women and helpless children, in order to compel the brave little handful of lion-hearted men to surrender ? We earnestly beseech you to take steps without delay to relieve the sufferings of these unfortunate beings. Our little nation is being exterminated. Already many prisoners at Ceylon and elsewhere, and burghers still in the field, are, without knowing it, wifeless and childless.
“ With the approaching winter in view there is no time to be lost. Help us, in God’s name and in the name of humanity. He will bless you, and you will have our eternal gratitude.
“ We have the honour to be, Excellencies, your obedient and sorrowing,” (Nine Signatures.)
The appeal of May 25, after due deliberation by the Consuls, was handed to Lord Kitchener, who, however, did not acknowledge it. After waiting nearly five weeks, the same signatories sent in the following petition—
“ To his Excellency D. Cinatti, Consul-General of Portugal, and the other Representatives of Foreign Powers.
“ Pretoria, July 1, 1901,
“ Excellencies,—The undersigned Committee of Boer ladies, in name of the Boer ladies in South Africa, having taken into consideration the serious condition of the various camps of the imprisoned women and children, of the appalling death-rates in consequence of disease brought on by cold and starvation, seeing the danger our brave little nation is running—unless speedily relieved—of being totally exterminated, are turning to you once again as our only earthly help in our great and bitter need. We earnestly beseech you without loss of time to request your Governments, for the sake of humanity, to use their friendly good offices before the Government of Great Britain in favour of helpless women and tender children.
“ For our men we ask nothing—they are men, and well able to bear all that it has pleased Providence to lay upon them—but for their imprisoned families we demand, in common justice, from mighty and wealthy England, sufficient and better food, warm clothing and bedding; also that no obstacles be laid in our way to visit the different camps for the purpose of aiding as far as we possibly can.
“ They have been dragged by force from their homes, their food and clothing destroyed by fire, and are now dying by hundreds weekly for want of these necessities. To compel our brave men to surrender, their families are tortured and on the way of being rooted out. Although not much is known about the many other camps scattered all over the land, you are sufficiently aware of what is taking place at Irene Camp, considered to be the best, and thus enabled to give an account thereupon to your Government.
“ We pray to God that your endeavours may meet with success, so that relief may speedily come to these unfortunate victims of a cruel and unjust war.
“ We have the honour to be, Excellencies, gratefully,” etc.,
Substantially the same as Mrs. Bodde’s account is this one sent to England by a leading Transvaal lady—
“ Pretoria, May 1901.
“In almost every case they (the women) have been taken from their comfortable homes at a moment’s notice, and not even allowed to take a morsel of food with them. They were, and still are, thrust into open cattle trucks and waggons, while their own beautiful waggons, carts, and vehicles are being burnt before their eyes, their homes set on fire, or blown up if too strongly built. . . .
“The crops must be destroyed, hundreds of bags of grain ripped open and trampled under foot, trees cut down, in many instances below the grafts, all this being done in a few hours. I could mention hundreds of people I know by name and personally. In the sheep-farming districts, Standerton, Ermelo, etc., thousands of bales of wool were destroyed by first saturating them with paraffin. It is said no food-stuffs must be left on the farms to prevent the burghers on commando from taking them. But bales of wool cannot be used as food. Then they say only the farms in the neighbourhood of railway lines are destroyed. This is an untruth.
“ Two-thirds of the Republics, with the exception of the towns and farms of those who have surrendered, have been destroyed. The blacks of the Cape, bastards especially, take an active part in the destruction and looting of properties before the eyes of the helpless women, insulting and sometimes outraging them. We have been told—and I hope it is true—that the Australian volunteers have refused to fight because ‘ they did not come to fight against women and children, but men.’ The condition of the women and children prisoners is terrible, too awful for words. . . .
“ I am only speaking of Irene—we know nothing of what happens in the other places, but it is admitted that some of the camps are very bad. Irene Camp is on a hill, very hot during the day and intensely cold at night. Already the deaths daily are appalling. . . .
“One of my relatives, a widow with|five children, had the misfortune to stay a few days at Irene; they tell me the tents are without lining, the women and children sleep on the bare ground on straw mattresses with little covering; she had plenty of her own, but even then the cold was unbearable. They are wet with dew in summer, and now with a piercing wind blowing they might just as well be on the open veld ; when the beds are lifted in the morning the ground is perfectly wet underneath. If these poor helpless ones had only been allowed to bring their own bedding and their own tents they would have been comfortable.
“ Every Boer has an excellent tent; they are used to the life, at least the younger ones pass months in tents pasturing their cattle in winter, but they stand in the bush, well sheltered with trees, with plenty of fuel and every other comfort. But here they are half-starved, brought away by force from their homes with only the clothes they stood in; one woman told me—widow of one of our first Volksraad members (who was killed at Derdepoort by the harpies, viz. Kaffirs, commanded by English officers)—-that she was made to take off her shoes, also her daughter and little children, and to walk with bare feet to the nearest camp.
“ The flour portioned out to these prisoners, women and children of every age, is rotten very often, unfit for dogs; coffee, some poisonous stuff mixed with acorns; sugar, the scum of sugar boilers. I have seen samples of all these, and was assured that •they prefer to starve rather than to eat or drink such stuff.
“ We are being rooted out as a nation.
“ I know of several cases where the husbands are either prisoners or fighting, the wife dead with her three children, or a mother lost all six children. One woman told me her husband was at St. Helena, some sons fighting, her daughter’s husband killed, and that since she was brought into Pretoria, from her farm alone ten children had died.
“ Believe, as God is my judge, I am not exaggerating. No one can make things out worse than they are. Our land is desolate, but we can build it up again. What we cannot do is to give back to our poor prisoners when they return some day their wives and children, their relatives and friends. . . .
“ They say we are worse than the men, but what have the little innocent children done to starve them and in consequence to kill them with disease and cold?
“ This is only May, and the night is bitter cold in Pretoria; what it is on the high veld and cold districts, and what it will be in July, no one who knows can bear to think. I belong to the unfortunates who cannot put their thoughts on paper. It would require the pen of an Olive Schreiner (God bless her!) to describe the sufferings of our women and children. . . .”
Very interesting is Miss Malherbe’s short review of the work done by the volunteer nurses from Pretoria. These ladies, who had borne the burden and heat of the day for five long months, were dismissed by the Ladies’ Commission.
“ I went out on 7th April 1901, together with Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. Stiemens, Mrs. Vlok, Mrs. Enslin, Miss Findlay, Miss Van Warmelo, Miss Celliers, and the Misses Durr. We all went out voluntarily, and at the request of the women in the camp; and of course in receipt of no salary, in fact we paid the majority of railway fares from and to Pretoria. As far as our mess was concerned we drew officers* rations, also the Hollander Relief Fund gave £3 per month towards our mess.
“ We worked in Irene Camp for six months, being dismissed on the 10th October; there was no reason whatever given for this dismissal.
“ We were more than sorry to leave the camp, and the women also showed their regret by drawing up a petition praying for us to be allowed to remain. Even General Maxwell expressed to one of us his regret that we should be removed from the useful work we were doing.
“ Six ladies from Pretoria, who are voluntary workers, visit in the camp and live in tents. Each lady takes a ward, and visits every tent in the morning, and then reports to the medical officer the serious cases, and does what nursing for the sick that she can. These ladies do their work well, and it would be difficult and impossible for the present medical staff to do their work without them."
Dr. Green’s Report. Cd. 819, p. 61.
“Six (Pretoria ladies) are permanently resident in camp. They draw rations, have a large marquee for their mess-room, ana four bell-tents. They do not encourage the people to send their sick to hospital; Mr. Esselen does, but the sick remain in their tents in much larger number than is wise or right. They gave us to understand that they drew the same ration as the camp, but we found they really drew staff rations—a double quantity of meat. They said the meat was so thin that the whole of their joint ration (8 lbs.) only yielded I lb. of meat when separated from the bone.”—Cd. 893, p. 119. Report of Ladies’ Commission.
“ It is the opinion of the Commission that the ladies from Pretoria are a dangerous element in camp. They represent an antagonism to the authority of the superintendent (Mr. Esselen), and act as carriers and ‘go-betweens’ between the camp and the town.”—Cd. 893, p. 119.
“The six ladies from Pretoria who belong to the Red Cross . . . stay here for one month at a time, when they are relieved by others from Pretoria. They are of great assistance to the medical officer, and are untiring in their visits and rounds in the camps amongst the sick.
"G. F. Esselen, Supt.” Cd. 819, p. 236.
It did seem as if we were far more suited to attend our women, knowing them and understanding them as we did, than English nurses, who could not understand a word of their language; and seeing that we even had to interpret for the doctor himself.
“ The routine of the day began at 8 a.m. and consisted of visiting the two hundred or one hundred and fifty tents allotted to each of us, and there making notes of the sick, taking temperatures, and giving medical comforts (these were obtained by the patients presenting a card given by us to the doctor in charge), as well as applying what medical remedies were necessary. All the tents under the charge of each person had to be visited by one o’clock p.m. each day, so naturally the quantity of work debarred us from doing as much as ought to have been done to each patient, seeing that in the case of epidemic we had as many as 500 patients. The visits of the doctors to the tents under our respective charges were divided between the morning and afternoon, half the sick being visited at a time.
“ The six ladies from Pretoria who belong to the Red Cross . . . stay here for one month at a time, when they are relieved by others from Pretoria. They are of great assistance to the medical officer, and are untiring in their visits and rounds in the camps amongst the sick.
"G. F. Esselen, Supt.” Cd. 819, p. 236
“ On the whole, their tone was to weep and bewail, but take no active steps to help the people to help themselves, or make the best of things.”
“ In the afternoon we again visited the sick-tents to see if patients had what they required for the night; before leaving them late in the afternoon, their temperatures were again taken, this being the last attendance of the day.
“ I have seen it mentioned in a Blue Book that the Committee of ladies (sent out to inspect the camps) stated that they found us crocheting; this may be so, if it was it could only have been between the hours of one and three o’clock p.m.—these being given us for our dinner and rest; and anybody knowing anything about South African life is aware that it is impossible for women to work outside between these hours; also all the crocheting done by us was for the use of the women and children in the tents.
“ We called on them about 3.30 in the afternoon, and found them in their marquee doing knitting and crochet.”—p. 119.
“ In the Blue Book also is stated a deliberate falsehood, i.e. that we neither tried nor did start either a soup kitchen or a tannery; Mrs. Armstrong made repeated requests to the superintendent for facilities to start either, but evasive answers were always given her, and certainly no facilities to start them. In one other camp visited, V. D. Hovens*, near Pretoria, a soup kitchen was started by some Boer ladies, and was put a stop to by the military authorities.
“ Some of the ladies have been in camp five months. We asked them if they thought a soup kitchen would be useful; they replied in the affirmative, but they had done nothing to start one.”—Cd. 893, p. 119.
“ Another thing, home medicines were not encouraged by us, but when home remedies were used they were first obtained from the store set up by military authority for the use of the camp; the selling of these home remedies was afterwards stopped, but this is how they were obtained and used in the camp. As to the people being poisoned by these home remedies, the idea is ridiculous. They consist of the simplest ingredients of the chemist art, and have been used since Boers became Boers; why they should die of these remedies the first time they were used under the English flag is inexplicable. In my five months of work in the camp neither did I attend or did I hear of any patient dying of poison from home remedies.
" The sale of Dutch medicines is prohibited, but the 'Pretoria Ladies' bring them out ”-Cd. 893, p. 118.
“ The hospital consists of one brick building with two large wards, and seven marquees. There are about sixty beds in all. There are three doctors, one dispenser with two assistants, two trained nurses, three untrained nurses, and several camp assistants. As far as I could judge, the hospital was in excellent order.
“ So far as complaints are concerned I might fill a book, but to shorten them as far as possible. They were as follows:—
There was in vogue an extra-ordinary way of punishing the women and children; they were for most petty offences—such as washing clothes in a wrong place —sent off to a wire enclosure, where they had to remain for hours at a time under a small tent.
“ Again, the supply of fuel was so badly arranged, that I have known at times that for days together the people had no fuel at all, and practically never had they enough to burn for their wants.
“ There is a wired-in enclosure for unrul women." p. 119.
“ There is no definite fuel ration in this camp. In the week previous to that of our visit the want had been specially acute.
“There were many complaints in camp from lack of fuel, and Mr. Esselen seemed to experience great difficulty in supplying it. Irene is as well placed geographically for the supply of wood as Johannesburg or Krugersdorp yet owing to a lack of method, the camp is far worse off than either of the two latter campe" - p117
“ As far as the schools were concerned they were very much appreciated but as usual with that persistent annoyance which was always put upon the people of the camps, the Dutchspeaking teachers were in a short time removed; this, as may be imagined, could only be a source of great discontent to the people and a slackening of interest in school work.
“ Now for the rations of the people in the camp. Before we arrived, I believe, from the tales I heard from the women in the camp, things were considerably worse, but the quantity and quality of the food they received while we were there will speak for itself. I may mention in passing that the chief food of our countrymen consists of meat, as is natural from the herds of cattle and sheep they possess; in fact, they are used to have meat once a day at least, and the richer two and three times, as well as an unlimited supply of milk and eggs. Now for such people suddenly to be put on 2^ lbs. of meat a week for grown people, and 1 lb. for children, and this meat to consist of thin, hardly-driven sheep or tinned bully-beef, the result may well be imagined, the terrible mortality in the camps.
“ Again and again have I heard the people complain of the insufficiency of food, as this bad meat was only augmented by 1 lb. of meal a day for grown and i lb. for children, and a little coffee and sugar a day for each; rice was given once a week.
“ The question of beds is another sore point; there are only beds in the proportion of one to four, so that the large majority of women and children sleep on the ground; in fact, an interesting parallel might be drawn between the present lives of these unhappy people and the Kaffirs of the country. Another great grievance was the treatment of the women in the camps whose husbands were still fighting at the front. In several instances I personally know of, such women were subjected to every kind of annoyance; requests which were granted to others were refused to them; in fact, they were made to feel that their husbands were considered criminals.”
Another of the Pretoria lady nurses, Miss Van Warmelo, gives a description of Irene Camp and her work there—
“ Irene, July 20, 1901.
“ During the first week of my stay at Irene,” she says (May 12-19), “the total number of deaths was 12. This increased steadily, and in the middle of June it was 27; then the following week, to our horror, it was 47, and since then it has been over 45 every week.
“I think it would be much better to get more ladies or nurses to work in the hospital, and thus relieve the trained nurses of a great deal of worry and overstrain.
Cd. 819, p. 61.
“There was an epidemic of measles raging through the camp at the time, and the children died in hundreds of the complications which followed—bronchitis, pleurisy, and bronchial pneumonia. For the month of June we had no less than 137 deaths, an appalling death-rate for a population of not quite 5,000 people, and of these quite 100 were of children under 5 years of age. Now that pneumonia has set in, I am afraid the death-rate will increase.
“ The following is an extract from the doctors report for the month of June 1901—
“ ‘ For the month there has been a high death-rate, due—
“ ‘ 1. To the very severe epidemic of measles.
“ ‘ 2. To the great difference between temperatures in the tents during day and night. This is especially detrimental to the chances of measle cases.
“ ‘ 3. To the superstition and aversion many have to fresh air and water.
“ ‘ 4. Camp life, to which the people are unaccustomed.
“ ‘ 5. Diet is spare and fresh milk absent, the meat very often being unfit for consumption.
“ ‘ 6. No fresh vegetables obtainable.
“ ‘ 7. Orders for drugs and medical comforts take a long time in being executed, and then are not fully executed according to order—this resulting in our running short of necessary foods and important medicines.
“ ‘ Sanitary arrangements are well carried out on the whole. The water supplied from one source to six tanks in the camp, and is fairly good after analysis.’
“ There is one thing they forgot to mention, a very important item, the over-crowding of the tents. During the whole of May I had 20 people in one of my tents—3 families: Bronkhorst, Prinsloo, and Venter, 3 married women with 17 children, and though I reported it frequently, I could not get another tent for them. Afterwards, when measles broke out amongst them, there were 11 people down at the same time, 2 women and 9 children packed in rows like herrings, with hardly standing room for anyone else between them. They all recovered from the measles, but 2 of the children have died from complications that followed afterwards. In another tent I had 19 people, 5 women and 14 children; and in dozens of others I had from 12 to 15.
“ The condition of the inmates . . . in the ward under Miss Van Warmelo . . . was much worse than any other portion of the camp. In some of the tents there is distinct over-crowding. In one tent, for instance, there are two women — Mrs. Bronkhurst and Mrs. Prinsloo—and nine children. Some of the children are insufficiently clad; all poorly. In another tent there are three families (Venters, 1‘rinsloo, and Dorfling), parents and children number fourteen. All had measles. Two children died last week. One is still very ill and not likely to recover.”
Report of Dr. Kendal Franks.
Ca. 819, p. 163.
“ Some of my tents were the oblong ones, lined, but the majority were bell-shaped and unlined, bitterly cold at night and intensely warm during the day. Even in the winter the heat during the day is almost unbearable in those bell-tents, what will it be like in our tropical summer ? I slept in one of them myself two nights, and know what it means. I made many complaints about the overcrowding, and earned for myself the name of ‘ Agitator.’ Once I appealed directly to the Governor, General Maxwell, but he said there was nothing to be done, and that the empty tents would be required for new arrivals. The General has always been most courteous and kind, and I believe has done all he could to improve matters, but his power is limited apparently, and I find that in most cases it is quite useless to appeal to him.
“ In the Johannesburg Camp not more than 4 are allowed to sleep in a tent, and there they have large public ovens where the women can bake, and boilers always full of boiling water, and public baths where the women can bathe. Why then should there be made so much difference at Irene ? We have none of those comforts, and when I spoke to the Superintendent Scholtz about it, he said that the Irene people were of the worst sort, a class utterly unused to any of the comforts of life; that they were far better off in the camp than they could ever have been in their own homes.
“ It is not true. Some of them are undoubtedly quite without education, but the majority of them are the families of rich farmers, accustomed to every comfort and even luxury of civilisation, to food of the most wholesome and nourishing description, to fine homes and warm clothing. The reason why so many of them reached the camp in a state of utter destitution is because they were torn from their homes in great haste, with nothing but the clothes they had on. A few were allowed to take some bedding and a few bits of furniture, but these are exceptional cases. Many of these people were poverty-stricken through having been cut off from all communication with the world nearly a year, since the occupation of Pretoria. They were out of clothing, but never knew what it meant to be hungry, for they have always had more than enough to eat and drink.
“ The absence of their men on commando made no difference to them, sowing and ploughing and reaping went on as usual, under the superintendence of the women, who were better off for native servants during the war than in times of peace, because the Kaffirs were afraid of the Boers, and eager to remain on friendly terms with them, and there was no difficulty whatever in procuring as much labour as was required.
“ Throughout the whole war the attitude of the natives has been most favourable, and it is only in the districts occupied by British troops that they became insolent and aggressive.
“ The censorship is very severe, and we know next to nothing of what takes place in the outside world, but now and then some paper comes in—no one knows how—and in this way I have found out that the general opinion in England is that these families have voluntarily placed themselves under British protection, and left their homes for fear of the natives. Nothing can be more untrue. There* were only a few families in lonely districts who had anything to fear from the Kaffirs, and they may have fled to the towns for safety; but not one woman that I know of—and I have had to do with hundreds—asked to be placed in a camp in a tent without proper food and clothing.
“ I see also that there is a great cry that these people should be sent back to their farms without delay. That is quite impossible. Their homes have been burnt down to the ground, their crops ruined, their trees cut down; all is desolation and blackness throughout the land.
“ No; England must go through what she has undertaken, and what we demand now is proper and sufficient food. Our people were well able to support themselves, they asked for nothings but now that they have been ruined and deprived of all their worldly possessions, the least they can have a right to expect is that their life in camp is made bearable.
“ It is terrible to think of the poverty in store for them after the war. Many women told me that they saw the natives carrying away their furniture, wantonly destroying what they could not remove, ripping up eiderdowns, bolsters, and feather mattresses, and scattering their contents to the winds, slaughtering pigs and fowls, and generally carrying on the work of destruction begun by the troops. . . . Albums were cut up, pianos, stoves, etc., hammered to a thousand pieces under their very eyes; all the treasured relics of a lifetime were trampled in the dust.
“ But more than all, the women and children suffered in their journey to the camps. Exposed, in some cases, for twenty days to all the inclemencies of the weather, often for days without food or water, insulted and bullied . . . objects of scorn and derision to every chance passer-by, is it any wonder that they are broken-spirited, broken in constitution, crushed and dull with the apathy of despair and of helpless misery ? And yet, in my dealings with them, I was continually impressed by their patience and fortitude, their willingness to suffer and die with their children, rather than say one word to induce their husbands to surrender.
“ So much has been said about the rations they receive, that I doubt whether I can give you any information on the subject. I know that a few improvements have been made at Irene lately, but still things are very bad. No child can thrive on a diet consisting of £ lb. flour and one bottle of watery milk daily, and that is what all children under five get; and then no salt, no fat is provided, flour baked with water and nothing else. Their elders get r lb. flour daily and 2 lbs. meat weekly, as well as a little coffee and sugar. Lately the meat has always been unfit for use, and is getting worse every day. They cannot even make soup of it, even if they had something to put into the soup. We were always allowed to write orders for rice, sago, barley, maizena, soap and candles, as ‘medical comforts’ in case of sickness, but when the dispensary was generally out of everything it was no use whatever writing orders. And we were for three weeks without a grain of rice or barley. Sometimes for a week or ten days there was not a drop of castor or cod-liver oil to be had, and the people had to go without.
“In all these tents, poverty, dirt, and ignorance reign supreme. ... To see the skin (of the sick children) it would be necessary to scrape the dirt of!'. Under these conditions the wonder is not that so many die, but that any recover. . . . The high death-rate ... is in no way due to want of care or dereliction of duty on the part of those responsible for this camp. It is in my opinion due to the people themselves, to their dirty habits ... to their rooted objection to soap and water, etc. etc.
“Dr. Kendal Franks.” (After a seven hours’ inspection.) Cd. 819, p. 166.
“ That clause in the doctors’ report about want of cleanliness is absurd. I can believe that enteric and malaria are caused by dirt and neglect, but certainly not pneumonia, pleurisy, and bronchitis — and that is what they are dying of. In all the time that I was at Irene I did not have a single death from typhoid, but I am afraid that when summer comes and no 'alterations have been made, there will be an epidemic of fever. Most of my tents are very clean, as clean as can be expected where the people live in pulverised dust, when all they possess is on the ground, and they have no soap to wash with. When the dispensary is out of candles the sick have to lie in the dark. I know of a woman in my ward, Mrs. Pretorius, who had five children down with dysentery, and she was up all night with them without light, and she had not a bit of soap with which she could cleanse their soiled linen, until I was able to help her out of a private store sent to us by kind friends in Pretoria. Our appeal for help met with so much success, that we were obliged afterwards to get a separate tent for our stores, with which we were enabled to relieve a great deal of the misery, but it would require a million of money to make life in camp endurable for women and children.
“ The hospital, which is situated on a site a little way from the camp, is under the charge of English nurses and an English doctor, and is consequently in very little favour with the Boers. We seldom succeeded in persuading the women to allow their children to be sent there, which was a great pity, because the hospital patients have every care and comfort. When there are quite 500 serious cases in camp, there are from 15 to 20 in hospital, never more, and many of these are brought in by force or after much persuasion.
“ We six volunteers had nothing whatever to do with the hospital—our work lay in the camp, and was unique in its way, for it brought us into daily contact with the people in their home-life. Every morning I went from tent to tent in my ward, one row up and another row down, issuing orders for milk, medicine, and food where necessary, making notes of the serious cases, to which I had to bring the doctor in the afternoon, encouraging, comforting, advising — no wonder the people regarded our daily visit as the one bright spot in their dreary existence.
“ I had at least 150 tents in my ward, over 700 people; and in one week I had 107 measles cases to report. It seems impossible for one person to undertake such a task, but of course the patients are much neglected and the nurses terribly over-worked, and yet we cannot get permission for more than six volunteers at a time. We relieve one another as frequently as possible. I hear on reliable authority that scurvy has broken out at some of the camps, and I dread to think what the condition of the people will be after another month or two of this life.”
Miss Antoinette Van Brockhuizen relates an incident, one of many, which shows how unwillingly the women were brought in. The letter is dated Pretoria, September 14, 1901 —
“Yesterday I visited the women’s camp close to Pretoria, to bring some necessaries. While there some women from Zwartruggies were brought in. Mrs. Vorster, a young women of twenty-three years, with two children, the wife of one of our Volksraad members, was among them. She told me they had fled for three days trying to escape from being captured. At last the English surrounded them and opened fire on them. She got a bullet through her arm. She had lost an enormous lot of blood, and when she told me this she was as pale as a corpse.”
After the expulsion of the volunteer nurses by the Ladies’ Commission, it became increasingly difficult to obtain leave to see Irene Camp or to take relief to the people. Disquieted by rumours of the great sickness of October, Mrs. Joubert, widow of the General, made various efforts, and after obtaining a permit wrote thus—
" Nov. 17.
“ Till now not a soul has been allowed to visit the camps; but yesterday, after much trouble and innumerable applications, I at last obtained admission to the Irene Camp. I was desirous to see and hear for myself, after the frightful reports we were continually getting from there. And, indeed, it is awful, this distress in every degree and kind. Infinitely more terrible than it had been painted, and more awful than the wildest imaginings can picture! The people are dying like flies, of starvation, exposure, and disease. It is impossible to realise the condition and the sufferings of the women and children. Typhus is raging everywhere. We are having an exceptionally wet summer, and heavy rains fall frequently in the evening, and again at midnight. All who know the Transvaal know these fierce storms. As the camps are generally situated on sloping ground, the water beats with the force of a torrent against the sides of the tents, flooding the whole place. Standing in deep water, the unfortunate creatures have to clutch their poor belongings, bedclothes, etc., to prevent their being carried away in the storm. Afterwards, they have to lie down to rest in several inches of mud. If the war lasts another year, not a woman or child will be left. The world knows this, and yet the mighty ones of the earth look on at these cruels murders, this barbarous slaughter. . . . The conditions in the Transvaal camps are worse than anywhere else; for everything we are at the mercy of these barbarians. No one is allowed to tend the sick except the willing tools of the officials. The men are fighting a heroic fight, and will never give in; the only result of all they hear about the awful mortality among their families is to strengthen them in endurance, determination, and courage. The burning of farms still continues. Armed Kaffirs in thousands are fighting in the English ranks.”
On this same occasion, and with Mrs. Joubert, went the Australian lady, Mrs. Dickenson, whose account follows, reprinted from the South Australian Advertiser;—
“ The day before yesterday I visited the burgher camp at Irene, about half an hour by train from Pretoria, having first obtained a permit from the Governor-General. Previously I had been introduced to a Mrs. Honey, whose niece was formerly one of the voluntary nurses in the camp, and she promised to act as my interpreter. She told me that old Mrs. Joubert, the widow of the General, was also going down. Irene had been described to me as one of the worst camps so far as the mortality of the children was concerned, but as I had found that Miss Hobhouse’s suggestion as to allowing them tinned milk had been adopted at Merebank, Maritzburg, and Howick, I was astonished to find that at Irene the rations were on a much lower scale. No condensed milk is allowed here as a regulation ration for a child unless it is ill; and then, instead of giving the mother a tin and allowing her to mix it, it is served out diluted, and of course quickly becomes sour. I saw some terrible instances of emaciation among children which could only be matched by the famine-stricken people of India. One photograph I took of a child of five years, the skin hardly covers the bones. It was not in hospital and had no disease; it was simply wasting from improper food. After taking this child’s photograph, I was told another mother would like to have her child photographed, as she thought it could not live long, but on reaching the tent I found the poor little thing had died.
“ The rations for a woman and three children for a week (I saw them) are two small tins of bully-beef, 1 lb. of unroasted coffee, 7 lbs. of flour, and 3 1/2 lbs. of mealies (Indian com). At Irene coals instead of wood (two buckets a week) are supplied, and the women have built clay ovens for baking their bread. No soap, candles, or matches are allowed as rations. Those families who have any money buy them, but the destitute go without Mrs. Joubert, who allowed me to take a photograph of her in the camp, is very kind to the poor families at Irene, but with 4000 people it would take a larger income than hers to supply them with what they require. The Dutch Government have sent out a Relief Committee. (I was introduced to the secretary yesterday.) He told me the young Queen of Holland was personally much interested in it. The stipulation made is that they are to give no relief in camp unless to individual cases. Clothes, etc., are not to be handed over to the superintendent. This has debarred them from several camps where distribution to families except through the superintendent is forbidden. Colonel Pickwood, Commanding the military camp adjoining Irene burgher camp, told me that a couple of nights before, under cover of a dark stormy night, a party of fighting Boers broke into the burgher camp, but some of the Boer police, who have been organised to watch, gave him notice, and the troops were sent to clear them out. The soldiers fired on them, but apparently without effect. This incident shows how daring they are, and what constant supervision is needed. So far as their moral conduct is concerned, Colonel Pickwood gives a very good account of the Boer women. He says they behave in a quiet, dignified manner, and he has no difficulty in regard to the soldiers.”
A friend has forwarded to me an extract from the letter ol a young officer’s wife, the latest unofficial description of that camp—
“ Pretoria, Dec. 1901.
“ No one can realise till they have seen a camp what a wonderful work this is of ours. The letters of protest that appear in the English papers seem so wholly irrelevant. ’Tis such a huge and magnificent undertaking, this housing and feeding of all our new subjects, that the petty holes that are picked in the system seem nothing. As to the mortality, it is proved over and over again that if only the Boers would consent to be doctored by the first-rate doctors provided for them, instead of waiting till they are at death’s door for their own remedies, and then coming to the doctors and giving them the blame, it would be a very different thing.”
Quite early in the year the mortality at Johannesburg had aroused attention. A lady who signs her name was moved to write thus to the superintendent, suggesting the reason for the state of affairs. Camps differed widely, but in many there lacked the sympathetic service she questions as existing in Johannesburg—
Letter to Mr. W. K. Tucker, General Superintendent [From the Daily News.]
“ Johannesburg, June 6, 1901.
“ The information, sent by you from time to time to the local Gazette,, about the cases of death which happen in the camp is of a sad and heart-rending nature, so sad, indeed, that one feels shocked and is overwhelmed with profound sadness, which makes it altogether impossible to look on quietly ahd passively when things are in such a horrible condition.
“ Any one looking over these lists carefully, and considering the causes of death, can draw no other conclusion from them than that there is something quite wrong here.
“ Is it owing to the sanitary condition ? No, it is not. The active, energetic superintendent did what was possible in this case.
“ Is it want of proper food? No, it is not I repeat that the superintendent, according to his duty and conscience, tried to make an improvement in the miserable food, such as it was, before he took upon himself the government of the place.
“ Is it owing to bad housing or insufficient clothing? On this head much can be said for the superintendent, who did his best to arrange everything. In this respect he met with many difficulties, owing to the state of affairs as it was under a former system.
“ There is, however, another and more serious question yet to answer—
“ Is it owing to a want of qualified medical assistance, or a want of sympathetic service of doctors and nurses ?
“ It is rather difficult to answer this question, considering there is but one doctor to look after the whole camp, consisting of between 3,000 and 3,500 persons, the greater part of them being children; considering that this doctor declares that he cannot treat all the cases of illness; that the greater number of cases is of such a nature that they need not end in death, or of a nature that, reasonably, patients can and may be expected to recover; that one knows that this doctor had only a small number of patients where he practised last, and employed his time in diamond washing; that this doctor is not only unsympathetic, but also rude to the wretches under his supervision; that one further learns that patients are beaten in the hospital, that the treatment of these people is hostile, and that there is no compassion or pity shown them; that the medical assistance to be given to old people, weak ones, and convalescents is restricted; that he scoffs at the religion of the burghers and their public worship; that he does not isolate serious cases of contagious diseases, as he should do, and as was to be expected that he should do, after the warning he lately got by experience.
“ If, moreover, we consider that the greater number of deaths were owing to trifling indispositions, not dangerous in themselves, which people consider at home so trifling that they will cure themselves, then certainly the time has come that a change be brought about in the camp.
“ Under these circumstances, dear Sir, I appeal to your feelings of humanity and justice, and beg you to taJce into serious consideration the condition of the women and children, who have been dragged from their homes without any reason but that they greatly love their native country; who are now obliged to live together under such circumstances, while at least a kind and sympathetic treatment by doctors and nurses might be expected. I kindly request you at the same time to carefully examine into this affair, as a death-rate of 170 persons a week, in the 3,500 people, is a condition which certainly should not exist.—I am, your obedient servant, Jessie Brandon.”
One of the most diligent workers from the beginning of troubles for the relief of the women was the minister at Johannesburg, the Rev. G. P. Meiring, who, writing to the Committee in Holland, says—
" July 25.
“ To answer your question about the condition of the camp is rather difficult if I do not want this letter to be kept back. I can, however, say this much, that, owing to the ardent zeal and liberal assistance received from hospitable Holland in the first place, and no less so from Germany and Switzerland, and even from England, the sufferings of our people have been much relieved, but the camps, considering they are ever on the increase, are like a grave, ever crying: Give! Give!
“ There is much want, nay, crying want, in some camps. The money is spent in providing for real want. An influential English lady (the wife of Professor Rendel Harris, Cambridge), in whose company I visited several camps in the land, was repeatedly much affected by the critical condition of some camps, especially when Death swept away his prey in such large numbers. It is such an agreeable task to be able to do something for these poor sufferers.”
Nurse Geijer and Nurse Broers, two of the ladies who went from Holland to nurse in the camps, wrote home to their Committee at the Hague from Kimberley and Norval’s Pont.
Nurse Geijer writes—
“ Kimberley, May 1901.
“ The way in which the measles are raging here is terrible, whereas almost all the children suffer from lung disease on account of cold, bad food and bedding. Warm clothing is much needed here.
“ The cold is intense here; every evening I suffer much from cold, and then think what these poor little fellows, with hardly any stockings on their feet or clothes on their backs, must suffer.
" I live on rations, and receive a cupful of ground coffee and a cupful of sugar once a week; it is understood that I get some meat every day, but they often forget to give it me. The Major one day asked me how I had got here, and I told him that I had been sent by a Committee. He asked me whether I received any salary from the Committee. I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Shall we give you some salary?* I said, ‘No; our work is done disinterestedly.* Some three or four days afterwards he came back, and says, ‘ Sister, I have received orders to pay you 5s. a day for food, as the rations are not sufficient for you.*
“ I shall be very glad to learn from the Committee whether they have any objection to my accepting this money, for the rations are not sufficient at all.
“ The disease is spreading here day by day, and I should like to have another nurse with me. To-day a girl was sent to help me. How much I should like to see God put an end to all this misery, for it is as bad as bad can be to have neither hearth nor house.
" There is an excellent German doctor here who feels very much for his patients.**
A few weeks later she continues—
“ July 19.
“ The condition of the camps here is sad in the highest degree; the number of people is now about 4,000. Want is greatly felt, and increases daily. In my first letter I requested that another skilful nurse should be sent, as more help is really wanted here. Last week we had nineteen deaths, so that you will understand that I am sorely tasked. Some toys sent for recovering children would be received with great gratitude. This morning at four o’clock a large tent was burned down, into which a number of women and children had moved at midnight A little boy of five years was burned, and the shoulders and cheeks of the mother were injured by the fire. Two boys got seriously wounded. One of these two is not likely to recover. Whatever they had been able to carry off from the farm, as beds, blankets, and some money, was also lost So one sad event here succeeds another. Not to be affected by what is suffered here one’s heart must be of stone.”
After improvements had been inaugurated, Miss Monkhouse, acting for the South African Distress Fund in Kimberley, writes (October 31)—
“ As far as I can judge, no effort is spared by the authorities here to ameliorate the condition of the inmates of this camp.
“ From the time we arrived up till now, things have been steadily improving. We did not set these improvements going, we came to find them begun—and they have been continued ever since, so that the condition of this camp has been steadily improving during the last three months. The terrible epidemic which was raging when we came is over. Soup kitchens have been started to give soup, with vegetables in, to the children who are at all weakly, and I believe about ninety children are now receiving soup. A tennis and cricket set are the latest additions to the camp from Government. We have a minister resident here whose sole duty is to attend to the spiritual needs of the camp.
“ We have fenced in a small piece of ground just round our tents for a garden, but it is only small, and can in no way meet the needs of the camp. Still it may be of a little use, and possibly can help to supply a need for the sick people.
“ The hospital accommodation here is, I consider, good under the circumstances, and will probably be even more extended .... The sand-storms are the worst. We had a terrible one yesterday, the worst yet”
Nurse Broers had the more comfortable conditions of Norval's Pont to describe—
" June 8,1901.
“ On Saturday last, in the midst of a terrible storm and shower of sand, five hundred new-comers arrived in the camp, among whom an old lady. The lower part of her body is lame, so that she has missed the use of her legs for the last thirteen years. She had brought with her her Kaffir girl, who, however, had stolen all the things and money the old lady had with her, and had then turned her back upon her mistress.
“ The Commander did not know what to do with her, and sent for me. It was a terrible thing to see her when I entered the bare, empty tent in which they had set her down. With hardly any clothes on, she had been fastened upon an old cart. I took her with me to the hospital tents, but one can hardly believe what the old lady, once so rich, has had to suffer.
“ We rise in the morning at six, and the first thing I do is to note down the temperature of my patients; then I help them to wash themselves, etc., and do whatever else there is to be done for patients suffering from typhus, measles, and lung-disease. At eight o’clock they get their breakfasts, which, in the case of most patients, consist of warm milk with an egg. Those who may have more food I give first a plateful of gruel, and then some bread, coffee, and an egg, which is quite a sufficient meal for these. At eleven they get a tumbler of milk, and at one, soup, rice, meat, and 1 pudding; at three o’clock, once more a glass of milk; and at six, the same as at breakfast.
“ You’ll understand that the patients get sufficient food, though the way in which the other people in the camp (there are 2,900 of them now) are treated is quite different
“ The number of deaths is large, principally among the children. If I were allowed to write down everything, I would have a strange story to tell. The want of warm clothing, stockings, and shoes grows daily upon us, and among the persons of this camp there are those who have been prisoners here for about six months, and were not allowed to take any clothing with them but what they were wearing at the time when they were picked up.”
When the camp increased in size it was not so comfortable.
Miss Broers continues—
“ It is a hard life we lead here at present. The necessary food is hardly for sale here, and whatever you can get is difficult to digest. Of late my hospital has been quite full, and as the camp now numbers over 3,000 persons, five large tents with thirty beds will presently be added to the others. What you hear here is complaints; what you see, misery. Much of the money I received has been spent on poor sufferers, who are ill and have hardly clothes upon their backs; everything, however, is as bad as it is expensive.”
Letter from Minister of Aliwal North Camp.
“ Sept. 1901.
“ When I arrived here I found a large outstretched camp, containing about 5,000 souls, and still ox-waggons bringing in more were constantly arriving.
" The awakening desire to hear God’s Word is great. Scarcely is early prayer on Sundays concluded ere the people begin to carry their stools, and so make sure of places at the io o’clock service. The church is quite too small for the congregation. Two hours before the time the stream churchward begins; an hour before service an elder announces that every seat is already occupied; half an hour later there is no chance of even getting near the door, and the churchwarden comes to say, 1 You may safely begin, sir; there is no room for even a mouse!"
“ I regret to say that during this month my health has been far from good, and has sorely hindered me in my work. Thank God, the sore sickness that raged amongst the children during July and August has almost entirely ceased. . . . There is still much sickness, and the minister is in continual request at sickbeds and deathbeds. Here is a girl of about eleven years old, who wants i so sorely to see the minister.’ But the minister himself is ill, and forbidden to leave his tent Presently he sees a sick person on a stretcher who is being carried to the hospital He finds out it is the same little girl who so greatly desired to see him. The bearers bring her first to the tent of the Dominie; he says a few words to her, and she is carried away content to the hospital Then there is a father suffering from a deadly complaint from whom it can no longer be hidden that his end is approaching. He must be taught and helped and comforted. In the next tent lies a little sick child; the mother relates with streaming eyes how she has already lost two children, and now a third is hovering between life and death. Her husband—her stay—is away in far Ceylon. Under such circumstances the minister can with difficulty restrain his tears. Here it is almost literally true * there was not a house where there was not one dead.’ Most people are clad in black—the hearse passes constantly.”
A few lines from Bloemfontein show the improvements in that camp effected in June and July. It is a letter to myself from Miss Fleck, of the local committee at Bloemfontein. In company with Mrs. Blignaut and others, this lady’s self-denying work will be long remembered by women of that camp. Like the Pretoria ladies, this committee’s work and visits were prohibited.
Bloemfontein, Aug. 22.
“ The camp has been divided into two now; the one part is situated over the kopje behind the commandant’s tent, and the other over the donga to the right of the tent, a very nice, clear sweep of ground.
“ The camp is a gem to what it was when you were here.
“ The present superintendent and his assistant take great interest in the welfare of the people. , .
“ The death-rate has been high in this camp, and as it is thought that most die from measles, the lower hut has been knocked into one, and six large stoves set in to heat it. I believe it is now quite full with patients; the women are as willing to send their children to this hospital as they were unwilling to send them to the other. The material for the wash-house has arrived, and the men have started it.
“ I go to the camp about once a week.”
Water supply was always a prime difficulty in this camp, but “now,” writes one of the ministers, “pipes have been laid on to the camp. Just now, however, it is brought in water-carts from the station miles away, and about half is spilt in the bringing. Yesterday a terrific hailstorm passed over the camp—one hailstone weighed lbs. Some tents were blown down, and others were blown away by a tremendous gust of wind. This sad fate also befell my tent, and my books were much damaged.”
Another vivid sketch of his work and his people is supplied by the Dominie of a more northern camp.
“ Vredefort Road, Sept, 1901.
“ I find the work overwhelmingly great. Happily the Lord has put it into the hearts of some of the brothers to stand by me, both to assist me in the services and in visiting the sick and bedridden. As you can imagine, in a camp of 2,000 souls one finds a great variety of character. The majority show a spirit of patient endurance, but some have grown careless and indifferent, and are hardened under the chastisement of the Lord. It greatly distresses me to find that while four or five corpses are being committed to the earth, at a short distance from the burial-place a crowd of people will have gathered for sports. But while there is much to sadden there is much also to gladden. I have stood beside many a deathbed where in almost every case the language of the dying was the triumph-cry of the Apostle Paul, ‘ Death, where is thy sting ? ’ Thus I have seen the promise fulfilled that for the dying death has indeed lost its sting. The Sunday services are very well attended, and there is great need of a roomy church. There are also very few seats, and the effect is strange and primitive to see each person stepping along with Bible and Psalm-book in hand, and in many cases a queer little stool on the back. At the conclusion of the service each departs with his little load, doubtless fearing some mischievous lad may carry off the rare and much prized article. . . . The camp is neat and clean under the wise care of the superintendent, who does all in his power to soften and improve the lot of the people. The streets are regularly laid out, and the camp is under the charge of corporals—they being our own people. The health of the camp might be better than it is, and there are deaths daily. Yesterday soup kitchens for the sick and weak were started, and this will doubtless do much to improve the health of the people, for there is great need of softer and more suitable food for the sick. There is a sufficiency of bread and meat, but vegetables are sorely needed, and it will be easily understood that there is much sickness owing to the monotony of the food.”
Ladies sent out by the Society of Friends thus write of their religious work at Volksrust I quote from The Friend of August 30, 1901—
“ This morning (Sunday) we all went to the Concentration Camp at 10.30, and found a crowd of about 3,000 persons assembled for the service. There were quite too many for the building to contain, which does duty as a church and school, so they assembled in the open air. Mr.----- began by giving out a hymn, which was most heartily joined in by the great crowd, and he then read some portions of Scripture which had been selected by Mrs. H. It was most impressive to hear them sing in their slow, measured way the old Dutch Psalms. Then in a few words he introduced her to the assembly, and told them also about us and our being members of the Society of Friends, ‘sometimes called Quakers,’ and that we had come amongst them in the love of God to tell them how much we felt for them, and to bring them what comfort and help we could in their time of great sorrow. Then Mrs. H. spoke to them most beautifully and tenderly of that great love which broke down all divisions, in which, as the Apostle said, there was neither Jew nor Greek, and she might say to them there was neither British nor Boer, we were all one in Christ. And down those rugged cheeks the tears simply poured as she spoke to them of the great love of Christ which had constrained Him to leave His throne in heaven and suffer cold and hunger and anguish as no human being had ever suffered, and die that we might live, and being acquainted with human sorrow and grief He could comfort as no one else could do, and then she pleaded with them to come in all their sorrow and their trials to Him, the God of all comfort.
“ It was one of the most touching scenes I have ever witnessed. Miss T. spoke for a short time when Mrs. H. had finished, then there was another hymn. A service was announced for children at 2.30, to which older children might come if they wished, the benediction was pronounced, and then that vast crowd came up and shook hands with each of us, murmuring ‘ God bless you,' ‘ Thank you.’ Some were completely broken down. One woman said to me, ‘ I have been living for myself, now I will live for God.’ I never witnessed anything to compare with this, and feel quite unable to describe it. Mr.------ told me afterwards that a man had said to him, ‘I never thought there was any one in England cared for us as these ladies do.’
“. . . At 2.30 Miss T. went back to the camp. A still greater crowd had gathered. The children were all in the front and centre, such a mass of them, and the older people all round. I have never seen such good children, or any who stood and sat so quietly as these. . . .
“ The nights are extremely cold. We sleep in our thick sleeping-bags, with warm wraps over the bed as well, and yet it is cold. Oh, what must the poor people in the tents suffer! ...”
Mrs. Dickenson relates an incident at Volksrust, which, she says, rather surprised her—
“ A smart young woman in a Panama hat, but a nurse’s cape, began to talk to one of the passengers in my carriage while the train was waiting, and told him she was a nurse at the Concentration Camp there. She remarked in a loud tone, "I don’t know one little bit about nursing—never did it in my life.’ ‘How did you get in ? ’ said her friend. ‘ Oh, I just spoke nicely to the doctors, so they engaged me, and I haven’t killed anybody yet’ This, combined with an account I read to-day in a paper here of the trial of a dispenser in a camp near Bloemfontein for killing three children by giving them an overdose of strychnine, accounts for some of the mortality among the people in these camps.”
There was, no doubt, often carelessness as well as great ignorance amongst the staff of a camp, but in the instance referred to by Mrs. Dickenson it should be mentioned that the accused was discharged.
“The trial has just been concluded by the Criminal Court at Bloemfontein of the chief dispenser to the Bloemfontein Refugee Camp, who was accused of improperly dispensing a preparation of strychnine so as to cause the death of three
children of refugees. After a most minute inquiry, lasting a week, the accused was discharged. The most stringent regulations are in force in reference to medicines, doctors, and nurses, to prevent any mistake.”—Through Laffan’s Agency [ Manchester Guardian, Dec. 14, 1901.]
Of many far-off camps there is no unofficial description—only sometimes a few lines like this from Mr. Theunissen, the clergyman who distributed relief for the Holland Committee:—
Extracts from Letters to Committee in Holland.
“ Standerton, Oct. 18.
“ As I informed you by letter, I have already received from you £175. A considerable part of the money I spent on medicine. Death has ravaged the camps fearfully. During the last six months people died here at the rate of thirty-two per hundred a year. We hope and trust that some improvement will set in, though the minimum of deaths during the last fortnight was ten persons a day, whereas the number of inhabitants of the camp is now only 2,850.
“ The camp at Pietersburg was opened about May of this year. Only little by little the number of persons sent there reached the number of 4,000. And from May till the latter part of October already about 500 persons had died there.”
One of the saddest of all the camps has been Bethulie [Compare Cd. 902, p. 127. “Dec. 10. I have dismissed the superintendent for apathy.”—Deputy Administrator.] of which a lady, who visited a sick relation there, tells the following incidents, forwarded to me by the Committee at Cape Town :—
“ A man who had been rich before the war sent for the doctor, told him of how he had been weakened by privations and exposure, and begged for a little brandy; he was sure that that would make him all right. The doctor gave the certificate for the brandy, which the man took to the office, and was curtly ordered to be gone. Next day, when the doctor visited him, he was surprised that the man had not received the brandy, and went with him to the office, where both were ordered to leave at once. ‘ But,’ pleaded the doctor, 1 the man will die if he does not get a little brandy.’ ' Oh, let him die, he is only a Boer!’ And he died.
“ When the people came begging for a candle in order to have a light with their sick ones, they were ordered off, even when there were boxes of candles which had been sent by the Committee from Cape Town, and when the Ladies’ Local Committee begged for a few to distribute, they were refused as often as not, or given a little bit, or made to pay. (Of course nothing was allowed from Bethulie town to the camp.)
“ The village was out of bounds for the camp, and there was said to be no going backwards and forwards without passes.”—Cd. 893, p. 60
“ The supply of coffins at one time had been short, and the dead had been buried in blankets, the same as soldiers who die in military hospitals. The people feel this very much, and the supply of coffins was obtained again as soon as possible.”—Cd. 893, p. 58.
“When the people had to make coffins for their dead, no arrangements were made for an adequate supply of wood. As often as not, there was nothing to be had; many a wealthy man or woman had a coffin knocked together from bits of candle and soap boxes bought at exorbitant prices, but ‘most of our beloved dead,’ a lady told me, ‘had to be consigned to the earth wrapped in khaki blankets, [ See also. Ladies’ Report on Vredefort Road and private letter from Middelburg, p. 269.] oh, it hurt us terribly! ’ . . . The two clerks, a De Villiers and a Percival, were inhuman, and made fun of the sufferings. They are both dead.
“Of course the head-superintendent was horrified over all this, and since his visit things have, thank God, been better. But picture yourself standing with me and a few others a6 we stood in the graveyard there. Mr. Otto said, ‘Look! here I laid my son in August; from then, this whole place has been filled—1,300 in six months out of a population of 5,000 !! * Tears would not come; it was just an ‘O Lord, how long?’ . . . Then to hear of how people, who had a little money with them, died because those in authority would not or could not give them a little food. A lady told me of how she visited a wealthy woman who had had every comfort and convenience before the war, but now in a wretched bell - tent, just kept calling, ‘ Hungry, hungry ! When I am dead, publish in the papers that I and my two daughters have all died of hunger.’ It was just the same in tent after tent, day after day, that this same cry went on: ‘ Hungry, hungry ! I am dying of hunger.’ Lying on the floors, on the bare earth with only a blanket— those who had been accustomed to every luxury—died.
“ The shop was very bare compared to others. The chief things noted were tinned salmon, men’s shirts, women’s skirts, concertinas, and cigarettes. The whole of Bethulie village and district is very short of supplies.”—p. 59.
“Mr. Deare, in reply to inauiry, said he thought at least four-fifths of the people in Bethulie Camp slept on the ground. We strongly ana repeatedly urged on him the desirability of furnishing the camp with a larger supply of bedsteads, of however simple a description. He represented the difficulty of getting suitable material.”—Cd. 893, p. 58.
“ The people speak with the greatest contempt of the Ladies' Commission who came out. They would, for instance, ask such a question as this: ‘But has any one in this camp been accustomed to such a thing as a bedstead in their homes?' The sanitary arrangements were certainly improved after they left, but then they had been simply indescribable before. During the days of their visit the people got beautiful beef, but before and after it has often been perfectly uneatable.
“Sanitation.—On the trench system, and very rough. No proper seats (except in the school latrine) for men, women, or children, but simply logs thrown across trenches. The extent of the fouling of the ground in and around the camp involves serious danger to the health of the inmates. It is only fair to add that, with the exception of the school latrine, the latrine accommodation is so extremely bad that there is much excuse for fouling the ground.”—p. 57.
“ All meat is supplied by contractor.”—Cd. 893, p. 58.
The meat was kept in rooms where carbolic had been used, which so got into the meat that the smell was unbearable in lifting the lids off the pots while cooking.
“ I mostly came in contact with people from Dewetsdorp. They all tell the one tale of how their husbands and sons were ordered to the Magistrate’s office to have their passes renewed, they might return home at once, instead of which they were sent off by rail to Cape Town for Green Point, and during their absence it was that the women were forced from their homes. ‘You need take nothing, you will find everything in the camp,’ that was the usual promise. On their arrival there was not even a camp 1 They had no food along the way, and suffered dreadful privations. There were floods of rain. But the spirit of quiet endurance and resignation to God’s will made me time and again thank God for such women. I felt proud of my race, and assured that they would come forth out of all this the better, the nobler, the stronger.
“ But their sufferings have been great, and still are; the tent-life, the constant worry of orders and counter-orders, the rumours, the constraint on a people accustomed to a free life, all this tells upon them. Whole families have died out. Mr. Venter has lost 26 of his children and grandchildren there. Mrs. Van der Heever has lost iS relations in a little while. Mrs. Fourie has lost her husband and eight children. The baby died 24 hours after its birth; the nurse (?) placed the baby next the unconscious mother, and it died of cold that night, she said.
Another said, ‘Do you suffer through the war in the Cape Colony?1 I assured her of it ‘I have lost/ she said, ‘three little children, and my husband has been for eight months no one knows where, and I have nothing on earth left to me—everything gone, everything dead. But Christ is filling my empty arms and my empty heart as never before, and I can praise Him through my tears.* Another, very ill in the hospital, such a pretty young woman: ‘I feel how God has been dealing personally with me. In the days of our prosperity I forgot Him, but now He has taken everything from me and brought me back to Him; husband and seven children, all dead.1 Then we asked, ‘And are you going to lead this new life in your own strength?1 ‘Oh no/ she replied; ‘God has taken everything away—emptied me, and I shall just remain at His feet as a poor sinner, with nothing but His glorious strength.1
“ I sat with a good number making them tell me the stories of their deportation, etc. One said, ‘You see, I was so totally unprepared to go, because I was so sure I would not be taken away. God’s Word says, “ If ye ask anything in My name, I will do it” And I prayed God to spare us from being taken, and I felt that I wanted to honour Him by a perfect faith, trusting utterly that what I had asked in His name would be done to me. I laughed at the other women who were afraid, so sure was I. Then, when it came, and I had to go at ten minutes* notice, I could not do anything. I only felt as if the foundations of the earth were giving way.* And then I asked, ‘Did you lose faith?* ‘Did I lose faith? Oh no; I had received the grace to see that I had asked unwisely, like a little child, and God could not answer me, but had something far better in store for me.’ That woman has lost three children; a fourth, formerly a strong young man, pining away in hospital for three months already; a fifth just sickening for fever while we were there; truly it was grand faith which could say ‘God had something better in store * for her!
“ I made inquiries about Mrs. ----and Mrs.-------; I could not see them, as they with their families were in the wire closure prison. They had gone to do some washing, and not having heard the new regulations, had washed in the usual spot in the river, which that day happened to be a forbidden place, and were punished thus. A large number of men, over one hundred, have already slipped away from the camp and joined the Boers, who have a laager not far off. A young man who got away in that way has not been retaken, nor was any effort made to get him back, but his parents and brothers and sisters have been placed in the wire enclosure; the old father and brothers have to do convict’s work from 6 in the morning till dusk (during summer), with quarter-hour meals three times during the day on half-ration. They are of our best people.
" Discipline and morals - Some men and women had been sent to gaol, and sentenced to hard labour.”—p. 60.[These quotations are all from the Report of the Ladies’ Commission. Cd. 893.]
“ The children under six receive condensed milk, maizena and oatmeal, but less meat. One sick woman told us she got butter and jam. But what of that, when they eat and drink in sorrow and sadness!
“ God help us and our people, we see no ray of light away from Him who makes no mistake. These camps are one huge ‘ mistake ’; they cry aloud to God, and He will hearken; and these graves will stand as a monument of . .
This extract gives a sad little reminder of the anxiety felt by prisoners of war about their homeless and often separated families, separated even in death. It is from Mr. H. J. J. Heytmayer, prisoner of war, to Mr. Emous, Chairman of the Holland Committee—
“Bermuda, Nov. 21, 1901.
“ Last Sunday I received a letter from my wife, informing me that on the 14th of September last she had been sent to Durban, so that she is now in a Refugee Camp at Merebank Station, Durban, Natal.
“ She further tells me : "Our youngest child was left behind at Pretoria with the nurses of the Red Cross. It was then almost dead, and could not open its eyes any more. The officers, however, would not allow me to stay. I was forced to leave for Durban, and so our little one had to die in the hands of strangers.’
“ I need not tell you that my heart is broken. I cannot even give you an idea of what passes in my inmost soul. The said child was born about a month after I had been taken prisoner, and was about three months old when my wife had to leave it behind at Pretoria.
“ My wife has now three children left, the eldest being six years old. We have lost all our property.”
About a month after the formation of the new camp at Merebank, Mrs. Dickenson visited and thus describes it:—
“ Oct. 12, 1901.
" Yesterday I obtained a permit from the Commandant to visit the so-called Refugee Camp at Merebank, about an hour’s journey from Durban by the South Coast Railway. The site was selected by the P.M.O., Major M'Cormack, because it was supplied from the Durban main, and consequently pure water was ensured. The soil is sandy, but unfortunately a marsh lies in the depression between Camps 1 and 2. There is one medical man, who goes his rounds with an interpreter at present, but in view of the illness which already prevails another surgeon will shortly be appointed. This camp has been formed to contain ten thousand persons, but at present its inhabitants number two thousand. It has only been inhabited three weeks, and consequently is not in full working order. Merebank is a siding, with not even a railway station, and trains only stop there for the camp—Canvas Town, as it is called.
“Ground which is waterlogged should not have been chosen.
“ Recommendation.—In spite of the great expense that has been incurred ... we strongly recommend that the camp should be shifted to a better place.”—Cd. 893, pp. 34, 37.
N.B.—This was not done.
“ The day was showery (in Natal rainy weather has now set in), and the green tropical-looking foliage and thick rank grass glistened with moisture—a country much resembling Ceylon in its vegetation, which flourishes, but white humanity languishes. At Merebank I climbed from the train, which did not stop at a platform, and, picking my way through seas of mud, entered the camp, whose white tents stretched far away to the slope of a rising ground. They were arranged in rows, leaving a broad road down the centre. Close to the entrance was the Commandant’s office, which was besieged by women, mostly dressed in black, with the * kapje ’ or sunbonnet generally used on Dutch farms, also of the same sombre colour. Barelegged children paddled through the mud and pools of water, carrying some a loaf of bread, others a bag of potatoes or a bundle of firewood. Turning to the right, I passed up the principal street, if one may so term it, and came upon the store, which has been established to enable those refugees who have money to buy extra food and clothing. Of course things are dear; biscuits which I purchased costing double as much as in Durban. Still, it is a boon to those who can afford it. The Commandant of the camp, who wore no uniform, and looked quite unofficial, called after me to ask if I had a pass. I showed him the one I had. He offered to send a man round to show me everything, but I thanked him, and told him I would pursue my investigations alone, trusting to finding some people who spoke English to translate for those who did not
“ From my experience of last year among the Dutch farmers of Cape Colony, I knew almost at once those who would be likely to be able to understand me. One of the first people I met was the doctor, going round with an interpreter. He was in the usual khaki uniform, his black gorgets alone distinguishing him from the combatant officers. Asking him as to illness, he told me the camp was, as he expressed it, ‘ riddled with a very bad form of measles.' Soon sad evidence was brought before me. Four boys carrying a stretcher passed and stopped at a tent. A woman, sobbing bitterly, stepped out and laid a little bundle wrapped in a railway rug on it. As the boys returned I met them, and saw that their burden was that of a young child, perhaps about five years old, who had just died—the second the poor mother had lost in a fortnight. There is no minister here, and no chance of any form of Christian burial. A small grave is dug, and the tiny wasted body placed in it. By dint of inquiring amongst the women who seemed likely to give me information, I was directed to a tent of the larger description, occupied by the wife and daughter of the landdrost, i.e. chief magistrate of Pretoria, Mr. Schiitter.
“ On explaining to the daughter, who spoke excellent English, that I wanted to get a report on the camp to send to an Australian paper, they asked me to come inside. This was the only tent I saw which was in the least what one would call furnished. It was pathetic to see the remains of a pretty drawing-room—the Lares and Penates of a vanished home— in a squalid tent. The chairs were covered with velvet or morocco. A gilt clock ticked on a packing-case. A valuable old china vase, a cherished heirloom, stood in another comer. Everything showed people accustomed to refined surroundings. Mrs. Schiitter the elder spoke no English. She was a tall, dignified-looking woman, looking deeply depressed, and she hardly lifted her eyes. Her daughter-in-law, who had with her a baby of six months, talked freely, and told me that after the occupation of Pretoria they were allowed to live in their own house, Lord Roberts promising that they should not be molested.
“ Since Lord Kitchener’s proclamation, however, they were suddenly told they must leave, being given only one night to make the necessary preparations. They have brought down all they could, but are daily finding out how much was left behind that might have been of the greatest use. An oil cooking-stove is one of their most valued possessions, as it obviates the hardship of cooking out of doors, which in the rainy weather is most trying work. The lot of the Schiitters is that of the upper class of prisoners, and may be taken as typical They have a certain amount of comfort purchased with their own money, but they feel the degradation of camp life more than the poorer people. For instance, they are watched by Kaffir police, and obliged to carry their rations and firewood in some cases three-quarters of a mile under the eyes of a lot of lazy blacks, who hugely enjoy seeing white people made to work while they idle. The sanitary arrangements are also of the roughest and most primitive kind, and at present quite insufficient for the requirements of the people. But building is going on, so it is hardly fair to judge what the completed condition of the camp will be.
“ The Misses Schiitters and a Mrs. Erasmus and her daughters have organised a sort of 'district ’ of the most destitute families, and they took me to see some of them. The idea spread amongst these poor people that I could help them in some way with their sick children, and they crowded round, holding them in their arms and explaining their condition, which in many cases seemed hopeless. One pale, haggard woman sat at the entrance of her bell-tent holding a child just at its last gasp, and wanted her photographed; but I told Mrs. Erasmus to explain how sorry I felt for her, but that the photograph would have been such a painful one she would never have liked to look at it. This woman had two sick boys lying on oil-cloth, with a blanket between them. One of her children died last week, and one the week before.
‘‘ The Commission feel very stronglyhat in this camp no one at all should sleep on the ground ”—p. 35.
“ A hospital is in course of erection, which will give the sick a better chance. This is a wooden shed, with galvanised iron roof; but some cubicles are partitioned off as a maternity ward. Mrs. Erasmus kindly interpreted my questions to the women of her * district,* and their replies in all cases were much the same. Their rations in the camp were sufficient, though they would be thankful for a little treacle for the children, or something to eat with their bread. The firewood was not enough unless they picked some up or burned turf. They were not allowed to get through the barbed wire which surrounds the camp. If they did, their coffee was cut off for three days.
“ Asked if they came voluntarily, or if they were taken forcibly, all declared that they never asked for anything but to be left alone, and most had friends who would take care of them, were they allowed their liberty.
“ 'Refugee Camps' is a misnomer; they are really prisons. A few of the prisoners are allowed out on parole once a week, but the monotony of the life must be terribly wearisome. The tents are so close together that sitting outside is impossible.
“ To visit No. 2 Camp, a walk through a brickfield and then a flounder of half a mile ankle deep in black slush are necessary. Once I lost my shoe, so thick and sticky was the mud; but I struggled on, and found this camp more unfinished than the first, and with a great many empty tents. Mrs. Schiitter had advised me to find a Mrs. Kruger, a doctor’s wife, which I did after some time. She was living in the same tent as a Mrs. Kleynaus, wife of the landdrost of Ermelo. At first they had another family put into their tent, but they remonstrated, and had them removed, as they had a boy of 16 who was supposed to occupy it with them as well as the Kleynaus’ Kaffir servant-girl. This girl had remained with Mrs. Kleynaus through all their troubles. The latter, who looked very fragile, was taken out of a sickbed at Ermelo, and brought along in her nightdress, with her little boy. She pleaded that one room might be left to her till she got better, but the officer said his orders were to burn the house. She saved two blankets and a box of clothes. While she lay in the waggon, she could see her piano and all her cherished possessions being smashed to pieces, and the house set fire to. Her jewellery was stolen from the waggon on the journey down. Mrs. Kruger said her husband was not fighting, but attending to the wounded. ‘Your men as well as ours,’ she added, ‘ so I don’t see why I should be kept here.’ Had it not been for the kindness of Mrs. Schiitter, who asked me to have some luncheon, I should have fared badly, as there was no place to get refreshments at Merebank. Nothing was ‘ rations ’ but bread. It was their own coffee and fried fish, as it was not a meat day. The appointments of the table showed people of refined surroundings, good table linen and silver forks. I related my ‘ camping out ’ experiences in Australia, but, as they sadly remarked, ‘you had a home, and were not a prisoner.’
“ The great want in the camp is blankets, boots, and underclothes for those who have no money. Miss Schiitter suggested a bazaar, to which they could contribute work to be sold to the Durban people, for a fund to provide these things. The idea seems a very good one, and I hope they wall succeed in carrying it out.”
Mrs. Dickenson goes on to tell her readers about Maritzburg in the same simple fashion—
“ Pietermaritzburg, Oct. 24.
“ This camp differs from that of Merebank, described in my previous article, in several particulars. At the entrance is a sort of guard-house, and soldiers come out and demand a pass, whereas at Merebank there is no actual entrance into the camp at all. The tents at Maritzburg are mostly square, instead of the wretched, insanitary bell-tent. It is in a much drier and healthier situation also, on the slope of a hillside, overlooking the town. As before, the first people I met looked at me with doubt and suspicion, and only shook their heads uncomprehendingly when addressed. Presently a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church passed, and I stopped him as he was entering a tent, and inquired if he could give me any information as to the health of the people, etc. ‘No,’ he replied very cautiously, ‘I am sorry to say I cannot I am not allowed to give information.’ * At all events, you can tell me of some English-speaking people who will be able to answer my questions ? ’ I inquired. He advised me to go to the little iron store (also a post-office) to ascertain the names of these people, so careful was the reverend gentleman to keep on the safe side. I inquired for a daughter-in-law of Mrs. Schiitter whom I had met at Merebank* but found she had been removed to Howick Camp. Mrs. Fourie, the storekeeper said, would give me information, as she spoke English well. She was a pleasant-looking person, busy ironing, but put her work aside and asked me to come in, and soon, in the hospitable way that reminds one of Australians, was preparing coffee for me. * The children had had measles and pneumonia, but, thank God, were now well. She had her man with her too, and all her boys, so she had no anxiety. Her boys went to the Government school in Maritzburg, and were learning well. Her husband, too, was allowed out to work. When she knew the English were coming, she packed her waggon full of stores and locked it up, so they brought her and her family down in their own waggon. She had an oil cooking-stove, and they were not obliged to cook out of doors when it rained.’ Mrs. Fourie seemed so cheerful and contented, that I began to think Maritzburg Camp must be singularly well managed; but it occurred to me to ask if she and her husband were taken prisoners or surrendered. ‘ Oh, I made my husband surrender,’ she said. ‘ As we had to lose the home, we might as well take all we could.’
“ This was the secret. These people were actually refugees, but the first I had seen. There is, however, no doubt that the refugees or surrendered people constitute a very small minority in these camps. The next tent I visited belonged to a Mrs. Vanyder. It was beautifully clean, with a large pile of clothes freshly ironed in a comer. Her two daughters are working as dressmakers in Maritzburg. Her husband is on commando.
The allowance of bread was too small, she said, and a little girl of 4 1/2 years was supposed to live entirely on four tins of condensed milk a week, and to taste neither meat nor bread. Afrikander children, like Australians, are brought up to eat a great deal of meat, so that they miss it much more than the English child would do. The ration card, showing exactly what each family receives, is hung up in each tent. I noticed that Mrs. Vanyder’s allowance was much less in proportion than the Fouries. Mrs. Fourie, who came in with me, explained this by saying that her family consisted of boys, and Mrs. Vanyder’s were girls, who were not supposed to eat as much. The prevalent disease now in this camp is enteric fever, but in August last 69 children died of measles. It must be remembered that these children are taken from farms where they lead the free, healthy life of Australian bush children, with any amount of good milk, eggs, and meat. The change of diet alone, without the closeness and damp of the vile tents, would account for the mortality.
" Deaths in August, 25.”—Cd. 893. Report of Commission, p. 33.
“ In the Natal Witness to-day I noticed a quotation from a letter by a nurse in Pretoria, attributing the death-rate among the children in the burgher camps to want of cleanliness. This I consider perfectly untrue. I was speaking only this morning to the wife of the English doctor of the Boer Camp here (Howick), and she tells me that her husband does not find them dirty. She has taken a girl as nursemaid, who, although she does not know a word of English, is very clean and tidy, and anxious to leam. The next tent I visited was that of Mrs. Davis Van Niekirk, who was quite destitute. Her husband and sons were on commando, and she had six young children. All her bedding and furniture had been burnt, and they had very little ready money, which was now all spent. There was nothing in the tent but two or three blankets and a packing-case.
“ A nice-looking young woman in deep mourning beckoned me to come into her tent. She was a widow—a Mrs. Venter. Her husband was commandeered early in the war, when they had only been married eleven months, and her baby just born. He was killed six months ago, and the baby died of croup three months after in this camp. However, she has a blind father-in-law, who took up much of her time. She was of English parentage, and spoke English fluently. The old man could speak no English, so Mrs. Venter acted as interpreter. ‘The old man says,’ she began, ‘ that he wishes you to know how he was taken. He was in his farm with his sister, who was also blind, when the Khakis (/.*. British) arrived; he begged them to leave him one cow and a pound of coffee, but they refused, and he was for a day and night without food, till some Boers passed, and took him to another farm. A few weeks after, that farm was burnt, and then he was taken along with the convoy, and finally reached this camp, when his daughter-in-law joined him/ The blind man’s story I give verbatim, but cannot vouch for its actual truth. His favourite dog had managed to follow the waggons in spite of all efforts to drive him back, and the faithful creature came up wagging his tail when he was mentioned. I inquired how they fed so large an animal, but Mrs. Venter told me he got the bones from ration meat, and the soldiers fed him too. The blind man was not at all satisfied with his treatment. Only 19 lbs. of meat for five grown-up people weekly he considered too little. It certainly was not so much as the allowance to some other families. It was written on the card, so there was no doubt on this point. Firewood, also supposed to be 10 lbs. per diem, often did not amount to the same quantity per week, and they had to bum rags for fuel.
“ When people are fed by contract against their will, of course there is generally dissatisfaction; but I think a more varied diet without greater expenditure might be given. A little treacle and butter, instead of so much bread to be eaten dry, for instance. Mrs. Venter said she had to pay £1 5s for the coffin of her child (a mere infant) and in future the charge was to be £4 for each funeral. Those who had no money are obliged to borrow from neighbours to make up the amount.
" Provisions of coffins, shrouds etc - Everything is provided free of charge; £4 10s is paid for each adult's funeral" Cd 893, p33
“ I visited a good many other tents, and heard some pitiful stories. One young woman was on a farm with her old mother and two children, aged 4 and 5. When taken away by a convoy of soldiers about a couple of days’ journey, the officer in command gave orders to leave the old mother at a farm in passing. . The children cried to go with their grandmother, and they were left also. The mother, however, was forced to go on, and was promised she should see her children soon; but she has nevei done so, though seven months had elapsed, nor could she discover their whereabouts. A young woman in the tent next to her had been brought down a week before the birth of her first baby. The husband had begged a Mrs. Bartmen to look after her when he was commandeered, but the latter lost sight ol her, and only called down to find she had died in her confinement; but the baby was adopted by the woman, who had lost her own two.
“ Every one here, especially military men, acknowledges that these camps were a mistake, and the money spent on them would have been far better applied in helping the British refugees.”
Voluntary helpers write to the Cape Colony committees with the first note of improvement towards the end of the year—
“ At Maritzburg Camp there are about two thousand men, women, and children. In the Sunday school there are six hundred children. The health is now so good that during some weeks not even one death has taken place.”
“ Howick, Dec. 1901.
“ At Howick the state of things is not so satisfactory. There are about four thousand people in the camp, and there is much sickness. Four to five funerals take place daily. The reason of all this sickness is the frequent arrival of new-comers from the Transvaal (Potchefstroom, Pretoria, etc.), who all bring diseases with them. Here, as at Maritzburg and Merebank, large schools are to be built. The military are going to take over all schools. It will be a great blessing when the hundreds of children who are now running about idle, because there is no room for them in the present schools, can be provided for.”
Here follows one of the more cheerful letters, speaking of education, books, and trades. It is from Ds. Burger, Vereeniging.
Letters like these, written by clergymen to relief committees, were composed with a recollection of the censor’s eye—
" Nov. 4.
“ The goods from Cape Town have come, and been received with great joy. A great work is going on amongst the children. The Government has opened a day school, and makes more or less provision for its needs. The teaching is free. Three hundred and sixty children attend Sunday school. Twice a week we go to the banks of the Vaal River, about five hundred paces from the camp, and the children are taught to sing there. On such occasions we divide the dates, etc., and every one gets a share. The leather is most welcome. We have started shoemaking, and the young fellow's are being taught the trade. We want also to give some young fellows instruction in carpentering and blacksmith’s work. The camp superintendent gives his full approval. A case of books was also sent; they were mostly old books, but have enabled us to begin a library."
Lizzie Van Zyl.
“ The children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers. Where is com and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mother’s bosom.”—Lam. ii.11, 12.
Lizzie Van Zyl died in May 1901.
This little child has been made the subject of controversy painful to those who knew her and the circumstances under which she died.
It has been alleged that her mother starved her. Mr. Chamberlain has alluded to her in the House of Commons, and Dr. Conan Doyle in his book on the war. Both gentlemen, from lack of accurate information, have misrepresented the facts.
Mrs. Van Zyl and her family were amongst the earliest of those brought into Bloemfontein Camp in November 1900. Lizzie was seven years old and delicate. Being an “ undesirable ” child, she was amongst those receiving the lowest scale of rations. From the paper given me in the office at Bloemfontein I copy the scale for adults. I do not know if previous to the New Year children had less than grown people, though it is probable.
1/2 lb. meat,
1/2 lb. either meal, rice, or samp, oz. coffee.
1/2 oz. sugar.
1 oz. salt.
1/18 tin of condensed milk.
The child did not thrive on the diet, and, like many others, wasted rapidly in the great heat. Having no money to buy extra food for her children, and having a bare tent, without bed, mattress, chair, or table, Mrs. Van Zyl strove hard, by washing for people of better means, to earn something to keep her family alive. Sufficient water was not brought into the camp for washing, so, like others, she had to take the linen to the dam, some half-mile distant. In the stagnant water of this pool the clothes of the entire camp were washed for many months. While the mother thus worked, the younger children were left in the tent in charge of the eldest, a child of twelve or thirteen years of age. In December Lizzie was taken into the hospital. A lady, also a prisoner, who was brought into camp on December 14, saw her there at that date. Here she had such comfort as the rough little hospital possessed, under the immediate eye of the one trained nurse. Later the children’s ward passed into untrained hands, and many mothers besides Mrs. Van Zyl were anxious about the attention given to their children.
A neighbour, Mrs. Botha, tells me she was in the hospital one day when Lizzie began to cry very sadly, “ Mother, mother, I want to go to mother.” Mrs. Botha stepped to her to comfort her and try to stop her heart-broken wailing, and was just beginning to tell her she should soon see her mother, when a nurse in charge of that ward broke in very crossly, telling her not to trouble about the child, as she was a nuisance.
It was this tone prevalent in the camps in early months which gave the Boer women their horror of the hospitals; but their dislike passed away when nurses of good standing took the place of loyalist refugees.
Mrs. Van Zyl felt it right to take her child away, and did so in the month of April. I used to see her in her bare tent, lying on a tiny mattress which had been given her, trying to get air from beneath the raised flap, gasping her life out in the heated tent. Her mother tended her, and I got some friends in town to make her a little muslin cap to keep the flies from her bare head. I was arranging to get a little cart made to draw her into the air in the cooler hours, but before wood could be procured, the cold nights came on, and she died. She received no doctor’s visit after her return to her tent, and the mother has since sent me word that she was never called up to give any account of her child’s death. Dr. Doyle, though asked to do so, has not yet brought forward his “credible” informant who he says alleged that this mother was criminally tried for the ill-usage of her child. [See The War: lts Cause and Conduct, chap. vii. By A. Conan Doyle.]
It was in the end of January that I made acquaintance with Lizzie Van Zyl, then in the hospital. She was a curiously winsome little thing, and she was able to sit up and play with the doll I brought her. She had as much attention as was possible under the supervision of the trained nurse. This nurse told me that the child’s emaciation was caused by the carelessness and neglect of her mother, who “ had starved her.” I have no doubt the nurse believed this story, and it was not her business to inquire. But, feeling incredulous, I asked for proof of so serious an accusation, and was told that “the neighbours said so.”
Beyond gossip there seemed no evidence. I determined to inquire into the case, as the accusation appeared to me one of a class and of a tone which had widely prevailed in speaking about the Boers, and which was painfully common amongst the officials of the camps at that time. I found nothing to show neglect on the mothers part; on the contrary, she was toiling to earn something for the support of her family. The story against; her, believed honestly enough, no doubt, by the doctor and the nurse, who did not visit her tent, rested solely on the word of the Swanepoel family, refugees and political enemies; other neighbours entirely denied it In addition, I found both in that camp and elsewhere numbers of children in every stage of emaciation.
The photograph alleged by Mr. Chamberlain [See Mr. Chamberlain’s speech, Times, March 5, 1902.] to have been taken by the doctor to show the condition in which children were brought into the camps, was not taken till after the child had been more than two months in camp, so of itself it establishes nothing as to her condition on entering. It was, I believe, taken by a Mr. De Klerk [The intention had been to add this poor child’s portrait in illustration of her story. It was, however, considered “too painful for reproduction.” This raises the question how far it is right to shrink from a typical representation, however distressing, of suffering which others have to endure, and which has been brought about by a sequence of events for which we are partly responsible.]
It does, however, exemplify, as I hoped it would when I sent it home, the effects of under-nourishment in the camps upon countless homeless children, and it did, I hope and believe, make some people realise where the brunt of the war was most heavily ; falling. In her short life Lizzie Van Zyl had experienced its bitter hardships; she had been made homeless, and deprived of everything necessary for a delicate child, and she being dead yet speaketh in South Africa.