Type of Document Thesis Author Scott, John L. Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-10302007-161106 Title British Concentration Camps of the Second South Afrian War (The Transvaal, 1900-1902) Degree Master of Arts Department History, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Chuck Upchurch Committee Chair Michael Creswell Committee Member Neil Betten Committee Member Keywords
- Boer War
- Lord Milner
- Lord Roberts
- Lord Kitchener
Date of Defense 2007-05-03 Availability unrestricted Abstract
The Second South African War of 1899-1902 was fought for multiple reasons, ranging from the recent discovery of gold in the Transvaal to British trade relationships with the Germans in West Africa. Central to the road to war was the preservation of the British Empire in South Africa and the upholding of the prestige of the British Army. The war was fought between about 450,000 British, Colonial and native soldiers against an Afrikaner (Boer) and native force numbering about 78,000 combatants, with thousands of native Africans pressed into service on both sides. Despite early losses in conventional battles to Boer forces, the British were able by mid-1900 to invade and occupy the Boer capitals, leading the Boers to resort to guerilla tactics. The British response was a three-pronged strategy: first, destroying the areas where the Boer mounted commandos operated and pursuing the Boers with mobile columns; secondly, building lines of blockhouses and concertina wire across the wide open plains (veldt) to limit Boer mobility; and third, forcibly removing the Boer and African noncombatants from their destroyed farms and kraals into concentration camps.
This thesis examines the British concentration camps and seeks to establish who was responsible for them; what were the conditions were like inside of them, and why almost 50,000 noncombatants, both black and white, died in the camps during a period of about two years. These questions are explored through the use of official camp records, government reports and personal accounts from a wide range of involved individuals.
Most studies of the camps have concentrated on the effects of camp conditions and diseases. This study not only examines these themes, but looks beyond them into the headquarters of Lord Roberts, the man who established the camps, and reviews the decisions of Lord Kitchener the general who was in charge of the camps when the horrendous deaths occurred. This study also exposes the complicity of the British government’s civilian officials who turned deaf ears to the escalating tragedy and withheld the extent of the humanitarian crisis from the British population. It was Emily Hobhouse, a British subject, who courageously brought the plight of the Boers and natives to the attention of the British and world opinion, and caused changes to be made which undoubtedly saved thousands of lives.
The findings of this study place the blame for the 50,000 camp deaths squarely on the British leadership. Generals gave orders to destroy Boer farms and native kraals on the veldt, and incarcerated destitute families in camps with poor medical and sanitary conditions and little food. Rations were used as a weapon, and withheld from those families whose husbands were still fighting. British decisions caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people, both black and white, with the majority of the victims being children. It was an arrogant and racially motivated approach to the treatment of the Boers and natives alike that spawned the Generals’ indifference to the dying women, old men, and children. This study concludes it was the inept and uncaring senior leadership of the British Army, coupled with the “hands off” approach of the British government that led England to implement a program comparable to contemporary notions of ethnic cleansing, taking Britain at the dawn of the twentieth century, to the edge of the abyss of genocide.
Filename Size Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds)
28.8 Modem 56K Modem ISDN (64 Kb) ISDN (128 Kb) Higher-speed Access ScottJFall2007.pdf 1.97 Mb 00:09:07 00:04:41 00:04:06 00:02:03 00:00:10