This is a very curious photograph. The
uniform with its standing collar and coloured shoulder straps fits no known descriptions of Imperial German
overseas troops. His headdress appears to be a Südwester or possibly
a straw hat worn the wrong way around with a cockade, possibly in
Imperial German colours. The equipment and weapons are the most
telling however. The ammunition bandolier seems to have its bullets
at amateurish irregular intervals and the bullets do not appear to
be real under closer examination. Similarly the pistol holster does
not appear to contain a bulky pistol and the rifle is not of an
easily recognisable pattern.
No clues could at first be found to solve this
mystery, then Johan Wolfaardt (of the
War Museum of the Boer Republics in Bloemfontein) of the Boer Republics Museum came up
with a very plausible solution. He hypothesises that "this picture was taken in 1900,
in Germany, possibly in Cologne. The reason I'm
saying this, is that the uniform and bandolier are similar to those produced for a welcoming commando that received President
Paul Kruger on his visit there, as well as those worn in the
production of the play “Der Freiheitkampfe des Burens” (The
Boer Struggle for Freedom). The rifles used in these two
productions were inert, as were the bullets."
Kruger (1825-1904) was president of the Boer Transvaal Republic when
the Second Anglo Boer War broke out in 1899, by 1900 with British
troops advancing President Kruger was forced into exile in Europe
arriving in Marseilles aboard the
Dutch battle cruiser “De Gelderland” which had picked
him up from Portuguese Mozambique. As he travelled, he was cordially
greeted by President Émile
Loubet of France, King Leopold II of Belgium and Queen
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. President Kruger was welcomed into
Cologne, Germany but was not met by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was
according to the German Chancellor Bethman-Hollweg out hunting at
the time. President Kruger later lived in the Netherlands and France
before settling near Montreux in Switzerland where he died in 1904.
His body was returned home and buried in Pretoria.
Please respect the
Anonymous Private Owner in sharing this photograph
and information with us by not reproducing it
without prior permission.