This is a historical novel about the life of Paul Krüger who was for four periods president of the Transvaal Republic in Southern Africa. His life is filled with struggle, mainly against the British imperial forces, who tried to plant the Union jack on the continent and did not take kindly the attempts of others to have a slice of the cake.
This is not a book about Paul Krüger from birth till death. About his birth the book does relate an important snippet. According to the information in the Baptism Records Krüger was born on the first of October 1825, but also to Krüger himself in Memoirs he was born on the tenth of that very same month. Was a ‘0’ after the ‘1’ forgotten due to the following ‘O’ of ‘October’ by the person who wrote down the information in the Baptism Records? Maybe we will never know.
Another things starting from birth is the way the name of Krüger is being spelled. Often do see the spelling as ‘Kruger’, but according to the records the spelling should be ‘Krüger’. I just had a quick look on the internet and most of the times his name is being spelled as ‘Kruger’. Maybe in later years the ‘umlaut’ dropped of. Paul Krüger was a Boer leader, and he himself was from German descent. The Boer not only consisted of people from Dutch extraction, but also people from French, Hugenot extraction were part of the Boer population. And the Krüger family was one of the German families being part of the Boer population. One thing they all had in common: the Afrikaner language, and next to that a strong sense of independence, even from fellow-Boer.
Paul Krüger was born in Cape Colony and trekked when he was young with his parents to the north on the Great Trek. Looking for independence and looking for a new lease of life, and independent life. The book however starts in 1889 in a small place called Veertienstroom. Here Paul Krüger arrives with his right hand man, the State Attorney Leyds. They have come to meet Cecil Rhodes, his right hand man dr. Jameson, and Sir Henry Loch, doubling as the governor of Cape Colony and High Commissioner in South Africa. These five men talked about a number of issues, one of them being the position of the Swazi people. This meeting of these five men shows something of the position of Krüger. He had to deal with the British political and imperial power and with the power of the commercial activities of Rhodes, who was looking for a better position for himself and for the Empire. The British were a world power and the Boer were a local power. The British outnumbered the Boer by far. The Boer had their roots already for centuries in the area and the British were relative newcomers.
In his book Barckhausen follows this clash between Krüger and the British power. At times Krüger would get support from world powers, but in the end everyone left him and choose the side of the British power. In the end when Krüger travelled through Europe to get support during the second Boer War against the British forces he received a warm welcome from many people, crowds turned up when he arrived. But political leaders turned away from him. The German emporer did not want to meet him. The Russian tsar did not want to meet him. In The Netherlands he was warmly welcomed by the crowd, but not by the politicans, even though he had the sympathy from the young queen Wilhelmina. In a way the (political) life of Krüger ended on a sad note. He had travelled to Europe to get support, that he did not get. He returned to his beloved Transvaal. He died while in Montreux in Switzerland, in the company of fellow Boer.
Barckhausen published his book during the years of the Second World War. A hectic time in European history, but still someone found time to write a book about Paul Krüger.
Joachim Barckhausen – Ohm Krüger – Berlin 1941