Using Barbaric Methods in South Africa: The British Concentration Camp Policy during the Anglo-Boer War
AbstractThe BoerÂ War, whichÂ is frequentlyÂ referredÂ to as Britain'sÂ VietnamÂ orÂ Afghanistan, was marked by gross miscalculations on the part of both British military and political leaders.Â In their efforts to subdue the Boers, Britain used more troops, spent more money, and buried more soldiers than anytime between the Napoleonic wars and World War I - a century during which it had been busy expanding its empire.Â DespiteÂ the miscalculations, lapses in judgement, and blatant stupidity demonstrated throughout the war by the British leaders, historically speaking, one policy remains far moreÂ notorious than any other.Â Unable to bring the war to a conclusion through traditional fighting, the British military, and in particular the two men who were in command, Frederick, Baron Roberts and Herbert, Baron Kitchener, responded to the Boer use of guerilla warfare by instituting a scorched earth combined with a concentration camp policy.1Â Nearly forty years later, Lord Kitchener'sÂ decision to institute a full-scaleÂ concentration camp strategy came back to haunt the British. On the eve of the Second World War, when a British ambassador to Gernlany protested Nazi camps, Herman Goering rebuffed the criticism by pulling out an encyclopedia and looking up the entry for concentration camps, which credited the British with being the first to use them in the Boer War.2Â Under the scrutiny that comes with the passage of time, the concentration camp policy has rightfully been viewed as not only inhumane, but hopelessly flawed.Â When Lords Roberts and Kitchener, who were desperate to counter the Boers' effective use of guerilla warfare, turned to the concentration camp policy they failed to consider that the plan might fail. In the end the strategy, in a number of ways, actually benefited the Boers militarily while simultaneously proving to be a public relations disaster for theBritish govemment.3
Copyright (c) 2018 James Robbins Jewell
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors, copyright holders, may use the publishers version for teaching purposes, in books, theses, dissertations, conferences and conference papers.
A copy of the authors' publishers version may also be hosted on the following websites:
- Non-commercial personal homepage or blog.
- Institutional webpage.
- Authors Institutional Repository.
The following notice should accompany such a posting on the website: This is an electronic version of an article published in Scientia Militaria, Volume XXX, number XXX, pages XXX - XXX, DOI. Authors should also supply a hyperlink to the original paper or indicate where the original paper (http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za) may be found.
Authors publishers version, affiliated with the Stellenbosch University will be automatically deposited in the University's Institutional Repository SUNScholar.
Articles as a whole, may not be re-published with another journal.
The following license applies: