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Offline hardluckTopic starter
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« on: June 03, 2010, 12:56:15 am »
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Hello All

There has been a consistent legends of missing treasury funds from the collapse of the Boer government after the Boer war.

Was there any truth to these legends? Like all legends they can suffer from the Yamashita Syndrome. The Boer war treasure legends surround Paul Krugar the president of the collapsed Boer republic. And like the Yamashita legends spawned a whole host of claims and counter claims, as well as its fair share of con artists, attention seekers and would be treasure hunters.

There are many versions of events and claims. One group believes that all the treasure was accounted for ( the official South African version ) And the other groups believes that there is still to this day the possibility of missing Boer treasury funds buried some where in the wilds of South Africa.

As you can imagine like many treasure stories of the time writers have cashed in on the story creating more legends around the original story.The story is as follows.

The legendary Kruger Millions, refers to treasure allegedly hidden by, or on behalf of, President Paul Kruger, in the latter stages of the South African Boer War, between 1899 and 1902. Some people believe that the amount involved is largely exaggerated, while others think that this is amongst the largest undiscovered treasure chests in the world. According to written and verbal reports, the Kruger Millions could be valued as follows.

 The total gold production from 1884 to 1900, exceeded R170 million, at the then price of gold, which was R8,50 per Troy ounce. No official records say just how much of this belonged to the Government, but it is known that the Government mined gold before they evacuated the Witwatersrand in 1900 and it is also known that nine days before the outbreak of the war, the Transvaal Government, headed by Kruger, seized the gold that was about to be shipped to Europe.

Shortly after this, it also took possession of all the native gold, in the hands of all the banks. The government banned any export of gold and on March 20 1900, the Treasury was authorised to commandeer gold coins from all the banks. This was estimated to be in excess of R1 000 000.00 and was supposed to be in exchange for security to an equal amount. The British banks refused to accept unminted gold, in exchange for the R510 000 in coins, taken from them.

During the period from September 1899 to May 1900, 947 000 Ponde, or gold Pounds, were produced at the ZAR Mint, with a total value of R1 894 000.00. According to some reports, silver coins, to the value of R94 342.00 were also produced by the mint, at that time. Although the actual amount is not material, the fate of these coins, if they were in fact produced, might very well be. At today's prices this missing treasure is estimated to be worth in excess of $ 243000 000.00

The only official record of large sums of money leaving Pretoria, was that on the 4th of June 1900, when the State Attorney, on behalf of the ZAR Government, took consignment of R44 000.00 in minted Ponde and an additional R101 584 in gold bars, R116 618 in "Mint" gold and R38 916 in fine gold. The total amounted to R301 118.00. President Kruger had left Pretoria by train a few days earlier on 2nd May,1900 and had travelled to Middelburg, for about a fortnight. From there, the Government moved on to Machadodorp and then to Waterval Boven, in the Eastern Transvaal and finally to Hectorspruit.

A witness, a Mr. J. P. Kloppers, who was an employee of the then government, stated in an affadavit, that he had seen the Government on wheels, in the three last mentioned stations, at two of which, he received salaries for the officials at Noordkaap. These salaries were paid out 75% in "Bluebacks" (paper money) and 25% in properly minted gold coins. Towards the end of 1901, the Government convoy went to Steenkampsberg, where Mr. Kloppers again visited them. He states that he definitely did not see any more coined pounds, or blanks at that stage. When Lord Roberts occupied Pretoria, on 5th June 1900, only R230 000 worth of "native" gold was found to have been left in the Mint.

According to a quote from the journal, "From Barter to Barclays" compiled by Eric Rosenthal, a well respected historian, "A great part of the gold removed from the mines of the Rand, was brought by train, to the Eastern Transvaal, carried into Portuguese territory and ultimately shipped to Europe." It is fairly obvious that apart from the gold that was consigned directly from the mines to destinations abroad, very considerable numbers of minted coins also disappeared.

The Government's requirements in minted Ponde from 1894 to 1897, were less than 300,000 per annum on average. Yet in the final eight or nine months, before the Government evacuated Pretoria, 947,000 ponde were minted, bearing the 1898 and 1900 dates and the Treasury commandeered 255,000 ponde, or sovereigns from the banks. This total value is R2 404 000.00 There are not any official records, as to exactly how much gold the Government commandeered from the banks, or from consignments destined for Europe, but the value of gold being mined was already about R30 million annually.

Another report mentions that the Government also took all the silver coins from the Mint. If silver coins were in fact minted during 1899 and 1900, they would probably have borne the 1898 date. Either these silver coins were not struck at all, which is consistent with Mr. Becklake's mint figures, or it was struck and disappeared together with large quantities of minted gold coins, because no silver coins bearing the 1898 date, were ever circulated. By the time that the Government set up the State Field Mint, they had less than 250 ounces of gold bar set aside for the Veld Ponde, because minting ceased when the supply of gold was exhausted.

This whole legend of the Kruger Millions is not just a modern story developed in recent times because Neville Chamberlain, at the House of Commons in England, on 5th November, 1902, met with the ZAR Generals, who had come to see him with a view to obtaining financial assistance, for the widows and orphans. Chamberlain was quite prepared to let the Generals have, for the benefit of the widows and orphans, such of the Transvaal State Funds as had been transmitted to Europe by Kruger, which were still unspent, if they would help him (Chamberlain) to lay his hands upon them. Botha expressed his readiness to do so, but strenuously denied that any such funds existed.

The situation developing in the Transvaal in 1899, was when British troops were pouring into Southern Africa "from all sides". Kruger, in his speech in the Volksraad on the 2nd October 1899, spoke of the thousands of enemies assailing the ZAR. The pretext for the attack on the Republic, was the fact that the ZAR Government would not give the franchise to the "Uitlanders", or foreigners. President Kruger maintained that the ZAR had yielded three times in this matter and that each time, the qualifications for citizenship had been made easier. The Foreigners were even more favourably placed in trade than the burghers, according to President Kruger.

President Steyn, at the annual session of the Volksraad of the O.F.S. at Kroonstad, on the 2nd April, 1900, summarised this sentiment, by saying that the Republics (ZAR and OFS) had picked up the gauntlet, with no other object than that of defending their independence, which had cost their forefathers so much blood and was so dear to them, to the uttermost. President Kruger loved his people, and they loved him.

It is no wonder that when danger threatened, that President Kruger mined, commandeered, minted and shipped all available gold and silver to a place, or places of safety. It is doubtful if any of this treasure is buried in South Africa, because if it was, those people who would have been associated with such an operation, would surely have unearthed it when Kruger left the ZAR, or when the war was over, and it would have come into prominence again.

The State Attorney, who, incidentally, was Field Marshal J. C. Smuts, who was the South African Prime Minister in later years, the Auditor-General and the other officials took the coins and gold that Smuts had collected from the ZAR mint, to President Kruger at Middelburg. It is obvious that the Members of the Volksraad and all highly placed officials, realised what the position was, and co-operated fully with the President. It was decided by the Government, that Kruger should take leave of absence, nominally for six months, as the days of the burghers' possession of the railway line were numbered and the chance of Kruger falling into the hands of the enemy, could not be taken, as all would be lost.

This would mean the remaining Z.A.R. forces would surrender and the Government's coins and gold stash, would be lost. The latter danger was of course known to only the top officials, generals and Volksraad members. Kruger sailed to Holland on the Gelderland on the 19th October, 1900. The British tried to encourage the view that he had deserted his post and many sources tried to imply that he had taken the coins and bullion, for his own benefit.

If this was true, Kruger would not have been interested in his countrymen, once he had arrived safely in Holland, but even to the last he tried to do what he could for them. Shortly before his death on the 14th July, 1904, he wrote his last letter to the Boers, with the famous passage: "Look in the past for all that is good and beautiful, take that for your ideal and build on it your future".

So the legend lives on. Nobody has found this treasure yet and it seems that it will remain safely in it's hiding place, for a long, long time.


Or have they?

More to come

Hardluck. Wink

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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2010, 02:02:14 am »
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Interesting post Hardluck, as always, thanks  Great

Luc

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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2010, 08:08:42 am »
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Good stuff Hardluck but you may be right about the Yamashita Syndrome.

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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2010, 01:24:39 pm »
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Interesting story thanks Hardluck Smiley

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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2010, 01:55:46 pm »
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Hardluck,

Well written and interesting..... There are many stories behind this treasure, as I also have looked into it seeing as I am in South Africa. I personally think that it is very exaggerated as Kruger would have used it to look after his people after the war, for restoration and rebuilding. As you have said he was all for his people.
I do believe that there was a certain amount of money that was moved, but no-where like they have stated. I personally believe that the money was moved and used in South Africa and was not moved out of the country. {all this is my thinking}....
Like you have also said, if there was all this money, then it would not be a mystery as someone from that time would of known about it and would have said something after the war when there was no reason to hide it.
I have a feeling that this was a British thing to discredit Kruger and make the people look at him as a traitor, but it did not work.

BTW I am British and not South Africa, so this is not a Boer against the British thing  Grin

I have searched a fair number of Boer war sites and have actually found a Kruger Pond in pretty good condition. I guess I have found 1 in the millions that are said to exist  Wink

Thanks for writing this story, as it is still a classic and will for many centuries keep people looking, even me in case I am mistaken  Grin

God bless
Peter

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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2010, 07:27:04 pm »
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Hello All

Thank you for all your posts.

PGill you have made a pretty good conclusion to the events of this story. I am not 100% convinced of the official stance on the subject. They based there conclusions on the following.

In the Preller collection, in the State Archives in Pretoria, there is a typed copy of the article in which Preller says: 'I think it was on 28 May 1900, because on 31 May I left Pretoria ... say it was 28 May. In any case it does not seem that the precise date is important now'. The precise date is indeed important as it is a historic fact that the gold was removed on 4 June 1900, a day before the British forces occupied Pretoria.

In his 'Memoirs of the Boer War', General J C Smuts said that the British forces had progressed as far as Six Mile Spruit on 4 June 1900, just outside of Pretoria. Here the Boer forces resisted the British to keep them from entering Pretoria, so that there was enough time to remove the money and gold which belonged to the government, as well as a large amount of ammunition and cannons, that were still in Pretoria. The removal of the money and gold belonging to the government from the National Bank was Smuts' specific responsibility.

Ernest Meyer, Master of the Mint in 1900, was involved in the removal of the money and gold from Pretoria. On 25 October 1949, as a result of what Preller wrote, Meyer drew up a document in which the removal of the money and gold on 4 June 1900, is described.
In Meyer's version of the events General Smuts, who was State Attorney at that time, was left behind in command at Pretoria, while the government headquarters moved quietly and almost unobserved to Machadodorp.

On 2 June 1900 the British forces were approaching Pretoria from the South. The Mint was still in operation and as was usual was closed on Saturday 2 June. He was amazed that no preparations had been made for the removal of the gold. The British would enter Pretoria within the next few days and Meyer reported this to Jules Perrin, head of the Mint. Perrin's answer was that he had not received any instructions to remove the gold and that they would have to submit to the authorities whoever they might be.

On the Sunday the sound of cannon fire could be heard and on Monday morning 4 June, reports were received of fighting at Six Mile Spruit, occupation by the British was imminent.
The staff at the Mint started the day at the usual hour of  7 am and Perrin distributed the metal to the different departments for processing. Perrin and the office staff then went home to return at 9 am, while the technical staff continued working.

During Perrin's absence, Meyer took the opportunity to warn the smelter and purifier not to proceed with the processing of the gold, but to await the directions of the State Attorney. Everyone at the Mint was willing to co-operate as they were also at a loss to understand Perrin's inexplicable behaviour.

Meyer proceeded to General Smuts' home in Sunnyside and informed him of the situation. In shocked tones he exclaimed "What, has the gold not been taken away yet!" He told Meyer to return to the Mint immediately and to await him there.
Smuts arrived at the Mint just before 9 am and after a few words to Perrin and Hugo, the National Bank manager, Smuts ordered the gold to be collected, weighed, recorded and made ready for despatch to the Pretoria station.

The weighing and recording of the gold took time and consisted of gold bars, unprocessed gold and approximately 100 000 Kruger pounds to the value of three quarters of a million pounds sterling.
At 12 o'clock all was in readiness and the gold loaded into the train's baggage compartment.  Meyer and an armed guard of between 4 and 8 men travelled in the passenger compartment. Thus the last train under the flag of the Republic left Pretoria, amidst the thunder of cannon fire, taking the precious freight to safety.
The train arrived at Machadodorp at 2 am where Kruger was residing. Here Meyer assisted with the payment in gold to several claimants and with the help of the auditors and treasury personnel had a busy time.

After Meyer left for the front on 17 July 1900, to join Max Theunissen's Scouts, Commandant General Meindert Noome, Chief Clerk to the Auditor General, took over from Meyer.
Noome left a diary in which he had noted clearly and carefully in detail that on 31 August 1900 the gold was handed over to a German firm, Wilken and Ackerman, in Lourenco Marques, (Maputo). There were 62 cases of gold and this firm credited the account of the government of the Republic for the full value. They supplied the Boer forces with a large amount of provisions and necessities amongst which was a total of 44 000 bags of flour. Large amounts were made available to burghers who fled to Europe.


The war was a bad public relations disaster for the British as they originally thought the war would be a gentleman's war but quickly realized it was turning into guerrilla Hit and run war. This frustrated the British used to conventional Napoleonic battle plans. The British then pursued a scorch earth policy that lead to the deaths of thousands of civilians by famine and disease and deportation of captured Boers.

That tactic and the overwhelming superiority of equipment and manpower lead to the down fall of the Boer republics. Heavily criticized by the Germans at the time as most European countries were in the process of empire building and saw Africa as an extension of their own imperial ambitions. Later in world war2 Germany adopted the total war philosophy themselves.

It seems a little too neat the official explanation of the fate of the Treasury based on the letter of one man. But is also fair to say that British had there own interests in demonizing the Boer republics for there own political ends. However there are some newspaper reports around the time that need a little more scrutiny.

In the Hobart Mercury 29 April 1903 there was story of the British search for the funds in Europe there was no trace of the shipment in any bill of laden which brought the British government to conclude that the treasure never left South Africa.

In the Brisbane courier of March 1903 It is claimed the British government put out a reward for the missing funds they claimed amounted to 4000000 pounds.

But perhaps there was some substance to the British governments claims. The Brisbane courier Wed 31 of August 1904 announce a discovery of buried treasure. 250000 pounds of gold buried by the former Boer general Kemp.

Other smaller finds where discovered around the former republics. The Sydney Morning Herald of sat 21 July tells of a discovery of 6000 pounds.

In the Advertiser on the 14th Dec 1905 there is a report of 1000 pounds worth of coins discovered near a Church that was used as a hospital during the war.

And even as late as 1999 there was claim that 4000 coins were discovered. Are these discoveries part of the original treasury of individuals who stashed treasure during the war?

It could be possible The remaining treasure could of been broken up between the remaining Boer commands at the end of the war. Much most likely hidden in smaller stashes.

With all this conflicting statements I tend also to thin that the treasure never really left south Africa. but was broken up and divided by the remaining Boer generals and commandos when they realized their cause was lost.

If this is so then perhaps across all the former Boers republics there could hundreds of smaller catches lie buried perhaps abandoned former Boer farmsteads and settlements and defense camps and fortifications.

And perhaps you do indeed sit upon the land that will yield amazing relics and buried treasures from that terrible time?

If I was in your part of the world would be swinging a detector in some of these abandoned sites.  Detecting

Hardluck  Wink



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« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 07:40:58 pm by hardluck »
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2010, 01:54:39 am »
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Hello Hardluck,

This is really a great topic of confusion   Undecided

I just feel that if the gold was split up and buried or whatever, knowing how people are, one of these persons would of said something. People have big mouths, and cannot keep things to themselves. Nobody has come forward with anything,,,, seems just too perfect for me.
If the gold was removed to a German firm, then it also would have come to the light, they would not have anything to hide, especially after the war... They would have had all the proof of the payouts etc.

I suppose as with all treasure tales, they are hard to substantiate. But if the gold is here, well hopefully some will fall beneath my coil.... The biggest problem we have is so much bush... where people have not been, so there is many places to hide such treasure..... umm to find a place to start  Detecting.

I love the newspaper cuttings, keep them coming Hardluck, again fantastic topic.

God bless
Peter

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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2010, 04:52:50 am »
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Hello Pgill

Ultimately the fate of the alleged Boer treasury may be a mystery for all time. However what is clear from the early newspaper stories that there were many private stashes hidden just before the fall of the Boer Republic.

A lot of Boer prisoners were relocated to other countries never to return. Many died of disease and starvation. Some may of even recovered some of their stashes in secret. However there must still be hundreds of small sites during this conflict that became unrecoverable due death of their owners etc.

Here is a map of the Orange free state showing the main areas of action during the conflict. The British built a chain of fortified guard boxes to dominated the region. You can seen them on the maps, plus markings where major battles occurred. You will also see Boer towns and villages, If you cross reference this map with later maps you might be able trace the remains of Boer homesteads that were destroyed by the British scorch earth policy.

I agree with you it can be a needle in a haystack. However you can narrow down your search area. Using Google earth and cross referencing with traditional maps, and places where the newspapers mention where treasure was recovered is good clue, you might find some amazing places to search and perhaps a treasure story or two to tell us. Grin

Thee may be no more large caches left but finding 4000 coins at say a rough 1200 dollars US an Ounce is 4.8 million as an example. It may be worth checking out these old battle site especially the ones connected with the fall of Boer republic?

No easy task of course but know would know better the terrain better than a local like you self. I think many of these sites have never been worked over with a metal detector so there might be much to discover?

A fantastic opportunity for anyone in that part of the world interesting metal detecting and treasure hunting. I heaps of newspaper cuttings on the subject and maps.

Anyway I am glad you have enjoyed this post as it is an very interesting part of the world.

Hardluck.



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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2010, 09:02:30 am »
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Hardluck,

Thanks once again for keeping this topic on the go.... Thanks for the map etc, they are very nice.... I am always looking for this stuff as they do show different sites to look at. If you look at the top of the map you will see Potchefstroom, I live about 50km above that. South Africa is a very big place though, from the top till the bottom of the map is about 1600km a lot of travelling.
This country is beautiful, I guess you will see some of it on Tv over the world cup period :-)

I have added some pics for you to see, including the coin I found..... Oh BTW, the Kruger Pound weighs a 1/4 of an Ounce, lots think that it is 1 Ounce.....

God bless
Peter
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2010, 12:18:27 pm »
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Very nice collection of photos Peter, thanks to you and Hardluck for sharing so much info.

Its amazing, if I didn't know you were in South Africa I would say the terrain looks just like southern Idaho. I always think it should be all jungle even though I know it's not. Grin

Bet it was exciting to dig up that hunk of gold Smiley

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