Paul Kruger

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Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger
Paul Kruger's signature.png

Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (* October 10, 1825 in Vaalbank near Colesberg , Cape Colony ; † July 14, 1904 in Clarens in Switzerland ), also Oom Paul ( Afrikaans for "Uncle Paul"), German often - incorrectly - written Krüger , too Ohm Kruger , was a South African politician and President of the South African Republic (also known as the Transvaal ) from 1882 to 1902 .


Paul Kruger was descended from German immigrants. His parents were Caspar Jan Hendrik Kruger and Elisa Kruger, née Steyn.

The first of his ancestors was Jacob Kruger, Berlin's great, great, great grandfather, who came to South Africa in 1714 as a mercenary for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Due to the loss of a hand, he was dismissed from the service of the VOC and naturalized in 1718. The Kruger family was shaped by Calvinism .

Even as an adolescent, Paul Kruger had to witness the consequences of the conflict between the Boers and the British. His parents joined the Trekboys in 1836 under Andries Potgieter on the " Great Trek ". The family settled north of the Vaals , where the town of Potchefstroom was founded. It is located about 80 kilometers west of Johannesburg . Paul Kruger taught himself to read and write, and at the age of 16 he bought his own farm 100 kilometers north of his parents' residence, which he called Waterkloof. In 1842 he married his first wife Maria, but she and her child died of malaria four years later . A year later he entered into a new marriage with Gezina du Plessis, a cousin of his first wife, in which 16 children were born.

When a Voortrekker camp was attacked by Ndebele warriors on the Vegkop in 1836 , Kruger was eleven years old and supported the fighters with relief services. In 1854 he was elected commander of the city of Rustenburg. Ten years later, Kruger was at the height of his military career. The now independent Boer Republic of the Transvaal appointed him general commander of its troops in 1864. When Great Britain annexed the Transvaal in 1877, Kruger first tried to get the British to withdraw through negotiations in London . When he fell on deaf ears there, he raised an army with the Boer leaders Pretorius and Joubert, which defeated the British in February 1881 in the Battle of the Amajuba. After the Transvaal was assured independence in August 1881, Kruger was elected President of the Boer State in 1882.

In 1886, European immigrants found gold in the Transvaal on the Witwatersrand , an event that mainly attracted British prospectors and adventurers, the so-called Uitlanders . This fact prompted Cecil Rhodes , Prime Minister of the British Cape Colony since 1890 , to push ahead with the conquest of the Boer republics of Orange Free State and Transvaal. To this end, in 1895, he incited the British immigrants in the Transvaal, who had previously been denied the right to vote, to a revolt. On the British side, the rebellion was to be supported by a 600-man force led by Leander Jameson , confidant of Rhodes . However, Kruger managed to crush the revolt and force the invaders to surrender. The rebels were captured and some were killed. The " Krüger Depesche ", with which the German Emperor Wilhelm II. Kruger congratulated on his success, met with approval mainly in the conservative German press.

In addition to his role as a politician and military leader, Kruger was also a great lover of nature throughout his life. To protect the native fauna, he founded the Sabie nature reserve in 1898, which later became the Kruger National Park . At the same time he strove to expand the country v. a. with German help. The first director of the new National Bank was the German Wilhelm Knappe from 1891 to 1894 .

Despite the defeat of 1895, Great Britain did not allow itself to be dissuaded from its plans for conquest. Accompanied by a sharp anti-Burian campaign in favor of the right to vote for foreigners, British troops were once again sent to the borders of the Boer republics. Kruger then offered to negotiate with the British government, but it did not respond to this offer or to Kruger's ultimatum of October 9, 1899 to withdraw troops from the borders within 48 hours. Thereupon Kruger declared war on Great Britain on October 11, 1899.

Paul Kruger Villa in Clarens

Kruger soon realized that the Boers were heading for defeat against the overwhelming British armed forces. He therefore broke in October 1900 with the ironclad Mr. Ms. Gelderland , who had been sent by the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina , went to Europe, where he asked the Netherlands and the German Emperor, among others, for support. However, there was no one in Europe who wanted to risk a war with Great Britain because of the Boers. In view of the hopeless situation, Kruger could not bring himself to return to his homeland: "I cannot imagine the Transvaal in English hands, how should I then be able to see it." Kruger's wife, who had already remained ill in South Africa, died on July 20, 1901. Kruger found out about the final defeat of the Boer republics Transvaal and Orange in 1902 and the Peace of Pretoria in his Swiss exile Clarens , where he died two years later at the age of 78. His remains were buried on December 16, 1904 in Pretoria, South Africa . His former official residence, the Kruger House , is now a museum.


The Paul Kruger statue at the former location in Pretoria
  • Krugersdorp : city name after Paul Kruger
  • Krugersdorp: Paul Kruger-standbeeld in the Beginstraat , by sculptor L. Postma
  • Pretoria : Paul Kruger Church on former Church Street
  • Pretoria: Paul Kruger House on former Church Street
  • Pretoria: Paul Kruger Monument in Church Square (from 1924 to 1954 in front of Pretoria Station )
  • Pretoria: Street name Paul Kruger-straat
  • Rustenburg : Monument Paul Kruger in front of the town hall, sculptor Jean Achard
  • Utrecht : Monument Paul Kruger , Villa Oranjelust, Maliebaan 89
  • The Sabie Game Reserve , established by Kruger in 1898, became the Kruger National Park in 1926 .


Tablet from October 1995 on the grave

The grave monument of Paul Kruger on Heroes' Acre in Pretoria has repeatedly been the object of targeted destruction. On March 30, 1995, considerable damage was caused to the entire tomb complex, with several rock elements suffering damage and the grave cover slab breaking into several pieces. The existing marble bust was also destroyed in this incident. This was replaced with a replica by the sculptor Phil Minnaar . Another vandalism occurred on July 19, 2018, in which this bust was badly damaged. A plaque attached to the side of the grave refers to the considerable damage to property on March 30, 1995 and honors the efforts to restore the grave.


Paul Kruger is depicted on the South African gold coin Krugerrand , which is named after him. The shape of the tobacco pipe "Oom Paul" was named after the pipe that Kruger often smoked. Oskar Homolka played him in the embellished filmography Rhodes of Africa , published in 1936 . He was portrayed by Emil Jannings in the anti-British Nazi propaganda film Ohm Krüger from 1941 .

Mahatma Gandhi described Kruger's racism against the Indian population , which, from Kruger's point of view, "was created to serve the whites".

In 2015, members of the Economic Freedom Fighters gathered on the square in front of the Paul Kruger Memorial in Pretoria to use this action to demand the removal of this monument. The protest took place under the slogan "All apartheid statues must go" (German for example: "All apartheid monuments must go!").

The American actor Otto Kruger was his great-nephew.


One street in St. Gallen , Switzerland - Krügerstrasse - was named after Paul Kruger, probably because he was considered a freedom fighter in the late 19th century . As a result of Kruger's repeated racist remarks regarding the indigenous population of Africa, which, however, corresponded to the zeitgeist, controversy arose over the street name. The street was named in 2009 in the name of the Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt ; a diplomat from South Africa attended the ceremony. In the Netherlands, the name of Paul Krugers is still used as a street name in almost all cities, such as Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Leiden, Groningen, Haarlem, Arnhem and Nijmegen.

Web links

Commons : Paul Kruger  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Paul Kruger: The memoirs of Paul Kruger, four times president of the South African republic, told by himself . Chapter 1, p. 1, online at (English); Links to the individual chapters
  2. The Citizen: What Twitter thinks of Paul Kruger's grave being vandalized . Announcement of The Citizen from July 20, 2018 on (English).
  3. Jan Bornmann: PICS: Paul Kruger's grave vandalized in Pretoria . News from July 19, 2018 on (English).
  4. 'The Jews', By Gandhi - From Harijan. Retrieved January 29, 2012 .
  5. Mia Lindeque: EFF vow to take down PTA Paul Kruger statue . News from April 11, 2015 on (English).
  6. Paul Kruger statue defaced . News from October 6, 2015 on (English).
  7. a b St. Gallen has honored a racist for 100 years , Berner Zeitung . February 3, 2009. Archived from the original on July 3, 2009. 
  8. ^ Furgler and Dürrenmatt oust Kruger . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , June 9, 2009, p. 16.