Sep 24, 2007, 08:40 PM
Gypsyheart~ Queen of Rust
South African Boer War....Kruger's Hidden Millions
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.
I go a great distance,while some are considering whether they will start today or tomorrow
Dec 17, 2008, 12:10 PM
Re: South African Boer War....Kruger's Hidden Millions
There is a very interesting account of this treasure in The Seven Lost Trails of Africa; A Record of Sundry Expeditions, New and Old, in Search of Buried Treasure by Hedley A. Chilvers (London: 1930). This is one of the classic "arm-chair" treasure books - while it probably will not help the reader actually find anything, it is great reading!
This map drawn by H.E. Winder is from Chapter 10. "The Mystery of the Kruger Millions." There are other chapters on the Grosvenor shipwreck, Lobengula's buried millions (there was a story about this in one of the first issues of True Treasure Magazine, and more!
Although out of print for decades, The Seven Lost Trails isn't too hard to find. It is not too pricey, either - as long as you don't require a dustjacket (and your order from a US dealer - foreign postage can add up in a hurry).
Good luck to all,
~The Old Bookaroo
Do you have good books in good condition you are never going to re-read? Clean 'em out!
Operation Paperback collects gently used books and sends them to American troops.
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