An Afrikaner perspective on the Great Trek: Symbol and Ritual. This deals with Great Trek historiography from the Afrikaner point of view. It is a critical analysis of the changing perceptions of this ""central"" event in the historical consciousness of the Afrikaner people which reminds of Tacitus' dictum, ""Maior est longinquo revenrentia"". It became a symbol and through the ""Day of the Vow"" a yearly ritual. In the Trek the nationalistic-minded Afrikaners found their self-image and mythology. The relationship between historical and national consciousness is demonstrated. Their historical consciousness reflects a time-structure of future expectation which determined the interpretation of the past and understanding of the present. Its functions were the legitimising of Afrikaner existence, culture and policy, orientation in South Africa and the world, and supporting of their identity as a people. The pre-scientific phase is divided into three periods: short term perspectives (contemporary self-understanding), medium term perspectives conceived from the late 19th century ""racial"" conflict between Boer and Briton, and long term perspectives of the 20th century (nationalistic and political weaponry, parochialism, and narcissism!. Then follows the scientific phase: An analysis of the historical consciousness which was determined by nationalistic and party interests, nostalgia and empathy with Afrikaner ideals and currently a more realistic and demythologising attitude amongst some prominent historians.
Perspective on controversial issues regarding the Great Trek. The Great Trek has come to mean different things to different people. To many Afrikaners it is a heroic phase of their nation's history and a symbol of freedom, while to Blacks it is a symbol of subjugation and humiliation. Several such controversial issues are discussed here by referring to aspects of the life of the leading Voortrekker figure Sarel Cilliers. The following questions are addressed: Why did the Voortrekkers emigrate? Who was the military commander at the battle of Vegkop? What were the events surrounding the covenant before the battle of Blood River, and, specifically, what role did Sarel Cilliers play in this connection? And lastly: Did the Voortrekkers playa ""civilising"" and ""Christianising"" role in the interior? The author comes to the conclusion that the Voortrekkers were by no means as ""religious"" as they have often been made out to be.
Uncertainty in connection with the covenant of 1838. Aspects of the Voortrekkers' covenant before the battle of Blood River in December 1838 about which uncertainty has existed over the years concern the way it originated, the place where the vow has taken and the date, the content and wording, and its legitimacy or otherwise. By analysing the four most important sources regarding the covenant the author systematically attempts to provide clarity about some of these matters. It is pointed out that the version of the covenant given by G B A Gerdener in his book Sarel Cilliers, die vader van Dingaansdag, which was published in 1924, was obviously based on elements from the existing texts, with additions by Gerdener himself, and that it is misleading. The way that the covenant was celebrated since 1838 is examined and the question is briefly addressed as to who is bound by the covenant and what the intent of Sarel Cilliers and other participants in the event of 1838 was in this regard.
""Herrenvolk blood"" for the Afrikaner: the German orphans reappraised after forty years. Had the founders of the so-called Dietse Kinderfonds (DKF) succeeded in their plan to bring 10000 German orphans to South Africa after World War II, it is quite conceivable that the fortieth anniversary of their coming to South Africa this year would have overshadowed such events as the tricentennial of the French Huguenots or the 150th commemoration of the Great Trek. However, as events turned out, only 83 German children were brought to South Africa under the auspices of the DKF thus reducing the historical significance of the event in relation to the mainstream of South African history.The purpose of this article is to show why some Afrikaners held Germany in such high esteem that they were prepared to do everything in their power to ensure that the Afrikaners would benefit from Germany's defeat in 1945 by obtaining for the volk some of the ""valuable blood of the German Herrenvolk"". It is argued that the Afrikaner's perception of Germany played a very important role in his struggle against British domination, and that many prominent Afrikaners including Genl J.B.M. Hertzog, Dr H.F. Verwoerd and Dr D.F. Malan, viewed Germany as the only possible safeguard against what they believed would be the inevitable total domination of the Afrikaner by the British. For this reason these people, and for that matter most Afrikaner nationalists, saw German immigration to this country as one way of counteracting British influence. With the rise of Hitler's Nazi state many Afrikaners favoured close cooperation with Germany and believed that that country would help them to re-establish the independence of the former Boer republics. Some organizations such as the Nuwe Orde and the Ossewa-Brandwag even favoured a Nazi like type of volkstaat for South Africa. It is therefore not surprising that these people were shocked, and even felt betrayed by the Smuts government, when Germany was defeated in 1945. The idea to bring German orphans to this country was therefore a kind of protest against the defeat of Germany and against South Africa's participation in the war on the side of Britain. Furthermore, most of the founding members of the DKF were staunch members of either the Nuwe Orde or the Ossewa Brandwag.