“The most incendiary of Nazi Germany's anti-British films, and one of the most audaciously cynical movies ever made. Conceived by Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry as a propagandistic blockbuster, this lavish production leaves no stone unturned in its bitter indictment of Great Britain, which at the time (early 1941) stood alone as Germany's wartime foe. In its historical re-enactment of the Second Boer War, Ohm Krüger depicts Britain as a relentlessly aggressive power, hell-bent on world domination; the film's remarkable set pieces feature a scotch-swilling Queen Victoria, a cruelly conniving Cecil Rhodes and a Winston Churchill look-alike who presides over a murderous concentration camp. On the Boer side stands saintly "Uncle" Krüger, portrayed as a model of simple dignity and unerring moral right by one of the world cinema's greatest actors, Emil Jannings. By far the most expensive film produced in Nazi Germany up to the time, Ohm Krüger offers plenty of "wild west" frontier grit alongside its vivid battle scenes, as though John Ford's Monument Valley had been transposed onto South Africa's Transvaal region. The shattering conclusion - a concentration camp massacre – provokes and disturbs even today, not only due to its undeniable artistry, but more because of how it invites comparison with the still greater horrors we associate with Nazi Germany - atrocities this movie was designed to rationalize and exonerate.
Directed by Hans Steinhoff. Featuring Emil Jannings, Lucie Hoflich & Werner Hinz. German Dialogue with optional English Subtitles.”
The Boer War (1899–1902)
“The vulnerability of British diplomatic isolation was exposed by Britain’s involvement in the Boer War (1899–1902). The Boers, white settlers of mixed Dutch and Huguenot descent, had created a republic, the Transvaal, in Bantu territory north of the Britain’s Cape Colony in South Africa. The British annexed the Transvaal in 1877, but a revolt in 1880–81 earned the Boers autonomy under the strong leadership of President Paul Krüger. Tensions remained high, however, especially after the discovery of vast deposits of gold in the Transvaal. An Anglo-Boer war broke out in 1899. The Boers won initial victories, besieged the British at Mafeking and Ladysmith, and earned international sympathy, especially after the British placed 120,000 Boer women and children in concentration camps (the first use of this term) to limit support for Boer guerrillas and twenty thousand died, chiefly from disease. Massive British reinforcements under General Kitchener reversed the course of the war in 1900, lifting the siege of Mafeking, capturing the Boer capital of Pretoria, and again annexing the Transvaal. The Boer leaders continued resistance in two years of guerrilla fighting before accepting the British victory in the Treaty of Vereeniging in 1902.
“The Boer War was the largest imperial war in Africa, but it should not distract attention from the wars of African resistance to imperialism. The British annexation of the Transvaal, for example, led them into the Zulu War of 1879, which showed that a poorly equipped African army could defeat Europeans. The Ashanti tribes of West Africa, in what is now Ghana, resisted the British in four wars during the nineteenth century, three of them fought between 1873 and 1896. The Ashanti, too, won battles against the British. The French likewise experienced defeats in fighting two Dahomeyan wars (in today’s Benin); the Mandingo tribes (in today’s Ivory Coast) resisted French occupation of the interior for thirteen years (1885–98) making a great hero of their chief, Samory. The Hereros (Bantu tribes of southwest Africa) and the Hottentots withstood the German army for nearly six years (1903–08). They did not capitulate until the Germans had reduced the Herero population from eighty thousand to fifteen thousand. The Ethiopians threw out European invaders; Emperor Menelik II resisted an Italian occupation in 1896, and his forces annihilated an Italian army in the massive battle (more than 100,000 combatants) of Adowa. Europeans eventually won most imperial wars. The advantage of modern armament is sufficient explanation, as Kitchener demonstrated in the bloody engagement on the plains of Omdurman. In the blunt words of one poet, “Whatever happens we have got/The Maxim Gun, and they have not.” Europeans also held a numerical advantage whenever they chose to use it; defeats usually summoned reinforcements that Africans could not match, as the Bantus, the Zulus, and the Boers learned. The Italian army was outnumbered by eighty thousand to twenty thousand at Adowa. If Italy had wanted Ethiopia badly enough to obtain a four-to-one advantage (the Italian army and militia of the 1890s numbered nearly three million men), they, too, might have won. Europeans also succeeded in imperial conquests because of biological and medical advantages. Westerners had an advantage in nutrition that translated into larger, healthier armies, and invaders carrying smallpox, whooping cough, or the measles sometimes carried a biological weapon better than gunpowder. Conversely, African diseases (especially malaria) had long blocked European penetration of the continent. When the French occupied Tunis in 1881, malaria took twenty-five times as many soldiers as combat did. Europeans knew that quinine, derived from the bark of the cinchona tree, prevented malaria, and scientists isolated the chemical in 1820, but not until the late nineteenth century did they synthesize quinine in adequate quantities to provide an inexpensive daily dose for large armies. Such scientific conquests made possible the military conquest of Africa.”
Source: Steven Hause and William Maltby, Western Civilization: A History of European Society (Cengage Learning, 2004), chapter 27