Boer War cartoons

On Smooth Ice

Kruger to Steyn: "What are they doing on smooth ice?"
Steyn to Kruger: If they don't want to stand aside for our lads, then let them fall"

[The European media delighted greatly in the stunning successes that the Boers initially enjoyed over the British army. The cartoon shows sir Redvers Buller, tied down and on his back, following the disaster on the Tugela. Lord Roberts is sitting next to him, looking dazed, while a confused-looking lord Kitchener stands, holding a set of broken puppet-strings.]

Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday 10 January 1900


John Bull and the Superpowers

From the British coronation speech: "With the exception of the war in South Africa, foreign relations are peaceful."

[This caricature shows how the big European powers are taunting the British John Bull. The Russian Kaiser seems to be sneaking up behind Britain's back, ready to grab him, while Germany looks on and Uncle Sam applauds. On the others side John Bull seems to be mocked by the Netherlands and France. The peace that existed between Britain and the other European countries could at best be described as "uneasy" during that time.]
Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday, 9 February 1900


The Departure of Lord Roberts

How lord Roberts is continually prevented from returning to England

[A huge lord Roberts, commander in chief of British forces in South Africa, is depicted as being enstnared by little Lilliputian figures, representing the Boers of the Free State and Transvaal. The only place where he seems to have a firm footing, is in the Natal. This came at a time when Roberts was hoping that the war was over, and getting ready to leave, but continuous little incidents prevented him from making an early departure for England.] 

Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday 9 November 1900


The Superpowers and the Boer Nation

Europe: "A hero, a hero, my kingdom for a hero!"

[Here the two sister-republics, the Transvaal and the Free State, are seen as virgins, tied to a burning stake, which is lit by John Bull. All of Europe's powers seem to be standing, watching only. The cartoonist is having lady Europe shout in desperation for a hero to come and save the maidens from doom.]

Amsterdamsche Courant, 23 March 1900


Chamberlain Following the Murder

Lady Macbeth-Chamberlain: Here is the odor of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia won't cause this hand to smell good again....O....O....O...!
Doctor-Salisbury: What a sigh that is! The heart is gravely laden.
Lady of the court-Victoria: I wouldn't want such a hart in my bosom, for all the dignity of my entire body.

[This scene from Shakespeare's Mcbeth, is an interesting one. It shows Joseph Chamberlain with his hands full of the blood of Boer martyrs. It even goes so far as to suggest the the British queen regarded Chamberlain as a cold-hearted man who did a valuable, but unenviable job. This must have been inspired in part, because of Chamberlain's well-known cold, ruthless manner and general attitude, which did not endear him to too many people.]

Amsterdamsche Weekblad, 23 September 1900


Fluctuat Net Mergitur

Seeking the coast of Holland in a ship that is sinking fast 

[President Paul Kruger is sailing an all but swamped little ship called "Transvaal, searching for the Dutch coastline, while a Dutch seaman come's to his rescue by holding out a life-buy called "Intervention." The shining lady of light standing on the shore, holding the tri-colour, is presumably queen Wilhelmina.

Amsterdamsche Courant: Friday 30 November 1900 


Small But Brave

[Little boy called Switzerland:] "Will none of you big men help him?"

Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday 14 December 1900



The Sleeping Beauty

Which noble prince will awaken this beautiful maiden?

[The note on Sleeping Beauty's belt spells: "Intervention." The other figures represent the major powers in Europe -- all seen in a state of slumber, while the fair maiden of the Boer republics in South Africa appears to be in a deep slumber too. Despite all public appeals and efforts, neither Russia, nor Germany, nor France, nor the Netherlands, could be stirred to come to the military aid of the Boers.]

Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday 14 March, 1901


Milner in Europe

From left to right: Salisbury; Edward VII; Milner, Balfour, Broderick; Chamberlain

"Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonished." Daniel 5:9

[The hand on the wall is writing the well-known Biblical scripture, meaning: you have been weighed, and found too light. This probably came after a military defeat at the hands of the Boers, or some other kind of stunning blow to British confidence and prestige.]

Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday 31 May 1901


To Each What He Deserves

Uncle Sam to John Bull: "If this is how they treat us, we're likely to become friends yet!"

[America was often criticized for not coming to the rescue and aid of the Boers.  Uncle Sam is holding his leg, showing that foreign opinion has dealt him a hard kick for his apathy, while John Bull is rubbing his posterior where the Boers had kicked it. Despite earlier expectations, the pro-Boers were dismayed to find that America adopted more on official pro-British attitude, than vice versa.]

Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday 4 October 1901

What world history knows and hopes

[An angel of mercy is helping president Paul Kruger onto the top of the world, while Chamberlain is being shoved off by an angel of death]

Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday, 27 December, 1901


Kitchener's Christmas Gift

[General de Wet:] "Now you see me - now you don't!"

[This cartoon was inspired by the way that general Christian De Wet managed to escape being captured, despite the most massive manhunts and "new model drives" that the Empire could launch. His escapes captured the imagination of the world -- especially since the British press announced his imminent capture many times, only to have to admit later that De Wet had once again escaped, despite incredible odds against him.]

Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday 3 January 1902


The British Bull is Provoked to Renewed Anger

Chamberlain in his speech at Birmingham: "My listeners can be assured that  as long as this Government lasts, the mistake of Majuba won't be repeated."

[The disastrous defeat of the British forces at the hand of the Boers, in 1881, was something which had put a blotch of shame on the Empire -- a fact often used by the foreign press to taunt the British nation. The British army and people in general, always feared that the Boers might somehow manage to deal its army a similar, disastrous defeat. This was something which had to be prevented at any cost.]

Amsterdamsche Courant, Friday 22 May 1902


Chamberlain's Speech Regarding the Germans in the War of 1870-71

Germany to John Bull: "Clumsy! You're stepping on my toes... That you're murdering Boers is your affair, but you stay off my toes!"

[For a long time everybody expected that  Germany would come to the aid of the Boers by attacking Britain, but Germany only used this threat for achieving  its own political ambitions. It later turned a cold shoulder to the Boers, and the Kaiser seemed to lose all friendship with the Boers, in favour of closer ties with Britian. The accusal of murdering Boers, is because of Germany's apparent indifference to the holocaust in the Boer concentration camps, and the fact that a tiny nation was being destroyed by a much bigger, mightier nation which only Germany or Russia had hopes of dealing a really hard blow.]

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Kitchener Threatens To Return to England

The Boers to Edward VII: Oh, your majesty, let us keep him a little while longer. We've become so used to him!

[The war in South African war depressed the supreme commanding officer of the British forces, lord Kitchener, greatly. He never liked the country, and despite all his efforts to end the war as soon as possible, the war dragged on and on, seemingly indefinitely.  There came times when Kitchener seriously wanted to leave the country and get away from this ugly war at all costs.]

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